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10 Most Useful Tools to Have at Home

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by Gary Brown (subscribe)
I am a freelance writer and photographer from Sydney who has now had five books published on fishing. I also write for the NSW Fishing Monthly, Visit the Shire, Fisho App & Tackle Tactics. I also like to travel and experience new things to do.
Published April 15th 2015
Are you one of those handymen or handywomen types who knows what a particular tool is and what it is used for. If you are, this article might not be for you. But maybe it is. So read on.

But if you are person who has little or no idea and you are sick of not knowing what types of tools you should have to do those little jobs around the home, then this article could help you get started, so that you will be able to do those little jobs that have been annoying you for some time.

One of those jobs might be that you have a cupboard that has slightly dropped to a point where you have to lift it to close the door - all that needs to happen is for a screw to be tightened up, but you can't find a screw driver. Let alone find the correct one for the job at hand.

Maybe you have a painting or a mirror which has yet to be hung on the wall, weeks or even months after you first purchased it - all you need is a hammer or screw driver. And what about that ever dripping tap that you have been meaning to get a plumber in to fix - you just need a spanner to fix it.

If you knew what type of tool to use, you could take care of these small jobs around the house on your weekend or a day off!

My kit of 10 tools for small jobs around the house.

If you are one of these people, why don't you put yourself together a small set of tools and keep it in a box somewhere that you can quickly get your hands on.

As an ex carpenter/builder my garage has so many different tools that I have lost count of how many I have, but I do know what I have and where it is located.

So when it comes to doing those small fix-me-up jobs I always know where my 10 hand tool kit for around the house is. So when the next screw comes loose or a bolt needs tightening, it's just a matter of grabbing the kit and away I go. Nothing is better than having this small kit, as it makes doing those small annoying jobs so much easier and quicker.

To help you out I have put together a list of my 10 essential tools that are needed to make life a bit simpler at home. I have also included a small explanation of what you would use it for.

1. Phillip Head Screw Driver.
A phillips head screw driver

Many items are held together with a screw and over the years I have found that you need to have a Phillips head screw driver in your kit of tools. Just think back to how many times you may have come across a loose screw and you have tried to tighten it up with your finger nail, a coin, a car key or anything else that would fit in the hole.

This is where by having a Phillips head screw driver will stop you from burring the inside of the hole, so much so that all you now have is a rounded hole and nothing you put into the hole will make it turn.

I would say that every house has a screw with a Phillips head in the top of it. Having a set of inter-changeable shafts with different size would be an advantage. As not every screw it the same size.

2. A Slotted Head Screw Driver.
A slotted head screw driver.

Many of the older type houses usually have screw heads that are slotted, unless the screw has already been replaced by one that has a Phillips head. It too would be better having a set of inter-changeable shafts with different size would be an advantage. As not every screw it the same size.

The large/ thicker shaft slotted end screw drivers can also be use as a wedge to temporarily lift certain items. For example, when you are trying to put a wedge underneath an out of level cupboard or table. You can also use the slotted headed screw driver for scraping between the pavers to get those weeds out.

3. Spirit Level.
A spirit level.

Have you ever moved a free standing cupboard and found that the doors maybe sticking on one corner or the cupboard may be leaning out from the wall. This is where you could use to slotted head screw driver to temporally wedge under to lower corner to lift it up to a level position. To see that the cupboard is level or plumb, all you need to do is make sure the bubble is in the middle of the two lines. This means that you can level or plumb a cupboard by yourself. Another thing that you can use a level for is to make sure that your paintings are hanging on the wall are level; nothing is worse that staring at painting that is out of level.

4. Claw Hammer.
A claw hammer.

The claw hammer type hammer has a 'V' shape cut into the back of the hammer. This can be used to catch onto a nail or screw head and then the rounded top of the hammer is use to lever out nails, tacks and screws that are enabled to be extracted in a conventional way. The face of the hammer has been specially hardened so that you can hammer in nails, crush nuts, break bricks and drive in those tomato stakes. Maybe you have a timber fence pailing that has come loose and all it needs it a gentle tap with the hammer to put it back into place.

5. Multi Grips.
Multi grips.

A good pair of multi grips will allow you grab hold of a bolt head, so that you can turn it around to get it out. Sure you could have used a shifting spanner, but a pair of multi grips can be used when you have worn the corners of the standard bolt head and a shifting spanner just slips off.

Some multi grips come with a clamping device and you can adjust the grip and clamp the object in the teeth without damaging it. It then acts as a third hand to hold something while you work on it with the other hands.

Just remember that if you don't want to mark what you are undoing you will need to put some kind of cloth between the object and the teeth of the jaws.

6. Shifting Spanner.
A shifting spanner.

This is a great tool to use for un-doing or doing up different styles of heads, and it can be adjusted to suit many different size heads. It's a great tool to use when the nut or bolt head has become burred and a shifting spanner will keep on slipping. It is just a matter of expanding the jaw and cramping it around the object. The pressure applied buy you hand will allow the teeth of the shifting spanner to grip onto the round object.

Just remember that if you don't want to mark what you are undoing you will need to put some kind of cloth between the object and the teeth of the jaws. The same as you would when using multi grips.

7. Retractable Knife.
A retractable knife.

Many people refer to this tool as a Stanley knife, even though it may be of another brand. The retractable knife, whatever brand it is great for cutting cardboard boxes down to size for the recycled bin, opening cardboard boxes that may have been sealed with duct tape. The retractable knife is also great for cutting a clean edge on the glass in windows, cutting duct tape rather than trying to rip it with your fingers. Also a retractable knife it much safer as you can retract the blade after you have finished using it.

What about if you had a spare bit of carpet sitting in the garage and you needed to cut it to size so that it fits in the bottom of a cupboard. You normal everyday scissors won't even look at it. This is when the retractable knife comes into its own. Just remember to have something underneath as you cut the carpet as the blade will damaged whatever it is resting on.

8. Combination Square.
A combination square.

This is a multipurpose tool that allows you to scribe a straight and parrell line against an edge. Say you need to cut a series of pieces of cardboard all the same width. It is just a matter of using a pencil to mark the parallel line as you scribe it along the edge of the cardboard. All you need to do is set the blade on the combination square at the required width. Have you ever had to mark out a 45 and 90 degree angle? The combination square does both.

As a carpenter, this tool was essential when I had to mark out the depth of a housing in a timber frame as you can set the blade at the required depth and scribe away.

9. Retractable Tape.
A retractable tape.

What would you do without a tape measure? If you wanted to hang a painting directly in the middle. You can use a tape to measure how much space you have between the cupboards to find the centre.

As our kids were growing up we use to get them to stand at a particular spot against the wall in the garage and rest a spirit level on their head and mark and date it. This gave us a record of how much they grew, as all when then needed to do was use the tape to measure how tall they were.

The measuring tape can also be used to set objects at the same height around the room. You can work out how many squared metres of floor covering you need for that new carpet, tiles or vinyl.

What about if you have deceided to paint the walls in the bedroom and you don't know how much paint you need to get. Use the tape to measure up the walls and take the approximate square metres to your local paint shop and they will let you know how many litres of paint you need.

10. Pliers.
A set of pliers.

Pliers are made in various shapes and sizes and for many uses. Some are used for gripping something round like a pipe or rod, some are used for twisting wires, and others are designed to be used for a combination of tasks including cutting wire. Pliers can be used to hold objects firmly and they are also useful for bending and compressing a wide range of materials. You can put them to work at loosening or tightening bolts, holding objects for stabilisation, or removing pins, nails or other fasteners.

Over the years these 10 hand tools has helped me make those small annoying jobs that I have been putting off, simply disappear by getting out the kit and getting on with the job.
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Why? Everyone needs a 10 tool kit to fix things around the house.
When: Anytime and Anywhere
Where: Everywhere at anytime
Cost: Cost will vary depending on where you purchase the tools.
Your Comment
Great article Gary- did a mental "check" for each of the items you mentioned. The iPhone also has a spirit level function on it if worse comes to worse. Cheers!
by Erin & Rob (score: 0|4) 2146 days ago
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