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15 Fabulous Fast Fixes

Get things into tiptop shape in no time with these quick, easy hints and tips.

Fabulous Fast Fixes

Fix anything quickly and easily with our handy how-to hacks.

1. Wallpaper removal
1. Wallpaper removal
Pixabay

To make wallpaper easier to remove, first slash it diagonally every 300mm with a utility knife.

Then mix a 50:50 solution of vinegar and warm water in a spray bottle and squirt it behind the cut edges.

Let the adhesive soften for a few minutes, then scrape off the paper with a putty knife or metal spatula.

TOP TIP:

Tape the tool to a broom handle to scrape near the ceiling.
 
To strip a small area of stubborn paper, cover it with a clean cloth and press with a steam iron to soften the adhesive.

If your iron doesn’t produce steam when held vertically, wet the cloth before ironing.

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2. Dragging drawers
2. Dragging drawers
Pixnio

If a timber drawer drags, sand its runners lightly and then rub them with a candle or a bar of soap.

If the timber has swollen during damp weather, lightly sand or plane the front lip of the drawer and along the tops of the sides and back.

Use graphite or dry lubricant to lubricate drawers with metal slides.

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3. Tough nail buried in a stud
3. Tough nail buried in a stud
Handyman Magazine

To remove it, drive the claw of a pinch bar under the nail head and lever it out. The claw can even reach buried nail heads.

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4. Torn insect screen
4. Torn insect screen
Handyman Magazine

1. Cut a square hole around the tear using a straightedge and sharp utility knife.

Keep the hole as small as possible, and leave at least 10mm of old screen next to the metal frame.

2. Cut a patch of fibreglass screen that will overlap each edge by 10mm.

Position wax paper under the window screen to keep the adhesive from sticking to the workbench.

Centre the patch over the hole, apply a bead of adhesive over the edges of the patch, and spread the adhesive through the patch and window screen using a flat offcut.

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5. Brick and stone cleaning
5. Brick and stone cleaning
Handyman Magazine

Scrub paint specks and mortar smudges from brick surfaces with a piece of broken brick that’s the same colour as the brick you are cleaning.

Don’t use the face of the brick; it is harder than the core and can cause scratches.

Use the broken surface.

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6. Scribing for a neat fit
6. Scribing for a neat fit
Handyman Magazine

Fitting a shelf to a corner that’s not square is easily overcome.

Slide the shelf into the corner, keeping the long back edge tight to the wall.

If the shelf fits between two walls, cut it about 10mm too long and set it in at an angle.

Attach a pencil to a thin offcut as a spacer then run it along the wall to scribe the cut line.

Saw along the line, then repeat the process on the opposite end of the shelf and it will fit perfectly.

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7. Finishing trim
7. Finishing trim
Pixabay

Many people are surprised to learn that professional painters use soft, coloured putty to fill nail holes in stained timber work.

This eliminates the nearly impossible job of staining wood filler to match the surrounding timber.

Several colours are available, but to get an exact match you may have to blend two colours.

You can even use two or three colours on the same piece of timber to match areas of light and dark grain exactly.

Coloured putty is available from specialist paint stores and hardware stores.

Press matching coloured putty into nail holes with the tip of your finger after staining and varnishing.

Then smooth it off and polish the area with a dry cloth.

For added durability and to help hide the filler, apply a new coat of compatible finish over the filled timber work.

Tip: Don’t use water-based varnish over coloured putty

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8. Repairing popped nail heads in plasterboard
8. Repairing popped nail heads in plasterboard
Handyman Magazine

1. Cut out crushed or damaged plasterboard with a sharp utility knife.

Bevel the cut and don’t leave any fuzzy bits that would be hard to cover with the patching compound.

Reattach the plasterboard on either side of the nail with screws.

Punch the popped nail below the surface.

2. Fill the damage and cover the new screws with patching compound.

Use a putty knife to apply the compound and smooth it out.

Apply two or three coats, allowing each to dry completely before re-coating.

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9. Need to trim deck boards straight?
9. Need to trim deck boards straight?
Handyman Magazine

Beauty is in the detail.

Using a board to guide your saw as you trim your decking leaves an edge crisper than the steadiest hand can make.

Secure a straight board to the decking as a guide for your circular saw.

Measure the distance from the edge of the baseplate to the edge of the blade and position the board to allow about 30mm overhang for the decking.

Run the saw along the edge, keeping it parallel to the decking and tight to the guide.

If you use a 42 x 19mm timber like we did, sight it down from one end to make sure you get it perfectly straight.

You’ll have to cut the last two boards off freehand.

Mark the entire cut with a chalkline and keep sawing in a straight, steady motion.

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10. Gliding windows
10. Gliding windows
Handyman Magazine

To make your sash windows run smoothly, lubricate the channels with silicone spray or a bar of soap.

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11. Repair a crack in plasterboard
11. Repair a crack in plasterboard
Handyman Magazine

Cut a V-notch through the full length of the crack, about 5mm deep, removing all loose wall material.

Embed paper tape in jointing compound.

Apply additional layers of compound, feathering the edges.

Sand the surface between each coat.

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12. Bumping and squeaking doors
12. Bumping and squeaking doors
Pexels

Corks attached near the base of the back of a door make an inexpensive and easily replaced door bumper.

To make a quick and easy door bumper for a child’s room, place a rubber ball in a sock and hang it from the inside doorknob.

If the squeaky hinge doesn’t have a removable pin, spray penetrating lubricant such as WD-40 down from the top and also where the leaves interlock.

For stubborn door locks, always use a dry lubricant such as graphite powder.

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13. Silence a squealing hinge
13. Silence a squealing hinge
Handyman Magazine

If you’ve got a door hinge that squeals, a little petroleum jelly will rid it of that annoying wail.

The petroleum jelly works its way into the hinge and adheres well, so won’t run off the hinge like oil and other lubricants.

1. Loosen each hinge pin by tapping a nail up from underneath.

Once the pin is loose, pull it out, lifting up on the door handle to relieve pressure if the pin binds.

Keep the door closed and only work on one hinge at a time.

2. Lightly coat the hinge pin with petroleum jelly and dab a little in the top of the pin slot. Reinsert the pin and wipe off any excess. Open and close the door a few times.

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14. Stained ceilings
14. Stained ceilings
Handyman Magazine

It’s hard to paint over water stains, they usually reappear within a few days.

One solution is to seal the stained area with pigmented shellac or a stain sealer or bleed sealer before painting.

Another good stain sealer is high-opacity undercoat.

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15. Removing stuck nails
15. Removing stuck nails
Handyman Magazine

1. Punch finish nails all the way through with a nail punch or pin punch, so you don’t have to pull them.

This technique works best on finish trim that’s less than 15mm thick.

2. To prevent damage to the face side of removed trim, simply grab the nail from the back with pincers and lever the nail out.

Its head will pull through with little damage to the trim.

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