Ways to repair commonly broken household items

Not only do many of us have more time on our hands than usual, but shops are closed so we can’t easily replace items, and many expert restorers are shut, too. Prolonged proximity to your belongings, and a keener eye on your finances, may have given you a newfound appreciation for your stuffand the planet’s resources. You may have a few things around the house that can stop a table wobbling so much, says Jay Blades, the antique furniture restorer and the presenter of the BBC’s The Repair Shop. When I’m doing furniture, for little holesI put one in, but you might need four or five.” Cats “seem to be the number one culprits” when it comes to smashed pottery, says the ceramics conservator Kirsten Ramsay, who also appears on The Repair Shop. She advises against using items for their original purpose once repaired – a stuck-on handle may fail, which is not what you want when holding a mug of hot tea, and glued-together plates may leach chemicals into food, andwill discolour. A repaired vase can be used again, but with a cut-down plastic bottle or large yoghurt pot as a liner. The two main materials are either porcelain, which is harder and glassier and has a translucency to it, and earthenware, which has a more open, crumbly texture and usually a glazed surface.” Before sticking it, she says, “do a visual inspection and try and see how it goes together. You can buy acetone online and in some chemists, but it can be dangerous (it’s flammable, an irritant and its fumes shouldn’t be inhaled) so it might be wise to skip this step. “If it’s a new break then it should already be cleanand grease-free, so just use a soft, clean brush along the break edges to remove dust particles.” Don’t use a generic superglue: “If you stick it in the wrong place, it can be difficult to get it apart and re-stick it.” Ramsay uses conservation-grade adhesives, which can be expensive and tricky for the average person to get hold of. Gallery: These regular household items can be toxic (Espresso) A ripped seat pad on a dining chair can be easily replaced, says Blades, who specialises in upcycling projects. If you don’t have a staple gun, use a hammer and tacks.” “So much of repair,” says Janet Gunter, the outreach lead at the Restart Project, which teaches people how to repair electronics “is actually just cleaning, but cleaning in a very conscientious way.” This is especially true of inkjet printers. With disassembly, make sure you’re documenting as you go so you can put the thing back together again.” Many people are fishing out old laptops from cupboards now that working (and learning) from home has become commonplace, says Gunter. Many of the companies that sell them provide help in making sure you get the right one.” You will need a very small screwdriver, “but you can get those shipped really easily with the replacement parts.” If you don’t need to get data off your old hard disk, it’s a fairly straightforward job, says Gunter (and there is lots of help online). “It’s just a matter of unscrewing the body, fitting the new drive in and then installing an operating system.” You may also be able to upgrade the memory by ordering extra Ram. “It’s a little bit fiddly, but it’s not that difficult – people do it all the time at our events, and there are loads of YouTube videos online. It’s very easy then to buff it upafterwards.” Lots of marks on carpets and upholstery can be removed with warm water, says the TV cleaning expert Aggie MacKenzie, who runs AggiesTips.com. Don’t rub toohardbecause you might damage the pile and it might look too different from the rest of the carpet.” Scuff marks can gather near the front door, or on the walls by the stairs. It’s very abrasive, so you have tobe gentle, but it’s brilliant at removing those stains from walls, and also from lino on floors.” Weirdly, she adds, a bit of stale bread may also work. For a grease mark on walls, “place clean kitchen paper over the stain and press with a warm dry iron to draw out the oil. If any remains, dust the area with talc or cornflour and brush off with a soft brush.” To remove hardened Blu Tack without taking the wallpaper or paint with it, “hold a plastic bottle filled with warm water over the area – it will become soft again.