When you have a screw that has become loose in wood, then you have a couple of options. You can try a bigger screw, which may hold for a while, but the best way to fix the situation on a more permanent basis is to plug the hole with better wood. Grab a golf tee and drive it into the hole. Most golf tees are made of strong wood and are slightly tapered and will fit most common screw holes. Put a little wood glue in first, and give it time to set up before trimming the tee off level with the rest of the wood. Now you can take a Mulligan and start over with that screw.


Q: I want to repaint the shutters on my house. I will be taking them down next week to do so and, after cleaning them, I’m not sure what else to do. They are made of some type of plastic, maybe vinyl. What kind of paint will I need to get? Is there anything else I need to do? – J.N.

A: You’ll do best to scuff-sand them first so the paint will “stick.” Use a primer made for vinyl and then you can use any good exterior paint. Don’t cut corners on a project like this. I’m sure taking them down and putting them back up is going to be a tough job. Good luck!

Tips from readers

Dear Carrells: Our metal porch railing is really decorative, so painting it was going to be a chore. I found the right paint and was looking for a good brush when I fount the paint mitt. What a brilliant idea. You put the mitt on your hand, dip it in the paint and then use it to apply the paint. It’s very pliable, so you can grab the railings and decorations and get really good coverage without a lot of mess. I was even able to wash it out, and I will be able to use it in a few more years when it’s time to paint again. It was so easy. – G.Y.


Dear Kelly: I am trying to get my house ready to sell and was trying to update the older brass doorknobs. I found some nickel-finish spray paint at my hardware store. I didn’t even take the doorknobs off; I just placed masking tape around them. I can’t tell you what a difference it has made. I also plan to paint the towel and toilet-tissue rods and other hardware around house to match. It does look upgraded. – T.S.


Dear Al: The rust stains on my patio are not new, and I have to admit that I don’t even notice them anymore. I think they came from a metal plant stand that we used to have, and it just rusted onto the concrete. I got some salt and lemon juice and scrubbed at the stain. It came out in just a few minutes. I was surprised at how easily it actually was. I am going to use them on another rust stain that I have on the side of my house. My air conditioner leaked last summer. – W.A.


Dear Carrells: I try to recycle whatever the city allows us to. I have set up several bins in my garage for various items so I can keep them separated. Most are picked up by the trash service once a month, but others can be taken in periodically to the main disposal site.

As an added bonus, I have discovered that I can get into these recycling bins and re-use some of these items in my shop and home. Dispenser bottles for mayonnaise and mustard are great for hand cleaner and soap.

Other items can be used to mix things like glue and paint in. When I’m finished, they can go right back into the recycling bins. – J.R.


If you have a busy kitchen, then a knife sharpener is a good tool to have on hand.

The Chef’s Choice Professional Sharpening Station works on a variety of blades, is easy to operate and does an excellent job, even on serrated blades.

It’s a three-step process and gives you superior results on these blades, as well as sport and pocket knives. You’ll get a better-than-factory edge every time.

Check it out at There also are other models available, and you can find the location of the nearest dealer.