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What's In Your Home Toolkit?

A basic tool list that everyone can use

Not everyone is a do-it-yourselfer, but even those who are not so handy around the house or apartment should have a few basic tools available. If you don't plan to use them yourself, they'll be there when you borrow the help of a friend or neighbor. It doesn't take a lot of fancy or complicated gear to accomplish a few tasks and it's not critical, in most cases, to acquire a shelf full of power tools (although they're nice).

The only trick to acquiring basic household tools is going for quality. If you buy cheaply, they won't last and, worse, could cause injuries while in use. A low-end hammer's head will loosen and could fly off. A screwdriver handle could split while tightening screws. The best advice is to stick with name brands, but don't go overboard for extras you don't need.

Here is a top list of tools and gear that you won't have to spend a fortune to acquire. These will get you through most simple repairs. Prices are included, but are approximate.

Adjustable wrench ($10)
Replaces the need for a large array of dedicated wrenches. Adjusts to any size nut or bolt you'll find around the house.

These simple clamps will assist in gluing projects, but are a must when sawing boards.
-Bar clamp (12-inch $16)
-C-Clamp (6-inch $8)

Electrical tester ($15).
You may not want to (or simply should not) deal with electrical issues personally, but some tasks are really pretty easy. Testers will let you know if the circuit is actually off before you start. Also, before you use a tester on a "dead" wire, check to make sure it's working on a live one.

Glues will let you take care of many things, and the basics should include woodworking glue ($3) and Super Glue ($3).

Hammer ($15) - one that feels good in your hand. Some experts recommend you get one that has a "rip" claw (it's straight) as opposed to the more familiar curved type.

Level (bubble style) ($9).
Use it to make sure framed art is straight or to make sure your washing machine is level for best operation. It's handy for a host of other things, too.

Use the first for oiling sewing machines and hinges. WD40 goes on everything from balky door locks to rusted bolts.
-Multi-use Spray-on ($5)
-WD40 ($4)

Miter box and back saw set ($8).
A must for replacing baseboards. Also use when making custom picture frames. It's so easy!

It's tough to get into tight spaces with regular pliers.
-Needlenose ($6)

Experts pay about $20 for a mixed set. Whether you are adding a board to your computer or installing a wall mount, screwdrivers are essentials. Take a look around your home and you'll find dozens of screws that require either a slot or Phillips head screwdriver.
--No. 1
--No. 3
In addition, consider an offset and a ratchet for hard to reach spots.

Reversible drill ($40).
Avoid the cordless models - they typically don't have enough power to do the job and, even worse, lose its charge when you need it most.

A small arsenal of different types of tape will get you through many fix-it jobs.
-Duct ($3)
-Electrical ($1)
-Masking (1-inch $2 and 2-inch $3)
-Plastic ($5)

Tape measure ($10)
A 25-foot tape will be one of your most-used items both inside and outdoors.

While you're compiling your list and making purchases, don't forget to get a good-sized toolbox. Not only will you keep things organized and in one spot, but it will protect your hand gear from dust and other debris.




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