Skip to main content

How Three Easy House Tips Using What You Have Around the Household Can Repair Home

I learned the art of frugality from a Depression Era survivor. Join me in learning how to live on less. Save money, have fun, and be secure.

Save By Substantial Creative Fixes

In the interest of money savings, some of us have been using a technique very close to forced saving. The technique involves using what you have on hand to fix things properly. Anyone can fix something temporarily but have to fix it again in a short while. The trick to fixing things properly with what you have involves creativity, planning, and execution with what is available without current out-of-pocket expense.

Shortly I will show you three examples of the kind of things I do to fix things and, at the same time, save. The examples are small fixes, the kind of thing that may save you $2 or $3 at most, but will after a period of time have saved you many dollars. At first glance these fixes may seem trivial, and they actually are, but if the reader disciplines himself to think about how he could fix something with what he has (it’s a game) at all times, he/she will find that it is enjoyable on several levels. You get to exercise your brain, gather materials, and create a fix. In the meantime, you have also saved on current expense.

A hangar for folkart cat

A hangar for folkart cat

Cotton patch type hangar

Cotton patch type hangar

Homemade Picture Hanging Hardware

My first example of a good fix is a hangar for a picture or craft. How many times have you had something to hang, but couldn’t find a commercial hangar? It has happened to me frequently. But since using this fix I have gotten to the point that I don’t think about going to the store to purchase this common hardware.

First, cut a piece of cotton material in a rectangle 4“ X 4“. A clean pair of rag underwear shorts works fine. OK! Use a T-shirt. I have dearly named my fix the under-ware (patent pending - not)hangar. Fold the edges over about 1/2“ and sew the perimeter. You can adjust the dimensions of the hangar patch to fit the size and weight of your object, but a 4x4 will work for most things.

Second, take some white glue. Remember the assumption is that you have some white glue hanging around. Even if you have to buy it you can get white glue for very little. When school is about to start, I have found somewhat small size plastic bottles for $0.25 at Target. Paint one side allowing the glue to penetrate the cloth. Let it dry. Then flip the patch over and apply more glue to the surface. Then, let it dry. I do this on newspaper and if a little bit of paper sticks to one side or the other, it doesn’t matter.

Thirdly, look for an old metal washer. I know that many of you throw extra screws and hardware in a bottle or such, and it is to that vessel you should go. If you do not pick up old hardware (screws, washers, cotter pins, nails, etc) you should start. Most of these articles cost anywhere from one to 5 cents apiece and more. Looking for old hardware in parking lots or wherever you may be is another thing all together. But if you start to do it you will have many pounds of hardware before long. My father-in-law taught me this when he reminded me that all you have to do is pay attention to the ground when you walk. You don’t have to search for it. Don’t get run over. Most of you have the hardware because you had extra for a job.

And fourth, sew the metal washer to the middle of the top of one side using a number of stitches. You want to secure the washer in a strong fashion. Pushing the needle through the glue-coated material shouldn’t be a big problem.

And fifth, locate a brick or something of good weight and set it aside. Find the middle of your picture or craft and mark the back. Line the washer up with that mark. Coat one side of the patch with glue again. Leave a small space at the top, perhaps 1/4“ , free of glue. This gives some flexibility when trying to locate the washer on a hook. Aligning the middle of the washer diameter with the mark on the back of your piece, glue the patch down and set the brick or your stout object on it. This provides for better adherence with porous material. Let the hangar dry for the recommended amount of time printed on the white glue bottle. I usually leave it a day. If you have a rogue’s gallery like I do, you can see the savings. See the illustration.

Of course, the sly person will say, what about making the hook? Use a nail or make a hook; there are ways.

Scroll saw cut wooden cat

Scroll saw cut wooden cat

Wooden butterfly with aluminum pop top hangar

Wooden butterfly with aluminum pop top hangar

Repurpose Aluminum Pop Tops

The second example is also for creating a hangar. It is something you see frequently; perhaps every day. It’s a pop top from an aluminum drink can. The only thing you really need to do is bend the pop top to 30 degree angle (or maybe a bit more). Then search for some left over 2-part epoxy. If you are a handy person you probably have some. If not, you can get a pack of epoxy for about $1.00 at Harbor-Freight. This is enough for many pop-top hangar glue jobs! I have only used epoxy, but those of you more familiar with glue may have alternatives like Gorilla glue. Weight is an issue here so be careful. If in doubt, don’t do it. I have used epoxy successfully in such applications up to 2 pounds. See the illustration.

And last for this Hub, I have a fix for engine splash shields. I have successfully tied up auto splash shields which have torn loose and were dragging on the ground (plastic connectors dried and cracked falling out) by using wall anchors. I’m talking about the little things you put in drywall or brick to hold a screw. I found 1/4" Hole Size Splash Shield Rivets on for $0.32 per. The smallest quantity was 25 to a box for $7.92.

Just get yourself a 1/4“ + plastic wall anchor similar to those sold at Ace Hardware ( illustration). It is a common size so I know many of you have these in that little bottle of spare things. Every time you need one, you buy a pack of 5! If you don’t have them, buying the anchor at Ace Hardware will still save you money. I think they are 5 cents. I only recommend Ace because a lot of places with home or auto type hardware sell boxes, not individual pieces. Ace will still sell you one bolt, one screw, one washer, one nut, or one pound of nails! I am not a representative of Ace Hardware:). Line up the splash shield hole with the hole in the metal framework, put the anchor in, then put a proper sheet metal or wood screw in and screw until the anchor cannot be pulled out. This fix will last you many years; I know. Please see the photo.

Scroll to Continue

I think most people today would say that I am crazy for spending the time on such minor issues. It’s easy to go to the store and buy these relatively inexpensive items. And in reply, I say, “No on the first count”, and then “Yes on the second.” You can save yourself some time, but this is not crazy. Having grown up with a survivor of the Great Depression (my dad) who taught me about everything I know when it comes to living frugally, this in the long run can save a lot of dough-re-me. One should embark on this adventure as if it were a game. That is where the fun comes. When you have figured out a way to “do with what you have” it is like solving a puzzle. There is satisfaction. And, there is satisfaction every time you DON’T have to go to the store.

If you are still unconvinced, all I can say is, ”You have thousands of inexpensive fasteners and connectors out there to buy today - thanks for reading the hub.”

Blue plastic wall anchors

Blue plastic wall anchors

Are you a homer?

© 2011 John R Wilsdon


John R Wilsdon (author) from Superior, Arizona on December 05, 2012:

When you are a frugal person you come up with all sorts of ideas to avoid spending money. I guess it's a compulsion with me, but given the financial situation in the world today, maybe not a bad one??

Thanks for the comment. Much appreciated.

Rebecca Mealey from Northeastern Georgia, USA on December 05, 2012:

Thanks! I sure needed some picture hanging tips!

anndavis25 from Clearwater, Fl. on January 14, 2012:

I feel real proud when I think up tips to make things easier. It's inventive, and useful. Sounds like you are of the same mind.

This hub voted up, useful and interesting

Derdriu on December 04, 2011:

john000: What a concise, precise, useful summary of ways to prop up art while being artistic and economical! One of the easiest ways to reduce carbon footprints and greenhouse gases is through consolidation of trips in the car. Your use of what is on hand reduces fuel emissions and respects the saying of "Reduce, reuse, recycle."

Thank you for sharing through such clear explanations and illustrative photos.

Voted up, etc.,


Related Articles