Whether you are a first-time homeowner or have owned a home for years, unless you can afford to have every maintenance chore taken care of by a handyman or professional tradesman, there’s probably a long list of to-do tasks just waiting to be tackled.
Your degree of success in completing projects fast enough to still enjoy a round of golf or the kids’ soccer games can depend on your skills, the project knowledge you have and what’s in your toolbox.
“Having the right tools for home maintenance and repair makes it so much easier to complete the work,” says Lou Manfredini, Ace Hardware’s Helpful Hardware Man and home improvement expert. “But you don’t have to go overboard. You can tackle most simple repairs with a collection of tools that will fit into a 5-gallon bucket.”
The following are the 15 of the essential tools Manfredini recommends you keep in that toolbox tool kit to get you through most basic home repair projects:
- A good screwdriver: One will do if it’s the kind onto which you can fit a number of different heads, including the basics of a Phillips and slotted.
- An adjustable wrench, which will eliminate the need for an entire set of socket wrenches.
- Three types of pliers: ordinary, needle-nose and wire cutters.
- A set of Allen wrenches, used to tighten bolts that have six-sided holes on top.
- A level, which will help with everything from hanging a picture or curtain rods to shelving. Select between a 2-foot standard level or a 6-inch “torpedo” style.
- A retractable tape measure. One that is 25 -feet long should be sufficient.
- A stud finder, which will help locate behind-the-wall or ceiling structural boards.
- A good hammer. Select a 16-ounce claw hammer with a good-fitting grip.A small handsaw with a 12-inch blade that fits into a sheath for safety.
- A plunger to clear clogged drains.
- A chisel, which can help chip out wood to reset a door hinge or adjust a sticking latch.
- A utility knife with a retractable, replaceable blade.
- An assortment of screws and nails.
- A cordless drill. This is the only power tool you’ll need unless you become serious about home renovation. Look for one that drills holes and can be fitted with screwdriver attachments. The cordless feature allows you to use the drill anywhere without dragging along an electrical cord.
- Stick-it stuff: A bottle of carpenter’s glue and rolls of electrical, masking and duct tape. In a recent poll of Ace Hardware retailers on the one item people should keep on hand for emergency repairs, the overwhelming answer was duct tape, cited by more than half (52 percent) of the retailers.
Manfredini says you can assemble these tools inexpensively, but that you should not skimp on quality. “The only other thing you’ll need is the 5-gallon bucket in which to carry the tools, or, better still, a sturdy tool box,” Manfredini said. “My favorite is one that doubles as a step stool.”
For more advice on home improvement, visit your local Ace Hardware store or log on to www.acehardware.com and click on the Answers@Ace icon. Answers@Ace is an online resource with information for do-it-yourselfers about hardware and home improvement projects. The Everyday Projects section has pictures and detailed, step-by-step instructions for this and many more home improvement projects.