3 tips for mastering the art of fixing things

Some people create art by applying paint to canvas to create pictures. Others do it by sculpting stone or modelling clay. Still others take photos or compose music. There are lots of ways to create art, including fixing things around the house. Your home repair projects may never end up in the Louvre, but there is no denying the fact that there is an art to fixing things.

If you look throughout history, you will discover that fixing things was normal right through the first few decades of the industrial age. Things have changed a lot since then. Today, the art of fixing things seems to have been lost on modern society. We would rather throw broken things away and buy new things. Fixing is so much more rewarding.

If you firmly believe in the art of fixing things, you can take charge and become your own DIY handyman (or woman). You can start transforming all those broken and worn-out things into fully functional and beautiful works of art. We have some tips to help you get started moving in that direction.

1. Learn how to assemble the right tools

Tools lying on wooden decking

A DIY handyman is only as good as the tools at their disposal. So the first tip for mastering the art of fixing things is learning how to assemble the right tools for every job. The more DIY jobs you do around the house, the more you'll figure out just how many tools are out there.

Let us start with a basic set of hand tools. Every DIY fixer should have the following, at minimum:

  • Carpenter's hammer and sledgehammer
  • A variety of screwdrivers
  • Utility knife and handsaw
  • Tape measure and square
  • Pliers and vice grips
  • Standard and adjustable spanners
  • Hex keys (a.k.a. Allen keys).

Along with this basic set of hand tools, it is helpful to have some all-purpose household oil, electrical and duct tape, and a range of adhesives. Wood glue is important. Don't forget about Sugru. Sugru is a flexible and mouldable glue that can act as both an adhesive and a filler.

Hand tools and craft tools with Sugru grips

More tools for more jobs

A basic set of hand tools will equip you to fix a lot of minor things. Have you got a loose door handle? Normally, you would only need a screwdriver to tighten things up. Looking to fix those dining room chairs that seem to be separating at the joints? Either wood glue or Sugru will do the trick.

The thing about mastering the art of fixing is that you'll eventually have to go beyond the basics. This is when you'll need more tools. As the experts say, it's important to have the right tool for the job.

Power tools on a table

Tools are broken down into a bunch of different categories. You have already read about hand tools. Here are four additional categories:

  • Power Tools (drills, saws, sanders, etc.)
  • Garden Tools (rakes, shovels, etc.)
  • Automotive Tools (jack stands, tyre wrenches, etc.)
  • Heavy Tools (cement mixers, power sprayers, etc.).

Learning to assemble tools is all about understanding what kind of job you're doing and what you'll need to do it right. But how can you be expected to assemble the right tools for a project you have never done before? That is where the next point comes into play: diving deeply into videos.

2. Dive deeply into video tutorials

YouTube home screen

You can find all sorts of written DIY guides online. Written guides are handy to a point, but they often lack the visuals that DIYers really need to wrap their brains around a project. Videos offer those visuals.

Maybe you're the type of person who starts reading a post only to find yourself getting lost about halfway through. Perhaps it's not written in language you're familiar with. Maybe the writer is a poor communicator. That kind of stuff is expected with written guides. But with videos, you can actually see what the presenter is doing and then mimic it.

Start with YouTube videos

There are a lot of different platforms where you can find DIY videos. YouTube is the undisputed leader, hands down. That's the place to start. You can find DIY videos covering just about every project under the sun. Just use the built-in search engine and terms related to your project.

Sugru has a dedicated YouTube channel that regular users find invaluable. Its content is fun and creative. It is helpful and informative. Watch a couple of Sugru videos and you will probably be shocked at just how many uses there are for it. There are videos that will teach you how to use Sugru to fix:

  • broken USB cables
  • chipped and cracked sinks
  • cracked doors
  • broken fridge parts.

Video of Sugru cable repair

The useful videos don't stop with DIY fix-it solutions. The channel also includes video tutorials for using Sugru to actually make things. One video will teach you how to make a toothbrush holder with Sugru alone. Another might show you how to install bathroom accessories or hang plants. If there is a creative or revolutionary way to use Sugru, there is probably a video showing you how to do it.

In terms of other video sources, just look around. Vimeo is a pretty well-known YouTube competitor. You can also check Rumble and GabTV. Maybe even try typing in 'DIY videos' into Google and see what comes up. There are millions of videos out there, so you're bound to find something that suits you.

How to use video tutorials

Man fixing an electronic item on a table

You are basically going to find two types of DIY video tutorials out there. First are the generic videos that only cover basic concepts. They don't recommend any specific tools, supplies, or procedures. Use them for minor jobs that you already have a high level of confidence in doing.

The other type of DIY tutorial is one that goes through a specific project step-by-step. These types of videos tend to be heavy with explanations and visuals. They also tend to recommend specific procedures. These are the one you want for more complex projects that you're not completely confident doing on your own.

When you dig deeply into a video tutorial, don't just watch it once and hope you remember what it showed you. Watch it while you do the actual work. Use the step-by-step instructions as a guide to see yourself through. You will probably find the visuals and real-time instructions invaluable.

Videos you find especially helpful may be worth archiving. Download and save them if you can. If you can't, then either save their links or take down notes on a piece of paper while you watch. You can transfer those notes into a digital file for permanent storage after the fact. Archiving videos let you build your own library of DIY tips you can call on every time you need to refresh your memory.

3. Take advantage of community support

Two women sitting on stairs laughing and looking at a laptop

Even with the right tools and a whole collection of DIY videos, you still might find yourself running into a DIY situation that scares you. No worries. Chances are you'll be able to find community support somewhere that provide you with the help you're after. Tap into that support.

Keep in mind that community support comes in many forms. First is online support. You can dig around to find DIY websites that offer community forums. Join a forum or two, and you'll have access to other people who might be willing to answer your questions or offer some helpful advice.

You can also tap into community support via social media. And let's not forget those videos. Check out any of the videos on the Sugru channel and take a look at the comments left by viewers. Those comments can be a source of community support. Write your own comments or respond to others. You can get a great conversation going right on the channel.

In-person support

Woman being served in a store

For lack of a better term, we will call support that is not found online 'in-person support'. It is probably all over your local community if you know where to look. For starters, check out your local DIY store. Chances are that team members in their respective departments can offer you invaluable advice. Next time you go shopping, pick their brains.

You might also look around for opportunities to attend free community classes. They are not as popular as they used to be, but they are still out there. Retailers sometimes offer free classes to get customers in the door. Community groups and non-profits sometimes sponsor classes to help new homeowners learn how to renovate.

Your friends and family members are also a great source of community support. Maybe you saw a Sugru video but you're still not confident using it to repair your refrigerator. Yet you know your cousin has already done it. Give them a ring and ask them to come over.

Wrapping It Up

Man standing in front of a wall with tools hanging from Sugru grips and hooks

The art of fixing things seems to have been lost over the last 50 years or so. It's a sad truth. Fixing things not only saves money and promotes sustainability, but it also gives you a sense of accomplishment. There's pride that comes with knowing you took care of things yourself; that you didn't need to someone else to do it, or you didn't need to buy something new.

Just remember that it takes time to master the art of fixing things. No accomplished DIY handyman jumped into their first project and immediately became an expert. You are going to try new things and fail. You are going to make mistakes and learn from them. The key is to keep at it. The more DIY fix-it projects you tackle, the better you will get at fixing things.

You can start your journey on the road to mastery by assembling a basic set of hand tools. Choose one or two projects you want to tackle and go forward. If you need help, don't forget that the internet is a vast resource of video tutorials capable of guiding you every step of the way. And if all else fails, reach out to other people who can help you.

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