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A Few Quick Fixes for the Not-So-Handy

September 13, 1997|From Associated Press

The big difference between someone who's really handy around the home and shop and one who isn't lies in knowing how to solve minor problems quickly and effectively.

Here are some tips that can help you out of a tight spot:

* Need to bore a hole in wood for which you do not have the correct diameter spade bit?

You can easily make one from the next larger size bit. Adjust the tool rest on a bench grinder to maintain the same angle as the edge of the bit. Carefully align marking tapes on the bit to guide the grinding.

Grind slowly, taking a little off each side and taking care not to overheat the bit and drawing the temper from the steel. When it gets hot to the touch, dip it in water to cool it. Bore trial holes in scrap wood to check progress and get a perfect fit.

* When nailing from the side opposite a finished surface, don't pick nails directly out of the box. All too often, over- and under-sized nails will be mixed in with those of proper size even in a brand-new box.

An oversized nail could break through the good surface. Spread a few nails on your workbench and then select the good ones from among them. Wrong sizes, uncut points and other defects will show up. In a random sampling, we found five out of 13 from one box were oversized or defective.

* Drawing a straight line parallel to the edge of a board without having the pencil slip becomes simple if you file a tiny nick in the blade edge of your combination square. File the V-notch in the center of the blade end just deep enough to keep the pencil point from slipping as you move the square along the board.

When marking, hold the pencil at an angle with the point leaning toward the square. Keep it steady because changing the angle will cause the line to waver.

* Spreading glue can be messy work. Plastic applicators designed to apply auto-body filler make it easy and neat. They spread wood glue over wide areas quickly. The feathered edge lays on glue smoothly. What's more, cleanup is literally a snap. Let the glue dry on the applicator and then flex it to pop off the hardened glue. Auto stores sell these applicators in sets of three for about $2.

* Boring a hole exactly where you want it in a piece of wood requires a lot of blowing to keep chips from obscuring your guide marks. Save your breath and make a fan to blow them away when using either a hand or power drill.

A 4-inch strip of 2-inch-wide masking tape folded over so it sticks to itself with the drill bit in the center does the job. Locate the fan on the drill bit so it clears the work surface by about a half-inch at maximum hole depth.

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