1. Curtain StraightenerMake an opening in the bottom hem, slide in a penny or two, and sew the hem back up to keep curtains hanging level and stick-straight.
2. Tread CheckerInsert a penny into a groove of a tire with Lincoln’s head pointing into the tire. If the groove covers part of his head, you’re safe to drive; if the head is in full view, it’s time for new wheels. (The distance between the rim of a penny and Lincoln’s head is 1/16 of an inch―the minimum suggested tread depth.)
3. Table AnchorIf you dine out and the table is unsteady, put a coin under the leg to restore balance.
4. Game TokenMisplaced the thimble? No problem. Sub in a cent.
5. Reader Tip: Makeshift ScrewdriverUse a penny to screw open a toy’s battery pack. Caroline Brant, Collegeville, Pennsylvania
6. Reader Tip: IcebreakerHand out pennies at your next gathering and ask each guest to share a story that happened during the year his or her penny was minted. If the coin predates a friend, let the person improvise. Rachel Harrison Massa, Stamford, Connecticut
7. Reader Tip: Birdbath CleanerTo ward off algae, toss in a few pre-1982 coins; the high copper content retards growth. Suzanne Wesley, Terre Haute, Indiana
1. Candle HolderPlace a CD under a pillar candle to keep wax from dripping on the table. Bonus: The reflective surface picks up the candlelight for extra ambience.
2. Cookbook DividersCover CDs with pretty contact paper, label the outer edges (SLOW COOKER, DESSERTS), and use them to section off cookbooks for quick reference.
3. Ice ScraperToo cold to hunt down the real deal? Use a jewel case to clear the frost from your windshield.
4. InvitationJot party details on the shiny side of a CD and mail it out in a cushioned envelope. (Expect to pay about a dollar in postage.)
5. FramePop a photo in an open jewel case for an instant desk display.
6. Reader Tip: CoasterStick felt to either side of a CD. For an instant conversation-starter (“Wang Chung? Really?”), leave them label-side up. Tina Harris Cincinnati, Ohio
7. Reader Tip: Craft AidLine the inside of a case with double-sided tape, then use it to keep wayward beads in place. Lizz Summers Boston, Massachusetts
3 of 4 John Lawton
8 New Uses for a Tennis Ball
1. Bulb RemoverUse half of a ball (see instructions on how to cut it at bottom) to remove a warm lightbulb from its socket.
2. Comforter FlufferSpeed up the drying time of bulky bedding by tossing a couple of tennis balls in the load.
3. Arm WeightsCut small slits into two balls. Fill with pennies or sand, then seal with tape or superglue. Take the weights on your next power walk.
4. Spa ToolRoll sore feet over tennis balls for a soothing massage.
5. Jar OpenerConquer lids by using the rubber lining of a cut ball to aid your grip.
6. Makeshift SafeCut a slit in a tennis ball, then place valuables (jewelry, cash, etc.) inside. Just keep it far away from Fido.
7. Reader Tip: Floor GuardsCut an X into four balls and slip the feet of an ironing board inside. Ruth Amundson, Westby, Wisconsin
8. Reader Tip: PainkillerLie down. Place a tied sock containing two balls under the spot where your head and neck meet. Tuck your chin and gently nod your head up and down. Meg Junker, Dayton, Ohio
How to Safely Cut a Tennis Ball
Draw a line around the diameter or the place you want to cut.
For extra stability, secure the tennis ball in a clamp.
Wearing sturdy work gloves, pierce the ball with an X-Acto knife or a box cutter, then slide with steady pressure. (Dead balls give a bit more and are easier to cut.)
4 of 4John Lawton
8 New Uses for a (Clean) Comb
1. Cake Decorator
Immediately after applying frosting, lightly run the teeth over it. (In this case, be sure the comb is new and sanitized.)
2. Carpet Fluffer
Use a comb to brush up stubborn furniture indentations on a rug.
3. Wine Strainer
If cork pieces fall into your bottle of vino, place a fine-toothed comb over the bottle’s mouth to strain out the bits as you pour. (Again, use a new, sanitized comb.)
4. Vacuum Cleaner
Scrape away lint that’s stuck on the vacuum’s roller for more suction.
5. Magic Trick
Turn on the tap to get a smooth stream. Run a comb through clean hair to build static electricity. Bring the comb close to the water without touching it. The stream will curve to the side due to the electrical charge.
6. Sweater Depiller
Gently brush the surface to remove unsightly balls from your knit top.
7. Wall Texturizer
Create a faux finish―straight lines, zigzags, grids―by gliding a comb over freshly painted walls (they should still be wet).
8. Reader Tip: Musical Instrument
Make a kazoo by folding a piece of parchment or wax paper over a comb’s teeth (the paper should hang over about an inch). Joanne Gerstel, New York, New York