Landscaping 101: Tools, Planting, and Adding Color to your Landscaping | Pretty Handy Girl


Landscaping 101 – Tools & Planting

When we bought our first home 13 years ago, we were lured by the idea of having at least half an acre of land. Little did we know that it would involve LOTS and LOTS of yard work. Over the years we’ve learned several tips and tricks to creating beautiful landscaping that will last for decades. If you’re a new homeowner (or still trying to find your green thumb), here’s the Landscaping 101 course to help you hit the ground running. I’ll be sharing which yard tools are essential, how to pick the right plants, how to plant them, and how to add color to your landscaping. Pull up a stump and lets dig in!

Assess Landscaping Needs:

Do you have a variety of color in your landscaping? Unfortunately a soccer ball, flag and garden ornament don’t really count. Attractive landscaping will have a variety of colors, textures and tones to create variety and interest.

Easy Color in Your Landscaping Beds | Pretty Handy Girl

The great news is that you can remedy this situation in an afternoon (or less time depending on how much planting you need to do.)

Take a good hard look at your existing landscaping. What’s working for you and what is…ummm…dying. It’s okay to give up on shrubs and plants that are dying. If you just can’t stand the thought of killing them, transplant sickly plants in a less visible spot to give them a second chance. But, don’t leave them in your front beds where they aren’t adding any curb appeal.

As an alternative, if a sad looking plant previously thrived in that location but it took a hit from frost (or a well-played soccer ball). You can try to save it by trimming the plant back to green stalks or near the ground. That’s exactly what I did to this Confederate Jasmine. I pruned it back to see if it would come back.

Easy Color in Your Landscaping Beds | Pretty Handy Girl

I also planted a new one right next to the old one for instant color and fragrance. That way the old one can take its time growing back while no one notices its stubbiness.

Easy Color in Your Landscaping Beds | Pretty Handy Girl

Make a list of the holes you have in your landscape. Note the sun and soil conditions there. Take your list with you when you go plant shopping.

How to Choose Appropriate Plants for your Landscape:

Easy Color in Your Landscaping Beds | Pretty Handy Girl

Be sure to shop for your flowering plants at a local reputable plant nursery. Picking up plants at the grocery store or other big box store will result in less than the hardiest plants. Nurseries take care to stock plants that thrive well in your climate. They are also more healthy and disease-free. Finally, the staff at the nursery is more knowledgeable and can help you choose plants that will do well in your garden. The grocery store cashier probably can’t help you with that!

If possible, shop for flowering plants at the time that you want them to bloom in your yard! A successful flower bed will have staggered blooms throughout the Spring – Fall. If you fill your flower bed over time, you’ll be sure to have blooms that appear at different times as opposed to picking all your beautiful blooming plants in one shopping trip. But, if you’re more of the once and done type, ask the nursery staff for a variety of plants that will stagger their blooms.

Sun and Shade Requirements:

Choose plants that will thrive in the existing conditions in your yard. It’s a great idea to map your landscape area and note the sun and shade areas on an hourly basis. Select plants based on those shade/sun requirements.

  • Full sun = At least 6 hours of direct sun
  • Partial Sun = 3-6 hours of sun per day. The plant must receive direct light for at least 3 hours.
  • Partial Shade = 3-6 hours of sun per day. The plant must receive shade to help cool the plant later in the afternoon.
  • Shade = Less than 3 hours of sun per day. But, the plant should receive some additional dappled sun throughout the day. No sun equals no life.

Also pay attention to your soil and drainage. A well drained soil will dry several hours after watering. Damp soil will stay moist and wet for at least a day after watering.

*A good tip is to save your plant tags and receipts. Most reputable nurseries will have a warranty on the plants they sell. Ask them for more information.

How to Choose Yard Tools:

Landscaping 101: Tools, Planting, and Adding Color to your Landscaping | Pretty Handy Girl
Disclosure: True Temper sent me these landscaping tools to try out. I was not told what to say about their tools.

A good starter set of landscaping tools are:

(I’ve included affiliate links for your convenience. I earn a small percentage from a purchase using these links. There is no additional cost to you. You can read more about affiliate links here.)

  • Round Point Shovel – used for digging and transferring plants
  • Bow Rake – used for leveling and loosening soil, spreading mulch, and ground cover
  • Garden Spade Shovel – used for digging trenches, transplanting and edging beds
  • Wheelbarrow  – your best friend when it comes to hauling yard material
  • Garden Trowel  – A small trowel for planting, transplanting, digging up bulbs, moving dirt, potting, and much more!
  • Cultivator  – used for loosening and breaking up tough soil, removing rocks, weeding and aerating
  • Warren Hoe  – used for creating and planting rows of seeds and harvesting underground vegetables
  • Leaf Rake  – if you have deciduous trees, you NEED a leaf rake to remove fallen leaves
  • Pruning Shears  – a sharp pair of pruning shears are used for pruning, cutting blooms and dead limbs from bushes and plants
  • Garden gloves – a good pair of garden gloves will protect your hands from thorns, scratches and dreaded poison ivy (or poison oak.)

If you’re new to landscaping, I’m going to give you some good advice about buying tools. As I recommend with power tools, don’t cheap out when buying landscaping tools. If you buy quality garden and landscape tools, they should last you a lifetime. If you go for the less expensive tools, you’ll likely spend more in the long run when you have to replace a broken or worn out tool.

For example, we have a True Temper shovel that has lasted us for over 10 years now. We’ve put that baby to good use digging in the rocky and clay filled NC soil. Some of the other tools we bought didn’t make it that long. Either the handles snapped or the tines on a rake bent over continued use. Buying two of the same tool means it would have been smarter and more economical to purchase quality from the start. (Live and learn.)

Easy Color in Your Landscaping Beds | Pretty Handy Girl

Good tools should be ergonomic, comfortable and made with quality materials that won’t break or bend over time. Look for strong defect-free handles. True Temper tools are high quality and Made in the USA. They’ve been making agricultural tools for over 200 years! My favorite feature of these True Temper tools are the 10″ cushion grip handles. They are easy to hold and are good shock absorbers.

Easy Color in Your Landscaping Beds | Pretty Handy Girl

How to Plant Shrubs and Flowers that will Thrive:

Assess the health of your plants. Remove any diseased or dying plants. You don’t want them infecting your new greenery. Use a round point shovel to dig a circle around the root ball.  Use your foot to step on the top of the shovel to get further depth and force to cut roots. When the plant is free, remove it and toss it or transplant it to a new location.

Easy Color in Your Landscaping Beds | Pretty Handy Girl

Dig a hole at least two times the size of the new plant’s root ball. And several inches deeper.

Easy Color in Your Landscaping Beds | Pretty Handy Girl

Break up rocky and hard soil with either a Warren hoe or cultivator (or both!) The cultivator works great at getting all the big rocks out of the way.

Easy Color in Your Landscaping Beds | Pretty Handy Girl

Fill the bottom of the hole with good organic compost. This stuff is black gold! A good compost pile will be full of worms working to turn your kitchen scraps into super nutrient rich soil for your plants. I’ll have to write a separate post on how I compost. If you don’t have access to organic compost, purchase a bag of good gardening soil to use. Mix the compost and dirt with the cultivator or hoe. The soil should have good drainage and no large chunks.

Easy Color in Your Landscaping Beds | Pretty Handy Girl

To free your plant from it’s pot, make a fist and pound around the outside of the pot. Gently tip the pot upside down while supporting your plant by its trunk. Gently lay the plant on its side.

Easy Color in Your Landscaping Beds | Pretty Handy Girl

Use the hand trowel to slice into the rootball. This is especially important if your plant is root bound. You need to encourage the plant to expand and grow new roots out into the earth.

Easy Color in Your Landscaping Beds | Pretty Handy Girl

Set the plant upright in the hole you dug.

Easy Color in Your Landscaping Beds | Pretty Handy Girl

Fill around the root ball and cover the top of the root ball slightly with more soil/compost mixture.

Step around the base of your plant to eliminate air holes. It’s important to get good soil contact with the roots of the plant.

Easy Color in Your Landscaping Beds | Pretty Handy Girl

Water your newly planted flowers and plants daily for two weeks or more. Then taper off the watering to help them extend their roots on their own.


Adding mulch around your plants in the beds adds more than an attractive look. It keeps moisture in the soil and controls weeds. To weigh your options on which type of mulch you want to use, you’ll probably find this Mulch Selection Guidelines List helpful.

Landscaping 101: Tools, Planting, and Adding Color to your Landscaping | Pretty Handy Girl

Save your back and energy by filling a wheelbarrow with mulch and bring it to your beds. Make sure the front wheel has plenty of air. Or learn how to replace a wheelbarrow tire that never goes flat!

Easy Color in Your Landscaping Beds | Pretty Handy Girl

Spread the mulch 2 – 3″ deep around your plants with a bow rake. Anything less than 2″ won’t  control weeds and retain moisture as well.

Container Gardening:

Potted plants help you “fake it until you make it!” A few potted plants with annual flowers in them is a great way to add pops of color exactly where you want them. They’ll draw attention to their color and blooms and detract from any landscape beds that are between blooms.

When they stop blooming you can pop in another container of flowers. Container gardening is the perfect activity for fickle gardeners because you can constantly change the look with new colors and plants. Learn all the basics for growing your own container gardens here.

Annuals are great for instant color, but once they are gone they won’t grow back next year. If you prefer to avoid yearly planting,  buy perennials to plant in your pots. They will re-bloom year after year.

Easy Color in Your Landscaping Beds | Pretty Handy Girl

For a more portable arrangements, fill small lightweight pots or containers on wheels. (I had fun turning this old Radio Flyer wagon into a portable planter. Now I can wheel the wagon anywhere I want to add more color.)

Easy Color in Your Landscaping Beds | Pretty Handy Girl

Added Color to the Landscape:

Remember that “artificial colored” landscaping before?

Easy Color in Your Landscaping Beds | Pretty Handy Girl

Within an afternoon it got a makeover worthy of an HGTV curb appeal segment.

Easy Color in Your Landscaping Beds | Pretty Handy Girl

Before the sad little gardenia was barely thriving.

Easy Color in Your Landscaping Beds | Pretty Handy Girl

Presto! Instant color and blooms from a newly planted pink hydrangea.

Easy Color in Your Landscaping Beds | Pretty Handy Girl

New rose bushes bring some fragrance and color to the previously color-lacking front bed. I had no idea that there were yellow knockout roses, but as soon as I saw them I grabbed them. If you don’t know about knock out roses, they are much hardier and disease resistant than their ancestors! Win!

Landscaping 101: Tools, Planting, and Adding Color to your Landscaping | Pretty Handy Girl

A few foxglove plants adds some height and visual interest to the flower bed.

Easy Color in Your Landscaping Beds | Pretty Handy Girl

Much better! In a week those irises around the flag and the big rose bush in the middle will be brimming with color.

Easy Color in Your Landscaping Beds | Pretty Handy Girl

Our front landscaping beds are my new happy place!

Easy Color in Your Landscaping Beds | Pretty Handy Girl

We get compliments from anyone who comes to our house (which is primarily the UPS and FedEx driver lately. Thanks guys!)

Easy Color in Your Landscaping Beds | Pretty Handy Girl

Easy Color in Your Landscaping Beds | Pretty Handy Girl

Do tell me, do you have any landscaping tips or secrets to share? Or maybe you have a favorite plant in your yard. Please tell me more!


3 sanders

Welcome to another tool tutorial. Today I’m going to save you time and effort by teaching you how to use a sander.

How to Use a Sander

How to Use a Sander

If you don’t have a power sander, you’ll likely recognize this contraption below. That’s a manual sanding block. It’s great, but personally I like to move quickly through the sanding phase of a project.

Reclaimed Lumber Farmhouse Table | Pretty Handy Girl

Especially because I feel like I’ve grown out of the hand sanding phase of my life. LOL.

When to Use a Sander:

Using a power sander can speed through the process of smoothing wood and other materials. It’s typically used to either prep a surface or finish a surface before applying paint, stain, or a top coat.

  • A sander can also knock off splinters and round over sharp corners.

  • It’s also great for prepping surfaces to paint (especially pre-finished or raw furniture.)

How to Get a Smooth Paint Finish without a Paint Sprayer | Pretty Handy Girl

  • A sander can also be used to give a beautiful aged finish to any project you are working on.

Chalk Painted Wooden Stool | Pretty Handy Girl

  • Or help eliminate imperfections from a surface.

  • Sanders can also be used to remove rust from metal.

Upcycled Metal Rolling Cart Plant Stand | Pretty Handy Girl

When NOT to Use a Power Sander:

A power sander should never be used when working with materials that would be hazardous when airborne, like asbestos or lead paint. If you suspect these materials in your home, it’s best to consult with a professional abatement specialist. Learn how to test for lead paint in this article. If you have a house built in or before 1978, you might have asbestos. Learn everything you wanted to know about asbestos here.

Need to remove lead paint? You will be much safer if you use a chemical stripper. Learn how to strip paint here.

How to Strip Paint Off a Door | Pretty Handy Girl

Personal Protective Equipment for Sanding:

  • Dust Mask
  • Safety Glasses
  • Hearing Protection
  • Optional: Gloves

When using a sander, it is essential that you wear a dust mask to protect your lungs. Eye protection needs to be worn to protect your eyes from sawdust or splinters. And finally, wear hearing protection because exposure to the noise of power tools over time can damage your hearing.

Finally, gloves are not essential, but sanding can dry your hands and make them rough.

Different Types of Sanders:

There are several types of sanders, but today we’ll stick with the most common power sanders used by DIY enthusiasts because of their portability.

  • Sheet Sander
  • Random Orbital Sander
  • Detail Sander

Sheet Sander:

The first is a sheet sander. This sander is named because you cut a sheet of sandpaper to attach to the sander.

How To Replace Sheet Sander Sandpaper:

When the sandpaper gets torn or shows wear, it’s time to replace it (or if you need to switch the sandpaper grit.) Look for the clamps on each side of the sheet sander base and release them to remove sandpaper.

replacing sheet sander sandpaper

Mark the size of your sander’s base on the sandpaper.

Cut a piece of sandpaper to size (add about a 1/2″ on each end to be able to clamp to.)

Feed one end into one side clamp and depress the lever to hold the sandpaper.

Feed the other side under the clamp and secure.

When sanding a lot, I like to load several sheets into my sheet sander. This way I can quickly tear off a layer when it’s worn or when I need to move to the next grit.

Random Orbital Sander:

The second most common type of sander is a random orbital sander. Named because the base moves around in a random elliptical motion. Personally this is the type of sander I use most for handheld sanding. It’s lightweight and allows me to get the majority of the sanding done quickly.

How to Strip Paint Off a Door | Pretty Handy Girl

How to Replace Sandpaper on a Random Orbital Sander:

The random orbital sander saves you time when it’s time to change the sandpaper. The sandpaper discs are held on with a velcro-like hook and loop system.

To remove, simply pull the sandpaper off the base of the sander. Then replace it with a new sheet being careful to line up the sandpaper with the vent holes on the sander.

removing worn orbital sander paper, replacing hook and loop sandpaper

Easy and quick. Now you can continue sanding.

Detail Sander:

Most sanders lack the size to get into tight corners or grooves. Those tasks are best left for the detail sander.

Rustic Pallet Serving Tray | Pretty Handy Girl

Smaller in size, and usually with a pointed head, detail sanders typically use a hook and loop sandpaper system for quick changes.

How Much Do Sanders Cost?

(I’ve included affiliate links for your convenience. I earn a small percentage from a purchase using these links. There is no additional cost to you. You can read more about affiliate links here.)

3 sanders

A good power sander shouldn’t cost an arm and a leg. Prices will range from $20 to over $200 for brand name sanders. But, you can purchase a good sander for $50-$100.

Personally I have a cordless sander and a corded sander. I love the ability to use the cordless sander in the yard without needing to pull a power cord with me. But, I usually prefer the longevity of sanding with a corded sander. My sheet sander is old and gets less use because the vibrations are much stronger leaving me with numb hands after sanding for a while.

About Sandpaper:

Sandpaper comes in a wide variety of colors and grits. The colors do not mean a specific grit across brands, but within a brand they help easily identify the sandpaper grit.

  • Coarse Grit: 40 – 60
  • Medium Grit: 80 – 180
  • Fine Grit: 200-600
  • Super Fine Grit: Over 600 grit

When sanding a raw piece of wood or something that needs aggressive sanding to remove a finish, start with a rough sandpaper with a 40- to 60-grit. For smoothing out imperfections and scratches, you need to move on to a 80- to 180-grit sandpaper. The final finishing of a wood piece requires a fine-grit sandpaper with a 200- to 600-grit. Super fine grit is usually reserved for metal, glass, or other non-wood surfaces.

How to Use a Power Sander:

Sanders are either battery-powered or corded. If using a battery-powered sander make sure you have a charged battery. Plug in your corded sander.

SKIL orbital sander

Attach the appropriate grit sandpaper to the base.

Look for the on/off switch on your sander. Turn the tool on and gently set it on the material you need to sand. Use slow sweeping motions to methodically sand your workpiece.

How to Fill Holes and Knots in Wood | Pretty Handy Girl

Once you have a uniform finish, switch to a finer grit sandpaper. Repeat the process above. Continue sanding until you have a super smooth surface (or desired finish.)

sand all boards

Wipe off sanding dust with a damp rag or tack cloth. Empty the dust collection bag on your sander if you have one.  Now it’s time to finish your project! Add stain, paint, or a top coat to protect your project.

Video Sanding Tutorial:

I hope you enjoyed this tutorial. If you want to see a video of using a sander, watch how I finished a branch to use as a towel bar in my sons’ bathroom:

Happy sanding!

Organize Your Sandpaper and Sanders:

Once you find a love for sanding, you’ll probably want to store your sandpaper and sanders neatly. Learn how The Handyman’s Daughter built this simple sanding station.

Get the plans to build this sander and sandpaper storage unit at The Handyman's Daughter!

Rustic Wooden Caddy with a Branch Handle

Spring is right around the corner and I’m itching to cut some fresh flowers to bring inside. I love displaying them in jars placed inside rustic wooden caddies. Making a little caddy or tote out of salvage wood and branches can be an easy beginner DIY project. But, it’s also satisfying for experienced woodworkers looking to use up some old scraps or upcycle an old wooden box. Here’s how to elevate a simple wooden box into something more quirky and special by adding a branch handle.


(I’ve included affiliate links for your convenience. I earn a small percentage from a purchase using these links. There is no additional cost to you. You can read more about affiliate links here.)

I happened to be browsing through a yard sale and spotted a sad little box begging for me to buy it and give it a new life:

How could I say no! It was only $3. I couldn’t leave it at the yard sale in its sad burgundy dust-covered state. I brought it home so it could sit in my garage collecting more dust. (This happens more often than I’d like to admit. It’s a sickness I have.)

Using the pry bar and pliers, I pulled off the lid of the box and removed any nails.

Then I had a basic box to work with. You can use this tutorial to create a simple box if you don’t have one.


Cut upper handle supports out of 1×3 or other scraps. Clamp them inside the box.

Pre-drill holes and drive wood screws through the sides of the box and into the vertical supports.

Now it the time to finish the wooden caddy using your choice of paint or stain. (I like to create a rustic look using a relatively dry brush and by letting some of the wood grain show through your brush stokes.)

While the paint is drying, use a hack or coping saw to remove any bumps or burrs from your branch.

Measure the ends of your branch and select the spade bits that are closest in diameter to your branch (you want the holes to be equal to or wider than the branch.)

Drill a hole into each side of the vertical handle supports.

Insert the branch into the side of the caddy. You might have to experiment with which direction to install the branch.

Fill some jars with flowers and set them inside the crate.

Set it out in a prominent spot in your home.

Enjoy your shabby chic crate, caddy, tool box, or whatever you like to call it.

Personally I can’t get enough of this branch handle:

I’m curious, would you have bought that little dusty box too?!

If you liked this tutorial, you’ll love these other easy DIY Projects:

Mini-Picket Fence Caddy

Make a Driftwood Gift Crate | Pretty Handy Girl

Make Your Own Driftwood Crate

makita-girls-2015-WhatIt’s 2018, and I’m Still Wondering Where are the Real Makita Girls?

Back when I first published this post, I never thought I’d be resurrecting it from the archives. Then Simone Giertz shared this tweet and my anger and frustration at Makita boiled over again. The video Simone was referencing has been taken down by Makita, but here’s another upload of the Makita Girls behind the scenes video:

It’s been three years Makita, why are you still using the same tired marketing campaign? Your transparent attempts at finding spokeswomen who actually use power tools is laughable. My 14 year old son even pointed out that Miss Makita can’t actually build shelves with a sander. Sure, she can finish them with a sander, but any avid power tool user would not choose a sander as their favorite power tool (give me a recip saw or a sliding compound miter saw any day over a sander!)

In the three years that have passed since I was angered by Makita’s Miss and Senorita Makita campaign, I added four expensive power tools to my toolbox. And you know what? I consciously steered clear of the Makita brand because I don’t want to support a brand that objectifies women and doesn’t recognize that there are many of us that use power tools for more than “building shelves.”

Get it together Makita! It’s 2018, time to retire the women in bikinis and find a woman who gets her nails at the hardware store (not the salon.) There are so many women who can guide potential buyers to purchase tools based on their expert opinions. Let’s see this campaign retired or start searching for all the women makers, contractors and builders out there. Am I right?

This is my open letter to Makita in 2015:

Oh Makita, why did you have to go and do this?!

Makita announced its 2015 Makita Girls and where you can go to meet them. Initially, I reserved my opinion until I learned more about these new spokesmodels. But, after reading their bios, I was angered. Not a single mention of enjoying woodworking, building or carpentry. Where is the DIY love? What will they talk about at these appearances?  I’m disappointed that Makita would choose their spokesmodels for looks and not skills. And, I question their decision to maintain an advertising program that perpetuates the stereotype that only men use their tools.

Don’t they realize that they are alienating a huge growing market of DIY women? Would I have been offended if they selected an attractive woman who had Mad-DIY skills? Definitely not.

If they wanted beautiful women using tools, there is no shortage of kick ass female builders out there. This ever changing world of Do It Yourselfers is filled to the brim with amazing “Real Makita Girls.” Some of these women have the right to hold their Makita tools proudly. They can tell you the difference between a bevel and a miter; a cross cut vs. a rip cut and they know that brushless is a good thing and has nothing to do with long flowing locks of hair! These women choose quality tools that are strong enough to stand up to the current and future projects they are completing.

Am I angry? Yes! Am I going to stop using Makita tools? No, because frankly they make great tools. My Makita 10″ Compound Sliding Miter Saw is my baby:

Makita Girls | Pretty Handy Girl

It’s the first tool I’d truly cry over if it was stolen. This saw has been with me through 100’s of projects, a kitchen remodel and countless fixes. I have never had to adjust the laser or to square up the tool. It is a quality power saw made with aluminum and metal parts, not cheap plastic. But, despite my undying love for my Makita tools, their advertising tactics make me embarrassed to confess my love.

Do you want to help me change the search results right here and now? Let’s show Makita what a Real Makita Girl is. Please visit these accomplished builders and DIYers. Pin their images and title it “Real Makita Girl” or use the hashtag #RealMakitaGirls.

Makita Girls | Pretty Handy Girl
Sara Bendrick – Landscape Designer, Woodworker and DIYNetwork TV Host of I Hate My Yard

Makita Girls | Pretty Handy Girl
Kit – Blogger, Builder and Kick Ass DIYer at

Makita Girls | Pretty Handy Girl
Kim – Blogger, Builder and Creative Genius at

Hey, do you use Makita tools, too? If so, show me your…tools! (Email me pictures of yourself using your Makita tools, to PrettyHandyGirl (at) I’ll add your photo to this post.)  Let’s take over the search term “Makita Girls” and show them what a Real Makita Girl is!

#RealMakitaGirlsMary Hunnicutt another one of many #RealMakitaGirls

Cottage at the Crossroads #RealMakitaGirlsJane from Cottage at the Crossroads

In the meantime, I have to ask:

Makita, when you make awesome tools, why do you have to stoop to such slimy advertising tactics? The 1980’s called, and they want their tight spandex and scantily clad women back. Please remove the blinders and take notice of your growing customer base.  Women are shopping in the tool department. They are your consumers. They are smart and savvy. They want to purchase tools that will last. They want to hear about what makes a Makita tool great and why they should spend a little more to purchase a tool that won’t fall apart in a year or two.

A few weeks after this post was published in 2015: I spoke to Wayne Hart, the communications manager at Makita tools after this post initially published. We had a pleasant conversation and he seemed to understand my concerns about the Miss Makita and Senorita Makita models. I offered to let Mr. Hart make a statement to my readers but never heard back from him. In the meantime, the program has continued in 2016 and 2017, but I noticed that at least two of the models have used some of the tools outside the program. At least that’s some progress, right!? What do you think about tool companies continuing to use models as spokeswomen?


Disclosure: The opinions expressed in this post are my own. Sara, Kit, and Kim are DIY women I admire. They gave me permission to use their photos, but that doesn’t mean that they endorse what I have written in this post. 

How to Make a Long Clamp with Short Clamps | Pretty Handy Girl

How to Make a Long Clamp with Short Clamps | Pretty Handy GirlHow to Make a Long Clamp with Shorter Clamps

When you are trying to outfit your workshop with equipment it can be tempting to skip purchasing more expensive long clamps. After all, how often do you really need to clamp something longer than 12 – 18″? Luckily, I’m here to justify your decision to purchase two short clamps in place of one long clamp, because here’s How to Make a Long Clamp with two Shorter Clamps!

How to Make a Long Clamp with Short Clamps | Pretty Handy Girl

(I’ve included affiliate links for your convenience. I earn a small percentage from a purchase using these links. There is no additional cost to you. You can read more about affiliate links here.)

When it comes time to clamp that extra long project, grab two of the same brand clamps (this may also work with different brands, but you’ll just have to experiment). I use Irwin Quick Grip clamps. 

How to Make a Long Clamp with Short Clamps | Pretty Handy Girl

Open the two clamps to the full extension. Set the grip handle side of one clamp on one side of your item to clamp.

How to Make a Long Clamp with Short Clamps | Pretty Handy Girl

Take the second clamp and flip it toward the opposite side, resting the handle side on the opposite side of the item.

Then set the two middle clamp pads against one another to form an “S” shape as shown below.)

How to Make a Long Clamp with Short Clamps | Pretty Handy Girl

Tighten the two clamps and you have one long clamp made from two shorter clamps!

How to Make a Long Clamp with Short Clamps | Pretty Handy Girl

Tell me the truth, did you already know about this clamp hack? I debated whether to write this post because the idea is so simple, I figured it may be nothing new.

If you didn’t know how to make one long clamp out of two smaller ones, I hope this tip helps you one day. I know it really helped me this weekend when I was trying to clamp a larger picture frame.

How to Make a Long Clamp with Short Clamps | Pretty Handy Girl

Do you have any helpful workshop tips to share? I’d love to hear them.