Home Tool Time

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How’s that case of cabin fever coming along? You’ve had all winter to make note of your "cabin's" improvements. Are you getting the itch to get on with them, something as simple as a new coat of paint or as involved as a new bathroom? With all that work, how are you fixed for tools? Every homeowner should have a toolbox that includes a few essential tools for projects around the house. What might you need?

Before you begin purchasing any tools, understand that you have a number of options. After all, there are an almost endless variety of tools depending on your needs. First and foremost, give some thought to purchasing quality. Cheap tools are available, but chances are you’ll be back at the hardware store after just a few uses buying the same tool once again. Quality tools can last a lifetime. That means in the long run, you’re very likely to save yourself both money and headaches.

O.K., which tools make up a common toolbox?

Hammer Time
There are a number of different hammers out there. Claw hammers are the most common, but you’ll also find ball-pein hammers, sledge hammers, brick hammers, soft-faced hammers and more. For starters, pick out a nice claw hammer. You can both pound nails and extract them with a claw hammer. They come in different sizes/weights, so be sure you take yours for a test drive. Swing it a few times (while being careful you don’t hit other tool buyers!) to see how it feels. You want one that you can easily handle.

You think there are a lot of hammers? Check out the saw section. Cross cut. Rip. Hack. Coping. Keyhole. Backsaw. That’s not to mention the power saws (table, circular, etc.) available. We’re going to start with a nice handsaw for making rough cuts to lumber and such. Get yourself a nice crosscut saw. It likely won’t fit in your toolbox, but it’s essential to have on-hand. A utility knife is nice to have on-hand as well. It’s basically a knife with a retractable and replaceable razor blade. If your budget allows, get a nice power circular saw if you need to make multiple cuts.

A Few Screws Loose

A quality set of screwdrivers is a must. Many times they come in sets (3, 6, 9) with different sizes and head styles. The two most common types of screwdriver heads are flat/slot and Phillips (star shaped). Get a variety of sizes for each screwdriver type. A power drill (either electric or battery-powered) with a nice selection of different bits is nice to have to save time and hand wear for those bigger projects.

Nuts and Bolts
Wrenches are great for the nuts and bolts of construction … or deconstruction. Grab yourself some crescent wrenches (adjustable wrenches) in different sizes. You may be able to find a set that includes a variety.

In a Pinch
When you really need to get a grip, nothing beats a good pair of pliers. There are two varieties with which many people are familiar. Lineman’s (combination) pliers have a square tip and can be used for cutting (wire/insulation)) and gripping. Needlenose (longnose) pliers have elongated, tapered jaws for gripping areas that fingers can’t reach.

Tale of the Tape
The old saying goes: Measure twice, cut once. So it stands to reason you’ll need a tool for measuring. Meet the tape measure family. They come in a variety of lengths (10’, 16’, 25’, etc.) and materials. Get a sturdy metal tape that locks and retracts with the push of a button. Oh, and don’t forget, always measure twice!

On the Level
You don’t want pictures hanging crookedly or curtains all catawampus. Therefore, you’ll need a level to keep things, well, level. These also come in different sizes, from small hand levels to longer levels for bigger projects. A 24” model is a nice starter level.

Sticky Situations
Duct tape. Come on, you’re sure to have heard that duct tape fixes just about everything. While this may be an overstatement, it rings pretty true. Add some WD-40 lubricant as well to help loosen those stubborn nuts and bolts.

Boxed Set
And let’s not forget a home for all your tools! Nothing is more frustrating than wasting time looking for a lost tool(s). Having a nice latching toolbox will help keep them all in one place for easy access. Toolboxes come in a wide variety of sizes. Choose one that works best for your needs.

If you don’t have the budget for purchasing all your tools at once, purchase them as you need them. Hanging a picture? Get yourself a hammer and level, and maybe a pair of pliers. Build your toolbox little by little, project by project.

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