Don't rely on eyeball measurements alone as sight lines can often be deceiving. Take a few seconds and use a measuring tape or level to be sure.
If you need to cut a bolt to proper length, first thread the nut on, past the cut mark. After cutting, file- off sharp edges, then back the nut off to clean up the threads. To clean up rusted or damaged threads on a bolt you want to salvage, cut a slot through the side of the right-size nut. Clamp the nut halfway into a vise with the slot down, then run the bolt into the nut. For more cleaning action, tighten up the vise on the nut.
A piece of pipe insulation wrapped around a screwdriver handle will give you a better grip when you need more torque, or when the handle is just plain slippery.
On jobs where you don't want to be held up, like felling trees away from home, consider having two chainsaws available. Make sure both are in working order before starting. Then if one needs its chain sharpened, you can use the second one to finish the job. By using two saws any maintenance can be done between, rather than during, the project. Also consider doubling up on other small tools, like pliers and screwdrivers, so they can be kept in different areas to cut down on running from house to garage.
If you have a ladder you carry around from project to project, it often takes a couple of tries to find the right spot to grab it so it balances in a horizontal position. To solve this trial-and-error handling, do this: Grab one side and adjust your hand until the ladder balances. Then put a dab of bright paint or tape on that spot. Then you will always know exactly where to grab the ladder to move it.
Ask any pro, they will tell you that the key to a great project is not only having the right tool for the right job, it's also taking advantage of the best tool features available. New tools, such as those shown here, offer dozens of new ways to power up for your next project, large or small.
When filing in a lathe, don't hold the file rigid, but use a slight gliding motion. This will help the file clear itself and also prevent ridges. When filing metal, vary the speed according to metal. Generally use 150 surface feet per minute for cast iron; 175 for annealed tool steel; 350 for machinery steel, and 500 for soft yellow brass. Also, don't run your hand over the work. Resulting oil and moisture will make it harder for the file to take hold.
If you are working outside of your shop or garage, running for individual tools can slow down a project. Instead, stack all the tools or toolboxes you will need into a wheelbarrow. Then you can wheel off to the job fully equipped or invest in a rolling project center.
Be sure to frequently check the air filters on your tools. Clogged filters can choke an engine and many filters can be cleaned and reused.
When not in use, keep your work ladders locked up so that burglars cannot use them to break into your house through the upper floors.