Handy Hints: Helping Hands

Featured Article, Household DIY Tips
on August 22, 2013
replacing a lightbulb

Working alone can be troublesome.  Give yourself the help you need–extra height, an extra set of hands–with these clever tips.

How to Keep Rafters Aligned

Club member Keith Christensen of Minneapolis, Minnesota, faced a dilemma when he planned to build a screened-in porch. He needed to remove the siding from his house to accommodate the first set of rafters, but he didn’t have a helper to keep the rafters aligned. To temporarily hold the first of the rafters in place, he drove two nails into the house wall — one just below the rafter and one at the rafter end. The nails held the first rafter in place while allowing Keith to adjust its position before marking and cutting away the siding.

Light Fixture Helper

A telescoping “third hand” helps Club member Arthur Fish Jr. of Jonesville, Michigan, hang light fixtures. He uses a 1/2-in.-dia. x 70-in. length of conduit inserted into a 3/4‑in.-dia. x 70-in. section of conduit with a large washer as a wedge to lock the narrower length at the appropriate height. A rubber cushion typically used on a chair leg is attached to the bottom of the 3/4‑in.‑dia. section to give it a firm grip on the floor. Once the light fixture is attached, Arthur simply lifts up the locking washer to collapse the support.

How to Replace a Light Bulb

If you’ve ever had to replace a hard-to-reach light bulb, you’ll appreciate this trick from Club member Les Eastep of Rochester, Illinois. Cut away the bottom of an empty water bottle; then use the bottle to hold the light bulb as you screw it into the socket. With the variety of bottles available on the market, you should have little trouble finding one that’s the right size to hold the light bulb snugly.

Easy Water Shutoff Tip

To easily reach the water-shutoff valves beneath his bathroom sink, Club member Ronald Perkins of Durham, North Carolina, built this wrench from a 13-in.-long section of 1/8-in.-thick PVC pipe. He notched one end of the pipe to fit over the shutoff valve and inserted a 6-in.-long x 3/8-in.-dia. rod through the other end to serve as the wrench’s handle.

PVC Pipe Workbench Tip

To work with long lumber on a radial arm saw, Club member John Kelly of Middletown, New Jersey, created this ingenious support system. He raised the saw table to sit 2 in. above his workbench and then used U-clamps to attach 24-in. lengths of 2-in.-dia. PVC pipe to the bench. The U-clamps allow the PVC pipe sections to slide out and serve as lumber supports whenever he needs a helping hand with long boards.

How to Hold Small Nails

If you have arthritis in your hands or simply find it difficult to hold small nails or other tiny parts for your projects, use this trick from Club member Al Kagarice of Urich, Missouri: Fasten alligator clips to various lengths of dowel rods and use them to hold nails in place while you drive them home.