Tighten Up a Loose Screw
You know that wobbly chair leg with the screw that won’t tighten anymore? Here's an easy fix. Remove the screw and insert one or two toothpicks in the hole, along with a dab of wood glue to hold them in place. Once the glue sets, break off the tops of the toothpicks and insert the screw. The extra wood provided by the toothpicks will give the screw threads something to bite into, holding the screw firm.
Touch Up Small Dings on Painted Furniture
A scratch or gouge on a painted chair or table detracts from its good looks, but fortunately, you can restore the item to its former glory without having to completely repaint it. Instead, use the tip of a toothpick to lightly dab a bit of matching paint directly on the scratched area. A toothpick works even better than a small paintbrush, which is more likely to smear excess paint on the surface.
Repair an Unsightly Nail Hole in Wood
When you remove a nail or tack from a wooden item, such as the side of a bookcase, it leaves a noticeable hole. You can learn to live with the imperfection, but if you’d rather fix it, dip the tip of a toothpick in wood glue, and insert it in the hole. When the glue dries, break off the top of the pick, sand the surface smooth, and stain as desired.
Open Up the Glued-Shut Tip of a Glue Bottle
Whether you're working with school glue or wood glue, no matter how tightly you close the cap, it seems like the tip of the dispenser is always dried shut the next time you need some glue. Keep a box of toothpicks handy on your craft or workshop table, and grab one the next time you’re ready to glue. With a quick poke through the hardened glue, you’ll be good to go.
Start an Avocado Plant
If you've been saving that avocado pit in the hope of growing your own avocado tree, you’re in luck! Insert three or four toothpicks into the side of the pit and suspend it, wide end down, over a jar. Pour in enough water to cover the bottom third of the avocado, and place the jar in a sunny window until the pit sprouts.
Clean Hard-to-Reach Crevices
Gunk can easily build up in hard-to-reach crevices of your home, such as detailed furniture moldings, window corners, and the spaces between keys on your computer keyboard. Yuck! After you get over your disgust, you can use a plain toothpick to carefully scrape the dirt away. For especially sticky spots, wrap the tip of the toothpick in a bit of tissue dampened with rubbing alcohol, and wipe clean those tricky, narrow spots where germs and bacteria are hiding.
Stir Tiny Model Paint Jars
If you’re into building models, you know how expensive those tiny jars of paint are and how easy it is to waste the paint. Rather than soaking up that valuable paint by stirring it with a paintbrush, stir it with a toothpick, then scrape the pick on the sides so the excess paint runs back into the jar.
Stop That Leaking Garden Hose
If your garden hose springs a pinhole leak, don't just run out to replace it—or at least, not quite yet. Try plugging the leak with a wooden toothpick. Just insert it into the hole, and trim off the excess with wire cutters or nippers. As water runs through the hose, the toothpick will swell and help seal the hole.
Moisture-Test Potted Plants
A good rule of thumb for home gardeners: If your soil feels dry an inch beneath the surface, it's time to water. If you don’t fancy dipping your fingers into the soil of your potted hibiscus, use a toothpick instead. Just push the toothpick halfway into the soil and pull it back out. If the toothpick is bone dry, it’s time to water, but if the toothpick comes out damp with traces of soil, the plant has plenty of moisture.
Deter Cutworms in the Garden
Cutworms can wreak havoc on tender garden plants, chomping and munching until they destroy the entire plant, but a few well-placed toothpicks can help. Cutworms crawl across the surface of the soil and then up the plant stem. Place three or four toothpicks around the base of the plant, leaving the tips sticking out about an inch. The picks will form a barrier that cutworms can’t pass.
Unlock a Door from the Outside
Parents of young children know how easy it is for toddlers to accidentally lock themselves in a bedroom or bathroom. If the doorknob has a small center hole in the outside knob, you’re in luck! Insert a sturdy toothpick (long plastic ones work well for this) straight into the hole, pressing firmly to depress the lock release mechanism as you turn the knob.
Mark the End of the Packing Tape Roll
Tired of picking and digging to find the end of the packing tape whenever you need to use some? The next time you’re done using the roll of tape, place a toothpick across the end, on the sticky side, and fold the tape over the pick. When you need to use it again, just lift up the tape-wrapped pick.
Clever project ideas and step-by-step tutorials delivered right to your inbox each and every Saturday morning—sign up today for the Weekend DIY Club newsletter!