Making a Tool List and Checking it Twice
Build a Basic Tool Kit
Whether you’re about to embark on a long journey of renovations or you’ve just purchased a brand new house, everyone needs a basic tool kit at the ready for the inevitable repairs and projects that come up while they’re settling in. But what do you stock this treasure trove with? The following list will get you through most repairs and projects for years to come.
Sure, you can use a fair sized rock to pound just about anything, but nothing beats the ingenuous design of the modern hammer. A good comfortable grip and a nice swing gets the pounding done lickety-split. When you’re ready for real tools, a hammer is the natural first choice.
Flathead, philips, robertson …screws come in all shapes and sizes and so do screwdrivers. Back in the old days a person had to have a special screwdriver toolkit just to get by, but never mind that now. The glorious 20th century has given us the compact simplicity of the multi-head. As long as you remember to return the attachments to the case in the handle, these handy dandy little wonders will unlock a world of easy repairs.
Needle nose pliers with insulated handles and a wire cutter will help you pull nails and screws, cut wire, bend and shape metal, get into tight places and even make some nice jewelry.
Get a grip. Similar to the screwdriver in the nearly endless range of shapes and sizes, you can choose to have a set of 40 wrenches or just one. A simple adjustable wrench will handle most nuts and bolts and makes a good starting place.
Manual hand drills are rarely seen these days but deserve to make a comeback. These relatively cheap tools allow you work with precision, in silence and free from the trap of cords, electrical outlets and batteries. With the right attachments drills can also double as screwdrivers to drive and remove screws. An electric drill is the other ever-present option, but resist the lure of the cordless electric and go for the one that plugs into the wall, it’s got more oomph.
A basic crosscut saw is an old standby. It’ll get the job done safely, teach you the virtues of patience and build up your pecs at the same time. But if you’d like to get the job done quickly and have no need for extra muscle mass, get a skill saw. Power saws can be intimating but once you get the hang of them, your lines will be straighter and you’ll never break a sweat. If you go this route, invest in some cheap goggles too. Eyes are for life.
Fill your toolbox with some basic hardware. Try a few handfuls of nails: 3 inch nails with a wide head, skinny 2 inch finishing nails and 3/4 inch tacks. Nails are quick, but screws give you more holding power so grab some pointy-ended flat head or slotted screws in a variety of lengths: 3 inch, 2 inch and 3/4 inch screws should cover most common repairs. Hollow door anchors and molly bolts are also essential if you have to fasten anything to drywall.
Cheap as dirt, it never hurts to stock up on a variety of grades of sandpaper. Fine grades are for finishing work, coarse are for the rough stuff.
Nature loves a vacuum. When your sinks backed up, you can buy a can of corrosive chemicals to dump down the drain or you can buy a plunger for about the same amount of money. The plunger will work better, last longer and is a great deal less poisonous.
A retractable steel tape measure with a locking clip will let you measure just about anything single-handedly. Get one with a belt attachment for high fashion renos. Also fun to tease the cat with.
Other handy items you may want to have on hand include: a utility Knife with a retractable blade, a small can of oil for squeaks, WD-40, a set of fuses, electrical tape, duct tape, glue and a stud finder. Of course, over the years you’ll add items that you find useful.
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