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#407 - The New Homeowner

Featured Tool - How To Put Together a Basic Tool Box

Now that you're in your new home, you will probably want to tackle a bunch of new projects. The following is a guide to the basic tools every homeowner - new or old - should have on hand.

Top 10 Tools for Every Do-It-Yourselfer

I'm always being asked, "If I were to only have ten tools, what should they be?" It seems ten is the magic number for "lists." Now, that's a tough one when it comes to tools, because it depends on if you are only counting categories or each individual tool. For instance, I recommend a set of at least 6 screwdrivers, two or three different types of pliers, etc. So, if we're talking categories, here's a very basic list (not in any particular order!):
  1. Screwdrivers (6 total): 3 sizes of slotted (standard) and 3 sizes of Phillips head (Butter knife)
  2. Claw Hammer: 16 oz. would be sufficient weight for most jobs (meat tenderizer)
  3. Adjustable wrenches (2): small and medium (tongs)
  4. Pliers (4): slip joint, tongue & groove long handled pliers, needle nose pliers, medium sized locking pliers (vise grips)
  5. Level (Torpedo is most common - here again a couple different types are helpful - I use a combination 2' straight edge/level in many projects)
  6. Utility knife (one heavy duty for thicker material and a "break-away style for lighter weight materials, i.e. paper)
  7. Retractable, metal tape measure (I carry a small 6' in my purse. You will want a minimum of 12' in your tool box - 16, 18, 20, 25, etc. are occasionally needed, however a 12' will take care of MOST of your needs)
  8. Small all-purpose saw - I rarely use a hand saw anymore. The more comfortable you become with a power saw the less you will use a hand saw. It's like the difference between beating cookie and bread dough by hand or using an electric mixer. You can get the job done by hand, however it's a whole lot faster and easier to use the power mixer! If I only had one power saw, I'd have a combination scroll/jig saw. A scroll/jig saw can cut curves as well as straight and if you drill a pilot hole large enough to accommodate the blade, you can make inside cuts to remove material from the middle of a surface. There are many different types and sizes of blades that are made specifically for certain materials.
  9. An Awl
  10. Safety goggles/glasses
Not traditionally thought of as tools, I recommend you have an assortment of nails, screws, tapes (electrical, masking and duct), sandpaper, and adhesives (including an all purpose, and a brush-on super glue). You will find kits, (sold in their own plastic container that keeps them organized), with assortments of these items. A picture hanging kit is very handy - has the wire, hangers, anchors, etc.

There are many companies that sell starter kits that contain many of the basic tools I've mentioned. This is an easy and inexpensive way to get started. However, if you really get into home improvement and decorating projects, you will probably upgrade the quality of some of the tools in these kits.

So much for the top 10 tools - if you were to ask me what tool I used the most. It has to be my cordless drill driver! It's so versatile, as a drill, but also as a driver. I guess I use it most often to drill pilot holes and install screws, however there are so many accessories available that it seems to work its way into almost every project. I can't imagine life as a do-it-yourselfer with out it!

When you are considering buying any power tool be sure to compare feature for feature. There are many different styles and features - the less expensive, battery operated models in general aren't as powerful and often lose power quicker and take longer to recharge.

Some of the options I find a must in a drill:
  • forward & reverse
  • variable speed - gives you more control
  • clutch settings for driving screws (drills with this feature are usually referred to as drill-drivers)
  • 14 volt is sufficient for most DIY projects
  • Quick recharge
Nice to have, but not necessary:
  • Carrying case
  • Second battery (or for those that take two batteries, a second set)
Knowing you have all the right tools for a project makes you feel really good about starting that project. However, FINDING the tools may take longer than DOING the project! Whether it's a drawer or fancy tool box - having a home for your tools and returning them to that home when your are done will save valuable time AND prevent a lot of frustration!

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