41 home improvement tips


Covering up your thermostat with a painting is an ideal way to prevent it from quickly responding to changing temperatures.


Yeah, the answer to this one is “get a nicer looking thermostat.”


In what sense are these “hacks?”


I was wondering that, too. When did “hack” become the same thing as “idea”?


Because only a hacker would see the immense functionality of putting a doorknob on your wall as a feature and not a bug.

Hack the world! Doorknobs are now coathooks! Coathooks now open doors! Hack the world!


The only one I had a real issue with was the magnet on the hammer. Do I really want pointy pieces of metal clinging to the bottom of a tool I’m going be grabbing low and swinging violently? It’s mildly helpful, but also very likely dangerous.


Whu? Do you… like… toss the hammer in the air and then catch it and spin-punch it into the nail while screaming “haaaiiiii-YA!”?

That said, I’m not sure this is a great idea, especially with strong magnets. They have a habit of betraying you, especially when used around small objects like washers, which you then can’t remove without losing a fingernail.

I was going to comment about covering up the thermostat as well. But if you drill down to the original page, the author built it to cover an alarm panel, and specifically says don’t cover up the thermostat.


Hack the system! Reading is for dummies!


Some are quite smart. I may use the pantry organizer for some workshop stuff, for example.

The foam noodle may need better execution; the metal mountpoints look like they just beg the car doors to hit exactly them. May need to be covered with halves of tennis balls, or at least blobs of silicone putty. (Paging Sugru…)

Who would want to hide the router? Isn’t it fairly important to have the blinkenlights within sight?

The saran wrap trick is underutilized.

Not sure I’d use the acrylic latex, would opt for silicone instead. But I don’t know how the “latex” would work so maybe it works even better than my favorite polymeric workhorse.

Thumbtacks won’t last long in heavier duty. A nail is better.

The spice storage with magnet is fun.

The magnet-on-a-hammer looks like a pretty good idea, within limitations the magnets tend to have.

Why so many heeled shoes? Aren’t they an ergonomic nightmare? If something is worth banning, it is putting form over function.

And some tricks of my own.

Nail polish for keys, I use “normal” anodized aluminium keys to which I copied the master set. (The aluminium ones are also quite lighter.) I however also used a Dremel to cut grooves to the edge of the top edge, so I can recognize the right key with a finger slide even in darkness; find the top straight side, check the number of grooves (zero, one, two), and you’re done.

Another lock/key-related trick is using glow-in-the-dark paint or stickers on the sides of the lock. Even a few hours after it was charged up it still faintly glows, and can be seen by the edge of field of vision, when adapted to darkness.

The phosphorescent pigment is also useful for marking light switches. Take the cover off, paint with the pigment in suitable binder (or even spraypaint with the glow-in-the-dark paint), coat with a clear paint (the pigment is often coarse), dry, put back.

Glow-in-the-dark material can be also used for marking edges of walls and doors and other things you tend to bump into when you’re too lazy to switch on the light.

A computer-controlled light switch can let you switch on the light from the door and switch it off from the bed. If it is programmable, you can attach an on/off button for easier operation. For yet easier operation, attach the button on the door next to the handle, so you can operate the room light without having to grope on the wall; also, make a press-and-hold alternative to quick tap for the switch button that will switch the light on for (or switch it off after) a preset delay, set to be enough to walk to the bed (or through area) plus a small reserve.

Doesn’t everybody?

So that’s what I’ve been doing wrong.


That’s where we differ…


Why are y’all paying for water? Just buy the powder!

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Beating them against the rocks down at the river has been good enough for my family for generations! Up yours, corporations!


I’d be concerned about the amount of dead space in the dispenser, inaccessible without tilting, as the cock is not at the very bottom.

Of course this could be remedied by filling the bottom of the bottle with e.g. sand-filled epoxy or other suitable fixed displacer, which could also double as a stabilizing weight. Bonus point for tilting the bottle a bit during pouring/setting of the filler, so the bottom “floor” is angled towards the outlet, for yet more reduction of the inaccessible material.

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Easier mixing, most likely. Same reason why pigments in plastics industry often come as premixed granules (known as “masterbatch”). Or why some alloying metals are prealloyed with some carrier metal (usually the base one of the alloy; though there are other reasons too, e.g. easier to prepare an iron-something alloy (the “ferroalloys”) than making the addition pure).

I’d rather not get woken up by a flash bang grenade tossed through my window because that busy body neighbor saw a bag of white powder in my garage…

actually, I use this stuff: Home-hacking review: Charlie’s Laundry Soap - Boing Boing

… you can buy “pre-mixed” laundry powder you know. (Also it tends to come in a cardboard box versus plastic tub.)

Man I miss working in manufacturing, our plant had a cabling bay where we made our own coated wires for cabling. Giant tubs of granulated plastics in every colour you could imagine. So neat. It was like a room full of giant mechanical spiders.