On the Fence
If your conventional chain-link fence leaves you feeling a little too exposed in the backyard, overlay the industrial open weave with a farmhouse-style facade. Construction is simple—you'll need only cedar boards, nails, and metal pipe straps to create a wooden privacy panel that oozes warmth and personality while shutting out prying eyes.
Your dentist was right: An electric toothbrush can do wonders—and not just for your pearly whites! With the bristles removed and sandpaper glued to the brush head, your humble toothbrush can be transformed into a pint-size power sander that can buff out scratches, smooth rough-hewn edges on furniture and woodwork, and clean grungy grout!
Hang Out a Shingle
Instead of tossing empty beer cans into your recycling bin, put them to work at home as shingles for the roof of a small enclosure. Cut the ends off the cans using scissors or tin snips, then cut down the center of the cylinder to form a rectangle of aluminum. Construct a wooden die, shape each piece into a shingle, and then nail or staple the shingles onto plywood sheathing to put a durable roof over a chicken coop or shed.
Related: 7 Signs You Need a New Roof
Make a Splash
For a comfortable sleeping spot that doesn't waste space, try making this DIY Murphy bed. Wooden planks and a spring mechanism form the foundation of this ambitious project, and a faux armoire constructed of scrap wood and crown molding conceal the bed when it's folded up.
Experiencing a choppy streaming session? Fix it with this bottom-dollar Wi-Fi range extender. Remove the bottom of a beer or soda can, and then cut off all but a small flap from the top. Cut down through the middle of the cylinder, then unfurl the can and slip the drinking hole over the antenna of your router to perk up a slow-as-molasses signal.
Want to enjoy the warmth and ambience of a campfire without the setup or cleanup? Easy-to-find materials like glass panels and a planter base elegantly come together to create this portable fire pit. After constructing the box, just place a can of gel fuel beneath some metal mesh, cover it with rocks, and strike a match to ignite a small but mighty flame that lends a romantic atmosphere to any gathering.
A la Carton
Even hungry diners can lose their appetite at the sight of the watered-down dribble that trickles out of a half-empty mustard bottle. Keep your condiments flowing fresh and free by resting the upside-down bottles in the indentations of an egg carton, ensuring that mustard—and not water—will be the first thing your hot dog catches!
Butcher Block on the Cheap
The enduring appeal of a butcher-block countertop usually comes at a high price—but not with this bottom-dollar beauty made from paint stirrers. Start by removing the curved portion of each stirrer, then glue the shortened sticks to a tabletop. Finish by coating the surface with polyurethane to give the wood a show-stopping sheen.
Key to Success
Did you just forget where you put your keys for the umpteenth time? You can keep that light switch in your brain turned on by building this magnetized switch plate that doubles as a key holder. Just place a strong neodymium magnet behind the switch plate to hold your house or car keys whenever you return home, and you'll always know where they are as you dash out the door.
Are you still teetering tiptoe on ladders to clear tough-to-reach rooftop gutters? Try constructing this gutter vacuum from leftover aluminum duct elbows and some tubing. Attach this makeshift extension to the hose of your leaf vac or wet/dry vac for a down-to-earth DIY that can clear sky-high gutters while you stay safely on the ground.
Skip the long lines and high ticket prices at your local theater and spend movie night at home with this tiny projector. You can make one easily by fitting a magnifying glass inside a spare shoebox and then resting a smartphone in the box to create movie magic!
Related: 9 Smarter Spots for the TV
Cut from a Different Cloth
Fabric might not be your first pick to cover up a bare wall, but it's far more forgiving to work with than wallpaper. Before applying the material to a wall, coat the surface in a solution of cornstarch and water. While the paste will bond the fabric to the surface, it will also make it easy to remove without leaving any residue.
Hot 'n Toasty Load
Sure, your washing machine is great for getting your clothes clean, but did you know that the heat-resistant steel drum at its core can fuel far more relaxing activities? After removing the center spindle, fill the drum with firewood to transform it into a homemade fire pit for scrumptious s’mores.
Cool and Collected
Need to beat the heat without giving your wallet a beating? It’s no sweat when you upcycle a Styrofoam cooler into this energy-efficient air conditioner. Tricked out with a fan and dryer vents, an ordinary cooler can transform incoming hot air into a crisp, refreshing breeze.
Related: 7 Tricks for Keeping Cool Without AC
Point of View
Frosting glass is the easiest way to maintain privacy while maximizing sunlight. Achieve the frosted effect with these light-giving laced window panels that obscure the view from outside. All you'll need is a length of leftover lace and a mixture of cornstarch and water to bond the fabric to the windowpane.
It can be tough to light up doom-and-gloom spaces like basements, hallways, or stairwells. To brighten things up, try building this faux window complete with built-in light fixture. A wood window from an old storm door serves as the window frame, and plug-in LED light strips line the muntins on the back. Mounted on the wall and topped with a homey valance, the illuminating construction cheers up a narrow, dark hallway.
Even though you may always remember to water the lawn and garden, it’s sometimes easy to forget to fill your pooch’s water bowl. With this self-filling water station made from scrap wood and a plastic bottle, you'll only need to fill the tank a few times a month. The two-liter bottle with Velcro backing will ensure that Fido has enough water to quench his thirst!
Tools of the Trade
You can make repairs on the go with this hardworking homemade "tool belt" hack that transforms a wardrobe staple into a take-anywhere screwdriver by replacing by the metal prong in the buckle with a screwdriver head.
Plant a New Idea
Under the sweltering sun, both you and your garden can fall victim to dehydration. With this self-watering system, your plants will be able to quench their thirst just as readily as you can quench yours. Simply fill a bottle with water and place it upside down in the soil of a container, and your plants will be able to drink as much as they need—and you'll be able to take watering worries off your mind.
If your long-hibernating garden shovels and trowels are grubbier than the soil you plan to use them in, transplant them to a terra-cotta pot filled with sand and mineral oil. The oil will prevent rust and clean the tools, while the abrasive sand will act as a natural sharpener to bolster their performance.
Related: 12 "Zero Dollar" Garden Hacks
If you have the money to hire a handyman for every household woe, go ahead. But if you want to hang on to your cash and exercise some self-sufficiency, check out these clever products that solve a million and one little problems around the house. Go now!