Chances are pretty good you don’t have a hanging ceiling anywhere in your house. Yet you should still have a roll of 12-gauge hanging wire out in the shop. It’s handy as hell for all sorts of tasks, from fishing wire through walls to holding things in place while you’re welding.
One day back in college, as I rolled into my crappy office job on campus (I was a freshman at the time, so it beat flipping burgers) I saw one of the directors standing over by her Corvette (an ’86 — the one with the crappy 4+3 overdrive tranny), looking confused. “What’s up?” I asked. Turns out she’d locked her keys in the car. “If you can get ’em out, you can take the car for a spin.”
I headed over to the nearby maintenance shop to see if I could find a coat hanger, but one of the grizzled old workers there gave me something a lot better: hanging wire — you know, the stuff they use to suspend the frames for hanging ceilings. It’s a little larger than a coat hanger in diameter, and it’s way more pliable. Yet when you stop twisting it around, it’s still stiff enough to hold its shape. So when you’re trying to, say, push a power door lock switch with a wire jammed through a tiny gap you opened in a Corvette door by prying the window back with a pocket knife (and a door stop), you can bend the wire into all sorts of shapes to get it where you need it.
It took me about two minutes to crack the door — and maybe another five to demonstrate to her that if you just keep the throttle fully planted all the time you can avoid the crappy 1st-gear-to-4th-gear forced shift. I’ve kept a supply of hanging wire in my tool box ever since. My most recent use? Wrapping it around two pieces of square tube to hold ’em in place while I tacked ’em together with the MIG welder.
Look for it in the building supplies section of your local big-box or hardware store, and don’t pay much for it.