You don’t have to be overwhelmed when you walk into the tool section of your favorite hardware store or home center. With just a few tools, you’ll be able to tackle most any small project around your house. If, at some point in time, you decide to take on bigger, more complicated projects, you can just rent any specialized tool you may need.
Here’s a rundown of some basic tools that you’ll probably want to have handy.
Number one on my list is a cordless drill. With this tool, you will save a lot of time and frustration with your projects. Trying to sink a screw in to wood by hand is tedious and tiring. I do recommend that you purchase nothing smaller than a 14 volt set, though. The smaller voltage drills have less torque and tend to run out of power sooner. And, it’s not necessary for you to purchase the top of the line either, unless you plan on doing a LOT of major work.
When you’re shopping for that cordless drill, depending on what your comfort level is, you might want to get a combo kit of some kind. These have a drill, but also a couple other battery operated power tools. If you’re into a lot of do it yourself stuff, I suggest getting one with a ‘sawzall’ (reciprocating saw) and a ‘trim’ saw. A trim saw is basically a smaller power saw for cutting small things. Be careful though, cutting too much or too big of things will burn them up.
Here are the other recommended tools in no particular order….You’ll want to have some simple hand tools around, the first of which would be a hammer. For most things you do, a lightweight finish hammer will fill the bill. Just pick out something that’s comfortable for you and has a smooth face on the hammer head.
A two-foot level is handy for a lot of things, making level or plumb lines, hanging pictures, etc. If you don’t want something that big, even a ‘torpedo’ level is helpful for small jobs.
If you’re going to be hanging anything on the wall, you’ll want a stud-finder. These battery operated devices locate the studs in the wall behind the drywall. For hanging heavy items or shelves, it’s good to know where there’s something solid to attach them. They’re easy to operate but don’t forget to get batteries, too! J
A good quality tape measure will last you a long time. Get yourself one that’s at least 12’ long, even though you won’t need that much tape most of the time. If you thing you might be tackling a deck or something like that someday, get a 20 or 25 footer. For measuring longer lengths, you’ll notice a ‘notch’ in the tape’s end. This will hook on a nail head and help keep the end of the tape hooked to something while you’re extending the tape measure. Notice that when you pull the tape out, that every 16 inches, the numbers are a different color. That is the typical spacing of the studs in the wall. So, if you find one, chances are you can find others using your tape measure.
Even though you’ve got yourself a cordless drill, there will be times you’ll need a manual screwdriver. Instead of getting multiple screwdrivers, I suggest you get one that has multiple driver heads with it that can be interchanged. That way, you will have one screwdriver instead of 4 to 6 for different applications plus there’s only one to keep track of!
A comfortable feeling razor knife is also good to have. You know how hard it can be to open some of those packages wrapped in that hard, clear plastic. Besides, you’ll find it necessary if you need to trim drywall or even sharpen your carpenter pencil! Some of these knives store extra blades in the handle, so you’ve always got spare blades when you need one.
Unless you’re extremely tall, a ladder is also in order. Most jobs around the house can be handled with a 4 foot ladder. They’ll get you high enough to paint the top corner of the walls (unless you have tall ceilings) and they’re much easier to handle than a larger ladder. If you want to have a ladder that’s real versatile but, a little harder to handle, get an adjustable ladder such as a “Little Giant” brand. There are other brands that do the same thing, but generally cost less. This style of ladder makes it easier to paint around stair walls or other uneven surfaces and still feel very safe and secure. If there’s a downside to this type of ladder, it’s the lack of a working surface to hold tools and materials. Most manufacturers also sell a shelf attachment that will fill that need.
One of the best attachments you can get for your new drill is a ‘flip drill’. It’s not the technical name for it, but you can take this picture with you and they’ll help you find whatever that brand calls it. This tool goes in the chuck of your drill just like a driver bit, but the other end is reversible. With a quick release attachment you can go from your driver bit to a drill bit with a countersink. This allows you to pre-drill a hole before inserting a screw. The advantage of pre-drilling is that you’re less likely to split the wood you’re putting the screw into and the screw will go in with less effort. After drilling your pilot hole, simply use the quick release and your back to your driver bit and can put in the screw without changing things in the chuck of your drill. Besides the convenience of not changing things in your drill, the end is magnetic so it will hold the screw and make your job easier. Not to plug any particular store, but Lowes seems to have the best one I’ve found.
If you purchase a cordless tool kit that doesn’t include a light, you might want to get a head lamp. Yes, you might look a little dorky, but you’ll find that you always have the light where you want it, when you want it. Sometimes working under a sink or doing electrical work when the power is off, you’re going to need some kind of light and I found these to work the best. Headlamps are the new flashlight.
Just remember that you don’t have to own every tool out there to do most household repairs. But these basic tools will give you lots of flexibility to do those small projects. Various wrenches might come in handy if you choose to do any plumbing work, but we can address those needs in some of the ‘How To’ e-books. Get yourself a small tool box or bucket and keep them all together and when you go to tackle that project, you’ll have everything in one place.
Now get yourself a few tools and fix those little things that have been bugging you!!
Have all those plus….One of my favorite tool-ish gadgets is my hands free magnifying visor. Sort of doubles as cheater glasses and safety glasses.
Paul – you are awesome. I am proud to say that I have 90% of those tools. Wanna know my favorite? My headlamp. It’s the best when you have it on at night when you are trying to talk to someone and you are looking them directly in the face and they are getting super pissed cause they cant see a damn thing. Makes me laugh every time!