10 Easy Projects for When You’re Stuck at Home

Jene J. Long

People are telling us that their increased time at home has made them aware of the many small repair jobs that tend to pile up. You don’t need a lot of tools and materials to tackle these, nor do you need much repair experience. Taking them one at a time can provide you with a little relief from the news cycle and a sense of satisfaction as you cross them off your to-do list.

Knife Sharpening

knife being sharpened

Cooking and eating more meals at home means it’s the perfect time to sharpen blades.

Trevor Raab

With all the time people are spending in their kitchens lately, it’s no wonder that the family cutlery needs a thorough overhaul. Fortunately, sharpening kitchen knives is pretty easy with a sharpening steel, a set of stones or a knife sharpener. Have a look at our article on the topic. And while gadgets can help you get the job done, lacking sharpening equipment shouldn’t mean that you have to put up with dull knives. No sharpening stone? No problem. In a pinch you can use a piece of scrap 2 x 4 with sandpaper stapled to its surface, as we explain here.

Patch Doorknob Holes

A door that overswings its bounds can result in a door knob hole in the wall. The repair is easy. Apply a peel-and-stick aluminum drywall patch to the damaged area, and then apply drywall compound, smooth and sand it as we explain in our compendium on drywall repair.

Replace Door Stops

Of course, the culprit behind the fact that the door is overswinging its bounds may be that the door stop has been knocked loose, was never installed or is bent (in the case of a spring-type door stop). Any hardware store has these, and you can order them from any number of suppliers such as Walmart .

Fix Problem Doors

A small kit of basic handtools will take you a long way in repairing doors. Years ago, Neal Barrett (who was at the time one of our contributing editors) wrote what may be the best and most concise description of these repairs. Neal’s treatment of the topic has amounted to a classic of how-to literature. Years after it was written, it’s still attracting readers. The eight tools shown in door repair article form the basis for a decent kit of tools.

Tighten a Loose Deck Step

The secret to curing a loose step board on a deck is twofold. First, if the step is cupped and is curving upward, back out its screws, remove it and place it so the cup faces down. The downward cup prevents the rocking motion created when people step on it. Second, replace its screws with longer ones, at least a 2-1/2 inch size , but if you need to go to 3 inches or longer to get the screw into solid lumber in the stair tread, so be it. And if there’s more wrong with the steps than simply a loose board, have a look at our carpentry article on building new ones.

Clean Windows and Window Sills

window cleaning

Roy Berendsohn

Windows and sills may need anything from a light scrubbing to nearly a complete overhaul, where you vacuum a major deposit of dirt out of the sill and then mop the glass with a squeegee. For general cleaning, see our guide of simple tips and techniques.

For an in-depth look on cleaning difficult (non-tilt) double hung windows, we show the full step-by-step treatment here.

There are a lot of window cleaning products out there, but we’ve had the best results with high-quality mops and squeegees from Unger and Ettore. A simple starter kit such as this one from Ettore will take you a long way toward cleaner, streak-free glass.

And if the glass is really dirty, we haven’t seen anything that can clean as well as Invisible Glass. In severe cases, mop and squeegee the windows as you would normally, then let them dry. Angular light coming through the window will reveal streaks from your cleaning job. Cleaning the window again with Invisible Glass will give you as close to perfect transparency as you’re going to get.

Deal With Weeds

dandelion removal

kjerulffGetty Images

If dealing with weeds was a once-and-done matter, by now the world would be weed free. As it is, one way or another you have to deal with weeds as long as the grass is growing, which for most of the continental United States is March through November. The most effective thing you can do is cultivate a healthy lawn, so the grass outcompetes the weeds. Understanding basic herbicide practice, when to apply it and how, is what we explain in this tutorial.

If weeds have completely gotten the upper hand, then the lawn is shot; replacing it is the answer.

Clean the Dryer Vent

Few DIY activities have the payoff that cleaning the dryer vent does. By improving air flow, you reduce the danger of a lint fire, improve the energy efficiency of the dryer and, at the same time, improve the consistency and smell of the clothing that comes out of the dryer. And it’s easy to do with a LintEater duct cleaning tool.

Once you’ve got the vent clear, you may be inspired to do more. Have a look at our article, “Three Steps to a Better Laundry Room.”

Clean the Siding

cleaning siding

If you have a cordless power cleaner or pressure washer now is the time to use it, if not you can still get the job done.

Trevor Raab

Few things drag down the look of a house the way dirty, mildew-covered siding can. And we’ve got nothing against using a pressure washer to keep siding looking great. On the other hand, a simple application of Jomax applied with a garden sprayer is a low-cost and awesome way to keep siding, fences and outdoor furnishings clean. Mix it with bleach and water, apply it with the pump sprayer and scrub any areas that are really filthy. Sometimes, you don’t even need to scrub. Rinse the area with a garden hose and you’re good to go. One gallon of the concentrate makes 20 gallons of cleaner—more than enough for any typical residential application.

Change the Blade

It doesn’t even take five minutes to change the dull blade on your circular saw. Doing so will radically improve its performance. Of course, it’s important to match the blade to the job as we show here

By the way, if you don’t own a circular saw, you’ll be amazed at how much work you can get done with one, even an inexpensive model such as this Skil. To the uninitiated, circular saws look intimidating, but once you get the hang of them, you’ll make any cut safely and efficiently

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