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The Essential Tools

Dec 9, 2007
Most, if not all, homeowners have a toolbox, and DIY (do-it-yourself) junkies can't live without one. However, because tools can be so cheap and varied nowadays, there's a very strong temptation to just grab one of everything at the hardware store and then say that you're getting ready for any eventuality. This results in a cluttered garage or tool area and, in many cases, wasted money. Below are some of the bare necessities that your tool box should contain. While they may not prepare you for post-tornado house rebuilding, they will certainly suffice for fixing that noisy door in the kitchen or for the regular maintenance jobs around the house.

The Usual Stuff

These are the things that everyone has in their sets, the contents of the usual toolbox. That's another way of saying "if you don't have the following, get one now." These are tools that even your grandfather had, so you'd probably be familiar with them already.

Screwdrivers are absolutely necessary tools. They come in two general variations (the minus and the plus, formally known as the flat or straight and the Philips, respectively), but can come in a wide range of sizes. Just get the usual, fixed-blade, no-frills models unless you're expecting to do some specialized work. The teeny tiny versions of screwdrivers are called precision sets and are handy to have around.

Hammers, like screwdrivers, come in a variety of sizes for different jobs. Two should probably be enough for your needs. You could get a medium size (usually 16 oz.) for regular jobs and a larger size (usually 32 oz.) for the heavy duty work.

For plumbing and working with fasteners, you're going to need pliers and wrenches. Usually, a couple of each (one of each type, snub-nose and long-nose, for the pliers) will do. You can even go the extra mile and get a wrench set, which has about 10 to 15 pieces.

Saws are obviously necessary tools if you plan to maintain any wood or metal. For cutting metal, a hacksaw and a couple of cold chisels will do. For wood, a chisel and a saw will suffice. To save on space, you could get one of those handles that have a base compatible with removable saw blades. The blades and the handles themselves are small, and it's a great little multitool.

Your testing and measuring instruments are critical for determining when you've done a good enough job. Make sure to always pack some measuring tape, measuring tape, a measuring square, a level, a voltage tester and an amp meter. Consumable items are also important, so you should always have a couple of pencils, electrical tape, sealant, lubricant, and an array of screws, nuts, nails, and bolts on stock.

Not-So-Usual Necessities

Now that we've gone through the usual contents of the toolbox, let's cover some of the other tool necessities. These are the items your granddad probably didn't think of putting in the toolbox, but are still ones you should have yourself. Of special mention here are multitools, which have recently become very popular and, more importantly, more affordable. They're those multi-armed trinkets that have several attachments on them, hence, the name and their ability to do several tasks.

Vise-grips and a utility knife automatically fall into this category. They're great for any number of tasks and should be a staple in your toolbox. Have at least two vise-grips (plumbing jobs and clamping is usually easier with two), while a six-inch knife should be good enough. A right angle drive helps you get your fasteners into tight places and impossible spaces and, while not absolutely necessary, will be convenient to have around for several tasks.

Cleaning materials have recently become toolbox mainstays, and you should always have some, too. A bit of anti-rust agent (WD-40 works great) and a toothbrush are absolute necessities for cleaning and maintenance.
About the Author
Bent Andersen is a DIY kind of guy, who knows his way around most home repairs and tools. He maintains a small website about tools .
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