13 Unconventional Pro Tips That Actually Work Really Well

Modern problems require modern solutions. Get creative with these outside-of-the-box pro tips for all kinds of jobs.

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

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Say Goodbye to Dry Lips and Sticky 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.

A hammer and a nail laying on top of three pieces of wood | Construction Pro TIps

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Keep Nails From Splitting Wood

A nail is basically a wedge. A nail pounded in too close to the end of a board could “wedge” the wood fibers apart and result in an unsightly split. Thankfully, there's an easy fix to this problem: Turn your "wedge" into a "punch". Before hammering the nail through the wood, take a few seconds and pound down the tip of the nail. Without its sharp, dividing tip, the blunted nail will “punch” through the wood without splitting it.

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

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Easily Unscrew 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!

Staring a toe nail from the bottom of the board | Construction Pro Tips

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Toenail... Backwards?

When toe-nailing (or toe-screwing in this case), you normally want the screw to emerge at the middle of the bottom of the board you’re screwing in to. But driving in a screw at an angle and making it come through in the right spot sometimes seems like it can be half guesswork, half luck. There's a way to toe-screw that eliminates the luck factor; just do it backwards. Driving in from the underside of the board first allows you to control and accurately place the screw exactly where you want it to be. Once the hole has been created from the bottom side, just back it out and drive in from the top.

Removing a stripped screw with the chuck of the drill | Construction Pro Tips

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Stripped Screw? Don't Panic

Sometimes screw heads get stripped out. It's just a part of life. If the head of the screw you’re struggling with is sticking up above the surface, there's actually a pretty simple solution. Just open the chuck of a drill, place it over the stripped screw, and then clamp the chuck down onto the screw head. Then simply reverse the drill like you normally would to remove a screw.

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The Best Tool for Leveling Appliances

Leveling appliances can be tricky business, but one simple tool can change that. Get yourself an Air Shim from Calculated Industries. They can be used in a wide range of applications, and they make leveling appliances much simpler. Just slide the little black bag near whatever part of the machine needs adjusting and start pumping air into it. Then, place a level on top of the appliance and watch for the bubble to hit the center. All that's left is to adjust the appliance's leg to that height and let the air out of the shim.

Allen wrench and cut wrench laying next to a power drill | Construction Pro Tips

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Create an Allen Wrench Drill Driver

Every pro probably has a few loose allen wrenches lying around in the bottom of their tool bags, separated from their full sets and looking for a new purpose. Turn those lonely wrenches into an entirely new tool by cutting off the branch of the "L" shape and creating a straight hex driver that can fit into the chuck of any power drill, just like a normal drill bit. This process could also be done with an entire set of allen wrenches to create a collection of drivers of various sizes.

catching dust from a drill in a shoeboxConstruction Pro Tips

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Do Your Eyes a Favor and Save Your Shoeboxes

Getting dust in your eyes is potentially dangerous and just all-around not very much fun. And when you are drilling in the ceiling, sometimes even the best eye protection does not quite seem to be able to catch all of the little particles that flutter down from above, intent on finding and lodging themselves in your pupils.

Thankfully, there's an easy fix. The next time you have to drill a bunch of holes into a ceiling, grab a left over shoebox and poke your drill bit through it so that the box's opening faces the same way as the point of the bit. Then, attach the drill bit to your drill and get to work. The box will catch a majority of the dust that falls from your newly-created hole, saving both your eyes and time on clean up.

Drawing a circle with a framing square | Construction Pro Tips
Construction Pro Tips

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How To Draw A Circle With a Square

Most people know that it's virtually impossible to draw a perfect circle freehand. But what they don't know is that all it takes a few common jobsite tools to get (pretty close) to circular perfection.

  • Step One: Pound two nails into a board. The distance between them will be the diameter of your circle.
  • Step Two: Position a framing square against the nails.
  • Step Three: Hold a pencil in the corner of the framing square.
  • Step Four: Rotate the pencil with the framing square as a guide.
  • Step Five: Once you have completed the first half of the circle, flip the framing square and repeat steps three and four.

Holding shoe against shoe for a more stable cope
Construction Pro Tips

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Hold Shoe Against Shoe While Coping

When coping shoe molding, the best way to keep it from jumping around too much is to hold it up against another piece of shoe. Lay the two pieces flat on a table with the small profiles facing each other. Make sure that the piece of shoe that won't be cut is sticking out about an inch or so further than the piece to be coped. Then pinch the pieces together, hold them steady and saw away!

Construction Pro Tips

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Keep Buckets From Getting Stuck Together

Five gallon buckets are super handy, but they have a tendency to get stuck together when stacked. Sometimes, they practically require the Jaws of Life to separate them, which makes storage tough. The best way to avoid this dilemma is to place a slip of cardboard between each one as they're stacked. The cardboard will be just enough to keep the buckets from nesting together fully, leaving just enough separation to allow them to be easily pulled apart.

Tow strap attached to a truck's receiver | Construction Pro Tips
Construction Pro Tips

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Safest Way To Secure A Hook-less Tow Strap

The safest way to hook up a hook-less tows trap up to a truck is using the receiver hitch pin.  Just slide the loop end of the tow strap into a truck's receiver and lock it in place with a hitch pin and the clip. That should give you a connection that's more than sturdy enough to safely tow from.

Construction Pro Tips

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How To Tie Down Tarps With Broken Grommets

Trying to tie down a tarp through the holes of broken or missing grommets is going to be a bad time. The plastic of the tarp will tear pretty easily without the metal support of the grommet, leaving loose connections and tarps susceptible to flapping open in any sort of wind.

If you are in a pinch and don't have time to repair grommets with a kit, the best way to tie down a tarp with a broken grommet is to take a small pebble or rock and bunch up a small bit of the tarp around it. While holding the pebble in place, take the string you are using to tie the tarp down and wind it around the pebble in the tarp. Then tighten the string, tie a knot and there you go- a secure connection in the place of a broken grommet that won't fail.

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