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Household Tools- Basic Hand Tools - Basic Power Tools

January 31st, 2012 Tools

A Cordless Drill is Important in a Home Tool Kit

At first glance, you might think that a cordless drill is more of a luxury than a necessity for your household tool set. But you should include this item among your basic household tools. Why?

First, even on your basic household items checklist you will have situations when you need to insert a variety of screws into walls, floors, furniture, etc. that do not have pre-drilled holes. While you can purchase a small hand tool that you can start a threaded hole for your screw, a cordless drill is much easier and more effective for creating a wide variety of receptors for your screws of almost all sizes.

Second, since cordless (or corded) drills also accept a variety of screwdriver heads, with this one basic power tool, you can drill your pilot hole and then attach your screw without ever moving to replace tools. Third, even in a basic tool set, a cordless drill gives you extra power, mobility, and speed you cannot duplicate with most basic hand tools. Finally, you need not be too concerned with the cost of this basic power tool. Sure, you could spend $150, $250, or more on a major league drill that enables you to rebuild your entire home by yourself, but it isn’t necessary. For around $35 to $50, you can buy a cordless drill, from around 9.6 volts to 12 volts, which will handle most of the things on your household items checklist. The battery charge should last through most home tasks and will recharge in a reasonable period of time. The available power, while not necessarily in the home improvement tools category, is sufficient to drive most screws required by household needs. While there are other basic power tools that you can add to your toolbox in the future, a cordless drill should be included in your basic tool set.

Basic Bathroom Tools

Bathroom tools for the home repair guru are neither numerous nor very high tech. A word of caution: unless you are very familiar with plumbing issues, leave complex problems to a professional to solve.

While many people believe the sources of serious problems in the home are either natural gas or electricity malfunctions, experienced construction professionals will tell you that water causes more damage than the other two combined. What is the most common source of problems in your bathroom? Sink, tub, and shower drains that are clogged. Toilets that do not flush or refill properly. Pipes and faucets that leak and drip provide the water torture we all dread.

Basic bathroom tools for pipes include:

  • Adjustable pipe wrench – Adjusts to give you a tight grip on pipe fittings.
  • Chain wrench – Odd looking tool that allows you to fit it around a pipe and tighten the chain to give you a good grip.
  • Tube cutter – Another rather curious-looking tool that allows you to cut a pipe cleanly for installation.
Toilet tools are quite simple very low tech:
  • Plunger – They come in different looking designs but all work the same way. They will eliminate most basic clogs you encounter by creating a vacuum and allowing natural pressure to free the water flow. They are often called the “plumber’s friend.”
  • Closet auger – A snake-like tool you can crank until it stops (meaning it has found the clog). Then, by pulling on it, the clog will often free up.
Tub and sink bathroom tools:
  • Plumber’s snake – Still the best tool to unclog a clogged drain. Both flexible and firm, the snake enters the clog and you work it around and through the problem until the clog is broken up or pushed into the larger pipe into which it feeds.
  • Adjustable and open-end wrenches – From your household tool kit you can use these to install or undo many drain fittings. Note: Drain fittings tend to be very tight so an open-end wrench of the correct size will provide a tighter grip for you.
Bathroom tools tend to be simple to use and very effective for minor problems. You won’t spend a lot of money on them, either. However, be prepared to call in the cavalry if these simple tools don’t solve your problem as all the water in your home is under pressure (that is how it gets to where you need it, usually an uphill flow). Any breaks in the piping scheme could provide a very nasty, costly, and wet surprise.

Basic Kitchen Tools You Should Have

As everyone from age 25 to 65 knows, it seems that there are more kitchen tools than insect species in the world. But whether you are a 35-year old gourmet chef or a 60-year old baby boomer who has sold the big house and given everything to your kids before moving to Florida, Arizona, or Aruba, everyone needs basic kitchen tools to set up a working kitchen. The list below includes the cooking tools you’ll need to make breakfast, lunch, and dinner:

  • Pots and pans:
    • Fry pan – non-stick – probably 10-inch
    • Sauté pan – 12-inch with a tight lid
    • ½ to 2 quart Saucepan with lid
    • 3 to 4 quart Saucepan with lid
    • Dutch oven – 6 to 8 quart with lid
  • Knives:
    • Chef’s knife – 7-inch
    • Utility knife – 4-inch
    • Bread knife – serrated blade
    • Paring knife
    • Set of steak knives
  • Wooden spoons – 3 or 4 different sizes
  • Measuring cups – both wet and dry measures
  • Spatulas -2 to 3 sizes
  • Cutting board – wood or plastic, your choice
  • Mixing bowl set
  • Serving spoons – 2 to 3, with at least one that is slotted
  • Colander – strainer for pasta and other solid food to remove water
  • Electric hand mixer – corded or cordless
  • Can opener – electric or manual
  • Scrapers – silicon or rubber
  • Balloon whisk – 1 or 2
  • Tongs – metal and spring-loaded with scalloped edges
These are the basic kitchen hand tools you’ll need to have a working kitchen. From this starting point, you can add to your culinary tools a piece at a time. Your second round of tools might include:
  • Blender
  • Casserole dishes with lids
  • Pie plates – 8-inch, 9-inch, or both
  • Grater – box-type grater is the most versatile
  • Vegetable peeler – either straight or right angle blade
  • Mesh strainer – for powdered sugar, flour, gravy, chicken stock, etc.
  • Food thermometer – simple and low tech or digital
These tools for cooking form complete kitchen tool sets for baking, too. If you become intrigued with the world of kitchen tools, as many people do, you can add hundreds, if not thousands more in the future. Bon appetite!

Basic Power Tools For a Home Tool Kit

Assuming you have all the basic hand tools in your home tool set, you should consider adding a cordless screwdriver, a cordless or corded drill, a power sander (belt, disc, palm or random orbit), a circular saw, and a jig saw. These are basic power tools that will make your household chores easier. A 2.4 to 3.6 volt cordless screwdriver makes it faster and easier on your hands to insert or remove flat head and Phillips head screws at reasonable cost (about $15 to $25). Likewise, a cordless or corded drill can be a lifesaver in many household repair or improvement situations. For a home tool kit, a 9.6 to 12 volt cordless drill (about $30 to $50) or a 3/8 inch, 4.0 amp corded drill (same price range) will handle both drill and screwdriver requirements.

Many people call the circular saw the most important power tool for both beginner and expert. While at first a bit of a challenge for the beginner, you will quickly become comfortable and efficient using the circular saw (approximately $35 to $60) in many situations. The first time you use a power sander, your hands and arms will thank you repeatedly. While hand sanding is a great workout for your arms (no need to worry about “no pain, no gain”), a power sander also can do a much better job and faster, too. For purely flat surfaces, a belt sander (about $50) is fast, easy, and efficient. Disc and palm sanders (usually $25 to $50) are wonderful for smaller areas, rounded or oval surfaces, and detail sanding. If you are new to power sanding, your best choice might be a random orbit sander (around $35 to $50). By randomly circulating during use, this sander eliminates the potential lines, minor scratches, and uneven finishes a beginner might cause through inexperience. It can cover a myriad of errors. A jig (or saber) saw (approximately $25 to $50) allows even a beginner to efficiently cut around corners or make curved cuts in all types of wood. Otherwise a very difficult maneuver, curved cuts are possible with a jig saw after a short learning period.

The average retail prices quoted are for basic power tools suitable for household tool kits. If you decide to upgrade to more serious home improvement tools in the future, you will want to consider more powerful, heavier duty models. For instance, if you decide to build a deck or a backyard shed, you’ll use pressure treated lumber. The pressure treatment makes the lumber extremely dense and strong for obvious reasons. If you tried to insert the hundreds of 2 to 3 inch deck screws necessary for such a project with a 9.6 volt cordless drill, you will not get far. This size drill simply doesn’t have the torque or power to efficiently drive such a long screw into a dense piece of lumber. But as a beginning, the basic power tools described above will vastly improve the completion of your household tasks.

Basic Tools For a Home Emergency Tool Kit

An emergency tool kit can include many of the items in your home tool kit with a few important additions. While there are many sophisticated and somewhat unusual tools you could include, here is a list of basic items that should be in your emergency tool kit, most of which are obvious but often overlooked:

  • Flashlights – You should have at least two of these. One should be substantial and powerful, probably using large size “D” batteries, and able to light up a pathway or room. The second one should be a small unit, like one of the MagLite line that you can use to get into tight spaces or even hold between your teeth while you’re working on a problem.
  • Portable radio and batteries for radio and flashlights – While the radio might provide some entertainment, it’s primarily for emergency reports and contact with the rest of the community. Batteries for both your radio and flashlights, while not really a tool, are necessary if the emergency lasts longer term.
  • Duct tape – Often called the world’s most versatile tool or product, duct tape can solve a myriad of problems that might occur during an emergency.
  • Emergency gas and water shut off tool – There are a few slightly different names and, in some cases, separate tools that complete this function. Depending on the nature of the emergency, you may be required to shut off the incoming gas, water or both. Without this tool or a combination of two tools designed for this function, you could have a problem shutting down this input. You can buy a tool like this for around $10 to $20. Should you ever need it, you’d gladly pay a thousand dollars for it at the time.
  • Heavy duty gloves – Two pair of heavy duty gloves, like those used for yard work or heavy construction, should be in your emergency tool kit so you will have some protection against any “sticky” situations that might arise during an emergency situation.
  • Fire extinguisher – A small portable one will do. Emergencies come in all shapes and sizes. Fires can start for many different reasons and from unrelated incidents. A small fire can quickly become a life threatening blaze. This tool could save your life.
There are other items you might want, like an escape ladder or a portable generator, depending on your physical location and anticipation of any particular emergency. See the source website for a complete guide to emergencies, i
ncluding printable documents that you can use to survive difficult situations.

Basic Tools for Household Electrical Tasks

While it is not recommended that you undertake complex electrical tasks without proper training and experience, you can learn to perform simple electrical repairs and installations with success. If possible, consider purchasing insulated tools if you plan on more adventurous electrical jobs. They are much safer if you’re going to tackle these tasks. Along with your screwdrivers and needle-nose pliers, you should consider these tools:

  • Wire cutter and stripper pliers – This combination tool allows you to both cut and strip wires, saving you the aggravation of changing tools.
  • Crimping tool – For putting bends and deformities in wires, making it easier to join them together.
  • Pump (or groove joint) pliers – Also called by the name of their most famous manufacturer, Channellock, these tools have adjustable jaw sizes to firmly hold a wide variety of shapes, including round objects.
  • Fish tape – Not to be used to catch your dinner, this tool is used for feeding wire through the narrow openings behind walls. Fish tape allows you to turn what at first looks like an impossible task into one of relative ease.
While there are some others that would be classified beyond basic hand tools, these helpers (all of which can be purchased for less than $30 each), should be sufficient to complete most household electrical tasks.

Circular Saw Versatility

The versatility of the circular saw makes it a big favorite in both home tool kits and professional toolboxes. If you’re wondering how the circular saw could apparently be more popular than the must-have cordless drill, the answer is quite logical. While cordless drills are considered must-have’s for a home tool set, many heavier users prefer a corded drill for serious work. Why? They have more power pound-for-pound and won’t die at the wrong times. While you can purchase a cordless circular saw, most prefer to use a corded saw for power and weight reasons (batteries are heavy).

Unlike hand saws, with a variety of sizes for different jobs and different blades for cutting in different directions, circular saws can cut in across or with a wood's grain, can be used for rough or finish work, and are easy on the arms and hands. By adjusting the depth of your cut, you can use the saw to make cut outs or other maneuvers that would be very difficult, if not impossible with a standard hand saw. You can purchase a decent home circular saw for around $50, so the expense is not overwhelming. If you plan to upgrade your basic tool set to a home improvement tools level, you will probably spend around $100 or more to get a heavy duty circular saw. Like your personal computer or cell phone, you won’t miss it until you have one. After you do, you’ll never be without a circular saw.

Classic Carpenter’s Levels and Laser Levels

One or both types of levels should be included in your set of household tools. If you’re starting a set of home improvement tools, you should probably consider including not one, but two carpenter’s levels for household items. These levels are actually named "spirit" or "bubble" levels since they use liquid (usually ethanol) with a bubble showing the condition of the object you are trying to make level. If you include both a short level (12 to 18 inches), and a longer one (3 to 4 feet) you will have the right tool for most household tasks.

While sophisticated laser levels are used in surveying, major construction projects, and upper-end cabinetry, low cost simple varieties are available for home use. Many things on your household items checklist will be straighter with a classic spirit level; handheld laser levels are perfect for other tasks. For instance, if you’re hanging pictures consider using a laser level. The laser level projects a laser line on your wall giving you an easy, accurate target to hang your art exactly where you want it. To place your new area rug upon your hardwood floor, forming perfect right angles and parallel to your walls, place your laser level on the floor and shoot a line to the opposite wall. For tasks like these, a home tool set quality laser level is excellent and cost effective – you can purchase a serviceable one for less than $30.

Differences Between a Claw Hammer and a Tack Hammer

Claw and tack hammers are used for similar tasks that are different only in size. The most versatile and commonly used is the claw hammer. No basic tool set should be without one. Every carpenter, beginner or professional, owns one or more claw hammers. The business end is used for, what else, hammering. A 16- to 20-ounce claw hammer will handle most tasks on your household items checklist, sometimes eliminating much of the need for a tack or sledgehammer. The opposite end of the head contains a claw, useful for removing nails, prying wood, plastic, metal, or almost any other substance. Technically, a tack hammer is used by upholsterers to hammer tacks when covering furniture with fabric. For your home tool set, think of a tack hammer as a tool for small hammering jobs, like hanging light weight pictures and plaques, common tacks, rug tacks, and small nails used for crafts projects. You can use a true tack hammer, a small ball peen hammer (designed for metalworking, with a hammer end opposite a “ball” end), or even a small (8 ounce) claw hammer. This little guy is perfect when your standard size claw hammer is a bit of overkill for small tacking jobs. With these two hammers in your home tool set, almost all of your home hammering needs will be handled.


Fireplace Tools You Should Have

Fireplace tools are simple, useful, and, in a way, fun. If you have one of the modern gas burning fireplaces, your fireplace tool set will not get heavy use so you can opt for a more decorative look. However, if you have a classic wood burning style, your fireplace tools should be of the best quality you can afford as you will use them every time you stoke up your fireplace.

First, decide what look and weight you want. You can choose from the more decorative classic brass fireplace tool set to the sometimes more functional iron fireplace tools, which are both casual and still good looking. Second, choose whether to purchase a complete fireplace tool set or find individual fireplace tools you like. If you’re a newbie, you’re better off with a fireplace tool set that coordinates with your décor.

The tools listed below will give you all the help you need to create long lasting, quality fires:

  • Poker – Used to “stoke” your fire, bringing needed oxygen to keep your flame going strong.
  • Tongs – Will help you move around your logs to maintain an ongoing fire and to load fresh logs to your blaze.
  • Shovel – Allows you to remove the natural build up of ashes for disposal.
  • Broom – Helps you maintain a clean, efficient, and attractive firebox and hearth.
  • Stand – Keeps your fireplace tools handy, secure, and organized.
Here are two final things you need to consider. First, grips (handles) come in two varieties, swedged and threaded. Swedged grips are installed on the tool shaft under tons of pressure and will not loosen even if you are a participant in the “World’s Strongest Man Contest”. Threaded grips have a strong tendency to loosen up over time. Therefore, you should occasionally test and tighten your grips (preferably when your fireplace is unlit) so you don’t encounter a nasty surprise while using them. Second, buy the proper size of fireplace tools for your firebox.

Fireplace tool sets come a number of sizes so don’t purchase very short ones (used for small fireboxes and wood-burning stoves) if you have a huge fieldstone fireplace with a firebox you can almost walk into. If your tools are too short for the depth of your fireplace, you will need to purchase and use a pair of firegloves to protect yourself while tending your fire. These tools and tips will help you enjoy the ambiance of your fireplace to its fullest.

Individual Kitchen Knives or a Set?

Whether you decide to purchase individual kitchen knives or decide on a matched set of culinary tools, you will be pleased with the result as long as you purchase decent quality instruments. Be wary of very inexpensive knives or sets that look like serious kitchen tools. You will most likely lose your affection for these rather quickly. First, they dull rather quickly. You might even have the misfortune of having one snap at just the wrong moment. The last thing you need is to be required to dodge a dangerous pointed projectile in front of your dinner guests.

If you are in the gourmet-in-training phase of your culinary development, you should probably choose a matched set of knives from the same manufacturer. This will give you similar tensile strength, handle construction, and consistent balance. Decent quality sets will give you the most commonly used sizes of these tools for cooking. While all manufacturers claim to produce the best product, if you’re new to the gourmet world, use this rule of thumb:

Assuming you are considering decent quality utensils, select the ones that “feel” the best in your hands. Regardless of the technical specifications of individual knives or matched sets, these cooking tools quickly become personal extensions of your hands. If they are comfortable, you’ll love them. If they feel awkward, you’ll end up hating them. As you become more experienced in your cooking projects, you’ll probably decide to purchase one or more individual knives to add to your collection.

Non-Stick, Stainless Steel, and Lined Copper Pans

The debate over the “best” pans to use has raged for years. There are opinions in favor of all three, and many that include cast iron and aluminum, too. The most effective recommendations on these basic kitchen tools concern two issues: cost and personal preference.

Non-stick pans are perfect for the future chef-in-training. They clean up easily, save most foods from sticking and burning on the bottom of the pan, and give the newer cook a margin of error when cooking omelet’s, rice, and other potentially sticky foods.

Stainless steel is widely considered the most versatile material for reasons of durability, appearance, anti-corrosiveness, and non-reaction to acidic or alkaline objects. The problem with this good looking set of kitchen hand tools is that stainless steel does not conduct heat efficiently. The best solution, although it drives up the cost, is to embed an aluminum or copper core in the bottom of the pan to help heat radiation.

Lined copper pots and pans are excellent and used by many high-end chefs. Copper conducts heat quickly and evenly – it even cools down very fast for safety and convenience. For frying and sauteing, a copper pot is the top performer. The problem with copper is that it is “emotional” – it reacts to everything it comes in contact with. Moisture causes it to produce a poisonous film, salt causes it to react by infusing a metallic taste to food, and it needs to be polished regularly. These reactions require that most lined copper pans are also infused with tin, stainless steel, or even silver to protect all food that contacts with it.

The cost of these choices ranges from reasonable (most non-stick pans) to moderate (stainless steel, a bit more with embedded copper or aluminum) to pricey (lined copper). All three varieties will perform their job effectively, so the question becomes comfortability and affordability. The choice that best fits your lifestyle and pocketbook will stand out for you.

Screwdrivers That Should Be in a Home Tool Kit

An absolute must-have in your home tool kit, screwdrivers come in what seems like an infinite variety of sizes, shapes and styles (long, short, narrow, wide, plastic or rubber handles, cordless, ratchet-driven, and more). At a minimum, you need at least one Phillips head and two flat head screwdrivers. A medium-sized Phillips head screwdriver will fit the majority of household screws you’ll face. If possible, you should include a narrow and a larger-sized Phillips head screwdriver also for obvious reasons. Flat head screwdrivers come in an amazing variety of shapes and sizes for all types of screw head sizes. If you start with two, a narrow and a wider head one, you’ll be ready for most household items that arise. The narrow head is useful for electrical issues, like switch plates, battery compartments, door knobs and handles, drawer and cabinet pulls, and door hinges. For most other flat head screws, screwdriver with a head from about ¼ to ½ inch wide should suffice.

As you increase your tool collection, you’ll want to purchase a few additional screwdrivers. Those with shorter and longer shafts come in handy for tight spaces (shorter shaft) and those jobs where you need more torque (strength, power) which you get with a longer shaft screwdriver. This suggestion applies to both flat and Phillips head tools. You might also want to consider a ratchet screwdriver set or a cordless screwdriver so you’d have more versatility and power. You can buy a decent ratchet screwdriver suitable for household items for $10 to $15. It has a secure grip, a ratchet drive shaft that accepts different bits (flat head and Phillips head in different sizes) and provides excellent leverage for an inexpensive hand tool. A cordless screwdriver with power in the range of 2.4 volts to 3.6 volts can be bought for around $15 to $25 and will give you the versatility and power you need for most home chores.

Socket Wrenches

Socket wrenches (also called ratchet wrenches because of the ratchet drive) are wonderful tools that can save you time and hand cramps. The universal handle or grip has a ratchet drive at the end with a square fitting at the end. This fitting will accept sockets of a wide variety of sizes, both American (measured in inches) or international (metric). The beauty of this tool, invented by J.J. Richardson, of Woodstock, Vt. in 1863, is that you can tighten or loosen nuts and bolts with continuous motion, without having to remove or reposition the wrench.

Most tasks involving nuts and bolts, inserting or removing, are handled wonderfully by a socket wrench. Need a longer reach? You can attach an extender to give you a longer arm with the same firm grip and torque as with the standard handle. Have a nut or bolt that is very recessed? You can install a deeper socket like the one used to change the spark plugs on your car. Moving the lever on the back of the ratchet driver allows you to reverse your motion from tightening to loosening without removing the wrench from the nut. A socket wrench set, a wonderful addition to your household tool kit, including handle and a selection of often used socket sizes can be purchased for $35 to $50. This level of socket wrench should be perfect for most household items.

The Difference Between Adjustable, Open-End, Box-End, and Allen Wrenches

Wrenches are needed in every household tool kit and come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Some do the same job differently while others perform more specific tasks. All handle many tasks on your household items checklist quickly and easily.

Open-end wrenches are one-piece wrenches with U-shaped openings at either end. You should include a variety of sizes in your home tool kit. Each open-end wrench in your set has a different-sized opening at each end. You’ll notice that the ends will be offset at an angle (usually around 15 degrees) to give you a greater range of movement in tight spots when you turn the wrench over.

Box-end wrenches have circular, not box shaped, ends. They normally have 6- or 12-points in the openings and provide a very strong grip on nuts or bolts, particularly those with a hexagonal shape. The ends of box-end wrenches are also offset to give you good leverage and the ability to get your chores done in tight quarters.

Adjustable wrenches come in a variety of sizes and do the work of full sets of open- and box-end wrenches. While not quite as snug as a perfect fit open- or box-end wrench, these versatile household tools can be a time-saver. In difficult spots, when you’re not sure what size wrench you need, take an adjustable and fit it to the nut or bolt you need to work on. If you put two different sizes in your home tool kit, you should be able to work on just about any size nut or bolt you’ll run into at home. If someone asks if you have a “Crescent wrench”, you can say yes since some people still refer to the originator of the tool, the Crescent Tool and Horseshoe Company.

Allen wrenches, sold individually or in a set, don’t look like wrenches at all. They are L-shaped and made from hexagonal wire of different sizes. The screw or bolt head they fit has a hexagonal recess into which the Allen wrench fits. Many desks, file cabinets, chairs, etc. being made now use these screws and bolts since they can be attached to form a flat surface or they can even be recessed so as not to interfere with the operation of the furniture.

With this group of wrenches, you can handle most household items you tackle with complete success. As you expand your household tools, possibly upgrading to a set of home improvement tools, you’ll probably add one or more pipe wrenches, a socket wrench, combination wrenches (with one open-end and one box-end fitting the same size nut or bolt), and possibly an alligator wrench that, by its design, fits a variety of nut and bolt sizes.

The Difference Between Regular and Needle-Nose Pliers

Regular pliers are actually known as “slip-joint” pliers, as you can move the mechanism below the jaws to create different angles to get a grip on larger or smaller items. A must-have in a household tool kit, regular pliers have many uses, some you don’t even think of until you need a tool to do something for which there is no other alternative among your household tools. With ribbed jaws and often a vinyl or rubber covered grip, you can exert a great deal of pressure using your pliers properly. Among the variety of uses are removing nails (and screws, if the head is not all the way in its material), acting as a wrench (to hold or turn nuts and bolts), a tack hammer for small nails, and cutting wire. Needle-nose pliers are also wonderful tools to help you grip and/or remove things when you’re working in tight quarters, which happens often when clearing things from your household items checklist. Whether working in a closet, cabinet, drawer, or on your PC, needle-nose pliers will give you gripping and turning power that might be unavailable with regular pliers. If you’re bravely performing electricity-related tasks, you will also use your needle-nose pliers to bend, twist, and grip wire of all sizes, often in cramped areas.

Types of Food Thermometers

You’ll want a good food thermometer as part of your kitchen tools collection. Of particular assistance to the newer culinary gourmet-in-training, they help everyone to a) cook food to a safe temperature and b) keep you from overcooking food to ensure the best flavor. There are two primary types of food thermometers to add to your kitchen tool set. Dial thermometers have been in use for years and can be found at supermarkets, kitchen and department stores. With a long shaft, the top is round with a dial displaying the temperature of the food being cooked. Most are oven-safe and good for roasts and poultry preparation.

Digital thermometers (sometimes called thermisters) are also readily available in your local supermarket and kitchen store. Giving you a digital readout on top of the long metal shaft, these are not oven-safe. But they don’t need to be. When you check your food, simply turn it on, insert it into the food object, and in a few seconds, digitally read the temperature. Since their temperature sensors are embedded right in the tip, they are wonderful for thinner foods like burgers, chicken breasts, and filets. While there is no “best” choice, one or both of these in your basic kitchen tool kit will give you an expert’s edge on proper food preparation.

Types of Saws For Your Home Tool Set

You should probably start your home tool kit with a hand saw and a small hack saw. Hand saws commonly have one of two blades. They will be fitted with a crosscut or a rip blade. If you’re going to start with one in your home tool set, you should probably go with a crosscut blade, designed to cut across the grain of wood. A rip blade is designed to cut along the grain of a piece of wood and will probably be used much less often by you. Many more household cutting tasks involve cuts across the grain of wood than ripping it. When you add to your household tool kit arsenal, you can include a hand saw with a rip blade.

A hacksaw is made for cutting metal, not to be attempted with a standard hand saw. The basic hand tool hacksaw comes in two primary designs. One has a metal frame with a pistol grip and a thin, firm blade. The second design is for smaller jobs and/or tight quarters. It looks like a metal arch or rectangle, the ends of which hold the blade. Attached is a wooden or plastic handle used to work the saw. While, at first look, the teeth of a hacksaw blade look like those of a hand saw, a closer examination will show you that hacksaw blades have many more teeth and they are smaller and shallower. This enables the hacksaw to cut through metal, a much harder surface than wood.

These two saws will handle most household items and should be all the saws you need for your home tool set. In the future, you can add a keyhole saw, a rip saw, and a miter saw to make precise angle cuts.

Types of Tape Measures

There are a variety of different tape measures available for your household tool set. You will probably want more than one to handle your household items. A tape measure will be one of your most important basic hand tools for many of your household chores. Whether you’re hanging pictures, moving furniture, cutting wood, putting up shelves, putting in a light switch or socket, and many more tasks, your tape measure will be invaluable.

You might want a couple of retractable tape measures of different sizes for your various tasks. With a smaller one measuring about 10 to 15 feet, you won’t be using something bulky for cramped quarters and small jobs. A larger one, 25 to 30 feet, will be useful for measuring walls for paint and paper reasons, floors for carpeting estimates, and all manner of larger jobs.

Other tape measures that you might want to add to your collection are vinyl or cloth tailor’s, small and thin mini-tape measures for very small, simple tasks, newer “ergonomic” measures designed to fit your hand, and maybe a digital tape measure of you’re really into high tech.

What to Put in a Basic Household Tool Kit

While you have the choice of thousands of tools, there are some absolute “must-haves” for a basic household tool kit. A list of basic tools follows.

  • Hammers – claw (standard size) and tack (small)
  • Screwdrivers – Phillips and flat head
  • Pliers – regular and needle nose
  • Utility knife – retractable blade
  • Metal straightedge or T-square
  • Putty knives – narrow and wide
  • Levels – small and medium size
  • Wrenches – adjustable, box-end, open-end, and Allen
  • Saws – hand and hacksaw
  • Cordless drill – with drill bits and screwdriver bits
These are the basic hand tools that everyone needs for most household chores, repairs, and fun stuff (picture hanging, towel bar installation, wall paper repair, etc.) To build a basic household tool set for light duty, you need not spend a lot of money for good quality tools. Buy the best quality you can afford but don’t worry about investing in carpenter quality hand tools.

This is true with the cordless drill recommended as an important part of your home tool kit. Because you can use both drill bits and screwdriver bits of all sizes and shapes, this tool is a necessity. You don’t have to spend a lot (although you certainly could if you wanted to) to get a decent household cordless drill. At Lowes, HomeDepot, or online, you can buy a decent cordless drill for under $50.00. As long as your drill is at least 9.6 volts through 12 volts, you’ll have enough power to handle most household jobs. After you create your first complete home tool kit, you can expand your toolbox a little at a time as you’ll find a number of additional tools that will become “must-haves.”

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