From using unexpected tools to practical prepping advice: how to nail DIY with TikTok

Tackling a new DIY project can be intimidating – especially if you’ve never tried it before. Tom Druker overcame his fears with help from short videos

Wed 28 Apr 2021

Like most of us, I’ve spent much of the past year staring at walls. I moved house shortly before the first lockdown and managed to channel at least some existential anxiety into painting the house. But after that, I hit a wall. So to speak.

I was not raised in a DIY-competent environment. My dad is less DIY and more GSI (get someone in), so while I understand some things in principle – drills drill, hammers hammer – I’m not so great at the practical elements.

As a man of cineastic pretences, I own a projector – or a “big telly” as I like to call it – but since moving, it’s been languishing in a box. Spending as much time indoors as we all have lately, setting it up is something that would improve my life immeasurably. A competent friend of mine helped me get the projector up in my last place. But between lockdowns and just plain asking too many DIY-related favours from the poor guy, I realised if I wanted to put something up on the wall, I was very much on my own. So I did what all humans do in times of need: I turned to the internet.

Being an older millennial, I’d assumed that TikTok was beyond me. It’s the place where young people mime to music, right? Could the TikTok community really help? I have to confess, I was sceptical.

To test the water, I decided to see what help I could get for putting up a picture – using hashtags to search TikTok for relevant videos. The picture I sought to hang is a wonderful illustration of my beloved cat Itzi, to serve as a constant reminder of who’s boss in the house. So it wasn’t something I wanted to mess up.

To start with, I find a top tip from Kim, a home decor blogger who posts TikTok videos under the handle @clippercityhouse. She suggests filming myself holding a picture at different heights to decide on where I should place it. This is a great idea if you’re working on your own – as I was.

I put the hook in the wall, and move on to the fiddly part of trying to get the hanging wire over. After struggling for a bit, @goodleyearth comes to the rescue with his tip to use an unexpected item of cutlery. Under calm tutelage, I place a fork upright on the nail and use it as a guide to get the picture on – I get it right the first time. Now this is the stuff I’m here for!

I discover that DIY videos on TikTok are like having access to countless experts sharing learned knowledge, saving hours of misery, frustration and unnecessary holes in the wall. No more skipping through long, painful videos trying to find the relevant 30 seconds.

After some nervous tea drinking, the picture of Itzi remains vertical. And so bolstered with caffeine and perhaps too much confidence, I set my sights on the shelf for my projector.

After a quick search, I find that @haizzly has a useful video about prepping and priming wood. Soon the board is sanded, primed, sanded again, painted (is it starting to sound like I know what I’m doing yet?) and left to dry overnight.

Woodshop Diaries – under the handle @woodshopdiaries – shows me how to drill wood without splitting, and even takes me through the basics of how a drill works in a cheerful and straightforward way. While it’s not necessarily essential for this particular task, it was a nice touch I really appreciated.

And @constructiontips proves to be a treasure trove of, well, construction tips. Most of them are for tasks far above even my most lofty ambitions – however, there is a nifty trick I can see myself using in the future. It’s actually intended for picture hanging, but works well enough for a small shelf. Using tape and cardboard, I mark the drill points and have a template of where to drill the wall. Minimal fuss and no scrawling.

Next, I check out @mcp_thats_me, who gives a brilliantly efficient overview of getting screws in the wall. Once this is done, I’m finally able to mount the shelf.

The other useful thing about these TikTok tutorials is that they play on a loop, which is particularly handy if your hands are covered in paint, or you’re holding something heavy.

A few days later, the shelf is still standing, the projector is working as it should and the wall is looking more interesting than it has in a long time.

As I sit, I start to think about other projects that could now be possible. Revarnishing a coffee table? My previous doubts abated, I fire up TikTok to find out.

Why not try something new? Discover the benefits of just having a go #LearnOnTikTok

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