Smart tips for using tools the right way: part two

July 27, 2015

Want to begin a DIY renovation but not sure how to get started? Here are some easy tips that will help you understand how to get the most out of your tools by using them in the most efficient way.

Smart tips for using tools the right way: part two

It's simple to drive screws by hand

  • Make sure the screwdriver tip fits snugly into the screw head; if the tip is too small, you may strip the screw head.
  • Press and turn clockwise. If a screw is hard to drive, push down with the palm of one hand as you turn with the other.
  • Rub candlewax or bar soap on the threads of the screw to make it easier to drive.

Try driving screws with a power drill

A drill with a magnetic sleeve and the right-sized bit will make this easy.

  • Place the screw on the bit first, then set the tip of the screw into the pilot hole.
  • To keep the screw from wobbling, hold the screw head — not the threads, or you may cut your fingers — as you begin driving the screw.
  • If a screw is loose in its hole, remove it, tap in a toothpick or other small piece of wood, and drive the screw again.

How to easily remove screws

  • Make sure that the screwdriver tip fits snugly in the screw head; if you strip it out, it will be very difficult to remove the screw.
  • You may need to use a knife or small slot screwdriver to clean old paint out of the screw head.
  • Turn counterclockwise. If the screw is stuck, press down on the handle with your palm and turn the shaft of the screwdriver with an adjustable wrench.

Remove nails in no time

  • A flat pry bar may do the least damage to surrounding surfaces; tap it under the nail head with a hammer.
  • When the nail is out 1/8 inch or so, switch to the claws of your hammer.
  • Place a scrap of wood under the hammer's head to add leverage and protect the surface.
  • Often you can pull finishing nails (without heads) through from the back side of the board, eliminating all damage to the board. With a pair of pliers, grasp the nail close to the wood surface, and use a rolling motion to pull the nail out.

Accurately marking for a cut

  • Use a pencil with a hard lead, and mark the cut using a "V" rather than a straight line; the tip of the "V" will be the precise location.
  • Place a speed square on the work, and draw a line through the "V". The saw blade will remove about 3.17 millimetres (1/8 inch) of material.
  • To be sure you cut the correct side of the line, draw a large "X" on the waste side.

Cutting with a handsaw

  • Support the board so the waste can fall away.
  • Place the heel of the saw blade (closest to the handle) on the cut line at a 60-degree angle if you are cutting across the grain and at a 45-degree angle if you are cutting with the grain.
  • Gently press your thumbnail against the blade and pull the saw toward you several times to start the cut.
  • Then push and pull the saw along the waste side of the cut line.
  • To ensure a square cut, check that the saw is always perpendicular to the cut line.
  • Don't push hard; let the saw teeth do the cutting.
  • At the end of the cut, you may need to grab the waste portion so it will not splinter as it falls away.

Your tools aren't as intimidating as you may think. With these additional suggestions you can begin that DIY renovation with confidence— what are you waiting for?

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