Start With Some Basics
Every woman needs her own tools. Every woman should know how to use them.
Man in the house or not, young or older, handy or otherwise, there are a few tools that are essential to make life–and do it yourself projects–easier and fun.
Whether you’ve bought your first house or are moving in to your first apartment, they will be used often over the years.
Kids nearing independence should know how to fix stuff!
Good to know and Fun to Use
Learning how to use various tools is fun and confidence building at any age!
You can learn to make anything, and it’s so rewarding to know you can do it yourself. It always gives me a sense of accomplishment. Even when I was working with my husband on projects, my fingers would always be itching to do it myself, not just watch! Knowing what’s involved is invaluable too, when you are deciding if you should pay someone else or do a project yourself.
Attention parents! Help prepare your daughters and sons so they can handle some tasks themselves. Show them the basics. It always surprises me to learn a young adult–man or woman–doesn’t know how use some very basic tools.
The more I’ve learned about using tools the more things I’ve wanted to try. It really encouraged my do-it-yourself gene to work on different and more difficult projects. With the right tools, I learned I could create almost anything! Now that I’ve downsized, I don’t do as many tasks as I used to, but still have my favorite tools available–they’ve lasted through decades of use.
Get one ready-made or put together your own. You can easily pick up a basic tool set that will include the essential items. The basic inexpensive sets will probably work well for little household chores, like hanging pictures, etc.
Hammer, screwdrivers, pliers, an adjustable wrench, a tape measure. a little level, a hack saw. You can get many necessities all in a pretty pink tool set, or you can go for a more substantial set.
But if you enjoy projects and crafts, you might want to choose a little higher quality for some items, like a hammer or a wrench. I’ve found pliers are pliers, but often a stronger or heavier hammer will not only make the job easier but will handle bigger projects. It took a lot of years before I learned the benefit of a heavier weight hammer. Now I wouldn’t be without one.
A variety of sets are available, including all pink if that is your preference. Here is one that can get you started for a very reasonable price. They offer different extras, depending on what you think you might need.
This one comes with a small hacksaw, as well as some miscellaneous items that could come in handy. Again, reasonable priced, all in one package. Either kit would be a good basic you can supplement.
#1 The Cordless Screwdriver
How does anyone live without one? My personal favorite essential is a cordless screwdriver. I think every man, woman and child should have one of these. Get the right one and it can serve as a drill too for many small projects.
After decades of projects, I’m into easy these days. Cordless provides that to me. Unplug, insert the proper bit, and you are ready to go. There is plenty of power. Simply plug it back in when you are finished. They are usually fairly small and manageable, as well as easy to store. I like that some of them will bend to give you a drill like feel. Sometimes that gives you more strength.
Most of the cordless screwdrivers will get the job done.I prefer this one because it bends. It can be used as a drill so easily this way. Actually, I rarely use my drill anymore, since this works so well.
They are wonderfully easy to use. Most come with a good assortment of bits. If not, you can purchase small sets for a very reasonable price. One must have is the drill bit. I have found these days, ninety percent of my household repairs can be done with my cordless screwdriver.
#2 The Drill, Cordless or Not
My second essential is a drill. With the cordless option, a drill becomes so easy to use. A cordless screwdriver can handle a lot, but for bigger projects, you can get a reasonably priced drill that will serve your needs for years. They have some excellent choices in cordless that are high quality and reasonably priced.
Cordless is certainly easier to manage, with no electrical cord to work around. If you are working on an outside project, they are invaluable too. It sure saves time and eliminates extension cords.
My biggest complaint about the cordless variety was power loss. So many times we would be halfway through a project that was naturally taking longer than expected, only to have the drill grow too weak to finish. They’ve greatly improved the cordless models over the years so they last should longer. Some even come with extra battery packs which is a major plus.
If that might be an issue for you, an electric model doesn’t lose power, but you do need an outlet and often an extension cord. That can be a nuisance, so it will depend on your use. On outdoors projects especially, you can’t beat cordless.
#3 A Good Hammer
A 16 oz hammer is a good weight, I think. Still light enough for me to handle, but heavy enough to work fast. The wood version has a nice feel to it too if you prefer that to fiberglass. It really does make a difference.
#4 A Screwdriver Set
A little set with the basic variety. It seems you can never have too many sizes.
# 5 The Adjustable Wrench
Get two sizes! My husband had several wrench sets that held every size imaginable. I never used them. For specific tasks though you may find a wrench set a better choice. An average sized basic adjustable wrench has always served my needs. It must open wide enough to fit pipes though. Usually a 10″ size will handle most tasks.
That being said, be sure to throw in a larger longer wrench too. Coming from earthquake country, I’ve learned that it is essential to know how to turn off the water and gas mains. I assume that would be important in other emergencies as well. A large wrench may be necessary for that.
The Emergency Wrench
Get one of these in 12 inches or longer for emergencies such as broken pipes from earthquakes. It may be important for you to have on hand. You know how it is in an emergency. It can take awhile for someone to get to you. Learning how to turn off valves and mains may save your home from additional damage.
#6 The Tool Box
Where to keep it all…There’s no limit to ways to store your tools to keep them handy and organized. If they don’t come in a set with their own case, you might like to pick your own tool box. There are soft sides cases and pink ones, big cases and small ones.
My favorite is the Stanley shown below. It not only has a tray, as most of them do to keep some division among the tools, but it also has two little storage containers in the lid of the case. It’s so handy to have picture hangers, nails, screws, and other little items right there in the toolbox.
You can just grab it and go to wherever your project happens to be. If a case like this one doesn’t suit, try a plastic bin. Most don’t have handles, but if you use bins, you can choose from many different sizes. I use bins for the odds and ends that used to be in a tool bench. A bin can be great for holding containers of extras nails, screws, electrical or plumbers tape, and all sorts of goodies like that. The bins can be small and very manageable too.
#7 A Variety of Pliers
I like the variety that comes in this little set. A needle nose pliers especially is something I use often.
Parents: Teach Your Kids Some Basics
I never considered myself particularly handy though I always liked to know how to do various repairs. When we owned a small business it turned out to be a necessity. It amazed me how many of our young employees didn’t have a clue how to turn off the water to a toilet. I imagine all of you know how, but I guess until you need the knowledge it doesn’t come up. That is probably my number one lesson. Not only to avoid flooding and water damage, but also for when its necessary to repair a toilet (another useless skill to have).
Not all of my projects worked, mind you. There was the pipe repair in our restaurant–or not. When the employee turned the water back on, the whole faucet came off, shooting water all over me and everything else in range. Apparently I needed more practice on that job. And of course, there were items assembled that had pieces leftover–oh oh.
I wish I knew what made it so difficult to read all the way through the instructions before starting on an assembly. That is always a hard one for me. Nevertheless, just as we should all know how to do little things, like check the oil and fluids in our cars, hang pictures. Too bad there isn’t a life skills class that includes things like this.
Here are several tasks I think are important teach or learn. If you have others, l hope you’ll let me know in the comments section. I’ll add them!
Everyone Should Learn How To:
- Turn off water to overflowing toilet
- Plunge a toilet
- How to fix a toilet
- Properly mounting things on a wall
- Patch a hole
- Turn off water main
- Drill a hole to put in a molly
- Install a ceiling hook for a lamp or a plant
- Assemble a book case
- Hook up a TV
- Repair a leaky pipe or faucet
- Reset a garbage disposal
#8 A Level of Any Size
Small but so useful! Every household needs a level! For building or simply hanging a picture. You don’t need to get a huge one, unless you are doing a lot of leveling. This type fits easily into the tool box so you will always have it handy.
#9 A Hacksaw
I’ve found a basic hacksaw will do the trick for many of the little projects I’ve done. Cutting through PVC pipe to repair a sprinkler, trimming a small branch, or cutting a board. It may not be the fastest, but it works!
As You Build Your Tool Kit
What sort of projects will you do? Once you have your basics and have used them awhile, I wonder what you will find missing. A few things I added that have gotten a ton of use are:
- a small electric sander.
- a good measuring tape, 25 to 50 feet long.
- a jigsaw or a circular saw.
- a router (I used mine for making redwood signs) .
- a plane (much faster than a sander for some jobs).
Tools make so many tasks so much easier and quicker. If you like refinishing furniture you’ll definitely need the sander. A variety of saws are available depending on what you are planning.
#10 A Basic Sander
This is my favorite sander, partly because its size is easy to hold. You can get get bigger and faster ones, but I think this is a great choice good for fine sanding, like you might need refinishing furniture.
Tools make so many tasks so much easier and quicker. If you like refinishing furniture you’ll definitely need the sander. For creating trim and decorative pieces, you might want a router.
When I look back, it is surprising how many different tools I learned to use. I enjoyed using most of them too.
Today do-it-yourself is not only a fun hobby, but often a money making work-from-home job. The tools available are usually easy to use and such time savers.
Think of some projects you might enjoy…then grow from there.