Basic Tools to Have on Hand

Basic tools for everyday use

With the vast array of tools on the market, it's hard to know which ones are essential for regular maintenance around the house. The following is a list of what you should keep handy so you can not only save some money, but have the satisfaction of not having to wait for someone else to do the job.

Basic Tools to Have on Hand

Fastening and unfastening tools

  1. Pry bar. A versatile tool for unfastening jobs, the tool has a nail-pulling blade at one end and a prying tool at the other, useful for removing molding and trim and separating other materials that are glued together.
  2. Hex (or Allen) wrenches. A six-sided key fits into a set screw recessed flush with the surface. Either wrench end will fit inside the screw. By inserting the short end, you'll have greater torque; in limited space, use the long end in the screw.
  3. Nail set. A punch-shaped tool countersinks nails in wooden cabinets, furniture, moldings and trim. Position its point over the head of a finishing nail and strike the top with a hammer so that it sits below the surface of the wood. Fill the hole with wood putty and sand the surface smooth.
  4. Screwdriver. A multi-type screwdriver has two sizes each of Phillips, Robertson and slot tips, to handle most any screw head. Some have a ratchet operation for fast work, as well as a switch for reversing the direction of the drive.
  5. Staple gun. This tool makes quick work of fastening screens or tacking fabric, plastic sheeting, tar paper and carpet underlayment in place. Adapters can be added to enable a staple gun to drive other fasteners.
  6. Needlenose pliers. The thin, tapered jaws are smooth and won't mar or scratch. They are ideal for working with jewellery and other soft metals.
  7. Locking pliers. These pliers clamp firmly on objects. A knob in one handle controls the width of the jaws. Close the handles to lock the pliers; release a lever to open them.
  8. Quick-grip bar clamp. This bar clamp has a movable jaw with a pistol-shaped handle. To slide the jaw, pull the trigger near the handle; squeeze the grip to apply jaw pressure. The jaws have removable protective rubber pads.
  9. Curved-claw hammer. A 500-gram (16-ounce) model will suit most people and most jobs. It will drive common or finishing nails but not case-hardened cut nails or concrete nails.
  10. Slip-joint pliers. Serrated jaws and coarse contoured teeth grip objects of different shapes. The jaws can be set in two positions.
  11. C-clamp. Named for its C-shaped frame, it comes in large and small sizes and holds objects firmly in place as glue dries, or to make work easier. To tighten the screw against the work, turn the T-handle.
  12. Channel pliers. Adjustable from about 0.5 centimetres to 7 1/2 or 10 centimetres) (1⁄4-inch to three or four inches), these pliers are handy for fastening nuts, bolts and lag screws — even for light plumbing.
  13. Adjustable (crescent) wrench. This versatile smooth-jaw wrench turns nuts, bolts, small pipe fittings and chrome-faced pipe fittings. The movable jaw is adjusted using the worm gear, which is accessible on both sides of the head.

Drills

Corded or cordless drill

A variable-speed reversible (VSR) drill is one of the handiest tools you can own, especially if you also buy a magnetic sleeve with a series of screwdriver bits. For boring holes, use a set of twist-type drill bits. For boring holes larger than 0.5 centimetres (1⁄4 inch) in diameter, spade bits are the most economical choice. A cordless drill enables you to work anywhere without an extension cord, but be sure to keep its battery fully charged between uses. Or have a spare on hand, kept charged.

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