Tips 17

I am no painter but I do normal household paint jobs and furniture work sometimes. The last reasonably nice paint brush I bought was $25. I turned it into a useless stiff paddle within a few days by not cleaning it enough (it’s hard for a non-professional to tell when all the clear polyurethane sealant is really rinsed out of a brush). Instead of throwing it away, I soaked it in lacquer thinner (not just mineral spirits) for a few minutes and then used a “painter’s comb.” The stainless-steel comb side pushes the bristles apart, lets more solvent into the middle of the bristles, and reshapes the brush, and the wire-brush side pushes dried gunk out. It worked so well I kept going and resuscitated three other “ruined” brushes I had thought were goners. Took about 5 minutes each. Cheaper than buying new brushes all the time. No doubt old hat to the professional painters out there….Readily available at home centers and paint supply stores.

— Charles Kiblinger


I cook a lot and like to use garlic. One downside of properly cleaning and chopping and slicing garlic is the smell permeates your skin. Years ago, I heard on NPR that if you rubbed your hands under cold water with something made of stainless steel, the smell would be eliminated. I didn’t believe it, but it works. You can buy “fancy” soap-shaped or garlic-shaped stainless steel objects to do this with, but no need. Go into your drawer and get out a butter knife or spoon instead. This really works!

— Michael Raab


This is a straightforward application of a standard telephone company service — but I find it extremely useful. It’s a way to have only one phone number.

I have a cellphone, but I don’t give out the number! When I am going to be away and it is desirable to monitor calls to my home line, I simply switch on its forwarding service. (I record the code in my home phone’s “dial” memory. It can also be set, remotely, from the cellphone.) I may do it for just a few hours when I am expecting an important call — or for many days; my wife and I routinely use it when we travel.

Having just one phone number simplifies life for both me and the people who want to talk to me.

— Bob Spinrad


I needed a frisbee once….only had a paper bag. Well, I found that a paper bag rolled inward from top to bottom, spiraling as you roll, then making it round when you get to get to the bottom makes a wonderful, colorable, recyclable, dog-eatable, adjustable-sized, FREE frisbee. They fly lumpy if you weight them irregularly. A ribbon can be put in a central hole for pretty effect or short range retrieval throws, stopping it inches from its target. Can also be used as a mask, paper plate, quiet drum, paper taco, beret, kite, yoyo…etc. and can be restored to bag function easily

I discovered this 30 years ago and have made uncountable numbers since.

— Terry Hill