10 Time-Saving Pro Tips You’ll Be Glad You Know

Think of all the extra work you'll get done after learning these time-savers!

Drywall being sanded off of a drywall knife | Construction Pro Tips

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Get rid of caked-on drywall

In the best-case scenario, drywall knives get cleaned pretty much as soon as all of the mudding work is done. Drywall mud is (obviously) much easier to clean up before it dries and hardens. But sometimes life gets in the way and that best-case scenario just doesn't happen, leaving you with a knife that could take a long time to clean. Don't worry if you end up with knives that are so coated in caked-on mud that they've become practically useless. Instead, take out your favorite drywall sander and get to work. Pick a grit around 120 and just sand off the dried-on mud exactly the same as you would the mud off of a wall. Just make sure you aren't too aggressive and don't end up damaging the blade.

Construction Pro Tips

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Quickest way to get teflon in tight spaces

Teflon tape, or "plumbers tape" is an essential part of creating water-tight and secure connections between pipes. If a pipe fitting is in a cramped location, though, it can be tricky to get the Teflon tightly wrapped around it. Here's a tip: first, wrap a bit of the plumber's tape around the eraser end of a pencil (number 2 or mechanical, both work). Then use the pencil to wind the Teflon around the fitting, looping it around and then snapping the tape off once enough has been applied. Plus: These are the plumbing mistakes you need to avoid at all costs.

scribe with a tape measureConstruction Pro Tips

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Scribe a line with a tape measure

Scribing a straight line with nothing but a tape measure and a pencil is a great way to save time on the job and avoid using unnecessary tools. It's also an essential skill that every rookie carpenter should practice and learn. The process itself is fairly simple, but it can take a few tries to learn how to do it consistently.

  1. Hold your tape measure in whichever of your hands is closest to the far edge of the board of the line you want to scribe the line onto.
  2. Extend the blade of the tape a little past the length that you want to scribe. For example, if you are trying to draw a line that is ten inches away from the edge of the board, pull the blade out about a half an inch or so further than that.
  3. With the rest of the tape still cupped in your hand, pinch the tape at the exact length you want to scribe and hold your fingers against the edge of the board (pictured above).
  4. Hold your pencil firmly against the face of the claw of your tape measure. Make sure that you have a solid grip here, because if your pencil slips your line will be off.
  5. Now that you are in position, slide the pencil and the tape down the width of the board you are scribing, keeping your pencil on the surface of the board and your finger pushed against its edge. As long as you are working off of a factory edge that does not randomly dip in some areas, you should be able to scribe a clean, straight line down the entire width of the board just by walking your pencil down it.

Next, check out more of our go-to measuring and marking tricks.

Running a paint roller against tape to remove lintConstruction Pro Tips

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Roll some tape on it

Here's a quick and efficient way to remove lint and other small debris from the polyester on a paint roller cover. Stick the end of a roll of tape on the bottom of the toe of your shoe and roll it out to about waist level. Now, with the sticky side of the tape facing you, just roll the paint roller repeatedly up and down the tape. Any lint should be caught on the surface of the tape and your paint roller will be left fluffed and spotless.

Separating a bag of concrete in two with rebar | Construction Pro Tips

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Carry bags quicker and more efficiently

Working with bagged concrete can be messy, hard work. One way to make those heavy concrete bags a little more manageable is to split them in half with this simple trick. First, lay a length of rebar on the ground. Next, lay the bag of concrete on top of the rebar so that half of the bag is on either side of the bar. Grab a utility knife and make a long slit across the face of the bag, right above the spot where the rebar is laying. Then. simply lift the rebar up from the ground. Now just tear or cut the seam left over by the bag, leaving behind two separate bags of concrete that will be much easier to handle. To see this tip in action, watch the video below.

Chap stick and two screws next to a thick piece of lumber | Construction Pro Tips

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Speed up your screws

Sometimes, driving a large screw into a tough piece of wood can be a bit of a chore. If the wood is hard enough you could potentially strip the screw or even break it in two.  But if you happen to have a tube of lip balm nearby, you've already got an easy fix to this problem- just apply a dab of the lip balm to the grooves of the screw. The lip balm will act as a lubricant and the screw will sink in as if the wood was butter. Just be careful not to overdo it when working on a fine woodworking project, as the waxy lip balm could get on the surface of the wood and repel the stain or finish. You may also want to wipe off the end of the lip balm before putting the cap back on.

Brushing water off of a paint brush | Construction Pro Tips

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Clean quicker

Cleaning paint brushes after a long day of painting can be a long, lonely task. One way to make things go more smoothly is to plan ahead. The next time you're getting ready to paint, run your brush (or brushes) through whatever cleaning solution is required for that specific paint (for water-based paints use water, for oil-based paints use paint roller cover). This "pre-soaking" will actually keep the paint from bonding too much with the bristles of the brush and will result in a much easier clean up process. Here are more essential tips for cleaning your tools.

Rolled up tow strap connected to notched dowel | Construction Pro Tips

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Roll up tie downs in a flash

The best way to prevent your tie-down straps from becoming a big tangled mess is to roll them up when your done using them, and here’s a simple trick to help you do just that. Create a "specialty tool" that is really just a 1/4-inch dowel with a notch in the end. Make the notch at least as long as the width of the strap. Stick the dowel into a power drill with the notched part sticking out. Now, all you need to do is slide the end of the strap through the notch in the dowel and spin the drill at a gradual pace. The dowel will spin the strap in a slow circle and wrap it into a neat circular roll.

slipping a phone into a slanted jean pocket | Construction Pro TipsConstruction Pro Tips

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A case for slanted jean pockets

Have you ever noticed that some jeans have pockets that slant down instead of coming straight across? While this might seem like a minor detail, there's actually a very good reason for choosing the jeans with the slanted pockets. Slanted pockets create an opening that is much easier for someone to slip a hand into, especially if they're also wearing a fully-loaded tool belt. So next time you're looking to replace a well-worn pair of work jeans, keep an eye on the pockets. Little things like this can go a long way towards getting more work done over the course of a day on the jobsite. For more of our essential construction clothing and gear, click here. 

Hooking an eye hook onto an allen wrench | Construction Pro Tips

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Spin out eye hooks

Eye hooks are great little fasteners with a wide variety of applications. But removing them can be a bit of a pain, especially if you try to do it by hand. Instead of putting your thumbs through a world of hurt, try this simple trick for eye hook removal: Put the long end of an allen wrench into the chuck of a drill and then use the hook end to spin the eye hook out. It's as easy as that!

Next, see our top tips for finishing trim.

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