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15 Brilliant 5 Gallon Bucket Hacks for Your Home

The ubiquitous 5 gallon bucket can be used for lots more than just hauling stuff around!

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HH 5-gallon bucket clean up trash bag liner

Really Easy Paint Container Cleanup

Even if you use reusable shopping bags, there’s a good chance you have some plastic grocery bags somewhere in your home. And a large trash bag can be used for a variety of projects in your workshop.

Use your extra trash bags as 5 gallon bucket liners to make a 5 gallon paint bucket. This tip is especially helpful when working with messy materials such as paint or grout. Simply place the trash bag inside the 5-gallon bucket and make sure that there is enough bag left over at the top so it won’t collapse inwards. When using this handy hint with paint, you can tie the bag shut to use for another day of working on your project. And, once you are done using the paint in the bucket, you can poke a hole in it to drain the paint back into the paint can.

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Keep Them from Sticking Together

It’s nice to keep some empty 5 gallon buckets around, but the only way to efficiently store them is to stack them. The problem is, they can get stuck so tight it feels like they’re glued together. Put a short chunk of 2×4 between the buckets when you stack them. It’ll be a cinch to pull them apart. — Dennis Rowe.

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DIY Dog FeederFamily Handyman

DIY Dog Feeder

Make a tough, self-filling dog feeder from a couple of 5-gal. buckets. With a saber saw, cut the bottom off one bucket to create a serving tray, and cut a food dispensing hole in the food storage bucket (as shown). Cut part of the lip off the bottom of the food storage bucket to flatten it, then use silicone to glue the two pieces together. NOTE: Don't build this dog feeder unless your pooch can exercise some self-control. Check out our collection of clever and unusual ways to make your pet happier, healthier and more comfortable, using things you'll find around the house. — reader Justin Moujoodi
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Stay-Put PVC Pipe CutterFamily Handyman

Stay-Put PVC Pipe Cutter

Here's a nifty way to cut PVC pipe on the fly. Just make a couple of notches in the top of a 5-gallon bucket. Set the pipe in the notches and you've got a stable spot for sawing. As a bonus, you can load up the bucket and carry your tools along, too! For 33 ingenious ways to use PVC pipe, check out this collection of tips.
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Family Handyman

Hold Them In Place with Bungees

I use a lot of 5 gallon pails to store tools and other construction gear in my pickup. But I was frustrated because they were always sliding around and tipping, and I couldn’t always reach them without climbing up into the bed. My solution: Secure them in the pickup bed with bungee cords. Now they stay put! — Tim Horky.

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Better Tree WateringFamily Handyman

Better Tree Watering

It's a lot of work to haul buckets of water to recently planted trees. Then, when you dump out the water at the base of the tree, the water quickly runs off. Here's a solution: Get some old 5-gallon buckets and drill a 1/4-in. hole near the bottom of each one. After plugging the holes with dowels, fill the buckets and haul them to the trees in a wheelbarrow. Set the buckets near the base of the trees and unplug the holes. It takes several minutes for the buckets to drain, allowing the soil to soak up every drop. Learn about successfully growing healthy shade trees in your yard here. — David Radtke
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Spray-Clean RollerFamily Handyman

Spray-Clean Roller

Spin most of the excess paint off your roller sleeve by holding the roller frame inside a bucket and hitting it with a nozzled garden hose. In seconds it'll be nearly paint free. You'll still have to use soap and water to finish, but this'll give you a huge head start. Want your next painting project to look like it was done by a pro? This tutorial shows you the techniques you need to know. — reader Decie C. McKnight
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Handy Bench and Tool BucketFamily Handyman

Handy Bench and Tool Bucket

A 5 gallon bucket with lid comes in handy out in the garden­ and not just for collecting weeds. You can load it up with all your gardening tools and carry them easily from place to place. If it starts to rain, protect the tools with the lid. But here's the best part—the 5 gallon bucket with lid doubles as a portable stool when you need to rest or do some pruning. The only problem is that the lid can be hard to pry off. Solve that by cutting off all but two of the plastic tabs. The lid will go on and off in a snap. For more clever gardening shortcuts, check out this collection of tips. — Julie Abbott
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Easier Mulch UnloadingFamily Handyman

Easier Mulch Unloading

If you drive a pickup truck, when you buy mulch in bulk it gets dumped into the bed of your truck with a front-end loader. You could shovel the mulch out onto your driveway and haul it from there to where you needed it. But this is a much easier method. Load the pickup bed with 5-gallon plastic buckets and have the mulch dumped into the truck as usual. Then use a rake to even out the load so every container is filled up. When it's time to unload, do it one bucket at a time and dump the mulch exactly where you want it. Store the buckets in the garage, and use them throughout the year for all sorts of projects.
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No More Rusty Garden ToolsFamily Handyman

No More Rusty Garden Tools

Your vegetable oil isn't just for cooking. Here's a great way to use it, other than in a pan. Pour a quart or so into a 5-gallon bucket filled with sand. Now store your garden tools in it. This keeps them rust-free and ready for use. — reader Gary Snell
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Double-Lid Cord Reel

Double-Lid Cord Reel

Make this handy cord reel using extra bucket lids. Cut a 5-in. length of 4x4 and then cut a groove in the side the same width as your cord. Fasten the lids to the 4x4 with 1/4 x 2-in. lag screws. Make handles from an old 1-1/8 in. diameter broom handle and drill a 1/2-in. hole through the center. Fasten the crank to the lid with bolts, nuts and washers, and apply Loctite sealant to the end nut. Fasten the handle to the 4x4 through the lid with a 6-1/2 in. lag screw. Just insert your cord and reel it in.
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Portable Tool KitFamily Handyman

Portable Tool Kit

For many electricians, a 5-gallon bucket tool kit is a constant companion. Making one is super simple. Use an awl to poke holes around the perimeter for screwdrivers and store the rest of your tools in the bucket. Everything you need is at your fingertips and easy to carry from job to job. Plus: must have additions for a homeowner tool kit.
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Easy-on-the-Hands HandlesFamily Handyman

Easy-on-the-Hands Handles

If you have old buckets with broken plastic handles, retrofit the buckets with new handles made from an old garden hose. Cut short lengths of hose, slit each one with a utility knife and slide them over the handles. If you can remove one side of the wire handle, you can just slide the hose grip on without slitting it. The handles work great and keep those buckets on the job!
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Better Bucket StorageFamily Handyman

Better Bucket Storage

Stacked 5-gallon buckets fit together so tightly that it's almost impossible to pull them apart. Prevent the problem by placing a large plastic pop bottle (with top on) or milk jug between each pair of buckets. You can still nest the buckets together, but they won't stick together anymore.
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On-the-Level Tool Bucket

On-the-Level Tool Bucket

To keep gutter debris bucket from sliding off the roof, drill an angled 4x4 block into the underside of the bucket. Then staple a rubber mat underneath to make everything stay put. Gutters need some TLC? Here's how you can fix them yourself.