Simple tasks require basic toolkit

November 07, 2004|by ANDREA ROWLAND

Holster the nail gun.

It might be tempting to own, but that carpentry gizmo and other big-ticket tools aren't needed to fill your first home toolbox, said Tom Withers, building construction instructor at James Rumsey Technical Institute in Martinsburg, W.Va.

"A nail gun is probably more for a serious person that's taking on a big project. You have to drive a lot of nails to make that worthwhile," Withers said.

He suggested the following starter tools for home maintenance:

· Sixteen-ounce claw hammer. "If you don't have a nail puller, the curved claw can be used more to pull nails," Withers said.


· Toolbox handsaw, which is shortened to fit in a toolbox. The handle of the saw can be used as a square to mark off boards, he said.

· Combination square, which can be used to mark 90-degree and 45-degree angles, to measure depth and to indicate whether or not such household items as picture frames and large appliances are level.

· Three sizes of Phillips screwdrivers.

· Three sizes of standard (also known as flat-head or slotted) screwdrivers.

· Ten-inch adjustable (also known as crescent) wrench to help loosen bolts.

· Pair of 440 grooved-joint, adjustable pliers.

· Hacksaw, which can be used cut through both metal and plastic.

· Utility knife.

· Three-eighths-inch drill. Withers said battery-operated drills are portable and versatile, especially when accompanied with a screw bit and set of other attachments. He suggested an electric drill for infrequent use.

· Small set of drill bits, including 1/16-inch to 3/8-inch bits for a three-eighths drill. A titanium bit also is handy for drilling through metal, and masonry bits are necessary for drilling through masonry.

· Finishing nails, including sizes 4D, 8D and 16D.

· Smaller nails such as brads or paneling nails.

· Nail set, which is used to tap finishing nails below the surface.

· Assortment of screws.

· Small pry bar (also known as "cat's paw") nail puller. "Sometimes you have to take something apart, pry something to make it fit," Withers said.

· Wood glue and general adhesive.

· Two-foot level or smaller torpedo level.

· Tape measure. "A 25-foot tape measure will do just about anything," Withers said.

· Work gloves.

· Chalk line, which is used to mark a straight edge for carpet cutting and other tasks.

· Small socket set that's both standard and metric, which can be useful for assembling a variety of products.

· Staple gun.

The Do It Yourself Network at also recommends such toolbox essentials as a home repair manual, safety glasses, needle-nose pliers and an awl for starting pilot holes. Buy the best tools you can afford to save money in the long run, according to information on the Do It Yourself Web site.

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