10 Smart Ways To Repurpose Old Or Broken Home Repair Tools

Sometimes it feels like being a DIYer becomes a sort of self-fulfilling prophecy. You decide to repair or make a few things, and you go out and get the skills and the tools for the job. Pretty soon, you have enough skills and tools (okay, okay, you can never have enough tools) that you start looking for other things to make or repair. Before you know it, your tools themselves need repair, too. It can get a little meta, but in a good way. Some of the wisdom you acquire along the way will occasionally tap you on the shoulder and whisper, "Don't bother fixing that. I have a better idea." And great ideas they are! We have a few for you — from kitschy to functional to fun — that'll give your old or broken tools new life in an entirely new way.

Reusing things can be a philosophical position about waste, and it can also be an instinctive recognition that a project will be interesting. The internet is full of unexpected things to do with broken wrenches and old saw motors, and they're usually unexpected because they're a bit whacky. We have various repurposing projects for you that are genuinely useful and interesting to DIYers and makers.

1. Create a handsaw spice rack

Remember when Handsaw Spice Rack's guitarist accidentally set himself on fire during their reunion show in Chapel Hill? Of course you don't, because we just made it up. But YouTuber Chris the bodge sculptor made up something far better involving a handsaw spice rack. His creation is basically two beautiful old saw that are adjusted with a Dremel rotary tool to be the same size, then are pressed into service as the sides of a simple three-shelf spice rack. Chris' channel is a treasure trove of, well, treasures — mostly tools that can be repurposed into all manner of brilliant things.

2. Convert old files to woodturning tools

Old files are usually either retired as old files or converted to knife blades. The process YouTuber Take and Make uses to create woodturning gouges and chisels is very similar, and sounds a bit intimidating until you realize he's blacksmithing with things like a toaster oven and an angle grinder. He anneals and tempers the files' hardened steel to soften and reduce brittleness, then shapes with a grinder and belt sander. He turns handles from ash using a lathe and a wood rasp.

3. Turn screwdriver handles into... handles

Every DIYer has a drawer or box full of broken, impractical, or excess screwdrivers. (Yes, excess screwdrivers are a thing, ushered in by the era of powered drill drivers.) What YouTuber Sixtyfiveford has discovered is that the unbroken handles of broken screwdrivers make perfectly good handles for other things, especially files (and maybe woodturning gouges made from files). The genius here is in the simplicity: Clamp the metal part of the screwdriver in a vise, knock off the (usually plastic) handle, and then hammer in the tang from a handle-less metal file.

4. Transform broken screwdrivers into awls and picks

Picks are made for tasks like removing hoses, seals, and O-rings, but they're useful in almost any pursuit — picking vinyl from a Cricut, clearing sprayer obstructions, scribing lines in whatever needs scribing, or cleaning dirty fingernails (or so we've heard). This time, sixtyfiveford shows you the process of shaping the metal end of a broken screwdriver into various pick shapes. Watch for the outtakes at the end where he uses sign language to teach his dog the difference between a drink and a screwdriver. The confusion is natural, for orange juice fans.

5. Rework a broken angle grinder into a disc sander

The cool part of this hack isn't turning an angle grinder into a disc sander, it's turning one into a drill press-powered disc sander. YouTuber Ollari's idea is to use the gearing mechanism that turns the angle of rotation 90 degrees in an angle grinder (or a right-angle drill attachment, etc.). Because the grinder's motor is shot, he comes up with the idea to mount the sander to his drill press and power it from there, which is perhaps the most obvious thing no one's ever thought of.

6. Turn an angle grinder into an ice auger

Angle grinders do a demanding job, and occasionally they just need to retire and go fishing. YouTuber Performer of ideas suggests ice fishing, and shows you how to connect a drill and auger bit to the right-angle mechanism of a grinder to make a serviceable auger for boring holes in ice-covered lakes. Okay, not everyone needs an ice auger, but everyone does need a post-hole auger, and having one is just a matter of devising a stronger power source. But now you'll need a new way to sharpen your shovel.

7. Electrical clamps become paintbrush holders

There's a surplus of battery clamps in the junk drawer of every DIYing magpie. You cut them off their cables thinking you might need them someday, and today's that day. YouTuber TIP Centric flattens the tip of one side, glues magnets to it, then clamps it on a paint can. When he slaps the paintbrush onto the magnets, you realize you are witnessing repurposing greatness — along with whoever came up with the hack for using a pool noodle to keep your paintbrushes from falling into your paint tray.

8. Make a huge vise from an old car jack

Granted, an old scissor jack isn't a home repair tool, but you're using it to make a home repair tool, so we'll let this one slide. Scissor jacks are another one of those items that seems to proliferate inexplicably, possibly because people throw them out their car windows in a rage after suffering their use. But YouTuber WOW DIY makes brilliant and gigantic bench-mounted vises, which are super useful.

9. Don't repurpose it. Restore it!

Some tools are worth saving, and their rehabilitation is more rededication than repurposing. Think of it as renewing vows with your tool — in this case, an old Stanley hand plane. YouTuber Eoin Reardon is fixing up a plane that's in pretty rough shape. He disassembles it, removes the rust, flattens its sole, laps the frog face (yes, that's a thing), refinishes the wooden knob and handle, then carefully flattens and sharpens the blade. Eoin is worth watching for his accent, even if you don't have a rusty old hand plane.

10. Turn a tool case into a diaper bag

If turning a molded polypropylene DeWalt tool case into a diaper bag sounds ridiculous, know that creator and YouTube Wylde Woodworks agrees with you. These cases are factory packing, not toolboxes, which are also great for repurposing around the house. After using similar cases to contain art supplies, emergency supplies, and more, he made the DeWalt diaper bag as a joke, but ended up liking it so much he kept it. Simply remove the tool-specific dividers, sand it, attach a shoulder strap, and fill it with the diapers, wipes, and ointments of your choice.