Category Archive: Home Maintenance

How I Find Free, Inexpensive, And Cheap Tools

Tools for DIY projects can get expensive.  Over the years, I’ve managed to accumulate a pretty decent set of hand tools and power tools – most at discount prices, and some for free.  Here’s how –

I shop the discounted / returned items section at “big box” stores.  I purchased a gasoline-powered pressure washer for 50% off retail a few years ago.  The original buyer couldn’t figure out how to connect the soap dispensing feature – so they returned it to the store.  I bought it, fixed the soap dispenser, and it still works great!

I shop at pawn shops.  We have several pawn shops in our area – and most have a big bin, loaded with very inexpensive hand tools, drill bits, etc.

I shop yard sales / garage sales / flea markets.  These are great for finding power tools – often rarely used.  A few years ago, I purchased a brand new, in the box, drill and driver, for five bucks.  As with any item I buy post-retail, I check for recalls and defects.

I shop the Amazon Tools section. Last year, I found a great deal on a set of router bits. Since I only use my router a few times a year, I wasn’t looking to spend a lot of money on expensive bits. Using Amazon, I found an entire set of inexpensive bits – and they work fine for what I need.

I shop eBay.  I just checked, and I’ve been using eBay since 1999!  Wow.  I love eBay for hard-to-find parts and tools.  A few months ago, I purchased a set of small screwdrivers, used for repairing electronics.  (I have never had much success with Craig’s List.  I think it might be because we live several miles from the nearest city on the list.  If I lived in a bigger city, this might be a resource I used more often.)

I shop our local hardware stores and farm centers.  These are great places for things like nuts, bolts, and fasteners.  This past summer – I checked online and with five different major retailers, before finding a part for my lawn mower – at the local hardware store, 5 miles from my house!


I borrow from friends and family.  Once in a while, I’ll need a use-it-once, never-need-it-again tool – and I’ll ask friends and family.  For instance:  I needed to jack-up our kids’ playhouse, but I didn’t have a set of bottle jacks.  Rather than go buy a set, use them once, and then have them sit in storage – I asked my Dad.  He had some, I borrowed them for a couple of days, and returned them.  When I borrow tools, I’m extra-careful with them – and I’m always ready to pay for a replacement, should I break them.

I let folks know that I’m into DIY projects.  On a couple of occasions, folks who know that I like to build stuff have just given me their old / unused / unwanted tools.  I have a ladder, a chop saw, and a belt sander – and all were gifts from folks who know that I’ll use the tools.

I check the for-sale section at the scrap yard.  One of our local scrap yards has a for-sale section, where they sell items that were “scrapped”, but are still in good condition.  Last week, I purchased two big spotlights for three bucks.  I used them to illuminate our back yard during a party – and there great for lighting a work area.

I shop the aisles at the “big box” store – and look for close-outs.  Each year or so, manufacturers refresh their product lines.  This is a great time to snag usually-expensive items for less.  Last year, I purchased a table saw for 50% off, just because the manufacturer was ready to clear shelf space for a new model.

Over the past few years, I’ve managed to acquire a decent amount of tools.  I’m still looking for a drill press – and I’d love a biscuit joiner – but I’m pretty happy with what I have.  If you have an idea for saving money on tools and DIY projects – leave a comment in the section below – or connect with me via  Have a blessed week!


Continue Reading

A Simple DIY Way To Make Mulch

Like many folks, we have shrubbery beds surrounding our home.  Today, I had a few extra hours after work, so I grabbed my favorite pruning shears and began the process of pruning our shrubs.

We have five major shrubbery beds – one for each side of the house and one that encircles a stand of oaks.  Over the years, I’ve used various material for mulching the beds – pines straw, fallen leaves, and bagged cypress mulch.

Over time, whatever mulch is used will compact, disintegrate, and discolor.  So, instead of going out an purchasing some sort of mulch (or raking the neighbor’s yard for pine straw) – I decided to try something a little different.


I pruned all of the shrubs in one particular bed – and placed the cut-offs on the ground, just outside the bed.  I then removed the brick barrier from the edge of the bed – and raked all of the old mulch (a combination of the three mentioned above) out into the yard.  I mixed the pile of old mulch and the cut-offs from the shrubbery – and started up the old lawn mower.

I raised the blade of the mower and slowly began to chop through the 3 to 5 inch pile of cut-offs and old mulch, chopping the pile into hundreds of little pieces.  I ran the mower through the pile, reversing direction, 10 or 12 times, until all of the leaves, stems, pieces of pines straw, and chunks of cypress were chopped into little bits.

I then used my blower and my rake to transfer the little bits back in to the shrubbery bed – and was able to create a nice, even, good looking mulch for the bed.  The homemade mulch looks great – and should actually breakdown, like compost, while it does its jobs of holding in water and protecting plant roots.

I may show a few pictures, once I’ve completed all of the beds. I think I’ve found a good way to reuse the cut-offs from my shrubbery to make some high quality mulch – for free!

Side note:  I’m also experimenting with using plain old cardboard as a weed-barrier.

Continue Reading

DIY Projects – Fixing Stuff Around The House

Over the past several weeks, I’ve spent my evenings and weekends working on various projects around the house:

I replaced our dishwasher.  Our house is ten years old.  We have lived in it for five of those years.  Several months ago, our dishwasher stopped working properly.  I repaired it twice – changing out its pump and replacing the drain hose – but two weeks ago – it just died.  So, we purchased a newer, more energy efficient dishwasher.  We love the new one!  It’s much quieter and does a MUCH better job of washing the dishes.  This was a bit of a budget hit – thank goodness for the emergency fund!

While we are on the subject of appliances – I removed and replaced the heating element in our clothes dryer.  Over the past few years, we have had trouble with our dryer.  I’ve replaced the dryer belt – twice – and the pulley.  Last week, it stopped getting warm – and when I opened it up – the heating element was broken.  The heater duct assembly for the dryer was relatively inexpensive and the actual repair only took a few minutes.  Hopefully, the new element – and the dryer – will last for years.

tool-384740_1280I built a ramp for the kids’ playhouse.  Our kids are getting older – and rarely use the playhouse as a “play” house.  Instead, we use it as a place to store their bikes and other toys.  Adding the ramp makes it easier to get the stuff in and out of the playhouse.  For about $30, the ramp was more than worth it.

I changed out the locks and doorknobs for our exterior doors.  It was time.  The deadbolts were difficult to activate – even after lubrication – and the handles were scuffed.  Changing out the locks was a relatively simple process – but I DID have some trouble removing the old deadbolts.  They required a small hex wrench – in a size that I just didn’t have.  After a quick internet video search, I managed to find a way to remove the locks, without the hex wrench.

I pressure-washed the siding on our house.  Two sides of our house are in the shade, even during winter.  If I don’t routinely spray down the siding, mildew (mold?) will form on the vinyl siding.  So, when the first semi-warm day hit last week, I jumped at the chance to pressure-wash.  Once I have all of the necessary pressure-washing stuff dragged out – pressure washer, hose, pump sprayer, bleach, long-handled brush, safety glasses, etc. – I actually enjoy pressure washing.  While I was at it, I cleaned out the garage and pressure washed its walls and concrete.

By doing these projects myself, I hope I saved some money, and I know I’ve felt a sense of accomplishment.  As we move into spring, I’ll turn my focus to our lawn, our small garden, and other outside projects.  Blessings!

Continue Reading

Organizing Our House For The New Year

Taking a lesson from the list-making Mrs. NCN, here’s what I want to get done, this week, before the kids head back to school –

Organize Large Storage Spaces

We have four large storage spaces – our shed, our attic, our garage, and our laundry room.  The shed serves as a mini-workshop and storage space.  We like to keep our garage nice and neat, with a small area dedicated for storing kids’ bikes and outdoor toys.  The attic has room for storing items like our Christmas tree.  The laundry room has a large, tw0-door storage cabinet, for keeping items like detergent, paper towels, napkins, etc.  We’ll organize these spaces first, in an effort to free-up storage space and remove clutter.

Organize Living Spaces: Room-by-room

Let’s see – we have our den, our kitchen, four bedrooms (with closets), two bathrooms (plus a half-bath), and a linen closet.  Our goal is to go room-by-room, cleaning and organizing.  This should be a relatively painless process.  My wife is an extremely organized person (and I try to be), so our house is always neat and tidy.  We just need to free-up some space for the things the kiddos received for Christmas, and get rid of anything we haven’t used in a while.

Clean Outside

I need to – pressure wash the house, check the gutters, clean out the flower beds, and inspect the lawn mower’s fluids and battery.

Clean Inside

I need to – replace air conditioner and water filters, spot-clean the carpets, touch-up the paint in a few areas, and hang two pictures.

Backup Our Devices

We have cellphones, computers, laptops, and touchscreens – and they all have a variety of media stored on them.  I need to go through each one, backing up data, installing updates, and removing unused apps.


We’ll work in the evenings, taking our time to sort through the things we need an the things we want to sell or give away.  Our goal is to set a foundation for an organized New Year.

What about you?  Are you getting ready for the New Year?  If so, please share your thoughts in the comments – and you can always connect via Facebook and Twitter.  Blessings.

Click here to learn how to keep up to date with No Credit Needed and to connect via social media.

Continue Reading
View My Stats