We all have learned how much the lubrication of moving parts can make a huge difference in the operation of things. Of course, there are different lubricants for different moving parts. Graphite is what you should use on most locks. It’s been the choice of experts for many years. You can buy graphite at your home center or hardware store just for using on locks. But you also can get graphite, enough for one lock, from a pencil. Just rub the lead of the pencil over the edge of your key back and forth several times. This will spread the graphite on the key and then, when you push the key into the lock, it will spread the graphite around to lubricate the inside of the lock. It will make a huge difference. You’ll see.


Q: My toilet isn’t that old, but the bolts holding the seat in place are rusted so much that I can’t get them loosened. I want to change the seat. What can I do to get the bolts undone? – N.M.

A: Navel jelly is a thick grease that you can put on rust to help dissolve it. Hopefully, this will do the trick. If not, you might have to use a hacksaw to cut off the bolts. Just be very careful not to scratch the porcelain while you are cutting. Then you can replace the seat and bolts with plastic hardware.

Tips from readers

Dear Carrells: My wife makes me use coasters in the house. I really appreciate it, since I’ve had to remove my fair share of rings from tabletops. But then I started using coasters in my workshop. I put them under paint cans, hand cleaner and other messy stuff. They prevent grease stains and other messes that would end up on my work bench or utility countertop. I make my coasters from the lids of plastic containers because they are larger and hold more drips. – W.E.


Dear Al: I have a ton of cable ties. My friends even make fun of me for it. But these things are great for corralling extension cords, garden hoses, wire and tons of other stuff. They come in tons of different sizes and colors, and they are so inexpensive. I always keep a pair of scissors around, but I just think they are great. I have had them break, but only after being outdoors for more than a year. – G.R.


Dear Al: With both sons home from college and looking for jobs, our house is overflowing. We love having the boys here, but they have a lot of stuff. Instead of the standard plastic storage boxes, we’ve switched to large trash cans on wheels. These seal up nicely and are easy to roll around and move when the day finally comes for them to get their own places. Until then, they are full and lined up at the back of the garage. – P.J.


Dear Carrells: I’ve seen some of the new ladders that have holes cut out of the top step to hold hammers and some other tools. I think it’s a good idea, but my older ladder doesn’t have this feature. I glued a shallow metal pan to the top step of my ladder. It’s actually better, in my opinion. It holds several tools as well as hardware and whatever else I need to set down on that top step. Since it’s glued in place, it stays put even when I fold the ladder up and put it away. – R.S.


The Worx Rapid Reloadable Cartridge allows you to store six bits right on the tool, so you don’t lose them anymore. Twist and slide them into place. There’s also a nice LED lamp right on the front to make seeing in dark spaces easier. And the 4-volt MaxLithium battery holds a charge for up to 12 months. See it for yourself at