J here again with another installment of the “Men’s Den.” If there is one constant with everything we do around the house: we need tools to do it! As I see it, tools fall into 4 basic categories:
- Must Have Tools
- Nice-to-have Tools, for the more ambitious DIY-er
- Cool Tools that can be useful, but you’ll never need to buy.
- Totally Awesome but completely unnecessary Tools, which includes things like underwater welding equipment, fully programmable robot arms, and nuclear submarines. Hey … if that’s not a “power tool”, I don’t know what is.
So this post is just about “Must-Have Tools” and if you don’t have them in your toolbox right now, you know what to ask for for your next birthday or Valentine’s Day! Seriously, if my wife, L, were to ask for a tool for Valentines day, you’d better believe she’d get it. But I’m a guy and I think there’s nothing more romantic than getting or giving a tool as a gift! I’ve included some Amazon links as examples, but we aren’t officially sponsoring any particular brand (not even Amazon). Even though it may seem like there are a lot of tools listed here, many of them can be had for about $10. So get shopping!
- Basic hand tools: hammer, various screw drivers, and paint brushes. Two slightly specialized tools that fall into this category are locking pliers and channel lock pliers. The locking pliers will lock in place when they’ve grabbed onto something, giving you an extra hand when you need it, while the channel lock pliers can adjust to fit most any size nut or pipe. Along with a monkey (or adjustable head) wrench, these locking and channel pliers are extremely useful when you have some plumbing to do.
- Utility knife. This may fall into the “basic hand tools” category, but it’s important enough to put on it’s own. Once you have one, you’ll wonder how you ever got through previous projects (probably by misusing kitchen or pocket knives, like I used to).
- Cordless drill. A battery driven, cordless drill can do almost everything their corded cousins can do, but you don’t have to be be attached to the wall, which is why this should be your first “power tool”. The key here is to avoid any cordless “screwdrivers” – they don’t have the “oomph” to use drill bits or drive large screws into dense wood. In general, that means you’ll need a 12 to 18 volt drill.
- A bubble level. Nothing is more frustrating than hanging a shelf on a wall, only to have a guest, 2 months later, point out that it’s just SLIGHTLY tilted. A bubble level can help you check how level pieces are as you’re working on them, and they’re dead simple easy to use. Just put the level on the top or side of what you’re measuring and look at the bubble. If the bubble is completely in the middle, everything is level! If it’s off to one side, that side is too high.
- A ladder. Unless you’re a current, future, or past NBA player, you’re probably not tall enough to reach everything in your house! I like the 6-8 foot sized, A-frame ladders. The aluminum ones are a little cheaper, while the fiberglass ones are more durable. We have an aluminum one and are very happy with it. We do not own a long extension ladder to get up on the roof — it’s useless inside (unless you can get it in through a window) and pretty pricey, so we borrow one from my uncle for the one (or maybe two) times a year we might need to get up on the roof.
- One or two kinds of saws: a hand, wood saw and/or a hack saw. The hack saw can cut wood, plastic, metal, you name it. Some materials need different saw blades, but they’re easy to replace (another plus). But the hack saw is designed to cut through something relatively small (think a couple of inch PVC pipe, for instance), and is limited by it’s shape. A hand saw, on the other hand, can only really cut wood — but it’s much better at that job than the hack saw. Which one you need depends on what you want to do with it. We actually have both.
So there ya have it – the absolute “bare necessities” you would need to begin repairing, maintaining, and fixing up your house. With the tools listed on this space you can tackle many of the projects we describe in this blog. To tackle some of the more technical projects, you’re going to need some heavier-duty tools, which we will address in the next couple of Men’s Den’s.
Be on the lookout for the next Men’s Den when I’ll be talking about the tools that fall in the second and third categories I listed above: the “nice to own” tools (mostly power tools), and the “I’ll never own, but I can rent” tools. Once you have (or know where to borrow) these tools, you’ll be ready to tackle almost anything!
So what do you find to be the absolute, must-have tools in your tool box? Have you ever thought you needed a tool only to find it completely useless? You Tell’Us!