Basic Tool Kits for a DIYer
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Published by TOP4 Team
In case you haven’t noticed, tools are expensive to buy. Especially with the considerable variety needed to tackle the range of household tasks and repairs. It would be a mistake to buy all the tools at once: the temptation is to spend cheaply, normally not a good investment with tools.
It is best to select tools with well-known brands, of good reputation in the medium cost bracket. A cheap tool will break early in its life, or, if a cutting tool, will not hold its edge. Expensive tools are all very nice, but they are not economical for someone who would not use them everyday.
Middle-of-the-road tools, with a little care, will last indefinitely. They must be kept sharp and free of rust.
The best time to buy tools is when they are needed. A comprehensive kit of tools will always have a percentage of items that is never used. If you buy tools when you need them, they will pay for themselves on the job being done, and owe you nothing. It is also fun to buy tools as needed: most handypeople enjoy browsing through aisles of tools at hardware shops. Repairs that need to be done are, after all, a legitimate excuse to buy more tools.
There are, however, some tools that you should consider if building up a basic kit of tools. Some variations may occur according to your preference in the types of work you like to do (for example, carpentry) and the type of house you own. Some tools are specialised, and if these are not mentioned in this chapter they may appear in later chapters where their use is specified.
Wal, Bradawl or Gimlet - This is used to prepare a hole in timber for a screw to be driven into without having to drill. Not essential: the point of a nail often does the job.
Brickes’ Trowel - This is an all-purpose tool for applying mortar, furrowing, bedding bricks and removing excess mortar.
Cold Chisel - This is a heavy iron chisel with a ground tip to use when breaking or chipping rock and concrete, or mortar. A number of shapes are available. A bolster is a chisel with a width of 110mm, used to cut bricks. A plugging chisel is used to remove mortar from between bricks.
Clamps - They may be the G type which are fixed in sizes 50mm to 200mm, or they may be the sliding type for quick adjustment.
Drill Bits - These are the cutting tools that are inserted into hand and power drills. A number of patterns are available for drilling wood, metal, plastic. Tungsten carbide-tipped drills are available for drilling masonry or concrete.
Hacksaw - This is a fine-toothed saw for cutting metal. It comprises a frame with a range of narrow blades for cutting steel and non-ferrous metals. Grit-charged blades are available for cutting ceramics.
Hammer - This is the usual tool for driving nails and encouraging other bits and pieces into place. Most handy is a claw hammer, medium weight, with either a metal, timber or fiberglass shaft.
Hand Drill - This drill is operated by hand. Useful for small jobs, or where it is inconvenient to use a power drill. However, most people buy a power drill first.
Hand Saw - This is a general-purpose timbersaw for cutting across timber grain and panels. Normally, it is around 600mm to 800mm long with 8 to 10 teeth (points) per 25mm.
Ironing Rod - This is a rounded 10mm steel rod for making rounded mortar joints.
Level or Spirit Level - This is used for ensuring that horizontal work or fittings are truly horizontal. They are available from 300mm to 1500mm in length. Useful sizes are 600mm, or 900mm. If you are doing brickwork, a level with at least one bubble visible from the top is useful.
Line Pins and Blocks - These are pins or blocks inserted into mortar joints over which string line is stretched (optional). Nails of 100mm or string line wrapped around bricks work just as well.
Lump Hammer - This is a 2kg hammer to use with a bolster to cut bricks. Also for heavy breaking, or driving posts and pegs.
Metal Files - These are a range of metal smoothing and cutting tools. Combination flat and half round file is useful for smoothing sharp edges, rough saw marks, and so forth. The round file is useful for widening holes that are too small, and cleaning up inside curves.
Nail Punch - This is used for driving nails neatly into timber, without leaving marks on finished timber surfaces, or for nailing into tight corners.
Oilstone - This is a combination medium and fine stone necessary to keep cutting tools such as chisels and planes in working order. An essential buy, together with some light oil.
Pinch Bar - With a chisel point at one end and claw at the other, this is used for wrecking and prising apart various materials.
Plane - This comes in many types, but most common is a smoothing plant (No.4) for smoothing rough timber or damage marks, or at a pinch for dressing timber from the rough-sawn state.
Pliers - There are various patterns and sizes available. They are general-purpose tools for gripping items, bending crimping, and stripping wires.
Putty Knife - This is used to apply fillers to small holes and cracks and when puttying up windows. There are a number of styles.
Raking Tool - This is a wheeled tool for scraping out mortar joints at preset depths.
Rasp - This is a coarse type of file for timber, normally half round and flat. Leaves a rough finish.
Rule - This is a measuring tool, necessary for most repairs. ‘Guestimates’ generally distinguish poor repair jobs from more professional ones. May be a fixed 300mm or 450mm rule or a 1m four-fold rule.
Screwdrivers - These are available as slot type, Phillips or Posi-Drive head. Used for driving and removing screws. Available in a range of sizes. Should be matched to screw size.
Scutch Comb Hammer or Chisel - This is a tool used to chip or sparrow pick the surface of masonry and concrete.
Square - This is used for marking exactly 90 degrees (and sometimes 45 degrees). A combination square can be adjusted and may be more versatile than the try square.
Straight Edge - Either a stainless steel straight rule or any perfectly straight length of seasoned timber or aluminium rail for making, scribing or cutting a straight line.
String Line - This is builders’ string. When it has been stretched into straight lines, bricks can be laid to achieve accurate bricklaying. Also used to mark straight lines, set out work, and so on.
Tape - This is a flexible measuring tool. Most useful tapes range in size from 3m to 8m. Longer ones are normally for setting out sites.
Tin Snips or Metal Snips - These are cutting tools for most sheet metals such as tin plate, aluminium, copper and thin galvanised iron. Available in a number of patterns, including patterns for curve cutting. By no means essential.
Utility Knife - This is a general-purpose, razor-sharp, light-duty cutting implement. It may have disposable or snap-off blades.
Vicegrips - This is a useful, powerful holding plier, for gripping objects to stop them turning. Marks metals on contact.
Wood Chisels - These are used for chopping wood, for making housings and trenches, and for general joinery work. A useful set would include 12mm, 19mm and 25mm sizes.