More and more people are doing things for themselves. To get you started, here are eight handy DIY tips for your home…
* Cleaning brass – 1
Unless brass is polished regularly, it will inevitably become tarnished and effectively un-cleanable. I tried soaking our brass window latches in neat pool acid overnight, and the picture shows the result.
* Cleaning brass – 2
Mix a tablespoon of tartaric acid (cream of tartar) with a squirt of dishwashing liquid and a few litres of hot water (the kitchen sink would be a good place to do this). Soak the brass object in this solution for a few minutes, then rinse off and dry. For larger items, mix the same ingredients into a paste (obviously using less water), rub on, rinse and dry.
* Out with the old…
I know that PM prefers to focus on tips that involve making or repurposing things, but I thought I would share this idea because it has been very effective in controlling clutter in my home. It’s very simple: every time you acquire a new object – it could be an ornament, a picture or even a kitchen appliance – you should identify and discard an item that you no longer need. I employed this strategy to help clear out old chairs that had been festering in our garage for more than 12 years (although my husband protested, he knew I was right).
* Ice treatment
For those (like me) not lucky enough to own a self-defrosting refrigerator, here’s how to make life a little easier. The next time, once the time-consuming manual defrosting is complete, and before you replace the contents of the freezer compartment, apply a generous spray of a silicone-based product such as Spanjaard. This non-toxic water-repellent coating won’t prevent ice from forming, but it will make it a lot easier to remove next time around. The bulk of the ice can usually be prised off with a wooden or plastic tool; never use a metal implement.
* Showing it off
To create a small “display cabinet” for your bookshelf or coffee table, simply glue together four picture frames (with the glass intact, naturally) to form a box. The base can be left open or you could use a fretsaw to cut a piece of hardboard to fit, and glue it in place. I made one of these for my wife’s collection of wooden eggs, and it looks great.
* Slip-sliding away
Our sliding driveway gate often gets stuck or even derailed by small stones that fall in its track. Having to clear it at 7 am, when you’re running late, is not especially enjoyable. Here’s my easy fix: attach a long-bristled brush to the far end of the gate in such a way that it pushes stones and other debris out of the way every time you open it.
* Morning-after fix
To make your own ice pack, mix 1 part rubbing alcohol with 3 parts water, then pour into a suitable-sized ziplock bag and place in the freezer. The bag never quite hardens, so if you’ve just woken up after a heavy night, you can place it on your forehead for instant relief.
* Rust, begone!
You can stave off corrosion on your boat trailer – the springs, hubs and so on – by painting them with Jeyes Fluid.
R L Meredith
For more tips, projects and advice on tools, buy PM’s January 2014 issue (on sale 16 December) – we feature a special 9-page article on practical all things DIY.