Are you ready to start your next home renovation project? First, read up on these Good Things -- nifty tricks to prevent paint drip, smooth caulk, achieve neater nail holes, and more.
Prevent Paint Drips
Here's how: Slide a rubber band over the open can, then gently wipe the bottom of the brush against the band each time you dip. This is perfect for small containers without handles. The brush will be less drippy, and the can's rim will stay clean, making it easier to put the lid on when you're finished.
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You've found the perfect dining set, but you're not sure if it will fit in your kitchen. Use our "hand"y tips to gauge the approximate dimensions (and fill out our cheat sheet to keep in your wallet).
Hands and Arms: A "hand" -- the measuring unit for horses -- is 4 inches, the approximate width of many a palm. Another trick: Measure the span from the tip of the pinky to the tip of the thumb; then you can "walk" your hand across a surface. Additionally, the span of your arms is roughly equal to your height, so you can measure with outstretched arms.
Credit Card: A typical card is about 2 by 3 1/2 inches. On the back, the distance between the magnetic strip and the opposite edge is 1 1/2 inches.
Quarter: It's about an inch in diameter, and its edge, rolled in a straight line, measures 3 inches (start and end with Washington's profile facing the same direction).
Feet: A man's size 10 1/2 shoe is about a foot long. A woman's size 8 is about 10 inches. Using the length of your shoe, you can measure a rug by traversing it heel to toe. For longer distances, count strides (to determine the length of your stride, walk through a puddle so you'll make footprints, and measure the distance between them).
Dollar Bill: U.S. currency is 2 1/2 by 6 inches. Paper money can wrap around objects, so it comes in handy for measuring small curved items (to mark the size, crimp the bill).
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Ouch! How many times have you hit your fingers with the hammer? Keep your hands out of harm's way when driving a small finishing nail into a tight spot, such as the edge of a piece of molding. A small rectangular magnet, available at hardware stores, can steady the nail for you. Use your free hand to hold the magnet up to the nail, and then hammer away.
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Unless you have experience using a caulk gun, the bead -- or caulk width -- can look inconsistent as it is applied. For a smoother, more attractive line, dip a plastic teaspoon into cool water and pull it along a newly caulked crevice. Dip the spoon in water periodically to keep it clean.
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You won't have to bother washing your paint pan if you line it with heavy-duty aluminum foil before using it. This trick is especially helpful if you're painting with different colors -- for each new hue, throw away the old foil (after pouring excess paint back into the can) and put in a fresh sheet, molding it to the inside of the pan.
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Attach a strong magnet to the inside of a clean metal paint pail to hold your paintbrush in place, brush side down, when not in use. This will ensure that the paint does not drip all over the floor or your brush.
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Cabinetry projects often require a rubber-headed tool so marks don't appear as you tap wood into place. Save toolbox space by converting a hammer into a mallet in seconds. For a standard-size hammer, slip a 3/4- or 1-inch rubber tip, called a boot (they are usually used on furniture legs and are available at hardware stores), onto the hammerhead.
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When painting a fresh coat on your furniture, the underside is the trickiest part of the job. Try this: Before updating or touching up a chair or small, lightweight table, elevate it over the work surface by gently tapping a nail into the bottom of each leg. The legs will get better air circulation for drying and won't stick to the surface.
When hammering a nail into a wall, avoid marking or cracking the paint by covering the spot first with two pieces of adhesive tape. The tape will lift off without a trace. And when pulling out a nail from a wall, prevent scuffing by putting a folded piece of cloth or paper towel beneath the hammerhead.
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When you finish painting a room, touch-ups are usually the last thing on your mind. But it's a good idea to write the paint name and product number on painters' tape and stick the label to the back of the room's light-switch plate. When the time comes to cover scuffs, you'll know exactly what shade to buy.