The difference between good and bad handyman is that while bad one is complaining and know everything, the good one is actually learning something and getting new useful techniques into his toolbox. Here are 5 even more useful life hacks for beginner handymen.
1.Use Science to Strip Paint
There’s not a lot that can truly drastically change the look of something as quick and easy as refinishing or repainting wood. If you’re in possession of something wooden you can’t part with or can’t stand to look at (but love for its form), getting it just the way you want is simple.
There are chemical strippers out there that are not only safe for the environment, they work without any truly hard physical labor. And while you might think it detracts from the masculinity of what you’re doing, it’s simply not so. A chemical stripper can let you instead work on lovingly varnishing or staining your wood so that you can truly create a piece of art—not waste time breaking your back. Simply spray or paint it on, let it sit for a while, then come back and scrape the paint right off. It works like a charm.
2. Find a Stud Without a Stud Detector
Finding a stud—one of the most important things to know how to do as a beginner handyman—doesn’t require you going out and getting an electronic that looks very similar to a Taser and costs a pretty hefty amount for finding wood beams behind walls. There are two ways to do this: an electric razor and a magnet. (You can knock on sheetrock, but this is a guess-and-check type method.)
For the razor or clippers. Turn it on and drag it flat across the wall. You should be able to hear a change in pitch. Keep in mind that studs are usually about 16 inches apart from one another, so you should be able to get a good idea of where each one is if you think you hear a tonal difference. The more old-school method is to get a strong magnet attached to twine or thread and drag it along the wall. Since drywall is usually only a little more than a half inch thick at max, a powerful magnet can cling to any metal in the studs behind it.
3. Caulk Like a Pro
Caulking is an art form. The first step, as with most projects, is to make sure the surface you’re working on is clean. Use isopropyl alcohol, this usually breaks down any oil or residue that could make the caulk not stick properly. Next, use some tape on either side of the surface you’ll be caulking. This, like painters tape, will ensure straight, crisp lines.
Caulking is sort of like using a pastry bag (if you’ve done it). It requires constant pressure and the correct application, which is achieved by cutting the tip of your canister to a 45-degree angle. Insert the caulk into your gun—make sure you’ve punctured it if your gun doesn’t have a mechanism that does so for you—and take a deep breath. Using constant pressure on the trigger, go between the taped lines. Don’t worry too much if it isn’t completely perfect, as you’ll be smoothing it out with your finger later, but get it as smooth as you can.
After you finish that up, wet your finger with some of that alcohol or some water and go along the caulked line, pushing it up against the surface while smoothing it out simultaneously. Wipe your finger as you go, as if you let your finger collect too much, it makes the job harder.
Once you’re done, pull off the tape and admire your handiwork.
4. Fix a Drywall Hole
Unfortunately, drywall holes happen. Whether it’s from a door swung open and the knob busting through or some other misfortune, drywall holes are unsightly and nagging. Luckily, it’s a pretty easy fix. With some specialized tools and material, scrap wood, compound, and sandpaper—and matching paint of course—fixing drywall holes is an exercise in simple geometry.
Using a retractable razor blade, cut out any paper or extra material that’s hanging out or loose. Use a self-adhesive patch (it looks like metal mesh that can be found at any home improvement store) and affix it to the cleaned out hole. Let it dry out.
During that time, mix up some drywall compound (sometimes called “mud”). Once that’s at a pasty consistency, use a taping knife and spread the compound around on the screen. Make sure that your drywall compound is thick enough that it doesn’t just ooze through the mesh. Cover the patch completely. Next, add another coat of the compound onto the patch, covering the first coat completely. Using a wet rag, blend the outside of the patch into the surrounding wall, so there’s not a noticeable edge to where the compound ends and the wall begins. Once the compound dries out completely, you can sand, paint and prime it to match the surrounding wall.
5. Save Money and Clean Your Paintbrushes Yourself
If you’re gearing up for a big paint job and take your brushes out only to find them rigid with dry paint, boil them. In vinegar. Hot, rolling vinegar will disperse the paint and revitalize the bristles.
Get yourself an old, deep saucepan and pour in enough white vinegar to submerge the bristles. The cheap stuff will do the trick just as easily. Rest the paintbrushes bristles down against the rim of the pot (or suspend them so the bristles don’t bend) and boil those suckers for a few minutes. While you won’t see the paint disappear before your very eyes, once the vinegar cools and you wash your brush, the chips will just fall right off. Repeat as necessary.
Hopefully, these tips can help you cultivate a handyman reputation. We tried to hit most every room or at least part of any feasible project that someone could ask for your help.
Don’t forget to set up your personal service store on Markate.com!