It’s time for a Top 10 listing of most-essential home tools

Posted April 23, 2010, at 8:11 p.m.
Last modified Jan. 30, 2011, at 11:28 a.m.

Most people like to have tools. Power tools are even better.

Of course, given what I do (whatever that is), I have quite a menagerie of tools.

It is hard to think of what is important to own.

Years ago, I did a spot on a TV news program on the Top 10 tools that all homeowners should have.

It is hard to limit such a list to 10. But we can try:

1. Every home should have a cordless drill. Inclusive in this need is that said drill should be part of a cordless tool set: drill, circular saw, reciprocating saw and flashlight. And if you are really being smart, get them with lithium batteries. Lithium batteries are worth the extra cost if you are planning on any serious work.

2. A decent set of ratchet wrenches. This needs to be a good quality set. It doesn’t have to be a huge set (although it is helpful), but quality is important.

I would try to get a set of both metric and SAE (American) sockets. Along with this set you must have some open-end wrenches. These all can be found on sale as a set regularly for about or under $100.

3. Adjustable crescent wrenches and pliers. Several sizes always help. I would be lost without needle-nose pliers, plumber’s pliers and vise-grip pliers.

4. A plug-in circular saw. This is for when you really need to cut wood. It doesn’t have to be expensive, but if you are being serious about building more than an occasional deck, buy quality.

5. Plumbing tools. Now, this is elective, but at least acquaint yourself with the plumbing aisle and know what tools you might need.

You should not need much persuading to have a propane or mapp gas torch. They make fire. Hide it from the kids. No one did that when I was a kid, and I have the scars to prove it.

6. An assortment of paintbrushes and a roller with tray. You never know when you need to touch up something or paint an accent wall. Painting is a cheap home improvement that anyone can do.

7. Glue. Lots of glue. All kinds of glue. White glue, some clear epoxy and some urethane glue at the very least. Things are always getting broken. Oh yeah, two rolls of duct tape and a roll of aluminum foil tape!

8. At least one broom — for broken glass and initial demolition cleanup.

9. A fire extinguisher — my wife’s sage advice!

10. A lot of screwdrivers. There should be several different sizes of pan head and Phillips-head screwdrivers. They might be packaged with your wrench set.

Make sure that you also have screwdriver heads for your cordless drills. And an assortment of sheetrock and deck screws are always handy. Screws come in 1-pound boxes and are very affordable.

11. It is hard to stop at 10! You have to have at least one hammer. Not a little miniature one, but a full-size hammer that will drive a real nail. A sledgehammer is also helpful for those moments of frustration or demolition or both.

I could go on with such a list. A trip down to my basement or shop would probably fill several more columns. These are some basics that I would suggest for someone just starting out on his own. Nothing here is gender-specific, since everyone should have an idea about the basics of home care.

Places like The Home Depot have some great DIY books. There are also a lot of websites that can walk you through the basics.

Good tools can be forever unless someone steals them.

And good tools can be bought used. Most hand tools will last several lifetimes.

Oh yes, one more thing: Be careful out there. No one wants to be called Stubby.

Questions for Tom Gocze should be mailed to The Home Page, Bangor Daily News, P.O. Box 1329, Bangor 04402-1329. A library of reference material and a home-project blog are at www.bangordailynews.com/thehomepage.html.

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