This column is going to teach you which tools to use for which home repair job, and how to make simple repairs and quick fixes. I’m not going to show you how to pour a foundation and build a house, but I am going to give you the confidence to take on those small jobs yourself. Ladies, if those guys can do it, you can do it. If they’re such geniuses, how come they’re not neurosurgeons? So say goodbye to that over-charging, under-servicing Mr. Fix-It you’ve been using, wave to him as he drives away in his eight-year-old pick-up, lift up your toolbox, and let’s get to it.
If I remember 7th grade biology correctly, the thing that differentiates man from animals is our ability to make and use tools. Now, I know that some types of chimpanzees are known to use blades of grass to get ants out of ant-hills for a nutritious and delicious lunch. But, I’ve never seen a chimp fix a leaky sink. Since you are no monkey, you can easily do that and other simple repair jobs and home upgrades. All you need is a little know-how and the right tools.
And the tools are not such a big deal. Get yourself a totebag or tool box and stock it. Now, I’m not talking about having everything you need to build an addition to your house. I mean the basics that will help you do the things you need to – and can – do around your house, all in one place.
1. A 16-ounce claw hammer. Don’t get one of those lightweight hammers-for-women that are on the market. They don’t have the weight to drive a nail, which means you have to put more of your own muscle into it. Besides, 16 ounces is only a pound. And if you’ve ever picked up a kid, you can pick up a one-pound hammer.
2. A set of screwdrivers. A couple sizes each of Phillips- and Flat-head screwdrivers should be plenty. I know you already know all about screws from a couple of months ago. Don’t make me come over there and quiz you.
3. An adjustable wrench. This will fit a wide range of nuts and bolts and, in a pinch, it’s big enough to do some serious damage to a cheating boyfriend’s car.
4.Two types of pliers. A pair of standard pliers and a pair of needle-nose pliers will be more useful than you can imagine because they literally make you stronger than you are. In fact, wrenches and pliers nearly render men completely obsolete.
5. A utility knife. Get the kind with a retractable, replaceable blade. And get extra blades. Once you start using this tool, you’re going to fall in love with it. You’ll start cutting your food with it.
6. A tape measure. Unless you’re building that addition we talked about earlier, you probably don’t need a 25-foot one. But get a good, retractable metal tape measure with a locking mechanism that’s at least 10-12 feet long.
7. A hack saw. It’s not just for breaking out of jail, anymore.
8. A flashlight. Ever try to find the shut-off valve under your kitchen sink? Dark under there, isn’t it? See why you need a flashlight.
9. A stud-finder and a level. A stud-finder is not like Match.com. It will locate a place on your wall which can support a picture or a mirror and a level will help make sure your picture or mirror is straight. You can even find stud-finder/level combo tools, how simple is that? Simpler than getting a date.
10. Glue and tape. Glues, you know about already. But, also make sure you get a roll or two of duct tape which I’m telling you is God’s gift to homeowners.
11. A reversible cordless drill. Do yourself a favor. Get all the bits you can. All the sizes. And the screwdriver bits for sure.
12. An extension cord. This is one of those things that you always need and never can find. Now you’ll have one and you’ll know where it is.
13. An assortment of hardware. By this, I mean nails, screws, washers, bolts, picture hangers, etc. You can pick up a pre-made assortment at any hardware store.
14. A plunger. Not to be indelicate, but if you’ve ever lived with a man or children you already know why you need this.
15. Safety goggles. When you’re using most of the above, there may be flying particles, sawdust, and, in the case of the plunger, unspeakable liquids. Use your judgment on when to wear them, but, remember, safety first.
If you have the right tools, you won’t need to call that animal known as the handyman as often. And while they’re not technically animals, I have seen a number of handymen who could use a back shave.