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Top 10... er, 11* Essential Tools for Homeowners

If you are one of those intrepid souls who bought an older or even historic home as a fixer, bless you.

Without doubt you are intimately acquainted with everybody who works in the tool department at Sears and get birthday cards from the people at Lowe's. You are my heroes. But even in a brand new house, nothing is ever really maintenance-free. Leaving aside repairs whether major or minor, there are always pictures to hang or window treatments to install. Here is my top ten list of tools I've found most useful as a new homeowner:

1) Hammer. Pretty obvious why this one is at the top of the list. Far more useful for pounding nails than a high-heeled shoe. Guys, stop laughing. Women really do this.

2) Screwdrivers- Flat head and Phillips. Have a couple of each style in different sizes. There's nothing more frustrating than trying to tighten a screw using the wrong size screwdriver. Or worse, the end of a butterknife. Guys, stop laughing. Women really do this.

3) Cordless drill & drill bit kit. You may ask why you need a drill when you have screwdrivers. Because, that's why. If you don't buy my reason, take it from Steve Dalkowski: 'Because I like to drill holes.' There's really nothing better for making holes in stuff than a drill, and you won't truly know how much you enjoy making holes until you have one. Trust me on this.

4) Spirit level. Sure, you could eyeball it, but levels are cheap and you're assured of perfection. Also, very helpful when you want to drill holes in stuff and have them be evenly matched.

5) Box of assorted fastenings- screws, nails, picture wire, bolts, etc. Something to stick inside the holes you've drilled. If you have walls of stone or concrete, masonry nails or hard wall hangers (plastic hooks with three sharp nails embedded in them) can be useful. If using hard wall hangers, make sure the item you want to hang isn't too heavy.

6) Plastic template. If you're making holes in multiple things and want the holes to be even (such as cabinet doors), a template is endlessly useful for preventing screw-ups. May also be used for making holes in walls to hang drapery rods.

7) Adjustable wrench. If your pipes suddenly spring a leak, adjustable wrench to the rescue. Also useful for holding onto a nut while you tighten the bolt from the other side with a screwdriver or a drill. Aren't you glad you have opposable thumbs?

8) Staple gun. You may think you'd never have anything to use a staplegun on, but you're wrong. You'll never know how much you need one until you have one, and once you have one... well, you'll probably use it twice a year, but it's nice to have when you need it. Seriously, very useful for fastening fabric to a cornice board or fastening roller shade fabric to its inside tube. My purchase of a staple gun for a small project many years ago inspired me to learn how to reupholster furniture.

9) Rubber mallet. When assembling Ikea furniture sometimes you have to whack it a little to get it into square. A rubber mallet allows you to do this without leaving hammer marks. Also handy if you're of a furniture-reupholstering bent.

10) Flexible scraper/putty knife. When you make holes in things erroneously, you need to fill them with spackle. A flexible scraper or putty knife is the perfect tool. I've also used one of these to help in taping off crown and base moulding when painting walls.

So, that's my list. What tool do you have that you can't live without?

*So fixated on drilling holes was I, I forgot the most important tool of all:

11) The steel measuring tape. Remember kids: Measure twice, cut once!

Posted by Stormi on Feb 27, 2007 2:44 pm

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