hintsandthings.co.uk »Workshop

Useful DIY and decorating tips to make life easier in the workshop and when undertaking home diy and decorating

  • When drilling into interior
    plaster/brick walls, suck the dust straight into the vacuum cleaner
    nozzle as you are drilling and then vacuum the hole to remove dust and


  • Take an envelope, the windowed type
    and remove the window (or cut a hole in a normal envelope), place a
    strip of wide low tack masking tape over the hole left by the window
    from the inside so the glue is facing out, seal the envelope.

    Stick the glue of the masking tape to
    the wall where you want to drill, drill through the envelope, the
    spinning drill bit will pull the envelope side (the side not stuck to
    the wall) toward the chuck of the drill opening a pocket all the
    plaster/brick dust will be trapped inside the envelope, once finished
    drilling seal outer hole in envelope with tape carefully remove from
    wall and seal tape side hole .



  • If a rawlplug is a bit loose put
    some filler in the hole before pushing in the rawlplug.  Let it set
    before screwing in the screw.

 Pete Thomas.

  • Here’s a formula sent in by Geoff
    , for working out the exact diameter, in inches, of the shank of a screw. 

Multiply the screw Number by 13 and add

Examples -  

(No.) 8 x 13 + “.060 = “.164

(No.)10 x 13 + “.060 = “.190

  • To make screws easier to remove at a later date, rub
    soap on the thread before screwing in.

Geoff Smith 

We have, however, been
advised that soap can attract moisture causing the screw to rust, so Vaseline (petroleum
jelly) or grease may be a better idea.

Woodscrews – Make
it easy, I have a small egg cup size jar with grease in. I dip the
screws in to this before screwing into the wood, easily.                                  

Ray Denton

  • When using brass screws
    into hardwood, it is best to drill one hole for the shank and one hole
    for the thread, drill the thread hole first and where through drilling
    is a risk use a depth stop on the drill!

Another wise precaution to
avoid breaking brass screws is to use a steel screw of the same size to
cut the thread in the wood then remove and replace with the brass

I always use wax furniture
polish to lubricate my screws, put a little chip of hard wax into the hole
before the screw, then this pushes down the hole lubricating right to the
bottom, and no mess wiping off the screw as it goes in!

John Bailey

  • Due to the heat from an electric
    light bulb, over a period of time, it can become extremely difficult to unscrew the
    plastic components when it becomes necessary to change the shade etc.  Running an
    ordinary pencil point over the threads before assembly will make future
    dismantling effortless.  Graphite from the pencil point is a good heat resisting


  • Use a comb to hold small or short
    nails steady when hammering them in – prevents many a sore thumb!

 Krystal G 

  • Save any spent matches as these can
    be used as rawlplugs, tile spacers, hole fillers etc.

 Reg Reeve

  • I used to use match sticks to
    fill enlarged screw holes but have switched to using toothpicks. The point
    helps to guide it in and they are thin enough to put a few in.

Ray Denton

  • Golf tees are the perfect shape and
    size to “cork” the inputs of air powered tools to prevent dirt and dust building
    up when not in use.


  • A sticking drawer can be eased by
    using a wax crayon of the same colour (or a candle).

 Raleigh Jones.

  • If you are replacing old tiles with
    new ones there is no need to remove the old tiles first as these make a perfect surface on
    which to set the new tiles.

  • If you add a few drops of washing up
    liquid when mixing filler it will make it much smoother.

  • If using filler on wood add a little
    instant coffee powder to make the colour a better  match.

  • Spray both sides of a saw with WD40
    to prevent it from sticking.

  • When painting new plaster, or similar
    porous surface, paint on a solution of water mixed with PVA glue first.  This will
    seal the surface and stop the paint from soaking into the plaster, thereby making it go
      a lot further and giving a much better finish.

paint new plaster with PVA unless you intend to use
an oil based paint.  Use a good quality emulsion diluted 50/50 with
water for the first coat, then paint as normal.

Mandy Kingwill

  • You can remove a stubborn rawl plug
    by gently screwing in a screw and then pulling it free (or alternatively a corkscrew can
    be used).

  • To prevent wood splitting when
    hammering in a nail, either use a very small drill to make a guide hole or, alternatively,
    blunt the end of the nail first.

  • If you rub soap on the thread of a
    screw before use it will always be easy to remove at a later  stage.

  • To avoid having to wash out paint
    trays after use, place tray inside a plastic bag before pouring in the paint.  When
    the job is finished simply remove the plastic bag and discard.  The tray is ready for
    next time.  

  • When pointing brickwork use a small
    length of old garden hose – this will give a nice clean finish.

  • Fill a bath with
    water before sealing around the edge – this prevents the bath breaking
    away from the sealant with the extra weight.

  • When sealing round a bath, basin or
    such like, use masking tape above and below the sealant.  After placing the sealant
    along the edge, wet your finger and run it gently along the sealant.  Remove masking

  • If you have to drill a hole in wood
    to pass cable through always ensure you drill in the direction the cable is going to run.
      This will ensure the cable runs through smoothly.

  • If you make a concrete path or patio,
    do not leave surface smooth.  Pat with the edge of a length of timber thus creating
    grooves in the surface, this will prevent it becoming slippery when went and causing

  • A quick way to “spruce” up
    tired kitchen cupboards is to buy new handles and/or add motifs to the front of the
    cupboard doors.  These can be stencilled, painted or cut out of self adhesive

  • If you decide to replace kitchen
    units, think about just buying new cupboard doors as the carcasses are usually the same.


  • For quick and easy curtains use hooks
    which clip onto the top of the curtain instead of heading tape.  Alternatively, try
    tab headings i.e. loops of material sewn to the top of the curtain through which the
    curtain pole is placed.

  • To get an exact 90 degree angle
    measure a piece of timber in a triangle of 3ft x 4ft x 5ft – this will always result in a
    true 90 degree corner – so long as your measuring is accurate that is.

4 ft.

right angle triangle
5 ft

This angle is 90 degrees


  • Where is that string when you need it – try this –

Get a small plastic funnel and fix it to the wall so
that it stays in an upright position.  Place the ball of string in the top of the
funnel threading the loose end through the narrow bottom, hey presto, string always to

  • Save sawdust as this can be used as a wood filler by
    mixing with PVA glue.

  • Tint wood filler with a matching woodstain after it
    has dried to match it to existing wood.

  • When choosing woodfiller ensure you choose the
    correct type for the job in hand i.e. interior or exterior and also check it can be used
    with wood stain if this is required.  Some fillers are very fast setting and durable,
    however, they are not compatible with wood stain.

  • To measure a cylindrical object easily, take a piece
    of string or paper, wrap around the object marking where the to ends meet, lay out flat
    and measure with a tape measure or rule.

  • When drilling a hole to a specific depth, place tape
    around the drill bit at the required depth and when the drill reaches the marker tape you
    know you have reached the desired depth.

  • When drilling holes in walls hold a dustpan
    or even an open envelope underneath to catch the dust – saves a lot of clearing up.


This page is waiting for additional tips which can be
on any subject from woodwork, sewing, candlemaking, painting, decorating etc. etc.  
We would love to hear from you on june@hintsandthings.co.uk.