Tool Tips for Crafty Chicks

October 25, 2012Allison Murray

My dad is a veritable wealth of handyman knowledge. His dad, my Pop, was a builder. Since kids are always free labor my dad got to spend a lot of his free time helping Pop build houses. His formative years were filled with saws and hammers and he’s got mad handy skills coming out of his ears.

This past weekend Daddy came up to work on my roof and patch some drywall in my ceiling where a major leak had caused some major problems. Since, as I mentioned, kids are free labor I’ve been assisting my father in handy ventures for almost 30 years. Not that time has made me any better at it but I try. While assisting he taught me a totally nifty new trick that I never would have come up with on my own. So I figured why not share it and some of the other pearls I have gleaned  from him and others in my crafty lifetime?


Painting Up High on a Ladder is a Bear

Purchase a cheap mop or broom from a dollar store like Dollar Tree. Before buying make sure that the broom or mop attachment unscrews from the pole. Take that pole and use it in your roller frame to have almost 4 extra feet of reach. This will work with just about any tool that will accept an extender (like some window scrubbers).

In a Pinch and Out of Drywall Spackle?

This tip was actually taught to me by my well meaning Resident Adviser in college. We weren’t supposed to make  holes in the walls but being kids we did anyway. She kindly informed me that if I didn’t want to pay the patch fee for each hole to simply jam it up with some toothpaste. Just make sure you use the paste and not gel. I don’t do this all of the time but sometimes when I know I won’t be busting the paint out again any time soon.


Safer Disposal of Sharp Blades

Just because a blade isn’t sharp enough for your project doesn’t mean that it isn’t sharp enought to slice through your skin. More than once I’ve tossed a blade only to have to dig in the can later on for my debit card, retainer, car keys or whatever the emergency is at the moment. Sometimes your frantic hands will run into one of these blades. It’s not fun and because you’re in trash it is extra gross. What kind of germs live in a trash can, anyway? To solve this problem, I have begun wrapping all of my blades in masking tape before throwing them away. You’ll really having to smack the heck out of one of these wrapped up suckers to cut yourself now!

Sawed Wood Keeps Splitting

Sometimes we ladies don’t put the right amount of pressure when using a saw. I know that I don’t which is why my cuts are always deeper further away from me than closer to me. To save splitting the heck out of the wood when you get to the end, wrap some masking tape around the area to cut. It will keep the wood together and prevent unsightly cracks.

Nail Head Keeps Splitting Thin Trim Wood

Turn the nail over so that the head is on the wood. Smack the pointy end a couple of times to make a depression in the wood the shape of the head. Turn around and hammer in as normal in that spot. I’m not sure if it works because of the depression or because the head shape changes but since it does work I couldn’t care less why…


Nail Splits Wood a Second Solution

Use your nail as a drill bit to make guides for when you hammer nails in. My dad showed me this just this weekend and it is something I never would have considered. Each nail he placed with this method was perfect and didn’t come out of the sides of the wood like when I sometimes freestyle it.

Sawing is Totally Exhausting Work

My dad taught me all about this. I was tuckering myself out when cutting wood. A few cuts in and I’d be breathing all heavy and my arm would be tired. According to my father it is best to let the saw do all of the work. The only pressure you need to apply is to push and pull the saw across the wood. By its very nature, the saw will dig further into the wood, making your pushing on the saw essential unnecessary anyway.


Skippity Mitre Box

I don’t have a work bench even though I need one. To be honest there is no room in the garage for one at the moment. To prevent your mitre box from skipping all over your temporary work top attach it to a heavy piece of wood (a thick wide board or cut of heavy plywood would work well). It will weight down the box so that it stays put with less pressure from your non-sawing hand.

You Paint Your Hands and Walls

I am a messy painter. My hands always come back coated with paint. Which sucks because I’m allergic to latex and I use latex paint. When I’m done and no longer in the heat of the project I. Want. This. Paint. OFF. NOW! A good way to remove it without nasty chemicals is to use cooking spray (like Pam). It will loosen up the paint and help it come off with less abrasive scrubbing.

You Also Paint Your Arms and Legs in Blotches

When I think of it I rub a little bit of petroleum jelly into my arms and legs where I frequently get huge dried globs of paint. When my skin is protected the paint sort of slides off rather than my having to scrub until I’m bright pink and puffy.


You Store Nails in Your Mouth When Hanging Anything

I used to do this and a good portion of me would wonder as I was hanging pics or whatever what will happen if I swallow a nail? A good solution to not having to worry about that fun doctor’s visit  is to take a good strong magnet and hot glue it to the bottom of your hammer. Stick your nails to the bottom and grab one as necessary when working on your project.

Your Screws Fly Across the Room, Especially When on a Tall Ladder

I came across magnetized screwdrivers completely by accident. They are awesome and rather than that screw you’re trying to get into the wall for your curtain rod flying to the floor or across the room, it will simply dangle from the tip. Trust me… as someone who has cursed her way up and down a ladder a million times these little babies are worth their weight in magnetized gold. (p.s. I know you cannot magnetize gold :)

WD40 is a Miracle in a Can

You can use WD40 for a million different things. My favorites? Remove crayon from walls, glue from carpet, rust from tools and sticky stickers from just about anything. Check out the WD40 website for a gazillion other ideas.

Comments (19)

  • elizabeth

    November 1, 2012 at 7:26 AM

    This is so helpful! Thanks a ton!

  • Don

    November 3, 2012 at 1:53 PM

    The nails on the bottom of the hammer is not a good idea.
    When you hammer the impact will cause the nails to come off the magnet.
    Then you have to stop and pick them up.
    Just put the nails in your shirt pocket where they won't get lost and are easy to reach.

    1. Tricia

      January 7, 2014 at 9:44 PM

      Don, if you have this problem you can always just get a magnetic bracelet for your non-swinging hand. Personally, I hate digging in my pocket for another nail and generally use a mechanics magnetic bowl, but I’ve seen the wrist band/bracelets and seems like a good idea.

      1. Allison

        January 10, 2014 at 11:03 AM

        A magnetic bracelet sounds intriguing! I hardly ever have a shirt on with a pocket so that’s a totally non-option for me but I will be looking into these bracelets. Thanks for the tip!

  • Allison Murray

    November 3, 2012 at 1:58 PM

    Hi Don! I have used a strong magnet on the bottom of my hammer for years and I haven't had any problems unless nailing into really hard wood. For hanging pics, etc. I have found the magnet to be a little miracle. :)

  • Verena

    November 4, 2012 at 9:02 AM

    My Grandpa used to be a carpenter, and he taught me to turn the nail around and hit the tip a few times, just as you do. But it isn't the shape of the head or the depression (actually you can hit the nail anywhere), it's the alteration of the tip. Wood is less likely to split when the nail is blunt. And now I'm going to glue a magnet to the bottom of my hammer :-)

  • Allison Murray

    November 4, 2012 at 12:58 PM

    Thanks for the info Varena! It was really a total guess about why it worked. It is good to have the facts :)

  • Bannef

    November 7, 2012 at 6:12 PM

    Thanks for the great tips! My mom always made me wrap up blades and broken glass in cardboard and/or tape – she always said "think of the garbage man!" :) I am heating up my glue gun to attach a magnet to my hammer as we speak, and the other hammering tips are really useful also. Thanks again!

  • Allison Murray

    November 7, 2012 at 6:20 PM

    That is awesome Bannef! I appreciate you taking the time to comment :)

  • staindpam

    December 14, 2012 at 6:05 PM

    Thank you so so much for these wonderful tips. They are some of the greatest I've ever seen.

  • Allison Murray

    December 14, 2012 at 7:48 PM

    You are quite welcome and thank you so much for taking the time to comment, Pam!

  • Liberty

    January 17, 2013 at 7:25 PM

    The magnet at the base of the hammer is GENIUS!! Nail in the drill is also genius! Thank you for the amazing tips!

  • Allison Murray

    January 17, 2013 at 7:32 PM

    You are so very welcome, Liberty (love your name BTW)!

  • Nina

    February 28, 2013 at 1:52 PM

    Wow the magnet idea is simply great! You don't ever have to work with a mouth full of needles again. Thanks!

  • Angela

    May 7, 2013 at 7:15 PM

    This is so neat! I'm hosting a new linky party at

    I would love to have you!

  • Tricia

    January 7, 2014 at 9:41 PM

    Instead of Pam to remove paint use baby oil. I think both work by absorbing into, and thus lubricating, the skin under the paint so it won’t stick any more. Regardless, it works and it’s cheaper than Pam.

    1. Allison

      January 10, 2014 at 11:05 AM

      That’s a great tip! I’ve actually started using cooking oil but I can see that baby oil would be even less expensive. Thanks for the tip!

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