We’re all about saving time, and we love to share these tips with you. The long, narrow bags that most newspapers and loaves of bread come in are great for a variety of things around the house. If you are getting ready to paint, use them to cover your ceiling-fan blades. That way, you can save time by not having to remove the blades before you start painting. It’s easy to slip one over the blade, (two for larger blades) and hold it in place with masking tape. When you are finished painting, just slide the bag back off and toss it in the garbage.

Share your time-saving tips with us and our readers by contacting us at


Q: We have just moved to this community and have learned that we have “hard water.” Apparently it can cause problems in appliances. Personally, I like it. Should we get a water softener? Can you tell me more about these? – H.J.

A: Your first stop should be your water department. They are likely to have information on water softeners and how effective they will be with your local water supply.

Next, you probably should ask some of your neighbors to see what they have to say. They can be quite effective and can save your appliances from damage. They also can be a little bit of a hassle and require regular maintenance.

Tips from readers

Dear Al: I found this great old desk at an auction and just had to have it. After getting it home, I realized that it really needed to be stripped and stained. I love this kind of stuff, but the old finish was really tough to get off. I started off with steel wool but switched to plastic scrubbers that we use on dishes. These work a lot better and don’t disintegrate like the steel wool. Try them the next time you are stripping furniture. They work great! – S.E.


Dear Carrells: My wife has had a cedar chest for her whole life. We keep it in our bedroom and use it to store blankets in. I never really knew it was lined with cedar because there was no longer any smell. When I found out it was real cedar, I took my palm sander out and thoroughly sanded the whole surface inside. It has a very nice, strong smell now, and my wife loves it even more. – H.G.


Dear Kelly: I found some pegboard scraps in the garage and decided to put them up inside the house to use. I put one on the inside of my pantry door to hold some of my utensils. I also put one up in my sewing room. I use it to hold a lot of my tools and other sewing supplies. I have also put one in my closet to hold belts, scarves and other things. I love this stuff! – C.G.


Dear Al: When we first decided to finish out our game room, I figured we would just paint it. But I wanted to find a way to deaden the sound a little more. We decided we would glue quilt batting to the wall and then cover the walls with inexpensive burlap material. We bought a powered staple gun and saved a lot of time and effort by using that. The walls look neat, and the sound from the TV is more tolerable, for sure. – T.W.

A Super hint

Solar lights are great – unless you don’t have a place to mount them or stick them into the dirt. Put a little gravel or sand into an empty pot or large can and place the lamp into this. You can set it wherever you need it – even on your patio or deck. This is a great solution for a dark front porch, too.

Got a question or a handy tip? Send it to The Super Handyman at Those of general interest will be used in future columns.