Tips 23

White Vinegar vs. Toilet Bowl Rings

This is a tip in response to the pumice scourer. I used to scrub fruitlessly at toilet bowl rings until one day I tried pouring in some white vinegar (maybe a cup or two) and leaving it overnight. Everything came off in about a minute after that. I use a standard toilet brush and find the stains/deposits come off with very little effort, sometimes after leaving the vinegar in just for 20 minutes. I got the idea from the fact that vinegar is a mild acid and that it seems to be the main ingredient of most homemade ecological cleaning recipes out there. Been doing it for a couple of years, no effect to the porcelain that I can see.

– Jeff Lindberg

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Rubberbanded Pliers

For a small vice for doing quick fiddly work, I use a pair of pliers with an elastic band wrapped around the handles. Adjust the tension by wrapping the band round more or less times. You can use them as a clamp so both your hands are free, or you can leave gluing things to dry. I learned a variety of elastic band tricks when working as a theatre lighting tech. They’re also great for temporarily attaching cables to lighting rigs by looping them around the bar and cable then looping the tail end of the band around the dowel (used a lot of electricity tape prior to being shown this). It has always seemed to me the less tools you use, the more familiar you become with them and the more uses you find for them.

– Sam Henderson

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Plastic Bag Epoxy Mixer

When you need to get some epoxy in a very small space, or don’t have room to make a mess around what your gluing, try squeezing the product into one corner of a heavy plastic bag. Mix it in the corner between your fingers. Then cut the corner of the bag to size and apply it where it’s needed — pastry bag style. First saw this tip in “Fine Homebuilding,” which recommended using it to mix color pigment into calking.

– Michael Visnick

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Plastic Stretch Wrap Packing

If you are moving yourself, you don’t need boxes for most non-fragile items such as books. Just stack the books, wind some stretch wrap around them, and you’re done. This is a cheap, quick option and since the wrap is transparent, you can see what you’ve got — a very useful feature when you have not yet unpacked but you need to find something. I even use stretch wrap to contain and protect clothes on hangers. When you unpack, you cut off the stretch wrap, and there’s virtually nothing to throw away (no empty-box disposal problem).

– Charles Platt