YOU ARE HERE: HeraldMail HomeCollectionsTool

Tool time

October 28, 2002

Tool time

for beginners assembling their first do-it-yourself instruments, think quality, not quantity


Wandering the aisles of Clear Spring Hardware assisting customers, Ted Hovermale's tape measure is always close at hand.

Carrying the retractable ruler makes sense. After all, in the home improvement arena a fraction of an inch can mean the difference between a firmly anchored bracket and one that clumsily pops from a wall.

More telling is his opinion of the device at home.

"It just seems at home anything you do you need to measure," the hardware store owner says. "If you're hanging a picture you need to measure to center it. If you're going to cut a board you're going to need to measure it."


In a more power world of cordless drills, table saws and belt sanders, sometimes the simple things carry the day.

There is no need, Hovermale says, to have several Phillips head screwdrivers when one or two will do.

Because of their versatility, hammers and screwdrivers remain staples for novice and experience home-improvement wonks alike.

On the flip side, Hovermale warns against being lured into an impulse buy that is more likely to gather dust than make sawdust.

"A lot of people go out and buy some big saw and really don't have a use for it," he says. "They maybe use it once in 10 years."

Paul Corderman inherited Corderman's Hardware in Hagerstown from his father and grew up in the tool business. Now co-owner of the Washington Street shop with his son, Corderman says the screwdriver may be the most used, and abused tool.

"(It's used) for different screws, for prying, for chiseling, for hammering," Corderman says. "That's probably the most used tool I can think of. A hammer you can just beat something. A screwdriver, you can do just about anything."

So when assembling the first tool box, Hovermale, Corderman and Hagerstown Home Depot manager Julie Welsh say to make these the first buys:


screwdriver (flat and Phillips)

tape measure




hand saw for wood

hacksaw for metal

flashlight, for outages

Easily overlooked are smaller items homeowners may not view as tools but often can not do without to complete household projects.

Welsh keeps a tin at home with various nails, picture hangers, etc., the items she will invariably need but not always think of.

A veteran of several big household projects, she has learned to love her cordless drill, even more than the tried-and-true hammer and nails that will serve any beginner well.

"Any time you're working with any kind of lumber," Welsh says, "you need to have a drill."

Customers are always asking for a screw or two. Or they enter Hovermale's store in search of a bottle of glue or tape.

Just don't think owning a glistening new hammer or shiny-handled screwdriver provides a license to rebuild the house. Corderman cautions not to swim into the deep end of home repair.

"Some people can use them very well. Some people can destroy (with) them just as well," he says, pointing to the harmless planing of a sticking entrance that winds up decimating the door.

"If you don't do it a lot you better stay away from it until you can get somebody who can show you or knows how."

The Herald-Mail Articles