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73 things you should never throw out (and how to reuse them)

Wait! Before you toss these items in the trash or recycling bin, check out all of the brilliant ways you can repurpose them around your home.

1. Coffee container
1. Coffee container
The Family Handyman

Lugging a heavy bag of seeds or lawn fertiliser out to the footpath is no fun, and it’s tough to spread evenly with a shovel or cup.

You get a clump in one spot and none in another, so you’re wasting both time and product.

Here’s a great solution. Make a 'sidewalk salt shaker' from a big plastic coffee container with a handle.

Poke 1/4-in. holes in the lid and fill it with sand, cat litter, seeds, or a mix of whatever you want and shake away! — Tony DeMarse.

If the yard has more weeds than grass, the simplest solution might be to dig it all up and start again.

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2. Hose reel
2. Hose reel
The Family Handyman

To keep holiday lights from getting tangled and make it easy to string them around the yard next year, roll all the strings of lights onto a portable hose reel with wheels and a handle.

Fancy sprucing up your current hose reel? Build a latticed structure from treated pine to store a garden hose and reel, using it as a trellis to grow screening plants.

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3. Ice trays
3. Ice trays
The Family Handyman

Forget the old coffee can filled with your lifetime collection of screws, washers and other hardware.

Take 10 minutes to organise the miscellany in ice cube trays.

Nail together a case from scrap plywood and carry it right to the job at hand.

Thanks to reader Leo McSherry for this extremely cool tip.

While you're getting organised, create a basic DIY kit with these ten tools, including clamps and vices, ladders and hammers.

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4. Foam beverage can holders
4. Foam beverage can holders
The Family Handyman

How many times have you stubbed your toe on your metal bed frame? Ouch!

Here’s a creative way to protect your piggies.

Cover the bare metal leg and wheel with a foam beverage can holder.

It’ll save your toes and prevent carpet dents and hardwood floor scratches to boot! — Vito Accetta

You can also create a handy storage rack for frequently used tools using polystyrene foam.

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5. Use a pool noodle inside a drawer
5. Use a pool noodle inside a drawer
The Family Handyman

Reader Roy Allison found a solution for keeping his silverware drawer organiser from moving around each time he opened or closed the drawer: a pool noodle!

He cut the noodle to size, so that it fits snuggly between the back of the organizer and the back of the drawer.

You can use pool noodles for all sorts of things - this idea is just great!

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6. Buckets
6. Buckets
The Family Handyman

Buckets are super helpful around the house and in the garage.

We've got a bunch of bucket hacks you can do.

Make a tough, self-filling dog feeder from a couple of buckets.

With a saber saw, cut the bottom off one bucket to create a serving tray, and cut a food dispensing hole in the food storage bucket (as shown above).

Cut part of the lip off the bottom of the food storage bucket to flatten it, then use silicone to glue the two pieces together.

NOTE: Don't build this dog feeder unless your pooch can exercise some self-control. — Justin Moujoodi

Try these helpful tips to achieve a happy homelife for you and your pets.

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7. Paper tubes
7. Paper tubes
The Family Handyman

There are several uses for paper tubes like cord storage or making your vacuum reach more places.

To make it easier to clean hard to reach spots use a left over wrapping paper tube as a vacuum cleaner extension.

Now you have 3 extra feet to clean ceiling fans and cobwebbed corners.

These common household products can help you restore, revive and clean just about every corner of your home.

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8. Toothbrushes
8. Toothbrushes
The Family Handyman

Old toothbrushes are great at cleaning tough to reach spots.

Now that discount and dollar stores carry cheap electric toothbrushes, you can add a modern twist to routine cleaning.

Rapid vibration will quickly scrub out stubborn dirt, while the long handle can get to hard-to-reach places without all the elbow grease.

Plastic toothbrush holders can cost as little as $1 and are extremely handy for storing smaller tools in the workshop.

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9. Tennis balls
9. Tennis balls
The Family Handyman

A tennis ball can help open a bottle or become a mallet in a pinch.

Did you know a tennis ball holds the secret to flawless vinyl flooring?

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10. Milk jugs
10. Milk jugs
The Family Handyman

You don’t need to save all your milk jugs but having a few extra around can be a real blessing.

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11. Clamshell containers
11. Clamshell containers
The Family Handyman

Clamshell containers are great for repurposing and for holding cookies.

When it’s time to clean out the refrigerator, be sure to save those plastic berry containers.

You can toss the mushy raspberries, but wash and dry the container - it’s perfect for spreading grass seed on your lawn!

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12. Pipe insulation
12. Pipe insulation
The Family Handyman

Pipe insulation is somewhat similar to a pool noodle and it’s just as handy to have.

You can use foam pipe insulation to baby-proof your home.

Cut the tube to length and slip it onto edges and corners that could be dangerous to a small child.

The pressure of the curved foam will keep it in place for an easy-to-remove baby-proofing solution.

Or, use the adhesive strip to hold the insulation in place for a more permanent safety fix.

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13. Socks
13. Socks
The Family Handyman

The next time you need to clean your window blinds, use an old sock on your hand!

Your hand makes a perfect tool for reaching all of the nooks and crannies on the blinds, and the sock picks up dust wonderfully.

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14. Wine bottle
Courtesy of World of Art

Wine bottles are getting used by DIYers for all sorts of projects these days. If you’re up for cutting glass, try using empty wine bottles as planters. You’ll need to cut either the side or the top, depending on the look you’re going for.

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15. Gutter garden
15. Gutter garden
The Family Handyman

Gutters can also be used for creative outdoor water features.

Or, like here, gutters have been mounted on a wall for a hydroponic garden.

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16. Books
Courtesy of Home Talk

Who says practical storage can’t be pretty?

This DIY Knife Block, made from old books, is a cinch to make.

Simply pick some unique books in your favourite color scheme and tie them together tightly with twine to create the perfect home for all your kitchen knives.

You can even create different colour schemes based on the seasons and holidays, making this a versatile hack and way to figure out what to do with old books.

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17. Curtain rods
17. Curtain rods
The Family Handyman

If you need extra storage space reach for a curtain rod.

If you have space in an upper cabinet, try a DIY spice storage rack that uses a spring-tension curtain rod.

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18. Mesh produce bag
18. Mesh produce bag
Brenda Porter-Rockwell

One of your easiest and most eco-friendly options for toy storage is already in your refrigerator.

Empty your mesh produce bags and toss in your child’s bath or beach toys.

Attach a plastic hook and hang the bag of toys on the shower wall within easy reach.

And if you need more room than what you can hold in a bag, buy a reusable mesh produce bag and still have an eco-friendly bag alternative to traditional toy storage.

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19. Save your containers
19. Save your containers
The Family Handyman

Save all your glass and plastic containers for your shop.

Glass jars work well for liquids.

Clean brushes in an old tin can.

Brush on glue from small containers of all kinds.

Sour cream/cottage cheese containers work for just about everything.

Clear plastic containers are great for miscellaneous storage because you can see what’s in them.

Just label everything with a permanent marker.

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20. Blinds
20. Blinds
Courtesy of Blindster

These old bamboo blinds have a new life as an American flag.

Just remove the headrail of the blinds by cutting the string that holds it together and tie it off to prevent unravelling.

Then grab your patriotic paint and get started.

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21. PVC piping
21. PVC piping
The Family Handyman

There are countless ways to repurpose PVC piping.

Keep your drill(s) and accessories organised and close at hand to make your DIY projects run smoothly.

There’s a top shelf for accessories, a wider lower shelf for larger items such as battery packs, and the clever use of 3-inch PVC piping makes hanging holsters for different drill attachments. 

The instructions for this drill dock include advice on how to customise the dock to fit your drill and you can even add a power strip to the bottom shelf to keep everything charged and ready to go.

In addition to basic tools, you’ll need a circular saw, a jigsaw and a clamp to complete this project successfully.

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22. Window
22. Window
Courtesy of Ana White

Repurpose an old window and attach a board to the bottom to create a one-of-a-kind display shelf.

This project cost about $30 for the materials and took less than two hours.

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23. Plastic grocery bags
23. Plastic grocery bags
circularthreadz

Those plastic bags are already overflowing at home and you might use them as a trash bag in the bathroom but there are a number of uses for them you haven’t considered - like this handbag made from plastic grocery bags.

The blogger from circularthreadz says she turns heads when she heads to the store with this handbag made with plastic grocery bags.

It took her about nine hours and around 500 plastic bags to make this reusable handbag.

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24. Cardboard boxes
24. Cardboard boxes
A Piece of Rainbow

Don’t go crazy collecting cardboard boxes because they can be big pieces of clutter but keep some around for projects.

This innovative, flexible shoe rack uses repurposed cardboard boxes that have been cut, folded and held into triangle shapes with colourful tape.

Attach as many as you need for a fun and stylish shoe storage solution.

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25. Basket
25. Basket
Tickled Red

Don’t toss that old basket just because one piece has come undone.

Instead, try using some fun fabric to turn it into a footstool with storage space for lap crafts or magazines.

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26. Dining chairs
26. Dining chairs
Rust-Oleum Make It Yours

Grab your favourite paint colour and give those old farmhouse chairs a new purpose.

These two broken dining chairs were transformed into pretty planters.

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27. Kitchen cabinets
27. Kitchen cabinets
Just Spiff It!

The maker of this kitchen table recycled what they originally labelled as a “useless” section of their old kitchen cabinets.

They spent less than $100 on the remodel.

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28. Dressers
28. Dressers
DIY Show off

Where space is at a premium, a repurposed dresser makes an ideal kitchen island.

And as there is virtually no construction involved, it is one of many ways to give your kitchen a quick facelift.

Look for dressers with deep drawers and interesting detail to make this work in your space.

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29. Old clothing
29. Old clothing
Stokkete/Shutterstock

Purchasing cotton rags for painting, cleaning or dusting projects can get expensive.

Make your own rags for free using old T-shirts and other unused garments.

A few minutes with a pair of scissors or utility knife set up like this is all it takes to convert unwanted clothing into useful rags.

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30. Used or leftover building materials
30. Used or leftover building materials
DT10/Shutterstock

Salvaging used or leftover building materials is a great way to save a few dollars.

Visit a nearby construction site and speak to the project supervisor.

Often, they will allow you to dumpster dive for discarded materials.

Not only is this good for your wallet, but also the environment by keeping it out of the landfill.

In addition, used materials often have a unique patina, which could add extra appeal to your project.

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31. Old rake
31. Old rake
The Family Handyman

Don’t throw away that old rake.

When the handle broke on our old rake, I decided to repurpose it for use as a rack to store my garden hand tools.

It fits the gardening theme and keeps what I need in plain sight! — Judy G. Todd

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32. Packing peanuts
32. Packing peanuts
The Family Handyman

Packing peanuts aren’t going to go into your recycling bin but places like UPS and other shipping retailers will accept packing peanuts for recycling.

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33. Tires
33. Tires
e X p o s e/Shutterstock

Make creative garden chairs by recycling your old tires, because what goes better than horticulture and recycled materials?

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34. Use an old eyeglass case for hardware storage
34. Use an old eyeglass case for hardware storage
The Family Handyman

My wife has a drawer full of old eyeglass cases that she doesn’t use anymore, so I repurposed them to store small things like drill bits and screws.

I stick a case in my shirt pocket when I’m working and toss it into a toolbox when I’m done.

It’s much easier than digging around for small stuff in the bottom of my tool apron. — Norm Smith

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35. Laundry jug watering can
35. Laundry jug watering can
The Family Handyman

Instead of throwing away empty laundry detergent containers, rinse them out thoroughly and then recycle them for watering plants.

Drill 1/8-in. holes in the top of the cap, and a 1/2-in. hole just above the handle to relieve pressure so the water flows freely.

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36. Gardening tool hack
36. Gardening tool hack
The Family Handyman

Don’t throw away the plastic pots from potted plants.

With a rope handle attached, they make great weed buckets to carry with you as you tend the flower beds or vegetable garden. — Glen Weller

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37. Cardboard carton
37. Cardboard carton
The Family Handyman

Instead of tossing that cardboard milk or orange juice carton in the recycling bin, cut off the top, wrap it with fabric and use it as a planter for herbs or flowers.

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38. Wine cork caulk saver
38. Wine cork caulk saver
The Family Handyman

Keeping around a few extra wine corks is a good idea in case you accidentally throw one away.

But they also work for other purposes. Synthetic wine corks are great for sealing partially used tubes of caulk.

Drill a 5/16-in. hole into the cork about 1 in. deep.

The cork fits perfectly and makes an airtight seal.

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39. Pop tops
39. Pop tops
The Family Handyman

If you’re hanging pictures and run out of those sawtooth hangers, just grab the nearest soft drink can.

Bend the pull tab back and forth until it breaks off.

Then screw it to your picture frame.

Bend the free end out slightly and hang the picture. – Carrie Tegeler

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40. Old sneakers
40. Old sneakers
The Family Handyman

Make sandpaper nearly new again with a lowly old sneaker.

Start up your power sander and dust collection system (remember to wear hearing and eye protection).

Then slowly press the rubber sole of an old sneaker along the sandpaper—you’ll see a difference instantly!

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41. Bread tabs
41. Bread tabs
The Family Handyman

Not sure which cord goes with which electronic device plugged into your power strip?

Save yourself the hassle of following the cord from the plugin to the device for each item you need to move by labelling them.

Plastic bread tabs are perfect for labelling cords that are plugged into a power strip because they’re sturdy, have enough room to write on and can easily clip around the plugin end of a cord.

Plus, they often come in different colours.

You’ll be able to easily identify and move your electrical devices.

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42. Pie plate
42. Pie plate
The Family Handyman

Create a quick disposable dustpan out of an aluminium pie plate.

Use tin snips or heavy-duty scissors to cut the pie plate in half.

Sweep up the mess and toss it in the trash!

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43. Tin can
43. Tin can
The Family Handyman

Keep cold water within reach when mowing the lawn on hot days.

Simply attach an empty (and clean) tin can to the handle of your walk-behind mower using zip ties.

Be sure to select a can that is large enough to fit your water bottle!

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44. Egg cartons
44. Egg cartons
The Family Handyman

Keep a few empty egg cartons with the rest of your painting supplies.

They’re great for lifting a small project off of a work surface, making it easier to paint nooks and crannies and along the base of the project.

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45. Tape containers
45. Tape containers
The Family Handyman

Don’t have any furniture glides on hand when you need to move a piece of heavy furniture by yourself?

Dig into your painting supplies and use the base of a tape under each leg on the furniture piece.

It’ll then slide smoothly across the floor.

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46. Wine box shoe storage
46. Wine box shoe storage
The Family Handyman

Find a free shoe storage container at almost any store that sells wine.

Originally designed to protect glass bottles, a wine box is perfect for organising shoes as well because it comes with cardboard dividers already in place!

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47. Garden hose
47. Garden hose
The Family Handyman

If you have old buckets with broken plastic handles, retrofit the buckets with new handles made from an old garden hose.

Cut short lengths of hose, slit each one with a utility knife and slide them over the handles.

If you can remove one side of the wire handle, you can just slide the hose grip on without slitting it.

The handles work great and keep those buckets on the job!

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48. Old gloves
48. Old gloves
The Family Handyman

Don’t throw out your old work gloves.

Cut the fingers off and you’ll find lots of uses for them.

Use them to protect the tips of chisels when you need to carry them.

They’re also good for softening the grip of pliers and many other applications.

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49. Bucket lids
49. Bucket lids
The Family Handyman

Make this handy cord reel using extra bucket lids.

Cut a 5-in. length of 4×4 and then cut a groove in the side the same width as your cord.

Fasten the lids to the 4×4 with 1/4 x 2-in. lag screws. Make handles from an old 1-1/8 in. diameter broom handle and drill a 1/2-in. hole through the center.

Fasten the crank to the lid with bolts, nuts and washers, and apply Loctite sealant to the end nut.

Fasten the handle to the 4×4 through the lid with a 6-1/2 in. lag screw.

Just insert your cord and reel it in.

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50. Three-ring binder spine
50. Three-ring binder spine
The Family Handyman

To store elastic cords safely and neatly, pull out the spine of an old three-ring binder.

Punch out the rivets and screw the spine to the garage wall.

The rings are the perfect spot to hang cords without dangerous tension.— Tim Groff

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51. Painter’s plastic
51. Painter’s plastic
The Family Handyman

After thoroughly washing and air-drying my brushes, I wrap them with the same painter’s plastic that I use to mask off trim and protect the floors.

The tape on the edge sticks to the metal ferrule, and the plastic is the perfect length to cover the bristles and help maintain their shape. — Joe Martin

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52. Tarps
52. Tarps
The Family Handyman

I needed to pour a concrete pad for a brick mailbox I was building.

My neighbour, a retired stonemason, offered to help and his first instruction was to skip the concrete mixer rental. He had an easier way, using two people, a 6 x 6-ft. heavy-duty tarp with rope handles at each corner, and a water bucket.

Here’s how it works.

Pour a bag of concrete mix in the center of the tarp, make a crater in the center and then add the recommended amount of water.

Each person grabs two tarp corners like they’re going to fold the tarp.

Lift one corner at a time going in one direction, like you’re doing “the wave” at a football game, and continue for a minute or two until the bag is mixed.

Pour the concrete right from the tarp into the form and start a new bag.

My project, requiring eight bags of concrete mix, was mixed and poured in less than an hour, including washing the tools and tarp. —Travis Dunford

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53. Coffee bag ties
53. Coffee bag ties
The Family Handyman

Small bags of fancy coffee have heavy-duty ties to keep them airtight.

The ties are handy for securing small coils of electrical cable and rope.

They’re usually fastened to the bag with just a dab of glue, making them pretty easy to pull off. — Joe Gemmill

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54. Cereal box
54. Cereal box
The Family Handyman

Make changing the oil in your lawnmower and outdoor machines less messy with this handy hint: Cut off a piece of an empty cereal box and fold it into a trough.

Then tip the machine and use the trough to guide the oil into the waste pan.

The glossy coating on the cereal box keeps the oil from soaking through.

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55. Coffee carry-all
55. Coffee carry-all
The Family Handyman

You can reuse those takeout coffee four-pack cartons.

They’re made of stiff cardboard and offer 3-1/2-in.-wide square bins for jumbo plastic drinking cups.

They’re handy storage spots for nails, screws and other small stuff.

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56. To-go coffee cup
56. To-go coffee cup
The Family Handyman

Use a clean to-go coffee cup with a lid to water plants.

The hole in the lid is small, so water pours slowly.

It’s especially useful for plants such as aloe vera and cacti, which don’t require much water and are at risk of overwatering.

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57. Rx bottle for storing fasteners
57. Rx bottle for storing fasteners
Getty Images

Repurpose your empty medicine bottles to store fasteners such as nails, screws, washers, etc.

Remove the original label, so you can clearly see the contents inside.

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58. Tissue box
58. Tissue box
The Family Handyman

An empty rectangular tissue box makes a convenient holder for small garbage bags, plastic grocery bags and small rags.

Simply thumbtack it to the inside of a cabinet door. It’s one of our favourite kitchen storage ideas.

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59. Peanut butter jars
59. Peanut butter jars
The Family Handyman

Plastic peanut butter jars work better for storage than glass baby food jars because they hold a lot more hardware and won’t break into shards if you drop one.

Attach the lids of jars under a shelf with two screws (so the lid can’t spin when you loosen the jar) and screw on the loaded jar.

For quick access, cut away half of a large peanut butter jar with a sharp utility knife, leaving the neck intact, then attach the lid and jar to the side of a cabinet.

If you load it with lemon drops, we won’t tell.

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60. Bubble wrap
60. Bubble wrap
The Family Handyman

Bubble wrap can help prevent blisters by placing some on the handle of a rake or a broom.

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61. Golf tees
61. Golf tees
The Family Handyman

When you’re painting or varnishing small projects, it’s best to elevate them for good coverage and to keep your project from sticking to the worktable.

Use an old piece of pegboard and some golf tees.

The pegboard keeps the tees in place, and then you can arrange them as necessary for different size projects. — TERRY MEINCKE

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62. Bike inner tubes
62. Bike inner tubes
The Family Handyman

Make lifting heavy loads with your wheelbarrow a little more pleasant by adding these cushioned hand grips.

Reuse an old rubber bike tube by cutting pieces to fit over the wheelbarrow handles. If needed, use a hair dryer to warm up the rubber and make it easier to stretch.

The bike tube provides the perfect amount of padding and traction.

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63. Grated cheese container
63. Grated cheese container
Getty Images

Reuse your grated cheese container to shake grass seed on bare spots in your lawn.

The holes in the container are the perfect size for dispensing just the right amount without overdoing it

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64. Rubber chair leg cap
64. Rubber chair leg cap
The Family Handyman

A rubber chair leg cap instantly converts a hammer into a rubber mallet.

And if you want to drive a nail without denting the surrounding wood, cut a hole in the rubber cap.

Pound until the rubber strikes wood, then finish driving the nail with a nail set.

A 1-1/8-in. rubber cap fits tightly over most hammers.

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65. Garment bag
65. Garment bag
The Family Handyman

I used to keep rolls of wrapping paper under a bed or in the corner of a closet, making them hard to get at and covering them with dust.

And then I’d go hunting for scissors and tape.

To make wrapping presents easier, I now use a clear garment bag as a portable gift wrap organiser.

It’s great for storing all my ribbons, bows, tape and scissors - all clearly visible and grouped together.

I just hang it in the closet until I need it, and I can carry the whole shebang to the dining room table whenever I have a big wrapping project. — Sue Rosenkranz

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66. Spray paint organiser
66. Spray paint organiser
The Family Handyman

My wife was just about to throw away a shoe caddy when I had this idea.

I screwed the shoe caddy to one of the garage walls, and now I store all my spray-paint cans in there.

It lets me find the colour I want, and the cans aren’t hogging valuable shelf space. — James Stefan

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67. No-slide knee pads
67. No-slide knee pads
The Family Handyman

Knee pads that slip down your shins every time you stand up are a huge nuisance.

Avoid the slide by strapping on a pair of shin guards instead.

You get comfortable knee pads that stay put, and shin protection, too.

You can try a secondhand sports store or get a new pair online. — Bill Jones

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68. Flexible drainage pipe
68. Flexible drainage pipe
The Family Handyman

We have a lot of deer where I live, and they do a lot of damage by stripping the bark off newly planted trees.

And in autumn, the bucks rub their antlers on the bark to scrub off the velvet.

To prevent such damage, I cut lengths of 4-in. flexible drainage pipe, slit them and wrapped them around the base of the trees.

I used the kind with holes in it so air can circulate and keep the trunk from rotting.

The pipe also protects the base of the tree whenever I run my string trimmer  — Blake Bethards

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69. Slide
69. Slide
The Family Handyman

My husband and I needed to pour a new concrete slab.

We rented a cement mixer to make the job easier, but we didn’t like the idea of schlepping concrete from the mixer to the hole, one wheelbarrow at a time.

Instead, we found a plastic slide from an old swing set and used it as a chute.

This allowed us to pour the concrete directly into the form. — Judy Hoppe

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70. Mailbox
70. Mailbox
The Family Handyman

A mailbox hidden behind shrubs near your garden provides a convenient home for tools.

Find a use for an old mailbox or find one like this at a home centre.

A small mailbox like this one pictured is relatively cheap. — Lynn Samples

DIYers tend to accumulate all kinds of tools for all kinds of projects.

The key to staying efficient, though, is to make sure you always have the right tools at hand.

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71. Plastic shelving units
71. Plastic shelving units
The Family Handyman

When cutting full sheets with my circular saw, I use plastic shelving units as sawhorses.

The height is just right and by using three of them, I can make cuts in any direction and the plywood is fully supported.

And because the shelving units are made of plastic, I can cut right into them without worrying that they’ll damage my saw blade.

Use some old shelves or find some new ones. — John Tinger

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72. Wire mesh fence
72. Wire mesh fence
The Family Handyman

Moving leaves in a wheelbarrow is no fun.

A couple of good bounces and your leaves are all over the ground again.

To combat this, I took a 4-ft. piece of wire mesh fence and bent it around the top and sides of my wheelbarrow.

Now I can load the wheelbarrow full of leaves and have them stay put as I wheel them to the compost pile. — Casey Hankins

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73. Key ring
73. Key ring
The Family Handyman

Occasionally, my utility knife would get stuck inside one of the narrow pockets of my leather tool belt.

To prevent this, I installed a key ring through the hole in the end of my utility knife.

The ring also makes it easy to hang my utility knife on a nail in the workshop. — Ted Kozlak

Source: The Family Handyman.

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