Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Everyday Household Tools for Everyday Fix-it Needs

Gaye Levy, Contributor
Activist Post

In the effort to prepare for a disaster or an emergency, it is easy to overlook the need to maintain an adequate cache of common household tools.  For some, having household tools means a hammer and a screwdriver or two stowed away in a messy junk drawer.  But really, is that going to get you by if there is no handyman available to call?

It is time to summon the inner Tim-the-tool-man that resides in all of us so that we can become our own, self sufficient fix-it guru. Today I offer some suggestions for putting together a practical set of tools for your home or apartment and then leave it up to you to fill in the blanks.

Basic Household Tools

Claw Hammer:  Go for a basic, mid-weight hammer.  The one thing to look for is a head that is made from deep-forged steel and a handle that feels comfortable when you swing the hammer.

Cordless Power Drill:  Look for a drill with variable speeds and a T-handle which will be better balanced than a pistol handled drill.

Hand Drill: Everyone needs a hand drill for those times when there is no power available a cordless power drill is also needed but you need the hand drill for backup.


Crescent or Monkey Wrench:  You need a crescent wrench to turn and tighten nuts and bolts.  Get a medium-sized wrench, and if it is too big for the task at hand, use a penny to shimmy the opening a bit to fit the smaller-sized bolt.

Screwdrivers:  You are going to need two types: a flat head and a Phillips.  With the flat head, get three: small, medium and, my favorite, the giant sized which can also be used as a crowbar of sorts to pry things open.  A small and a large Phillips should be sufficient.

Tape Measure:  This is one area where spending just a few more dollars more will have a huge payback in terms of ease of use and longevity.  Go for a 16 footer.

Pliers:  For the basics, you will need a medium-sized, slip-joint piers and a needle-nosed pliers.  Both are used for gripping objects.

Saws:  Two types of saws are commonly used: the hacksaw and the crosscut saw.  Hacksaws are used for cutting metal and the crosscut saw for everything else.

Putty Knife:  A putty knife is indispensable for  filling nail holes (hint: use white toothpaste if you are out of Spackle) or for scraping paint of old caulk.

Carpenters Level:  A level will help you set things straight . . . literally.  I personally like my small, nine inch but a more standard,  2 foot level is more practical.

Stud Finder:  The purpose of a stud finder is to  pinpoint the exact location of screws or nails in the wall so that you can safely hang stuff in a solid location.This is absolutely a necessity if hanging shelves or other weight-bearing objects.

Staple Gun:  While not absolutely essential, a staple gun makes the job of putting up plastic sheeting a breeze.  If you ever have to shelter in place, you will be glad you have a staple gun.

Utility Knife:  Used for cutting up cardboard boxes, or, more commonly in my house, opening boxes and packages.  Be sure to get they type with a retractable blade.

Electricians Tool:  A multipurpose electrician’s tool is used for cutting, stripping and crimping wires.  This tool also serves as a grip when working with wire and doing other types of electrical tasks.

Tool Box:  Not too big and not too small; be sure to get the tool box that fits your needs and your storage area. For your everyday gear, I prefer something basic without a lot of flip top, flip up and flip out compartments.  Instead, I prefer a basic box with a lift-out upper tray. YMMV but for the basic box, $10 to $15 will give you everything you need to store your tools.

Safety Gear

Safety Goggles: When working with wood or other particle-laden materials, your eyes need protection.  Be sure to get the type with side shields.  If you wear glasses, get the type that fits over your glasses.

Dust Masks: Dust and fumes are your enemy when working around the house.  Get some disposable dust masks.  Look for the type with dual straps for a better fit.  Dust masks labeled “NIOSH approved” offer the best protection.

Work Gloves:  A pair of sturdy cloth-and-leather work gloves will protect your hands from nicks and abrasions.  A pair of study plastic or rubber gloves is also useful and when working with glues, nothing beats latex or nitrile gloves (our favorite).

Don’t Forget the Do-Dads
  • Duct tape
  • Electrical Tapes
  • Wire Connectors
  • Assorted Screws, Nuts and Bolts
  • Assorted Nails
  • Plumbing Tape
  • Spackle
  • Sandpaper
  • Plastic Sheeting
  • Zip Ties
  • Elmer’s Glue
  • Liquid Nails
The Final Word

Most guys love Harbor Freight due to its endless rows of well-priced tools and shop equipment.  But for the basics – and for someone just getting started – many items can be purchased at the local Home Depot or even the dollar store where you can pick up a decent screwdriver or two.

Wherever you decide to shop, though, think about putting together a basic kit that will allow you to make basic repairs yourself.  Having the right tools can make a world of difference when it comes to do the job correctly, efficiently and most of all safely.

One more thing:  my tool box is my tool box.  You can borrow from it but put things back the way you found them.  That is the rule in my household . . . and yes, I really do have my own set of tools thank you very much.  

Read other articles by Gaye Levy here.

Enjoy your next adventure through common sense and thoughtful preparation!

Gaye Levy, the SurvivalWoman, grew up and attended school in the Greater Seattle area. After spending many years as an executive in the software industry, she started a specialized accounting practice offering contract CFO work to emerging high tech and service industries. She has now abandoned city life and moved to a serenely beautiful rural area on an island in NW Washington State. She lives and teaches the principles of a sustainable, self-reliant and stylish lifestyle through emergency preparation and disaster planning through her website at BackdoorSurvival.com. SurvivalWoman speaks her mind and delivers her message with optimism and grace, regardless of mayhem swirling around us.


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