I would guess that most of my readers are women, although I have no real statistics on this. I do know, however, that blog readers and writers, in general, are predominantly women. So, I have two purposes in mind as I start to write this post. 1. To Redeem My Manhood; and 2. To Encourage You, My Loyal Women Readers, To Keep Reading.
There’s two ways I figure that you can go about this. Either show this to your husband, or keep reading! I have taken on the task of documenting literally almost every common tool you would ever hope to need around the house. This is a reasonably comprehensive list of tools that are certainly helpful around the home. Every homeowner does not need every one of them, but whether you are a man or a woman, you should know what they are.
- Drill & Driver. The quick explanation is that a drill applies a constant torque (or turning force) and is better for more delicate jobs. An impact driver powers screws through seriously dense material with more torque and concussive blows. As a general rule, if you’re working with drywall, softer woods, veneers, plastics, or brass screws, stick to the drill because it won’t dent or break the material. If you’ve got a project that requires a ton of screws, using long or thick fasteners, or driving through dense materials (such as building a deck), save your wrists and some time and go with an impact driver. When I finally discovered a driver years ago, I couldn’t believe I went so long with only a drill.
- Table Saw (for long straight cuts), Chop Saw (for short straight or angled cuts), Circular Saw (similar to table saw, but can be harder to keep cutting straight; great for portability) & Jig Saw (for cutting shapes in all sorts of materials):
- These are secondary power tools that every homeowner does not need. If you have everything else, you might move on to these. Drill Press (if you need a lot of very straight holes, like you’re manufacturing picnic tables or something), Band Saw (again, helpful in small manufacturing for a variety of cuts), Scroll Saw (similar use as Jig Saw, but in table form), Reciprocating Saw (a great demolition tool):
- Panel (hand) Saw (all purpose hand saw for wood), Tenon Saw (hand saw that allows for more precise stopping points), Hack Saw (for cutting metal, like pipes), Compass Saw (typically for awkward shaped holes), Coping (for precise shapes), Mitre Saw (usually a tenon saw used with mitre box to do what a power chop saw does):
- Claw Hammer (all purpose nailing), Ball Pein Hammer – I like to use the rounded head to sink holes and blemishes in a drywall surface before filling them with spackle prior to painting; Club Hammer (for heavy duty pounding); Rubber Mallet (for lighter duty pounding on delicate surfaces); Hand Axe & Sledgehammer/Maul:
- Drill & Screw Bits. I always prefer the hex shank, quick change type (that power impact drivers require) because they are easier to change and stay in place better. In the far left and right photos, see how the ends that go into the drill/driver are hex shaped and have a notch, versus being round the whole way down? The hex shape keeps the bits from spinning in the drill and the notch allows for quicker bit changes.
- A selection of nails and screws. Contrary to popular belief, you don’t actually need a bunch of “nuts and bolts” – I have almost none. For screws, I would not recommend the gold colored brass ones, they are very soft and tend to strip. Coarse thread drywall screws are actually a great, all purpose screw for around the house. A simple variety set of each will do:
- Screwdrivers, Mini Screwdrivers (very handy for changing batteries on many kids’ toys), Slip-Joint Pliers, Groove-Joint Pliers, Lineman’s Sidecutting Pliers, Needlenose Pliers, Tin Snips (think of them as ultra heavy duty scissors) & Wire Stripper/Cutters (pictured in order):
- Picture Hangers come in a variety of styles. The top left shows a “Gorilla” or “Hercules” Hook, which is an ingenious way to use a tiny hole to carry a considerable amount of weight (up to 50 lbs). The middle picture is that of a brilliant way to be able to adjust the height of a picture, especially useful when trying to line it up with one hanging beside it. Then, pictured at the right are String, Wire & Twine:
- Wall Anchors, for securely hanging things on drywall when there is not a stud behind the drywall to sink into. I use these all the time, because there’s never a stud where you need one! 1 – Plastic Anchors never seem to work for me…they just spin in the drywall when I try to screw the screw in. 2 – I personally tend to have the most luck with these. 3 & 4 – These self-drilling anchors are very easy to use. 5 & 6 – Brolly Plugs are very effective and the nail-in version makes them easy to use as well. 7 – These are my least favorite. You need a huge hole to insert them and they are only for securing things completely tight to the wall, as you cannot leave the screw protruding for hanging items, as that will not tighten the bracket into place. My best recommendation is to purchase an anchor assortment and try a few different kinds for yourself.
- Allen Wrenches. I hate Allen wrenches – Allen should be ashamed of himself. Pictured at left are your standard and metric Allen wrench sets. They are a pain in the neck to use…hard on the hands and often used to put together furniture made overseas. They are also very often used in such tight places that you can only ever get a quarter turn in at a time. Very frustrating. I would highly recommend the sets pictured in the middle and right. Used together in an impact driver (on a low torque setting), if you have the room, you have the functionality of the Allen wrench (also called a Hex wrench), with the wrist-saving power of a driver. Or, if you are in a tight spot and don’t have the room for a driver, you can attach the socket bit to your socket wrench (pictured in next set of photos) and at least have the advantage of the ratcheting motion.
- Wrench Set, Adjustable Wrench Set & Socket Wrench Set (ideally both metric and standard):
- A durable Flashlight, I prefer the MagLite; a good selection of Batteries; Extensions Cords; Glue Gun; Label Maker; Krazy Glue & Goof Off:
- Flexible Measuring Tape; Utility Knife; Bubble Levels (I recommend a couple sizes…perhaps 18″ and 48″); Packing, Painter’s & Duct Tapes; a Combination Stapler/Nailer, or for more intense jobs like installing crown molding, you might need an Air Nailer, but probably a job for a pro; Measuring Tape & Chalk Line:
- Quick Grip Bar Clamps; Vise Grips; C-Clamps; Spring Clamps; Bungee Cords; Tie-Downs are nylon straps that are useful for securing things to the top of a car; Cable or “Zip” Ties; Gear Ties are reusable rubber twist ties that have hundreds of uses:
- Engraver (a pulsating tool for scratching words into all types of surfaces, including metals); Dremel (a rotating tool for a variety of uses from polishing to cutting); Multi-Function Tool (an oscillating cutting tool for wood and metal in places that are tough to get to with any other cutting tool); Palm Sander (also comes in triangular and circular shapes); Wood Router (for shaping edges, such as putting a quarter round on a cabinet door); Razor Scraper (for getting those pesky price tags off); Caulking Gun (for applying all kinds of caulk or adhesives); Kreg Pocket Hole Jig (you’d only need this if you were building cabinetry or framing something else in which two pieces of wood come together perpendicularly); Wet/Dry Shop Vac:
- Garden Tools: Bow Saw; Shears; Wheelbarrow; Gas Blower; Garden Hoses (I’ve tried the expandable kind and my first one popped…but they are getting better in quality and the one I have now is working wonderfully); Round Head, Square Head & Garden Spade shovels; Loppers; Pruning Shears; Hedge Trimmer; Grass Trimmer; Chain Saw & Gloves:
- Ladder; Step Stool; Rolling Dolly; Hand Truck; Crowbar; Vise; Framing Square & Drywall T-Square:
- Pick-Up Tool (these also come with a magnetic end, but this one is perfect for fishing items – such as small plastic baby spoons – out of your sink drain); Putty Knives & Spackling Paste for patching walls; Safety Glasses (for use with all those power tools!!); Shop Light; All Purpose Utility Brush; Tool Box (if you’re going to go anywhere with your new batch of tools, or have some you want to keep in your car):
Finally, this is meant to be a list of basics, but there are many other tools that would fall into the “Specialty” category, such as those for flooring, tiling, painting, plumbing, electrical, etc. I would recommend hiring a professional for anything you want to look like a professional did it, or could cause major damage to your home if done wrong – you certainly don’t want water or fire damage! That’s where I draw the line and hire someone who is trained, certified, insured and experienced.
Specialty categories involve skills that take years to master and while trying to do it yourself is brave and might save you some money, it certainly will not save you time. It is so much easier and provides so much more peace-of-mind, knowing something is getting done properly and skillfully. Don’t overlook skillfully. You may be capable of tiling the backsplash in your bathroom or kitchen, but are you going to be happy with the precision with which it is done? Is it going to look like a third grader did it, or that you were trying to save a few bucks and weren’t too concerned with the aesthetics of it? If you want a professional looking job, hire a professional who practices what you want done day-in and day-out.
Now, don’t go out and purchase this whole list of stuff!! That’s overkill and would be way too expensive. A good way to approach this would be to use the list and the tools’ uses as a reference. Turn to it when you have a need for something, and in the back of your mind, you’re saying, “I bet there’s a tool for this,” and there probably is. Then, purchase what you need as you go and next time you run into a similar problem, it’ll be there for you.