Tip Trader: Pocket Holes and More

Home-improvement enthusiasts share their home and workshop hints.

Pocket Hole Dowel Device
Reader Larry VanHooser of Foley, Minnesota, likes to work with his pocket hole jig, and he saves money on precut tapered plugs by making his own. Larry created a jig to help him cut the plugs on a band saw from inexpensive dowel rods. He simply drilled a 3/8-in.-dia. pocket hole in a 3/4 x 2 x 6-in. scrap of hardwood to the correct depth; then he bored the rest of the way through with a 3/16-in. twist bit. To use the jig, he inserts a length of dowel stock into the pocket hole and slides the jig between the band saw fence and the blade. After the cut, he inserts a 16d nail through the 3/16-in.-dia. hole to pop the tapered plug out of the pocket hole.

Garden-Tool Caddy
To neatly store his numerous long-handle lawn tools, reader Derek Walter of Durham, North Carolina, converted a 32-gallon plastic garbage can into a portable tool caddy. He drilled holes in the lid to accommodate the tool handles and then poured a bag of sand into the bottom of the can to provide stability. Besides helping to keep his garage tidy, the can has wheels that make it easy to move all of the tools to the yard and back.

Watering Wisdom
Watering cans with wide spouts can make it hard to hit small targets such as pots or the base of plants. To improve his aim, reader Mike Anderson of Chanhassen, Minnesota, replaced the head of his watering can with a threaded 90-degree lawn sprinkler fitting (the type that usually connects the sprinkler head to the water line). The 90-degree spout not only directs water at the plant's roots but also makes filling hanging baskets or adding water to a Christmas tree stand less messy.