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Super Handyman: Use collars to protect saplings

I like to work in the yard, but replanting something is not what I’d consider fun. That’s why I think it’s very smart to put protective collars around young trees and shrubs to keep the weed trimmers at bay. There are a lot of different ones available to buy, but you can save a lot of money by making your own.

All you need to do is buy a section of corrugated drainpipe and cut it into 6-inch sections. (You can get a 10-foot piece of this stuff for less than $10.) Then, slit each one down the side and slip it around the trunk of your plant. This will give it protection and also room to grow.


Q: My guest bathroom sink is running really slow. I’ve snaked it out but never find anything. What else can I try? – G.R.

A: You need to either get a longer snake or try cleaning out the vent stack for that bathroom. This needs to be done from the roof, so be careful, or have someone else take care of this chore.

Tips from readers

I tried a neat trick when I painted the original windows on my patio doors. They are divided into small sections of glass panes, and I thought that it would take forever to mask them with tape. I used lip balm instead. I used the stick type and just ran it around the edges of the panes right up to the wooden frames. It was very fast, and it worked well.

I had only a couple of spots to clean up, and they came off with a paper towel and some window cleaner. – H.V.


We just put up crown molding. It wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be once we got some practice with the chop saw we bought. We had a scrap of it left over, so I asked my husband to mount it in my closet. I installed about a dozen old drawer knobs, in different styles and colors, on it. It’s great for hanging purses, scarves and some jewelry. – L.W.


I have my father’s old hand drill. Besides being a treasured family heirloom, it actually works great, and I also have a complete set of bits to go with it. I’ve even devised a way to use hex bits for power drills in it. I just slip them into a piece of rubber tubing that I bought at a pet store and tighten the chuck around the bit.

This holds them really tight, and I’m so happy, because this drill is the bomb! – N.T.


I have been cleaning up my grill, and was having trouble getting the grease off the glass window on the front.

I grabbed a penny and started working at the grease with it. It cleaned off most of the grease and loosened up the rest so the oven cleaner could get it off. – H.B.

Note: A razor paint scraper also can be useful for this. And plastic blades actually seem to work better than metal on glass surfaces.

A super hint

You can make a clock out of just about anything with a simple and inexpensive clockworks kit. Try making one from a piece of your china or everyday dinnerware. Usually you just need to be able to drill a hole in the piece.


You’ll love playing with this product. The Paint Piranha “devours” paint from your brushes and rollers. Designed mainly for removing old, dried paint from brush bristles, it will pay for itself in salvaged paintbrushes.

To use it, soak the brush in water or paint thinner, depending on the type of paint stuck in it, clamp the teeth on the bristles close to the handle, and pull it through the clogged bristles to remove the old paint. You just keep doing it until all of the paint has been removed. It can be used on paint rollers too, with a little practice. To find out more about it, go to It’s a little hard to find, but it can be ordered online.

Have a question or a handy tip? Visit Those of general interest will be used in future columns.