Time to spare? Eight DIY jobs you can do today
Hardware stores may be closed, but you can do a lot with what you already have
Now is the perfect time to tackle those odd jobs that have been niggling at you for the last few months, or even – dare I say it – years. Photograph: Getty Images/Ron Chapple Studios
Life has changed very suddenly for so many. Thousands are working from home, saving hours on the daily commute, while others have been unfortunately temporarily laid off. Meanwhile, there is no more ferrying of the kids here, there and everywhere to social and sporting activities, and, with no sport on the television to absorb our free time, a lot of us have a lot more time than usual on our hands.
Filling this time constructively is important, and one of the most rewarding ways this can be done is by tackling those odd jobs that have been niggling at you for the last few months, or even – dare I say it – years.
In what was one of the strangest speeches to come from Dáil Éireann in recent times, poor Eamon Ryan of the Green Party failed in his impassioned plea to keep hardware stores open, and so we have been somewhat caught on the hop. What we have at hand in terms of tools and materials is pretty much all we have to play with. But it’s possible to mend quite a lot with even the modest stock we might already have in our arsenal.
Do you have an annoying squeak from one of your doors or outside gate as it swings open or shut? A simple squirt of 3-In-One oil on the hinges will soon silence that. And you don’t have 3-In-One try WD-40, failing that, some olive oil from the cupboard will work just as well. While you have the oil to hand it’s a good idea to lube up any sticky locks including outside padlocks you might have.
While we are on the subject of unwanted noise, squeaky floorboards can also make you wince while trying to get to bed ninja style. Ideally you want some old-fashioned floor brads, nailed into the joist underneath about 20mm from the edge of the floorboard. Never in the middle as that’s generally the area used for pipe and cable runs. If you have no floor brads, then try oval nails. Nothing more than 50mm long.
It’s rare anyone ever manages to hang a picture straight away after bringing it home. Homes are filled with pictures and photographs propped against walls. For small items such as framed photos, simple picture hooks and a hammer will get the job done. For heavier items and mirrors, a drill and some plugged screws will cover you on a masonry wall. But remember: if dealing with a stud wall you will have to find the timber uprights. Do this by tapping along the wall until you hear the hollow sound change and then test by tapping a nail in an area that you know will be covered by what you are hanging. If you need to find a second timber upright, they are generally spaced at 400mm distances.
Revive wood furniture
Natural wooden work tops, desks and tables do get tired looking with the constant wear and tear on their surfaces, but they can be quickly brought back to life with an oiling down of Danish oil or Osmo oil. Simply rub down with a rag, some elbow grease and hey presto.
Have a wallpaper joint that is starting to peel? Open the gap a little larger by rubbing it with a cloth soaked in warm water. Use some everyday PVA glue to stick it back down again, making sure to clean off any surplus.
While you have the glue out, a wine bottle cork can be cut to size to sort out a wobbly table or chair by gluing it to the bottom of the offending leg.
Doesn’t everyone have a bunch of old paint tins in the shed? Remember paint does go off after an unreasonably long time, so if it’s there for longer than you can remember, it may be better off brought to the recycling centre for disposal. Most paints, however, should be good for at least 10 years if stored correctly. If it’s not lumpy and you can stir it – even if you have to remove a skin – then it is probably good to go. Now is a great time to stain the garden fence and shed with the weather forecast to remain largely dry.
Clear the gutters
If you have a decent ladder that extends beyond your gutter height, then this is the perfect opportunity to free up the gutters from winter’s blown debris of leaves and mosses. Obviously it’s safety first with this one, so never ever over-stretch, and always ensure someone else is manning the bottom of the ladder.
Improve on perfection
So you live in the perfectly kept house? Then it’s time to get creative. Try making something. Some basic tools and some off cuts of timber from the shed are all that’s needed to create a bird house or post box. If you’re really ambitious build a den or a go-kart for the kids or grandchildren.
Kevin Moran is a builder, moranbuilders.ie