skip to Main Content

Helpful Hints for the Home Handyman

With over 35 years of experience in the construction field, I have picked up some helpful hints for doing jobs, making jobs easier, and simple ways of fixing something that looked as if it might not be fixable under ordinary conditions. These hints have made many jobs easier and less aggravating. If nothing else, they are downright helpful. Lots of times they are things like, “Why didn’t I think of that?” Most are just good old common sense…something that we all need to be reminded of from time to time.

Some may be related to choosing a person or company to do your repairs. Some will be from personal experiences. Not all will be related to home repair and building. From time to time they will be on some totally unrelated topic, but rest assured, all will be helpful. These are not things that you will need a $5,000.00 table saw/planer system for. They will be things for the typical handyman with a few tools and a project that needs their attention.

Hopefully you will be helped, enlightened and at times entertained by what you read here. Remember, I won’t write it if I haven’t tried it first.

If you can laugh at yourself and your situation, you are already at the halfway point to completing the job. Proverbs 17:22 says, “A merry heart does good like a medicine…”. So relax, read on and get some joy in your heart and some hints in your head.

Hammer Time

One of the most common problems experienced by both seasoned carpenters and the home handyman alike is that of the “slipping” hammer. When you are driving a nail, it seems as if you are not hitting it squarely and you wind up making “moons” on the wood you are securing. The problem is not with you or the nail. It is your hammer. Look at the head. Feel the face. It will be mirror shiny and just as smooth. That’s the problem. How do we remedy that? Very simple. Take a piece of coarse sandpaper, and using moderate pressure, scuff the face of the head. Just three or four times up and down, then three or four times side to side (depending on the coarseness of the sandpaper). No sandpaper available? Then just scrape the face on the concrete to scuff it up alittle. You will be surprised at the difference this little tip will make. Go ahead…try it.

There are dozens of types and styles of hammers out there to choose from. From the itty bitty tack hammer variety to the huge framing hammer. Basically it is a matter of personal preference. From my observations over the years let me share some experiences with you that may help you in your selection.

The framing hammer was definitely invented by a man who never had to swing one all day. They are long, heavy and cumbersome. I worked alongside of carpenters that carried these long handled things and most of them had to “choke up” on the handle. It was too big and heavy to be held near the bottom of the handle. These fellows worked hard at their job and it only took them about three blows to drive a 12 penny nail home once they had it started. Then I noticed something else. My hammer. For 90% of my construction career I used a normal everyday run of the mill 16 ounce hammer (I preferred a straight claw for framing). I held the hammer near the bottom of the handle and could drive a nail just as fast as they could. The benefits? It cost a whole lot less to buy and at the end of the day I wasn’t nearly as tired as I would have been after throwing a 24 ounce hammer at every nail.

It’s a matter of personal preference, I know. But part of being a builder or a do-it-yourselfer is to work smart, not hard!

Source: Chicago Handyman