Read an Excerpt
[Figures are not included in this sample chapter]
Care for Your Home The Lazy Way
- 3 -
Hip Organizing Tips
It's Around Here Someplace . . .
One of the ways we're distinguished from lower animals--in addition to participatingin monster truck rallies and inventing I-can't-believe-it's-not-meat beef substitutes--isour use of tools. We use scissors, jack hammers, salad spinners, and hundreds ofother implements to make our lives easier. The trouble is that the brain cells thatcontrol our ability to sort and store them are usually out on dates with synapsesfrom the other side of our frontal lobes. By the time they stumble home, we can'tfind the hammer we used two days ago or the measuring tape we swore we put in thetop kitchen drawer. Be wise, organize!
Those wonderful tools you've bought to tighten a hinge or tap in a loose floornail don't do you much good if you've hidden them away in the basement. Small repairsare easily put off if the screwdriver or hammer isn't close by. Put them off longenough and they can become big repairs!
The simple solution? A few extra tools, ready when you need them. You could keepa small set in:
- 1. The kitchen
2. An upstairs bedroom
3. The garage
A small set would include:
- Multiple-bit screwdriver
- Roll of masking tape
Easier yet, buy one or two pre-packaged tool sets for about $15 each at a homecenter or hardware store. It's a small investment for a big convenience. These toolscome in neat, folding plastic cases and are easily stored away.
Your main set of tools can be kept in one organized tool box, ready to be hauledin for larger jobs. The handy-type guys of the world often have grand work bencheswith Pegboard-mounted tools of every size and description. They grab what they needand pile them into wooden tool boxes they constructed years earlier in shop classand still keep varnished and clean. Sometimes they own beautiful, custom-made maplecarriers with brass hinges and locks. They almost look like jewelry cases. You, onthe other hand, aren't interested in keeping enough tools around to build a replicaof Noah's ark or treating them like the Hope diamond. Tools are tools to you, andthe less you have to use them, the better. Your spare time isn't spent at auctionhouses looking for things like a mid-18th century piano tuner's wrench. When allyour hand tools are in one tool box:
- 1. It saves you trips back and forth from the job looking for tools you forgot.
2. Everything is in one place and less likely to get lost.
3. If storage space is tight, one tool box is easy to put away.
QUICK N' PAINLESS
Too cheap to buy a small tool box? Okay, use a large empty bleach bottle. Leave the handle on an d cut away a section large enough to hold your tools. Nursery school teachers do this kind of stuff all the time.
WHEN ONE TOOL BOX IS JUST A LITTLE TOO SMALL
Storage and access is everything, especially when a single tool box just won'tdo. Until tools come with feet or wheels and will come when called, they'll haveto be put away and retrieved. Therefore, you'll find yourself criss-crossing Freudianroles playing mother and father to yourself as a child--you know, "Put yourtoys away or you won't have any to play with later." Mmmm. Just how would youpunish yourself for not putting away the pipe wrench?
Storage for tools includes:
- A separate work room
- Various types of tool boxes
- A kitchen drawer
One Room, No View
If you have a basement or garage, it's a good idea to have a separate area tokeep tools and work on house and hobby projects. This room should have:
- A workbench
- Overhead lighting
- An electrical outlet
- Pegboard, hooks, and shelves
Complete workbenches ready for assembly and use can be purchased at some homeimprovement centers. They're pretty convenient for small spaces and most householdprojects. If you prefer to build your own, inquire about any free building plansyour home center may have available. If you've got the room, build a large work bench,at least 8-feet long. This is a standard length for a lot of dimensional lumber,so you'll have less cutting to do.
YOU'LL THANK YOURSELF LATER
Saws and chisels have sharp edges. Keep them that way! Wrap each c utting edge with a protective guard. If one doesn't come with the tool, use a bent piece of thin cardboard held on with rubber bands.
Pegboard is that popular hard fiberboard material sold in sheets. Each sheet isperforated with about a million holes into which special metal hooks are insertedto hold your tools. You can paint Pegboard, by the way, if its homey brown colordoesn't quite go with your workroom motif. If you use Pegboard:
- Buy plenty of hooks.
- Group your tools by type.
- Hang the tool and draw an outline around it.
If your collection of tools grows, you may need plenty of display space. Takea wide felt marker or fingernail polish and trace onto the Pegboard and around thetool to form an outline. This makes finding its place on the wall effortless!
YOU'LL THANK YOURSELF LATER
Outlining your tools on Pegboard is a great way to help your kids learn to return tools. Show them the tool's outline and teach them to put it back on the right hooks. Most kids learn this in nursery school, so it's good reinforcement!
On the Move
Tool boxes come in all sizes and shapes including:
- Large, rolling mechanic's tool box
- Metal or plastic tool boxes
- Open wooden tote-type boxes
- Wooden tool chests
Mechanics like to lock up their tools every night; they want everything in thesame place the next day. There's a reason service stations post those, "We DoNot Loan Tools, Not Even to Our Mothers" signs in their windows. You won't needanything this size unless you're repai ring a `65 MGB, in which case, your rollingtool box will become part of your permanent garage decor (until you get rid of theMGB, anyway). Wooden tool chests can usually be found in your grandfather's workshop,along with tools you can't even identify. Don't ask, unless you're prepared for along lecture on the history of coping saws.
For most home purposes, a metal or plastic tool box will do. If you haven't gotroom for a tool room in your house, this is the way to go.
The Small Stuff
As a homeowner, over time you'll start accumulating screws, nails, nuts, bolts,hinges, and bags full of odds and ends from all your trips to the hardware store.How do you know what's what without opening a shelf full of bags?
You can organize these items in:
- Clear glass jars
- Small sets of plastic drawers
- Plastic storage containers with dividers
Glass jars are sensible and cheap, but you'll need a shelf to store them on. Metalcabinets with small plastic drawers are sold at home improvement centers and generalmerchandise stores for this very purpose: storing small, miscellaneous items. Hobbyistsuse them to store beads, buttons, and small electronic components. If space is ata premium, buy some tough, flat plastic containers with built-in dividers. Theseare perfect for those pesky, need-them-once-in-a while items that you can never findbecause they're always buried in bags.
A COMPLETE WASTE OF TIME
The 3 Worst Ways to Store Small Stuff
1. Mix everything together in a shoe box.
2. Throw everything in the kitchen junk drawer.
3. Not separate sp ecialty items, like those metric bolts that came with your Italian bicycle.
The Big Stuff
Power tools have kind of macho personalities and demand their own space. The top-of-the-linemodels even come with their own metal carrying cases. Try and get one of those pastan airport metal detector. You can build shelves for them, or do it the easy way:go to a garage sale! Look for:
- An old dresser
- Used luggage
- An old buffet
Sometimes thrift stores, such as the Salvation Army, are even better places tolook for these items. You want them cheap! Old luggage is the perfect way to carrypower tools to the job site and store them at home too. An old dresser that's seenbetter days offers instant storage--and you don't have to build anything! One bicycleshop owner in the metropolis of Kent, Washington, stored a lot of small tools intwo turn-of-the-century oak dressers which had been painted pink. It drove his customersnuts; they were always trying to buy them from him so they could strip and restorethem. He wouldn't budge; Leonard knew cheap storage when he saw it.
HASSLE-FREE HELPERS: BORROW OR RENT AND FORGET ABOUT IT
Sometimes the best way to get organized is to let someone else bear the burdenand expense of owning and maintaining tools, especially if it's something you rarelyuse, like that bread maker you bought six months ago and still haven't taken outof the box. This is where the rental business comes in. If a rental price is lowenough, especially if it's for one-time use, consider renting instead of buying.
QUICK N' PAINLESS
Fl oor sanders, Rototillers, professional table saws--any specialized heavy equipment for one-time jobs--should always be rented. Purchase rental insurance against accidental damage. Easiest yet: if you don't have a truck, pay the rental company to do the pickup and delivery!
Collecting tools doesn't seem to be anywhere near the problem for women as itis for men. Maybe 10,000 years ago women understood that it was more important togather and store nuts and berries, while their hubbies were adding more stone malletsto their tool collections.
Most power tools can be rented, as can many hand tools. As is not the case withbowling shoes, you really won't care who used them before you! A little considerationand some economics will help you determine whether renting is the way for you.
YOU'LL THANK YOURSELF LATER
Check out rental costs and availability at more than one facility. Some stores offer special rates for rentals picked up at closing time on Saturday night and returned on Monday morning. Multi-day rentals may be less expensive per day than one-day rentals.
To figure out if you should rent, you need to consider the:
- Purchase price of the equipment vs. the rental cost.
- Expected frequency of usage.
- Long-term use.
This strategy holds true for smaller tools as well, right down to sledge hammers,if the rental price is right. Consider:
- Is this a one-time job?
- Can this tool be used for other jobs?
- Is this a high-maintenance tool?
YOU'LL THANK YOURSELF LATER
Some tools, like floor sanders, are very popular rentals. They can sometimes be reserved, but it's better to get to the rental shop first thing in the morning, or your whole day's schedule could be thrown off.
It's always easier to borrow a neighbor's or friend's tools than to troop offto a rental outlet. This is probably an okay strategy for manual tools like hammersand rakes and screw drivers, but borrowing power tools is another arena altogether.If you're going to borrow power tools:
- Be on good terms with the lender.
- Establish an understanding of responsibility if the tool breaks.
- Be prepared to pay for a replacement.
Friendships and neighborhood cordiality can become very strained if you borrowsomeone's 25-year-old-don't-build-'em-like-they-use-to drill and return it out oforder because you didn't know a smoking motor was a signal to stop drilling. Justbecause someone is willing to loan you a tool doesn't necessarily mean it's a goodidea. So be sure you know what you're getting into.
Renting is incredibly easy. You simply need to:
- Call and confirm that the tool or item you want is in stock.
- Present a driver's license for identification.
- Leave a credit card slip or check for a deposit.
- Pick up extra saw blades, drill bits, sandpaper, etc. for your chosen tool. You can always return unused items for a refund.
- Return it at the agreed upon time or, as a courtesy, inform the rental store if you need more time.
Whether you borrow or rent it, if you are unfamiliar with how a tool operates:
- Get some instructions.
- Ask the clerk to test any power tool or machine to see if it's functioning before you leave the shop.
- Don't rent any tool you think is unsafe.
Use and Abuse
Rental tools are like rental cars: you won't be quite as careful with them asyou would if you owned them. This is not a license to abuse, but a kind of permissionto utilize their full potential. The beauty of renting is that you can borrow nicertools than you would normally be willing to buy, and that will cut down your worktime and effort.
If a rented tool breaks or is no longer working properly, you should:
- Stop using it immediately.
- Look for the problem.
- Return it for a refund or exchange.
Power tools wear out, and rental shops understand this. It may go out the doorrunning just fine, but in your hands the motor revolves around just one too manytimes and then decides to stop working. It isn't your fault. If you didn't damageit intentionally, you won't be charged. And the rental time will be adjusted.
When your job is completed, return the tool:
- Clean and wiped down.
- With all cords neatly wrapped.
- With your original contract.
YOU'LL THANK YOURSELF LATER
Make sure you save the original contract when renting tools. You'll need it if the tool breaks or simply wears out.
There was an article in the Wall Street Journal describing guys (apparentlythere still aren't a lot of women tool addicts) who'd decided that, now that they'dmade lots of money in the stock market, what they really wanted was a fully functioningwoodworking shop in the garage. The fact that few of them knew one end of a joinerfrom another didn't stop them from spending thousands--and thousands--of dollarson top-of-the-line tools. Their tool-buying outings did accomplish something--thecontractors they ran into at the local hardware store had a good laugh.
You survived the job, the tools have been returned--hooray for you! Stop off at the bakery on the way home from the rental shop and stuff yourself with a couple of creampuffs.
The Lazy Way
Getting Time on Your Side
|The Old Way||The Lazy Way|
|Finding the hammer you thought you left in the garage||Forget it; faster to buy a new one||2 minutes|
|Running down to the basement for a screw-driver because you don't have an extra one in the kitchen||10 minutes if you have to find it down there||30 seconds if you're slow|
|Tracking down the guy who borrowed your ham mer and didn't sign it out||Good luck, Sherlock||A phone call away|
|Finding some 3-inch sheetrock screws||Empty out every drawer and dig||Go to the 3-inch sheetrock screw jar|
|Pegboard vs. a big cardboard box full of tools||Start digging again||20 seconds flat to find any tool|
|Building a workbench vs. buying one||Are you kidding?||1 trip to the store|