There’s an old saying (maybe it’s still being used) but I say an old saying because it was a long, long time ago when I was working as a cabinetmaker and first learned of the saying. Any way it goes like this: a craftsman is no better then his tools. Now I learned through the years that what that was referring to was both the quality and variety of the tools one used. To put it another way would be to say something like: you can’t make a million dollar hole with a ten dollar hole saw.
So now, when it comes to home repair and maintenance of course it would be possible for a homeowner to loose all sense of reason and buy all kinds of tools and misc. with the thought that they are going to need that particular tool at some point down the road. However the reasonable approach is buy the highest quality you can afford of the basics, tool wise, and if an event comes up that would require some kind of tool or equipment that you don’t have, hire a professional to come in and do the work. An excellent way to look at this subject would be to say OK, I need a great selection of quality hand powered hand tools and just a couple of battery powered hand tools and I can fix and repair the wold! Ha Ha
For those of you that might be new home owners and or do not know your way around a wrench you might be asking, well just what is a good selection, what are the items called and how am going to know all of this? Those are good questions to ask and questions like that are the reason I writing this article…to give a list of the basic tools which will enable most anyone to properly maintain and even repair your house and home.
SCREWDRIVERS: The screwdriver has improved since olden times but there can still be found the slotted or straight head and the Phillips head screwdriver. There are different sizes and to tell the truth 90% of the time you are only going to need two sizes. Because it’s not the handle that changes sizes but the head that fits in the different sizes of screws, a good option is to get a handle that holds all the sizes of tips inside the handle. This way you can change the tip size depending on need. Better yet is to make sure that the shaft of the driver is magnetic which will make the job of driving and removing the screws 100% easier.
HAMMER: I wont say to just go out and buy a hammer because not all hammers are created equal, plus you want to get the best all – around hammer so you only need to get one. You want to get a sixteen to twenty ounce rip-claw smooth face one. Make sure that it has a steel or fiberglass handle so it can hold up to all the nail pulling that you might be doing.
PPE: It is always to be safe and protected while working so at minimum you need some good safety glasses. They come in clear and shaded and even for those that use reading glasses. So take some time and find a couple pairs that fit well and will give you good protection, if you don’t like how they fit you won’t wear them. While your at it pick up a pair or two of work gloves, you’ll be glad you do.
TAPE MEASURE: This one tool where quality really pays for it self many times over. If you buy cheap tape measures you are going to own hundreds, if you buy quality your only going to have a few. You want to get at least a 25 ft with a one inch wide tape. A one inch wide tape is wide enough to stay rigid when extended, allow one person to take extended measurements both horizontally and vertically.
VICE GRIPS: Or maybe better known as locking pliers. Make sure to get a pair large enough to handle most any job – a ten inch pair with curved jaws is a great size to do most any task.
UTILITY KNIFE: Also here you want to buy the best you can afford. I have used most all types over the years and the best all around is the retractable blade type. Make sure you also get plenty of replacement blades when you buy the knife, they do change them from time to time.
SHOVEL: There are four or five different types of shovels but for general use all you need is good steel digging shovel with a long straight handle.
STEPLADDER-six foot: Being over six foot myself, what most people can’t reach I can but for the average person a six foot step ladder is the perfect size to have handy in the house and garage or shop. The six footer is tall enough to let a person reach rain gutters and yet not so large that they create more trouble then they are worth.
NEEDLE-NOSE PLIERS: Most everyone knows what pliers are, well just take a pair of pliers and make the jaws long and skinny and you have a needle nose pliers. The purpose is as name implies, a pair of pliers that are able to reach into small or tight spaces in order to get the job done. They also come available with built in wire cutter and even wire stripper.
HACKSAW: A saw is not a saw, there are saws to cut wood and softer materials and there are saws designed and made to cut metal and harder materials, this is a hacksaw. You are going to want to get one that has an adjustable handle and while you’re there in the store pick up a assortment of blades.
ADJUSTABLE WRENCH: Every household is going to need a good selection of wrenches but there is always that one nut that might be worn a bit or just an odd size so that no other wrench will fit and this is where an adjustable wrench comes into play. Make sure that you get one where the jaws open up to at least 1-1/8 inch. A smaller one can also come in handy but is optional.
VARIABLE SPEED REVERSIBLE DRILL: I recommend that you get a rechargeable battery powered one (even though they still make and sell the corded ones). Having to find a place to plug one in or find and use an extension cord is just not worth it. Make sure you are going to have enough power for most any job, also get a good wide selection of drill bits and one more item that you are going to love is a magnetic tip holder.
CIRCULAR SAW: As long as you comfortable using power tools there is one more that will come in handy and get a lot of use – the smaller sized circular saw. There is a standard size that uses a 7-1/4 inch saw blade and this is the right size to tackle most any job you are going to come across. Again, make sure you buy quality, you get what you pay for. This is one of those tools where you don’t want to scrimp on money spent.
There are more small hand tools that you very likely will be picking up as the years roll by but the above list covers the basic NEEDS list for the new home owner and will get started in your new past time as home handyman.