Finding the right tools for home repair jobs

July 28, 2015

Every  home owner faces a small do-it-yourself construction project. Here are tips for what you'll need to get those jobs done.

Finding the right tools for home repair jobs

1. Filling holes

  • If you're facing gashes in woodwork, crumbling mortar in the chimney, or gaps between a window frame and your house siding, you'll need to fill the spaces with putty, grout or caulk.
  • To do so you'll need an assortment of putty knives and trowels and a caulking gun, which is a device that holds a tube of caulk and dispenses it where it's needed with the squeeze of a trigger.

2. Sanding down

  • At the end of a woodworking job (or after filling small holes or cracks in your wallboard or plaster walls), you'll have to sand the surface smooth before painting or varnishing it. You'll need an assortment of sandpaper grades, ranging from coarse to fine.
  • It is also a good idea to use a sanding block, a small device that holds the sandpaper to give you a better grip and to maintain a consistently flat sanding surface.

3. Do the twist

  • To hold, twist or turn nuts, bolts, or plumbing pipes, you'll need some wrenches.
  • Your biggest must-have is an adjustable wrench, which has an adjustable head to fit various sized nuts and bolts.
  • If you have some plumbing work on the horizon, get a couple of pipe wrenches (one for each hand).
  • In time you may want to invest in a set of open-end wrenches. The end of each wrench in a set has an opening of a different size; you need to find a wrench with an opening of the right size to fit the nut or bolt you want to turn.

4. Go clamping

  • Pliers are good for hands-on holding. Clamps hold things for you and leave your hands free. It's a good idea to stock a supply of spring clamps and C-clamps (named for their shape) to hold items together while you're working on them or to hold a freshly glued joint together while the adhesive dries.
  • Slip-joint pliers, pliers with serrated teeth on the forward parts of the jaws and corrugated teeth farther back on the jaws, are also good to have around. You can easily shift the jaws to hold objects of varying sizes, using the set of teeth that fits best.
  • Also get a pair of needle-nose pliers for grasping small items or reaching into narrow spaces.
  • If you do your own electrical work, invest in a multi-purpose tool, electrician's pliers that measure, strip, and clamp wire, and crimp wire connectors.

5. Reach the top

  • You'll need a good stepladder to reach high places inside the house.
  • Ladders are graded for loading capacity. Be sure yours will more than hold your weight, plus the weight of the tools and materials you'll be using.
  • Stepladders come in various heights: A two-metre (six foot) ladder should be sufficient for indoor projects.
  • For working outside of the house, get an extension ladder — a nest of two or three ladders that can be extended or compressed. Many models have pulley mechanisms that make it easier to extend the sections.
  • Ladders are made of wood, aluminum or fibreglass. Opt for fibreglass. It's lightweight and won't conduct electricity, as aluminum or wet wood will do.

6. Anchors away

  • If you're driving a screw into plaster, masonry or wallboard, you'll need to fit an anchor into a pre-drilled hole to give the screw's threads something to grab hold of. The simplest anchors are expansion anchors, plastic or lead sleeves that are closed at one end.
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