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When we put out the call for our Make and Mend theme, our awesome editorial assistant, Laura Cochrane, asked her dad for some ideas. Craig Cochrane is a former U.S. naval officer, a general building contractor, and a woodworker. He’s currently building a one-and-a-half story architecturally detailed carriage house. Here are a few tips he shared with us. [Thanks, Laura! Thanks, Craig!]


Plastic-coating pruning shears, pliers, etc.
When factory plastic coating on handles wears off, re-coat them with a rubber dipping compound, which can be purchased at a home/hardware store or online. (If handles are aluminum and the plastic wears off, the aluminum will turn your hands black.)

Door “tune-up,” for when a door is not latching, is sticking, or is scraping the floor.
Frequently, it’s the hinges that are loose. If they are:

* Tighten screws.
* If screws won’t tighten (if they’re stripped), break off a piece of wooden matchstick and insert it into the screw hole.
* Re-insert screw and tighten.


Sharpen lawn mower blades with an electric hand grinder tool
This can be done with a file, but it takes a long time. Many lawn mowers have dull blades and don’t cut well. The lawn ends up raggedy, and the ends of the grass will turn brown if it isn’t a sharp cut. Use care in sharpening.

Optional: To get rid of jagged edges and burrs, file and/or use a sharpening stone with oil on the blades.

Sharpen hedge clippers and pruning shears
Use a fine sharpening stone and 3-in-1 oil (or any oil). Makes the job a lot easier, but be careful of sharp edges!

Handsaw sharpening… most hand saws are dull and don’t cut well.
This requires a professional saw-sharpening service (I use Walton’s Saw Works in San Rafael), but it’s worth it when you see how much easier it is to cut wood with a well-sharpened saw.


Gareth Branwyn

Gareth Branwyn is a freelancer writer and the former Editorial Director of Maker Media. He is the author or editor of over a dozen books on technology, DIY, and geek culture. He is currently a contributor for Boing Boing and WINK Books. And he has a new best-of writing collection and “lazy man’s memoir,” called Borg Like Me.

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