If I Had a Hammer
More Than 100 Easy Fixes and Weekend Projects
The Right Tool for the Right Job
Tips, Tools, and Techniques to Get the Job Done Right
The big secret in life is that there is no big secret. Whatever your goal, you can get there if you're willing to work.
Whether you are replacing a broken tile, regluing a wobbly chair frame, or waterproofing a deck, to complete any home maintenance project correctly and efficiently, you need the right tools. Half the fun of working around the house is learning to use the gizmos and gadgets that help you achieve your goal.
We'll begin this chapter with my picks for the top-ten household tools that everyone should have, then we'll pull together a basic home repair kit that all do-it-yourselfers need. We'll also go over a few safety suggestions and troubleshooting ideas. For all you old-home restorers, we'll discuss some of the do's and don'ts of getting the most out of your historical location. And while you may want to conquer many home improvement projects yourself, we'll address when, why, and how to hire a contractor—just in case you need some professional help along the way.
- Household Tools 101
- Project: Assembling an Everyday Home Repair Kit
- One-Hour Wonder: Create an Instructional-Booklet Binder
- Safety First
- Ladder Safety
- Learning to Use Glues and Adhesives
- Stain-Removing Solutions
- The Cost vs. the Value of Home Improvements
- Do's and Don'ts for Restoring Older Homes
- Tips forDo-It-Yourselfers
- If You Decide to Hire a Contractor
Household Tools 101
Buying the right tools can be a daunting experience. Walking into one of the many huge home improvement stores with brand names blaring their messages at you can alarm even the most experienced tool owner. I myself have collected a huge assortment of gadgets over the years, some of which I have never used. I even have a few hand-me-down items that look more like torture devices than practical tools. So don't fret if you're sometimes baffled by a tool's appearance or function. I've compiled a list of the top-ten must-have tools every household should have, whether you are a newcomer to doing it yourself or an old hand.
If I had a hammer, I'd hammer in the morning, at noon, and at night. In fact, the hammer is one of the most used tools in any home. Abraham Maslow, the great psychologist, said, "If the only tool you have is a hammer, you tend to see every problem as a nail." Perhaps that's true, but it would sure be hard to accomplish much around the house without this basic tool. For everyday tasks, I keep a small 7- to 10-ounce household model in my kitchen tool drawer and a midsized, 14- to 16-ounce version in the garage tool kit. Depending on your needs, you may also want a large carpenter's hammer for jobs like deck building or wall framing. Though hammers are simplistic in theory, there are many new hammer technologies on the market, ranging from those with tuning forks in the handle, which cut down the reverberation on your arm, to $200 contractor models made with titanium heads.
Before you buy, visit your local hardware store or home center and try out several types of hammers until you find one that's a good fit for you, especially if you will be using it frequently. If you're going to be hammering above your head or in a strange position, look for a hammer with a magnetic nail-holder in the tip that makes a hard-to-reach place much more accessible. Specialty hammers such as a rubber mallet and sledgehammer can also be useful for certain projects. Rubber mallets should be used on materials that are easily damaged or broken, such as a brass faucet handle or a tile backsplash. And a sledgehammer is just the ticket when extreme muscle is needed for jobs such as breaking apart a sidewalk or tearing down a wall.
Probably the second most-used tools in the home, good quality screwdrivers can be lifesavers. To save money, instead of buying several versions, choose models that have a center shaft with four interchangeable tips (including a smaller and larger size of both flathead and Phillips-head tips) to accommodate a wide variety of jobs. You may also want some mini screwdrivers for use on toys and computers or even your glasses. Battery-powered versions can make repetitive jobs a snap. A cordless drill can also double as a power screwdriver if you have the screw tips to go along with it.
3. Cordless Drill
A cordless drill with a variety of drill bits can help you complete many jobs more quickly and easily. Look for a drill that fits your hand comfortably and feels well balanced. If you have room, keep a small drill (under 10 volts) in the kitchen and a larger model (18 volts or more) in the garage. A fast-charging battery (one hour or less) is also convenient. If you use your drill a lot, you may want to keep a spare battery or two in reserve. Some manufacturers now make batteries that can fit several tools interchangeably, going from a drill to a sander or a circular saw, thereby saving you money on duplicate power packs.
A small hacksaw and a cordless circulating saw can be extremely useful. Hacksaws are just right for cutting small tubing or wood projects. I keep a small cordless power saw in the garage for cutting plywood, paneling, and other thin materials. I save my larger corded model for projects like deck building and wall framing. Another handy tool is a reciprocating saw. This bad boy is like an alligator, cutting through almost any material with no discrimination. They are very handy for hard-to-reach spots and demolition. Just be sure to follow all safety instructions carefully and keep all saws out of reach of kids. Another tip: before sawing, spread a drop cloth out under your work area to make cleanup easier. If I Had a Hammer
More Than 100 Easy Fixes and Weekend Projects
. Copyright � by Andrea Ridout. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.