Hand Tools

We keep an array of hand tools for small projects around the home and yard.

Our home at Winding Pathways shares needs familiar to every homeowner or renter. Things break, new items need to be assembled and pictures need to be hung. A basic set of household tools makes common tasks easy, even for people not particularly handy.

We have dozens of tools.  Many are specialized, and only occasionally used but our list of frequently used tools are ones that will prove useful in every home.   *Here are our favorites:

Pliers.  Three types. One is a simple pair of gripping pliers used whenever something needs to be held tightly. A second is needle nosed (or long nosed) pliers used to grab and hold small items.  They make fishing small items that fall into crevices easy. The third is a pair of locking pliers, often called “Vice Grips”.  They make it easy to tightly grip something using only one hand,         leaving the other free to do work.

Screwdrivers:  A quality, old fashioned slotted screwdriver is invaluable around the house. We use ours for all sorts of things that have nothing to do with driving a screw. Prying and scraping are only two of dozens of uses. A few years ago we bought a much more useful screwdriver for inserting and removing screws. It’s actually a multi screwdriver all-in-one tool. If you have     ever climbed up a ladder to remove a screw only to discover that the screw’s head is different from the screwdriver in hand, you will find this tool the best!   Our new one has six different bits, all designed to fit different types of screw. Various bits are stored in the handle, making it almost certain the tool will work no matter what type screw is encountered.

Cordless Electric drill:  The only power tool on our list is an amazingly versatile tool. Drilling holes is only one of many tasks it completes with ease. In addition to a case of drill bits of various diameters other bits are actually screwdriver tips or sockets.  They make fast work installing or removing screws, nuts, and bolts. Many other attachments fit on a drill, including buffing and sanding wheels.  We can’t imagine not having this tool. Corded drills need to be plugged in, making them much less convenient. Cordless models come with rechargeable batteries that provide much power before needing to be put back on the charger.

Ear Muffs:  Loud noises lead to gradual hearing loss. We wear muffs whenever we are around loud machine noises – blenders, vacuum cleaner, lawn mower, power tools, and this time of year snow blowers!

Utility Knife:  Useful for cutting cardboard boxes and most anything else. Most hold spare sharp blades in the handle.

Adjustable Wrench:  These come in many sizes but we’ve found the eight inch models best for common household uses.  The tool adjusts to fit nuts of various sizes.

Level:   A small compact torpedo type level is amazingly useful for hanging pictures, or leveling a table or desk.

Hammer:  Hammers aren’t really obsolete. We use ours to drive nails but also to tap the screwdriver when prying or scraping and for many other tasks around the house. Years ago, Marion’s mom standing at a towering 4’9” willed her tiny hammer to us that works amazing well for light projects.

Scissors:  These aren’t office scissors but heavy duty shears that easily cut through heavy packaging materials, thin metal, and cardboard.

Black Tape:  Sometimes called electricians tape, this isn’t strictly a tool but it’s amazingly useful in holding things together or temporarily patching a dripping pipe or exposed wire.

HOW TO ACQUIRE TOOLS

Quality hand tools are a joy to use and so durable they can last for generations.  We are using wrenches, screwdrivers, and a hammer that are as functional today as they were to our grandfathers purchased them 80-some years ago. New quality hand tools can be purchased today – but beware! Many poorly made models are on the market and sold mostly in discount and big box stores. They are less expensive than good ones but aren’t as reliable and probably won’t be around to pass on to the next generation.

We buy our tools in two places – garage and estate sales that often include vintage hand tools. They may be a bit rusty, but we’ve bought quality tools for pennies. After refurbishing they are as good as new. When in the market for new tools we head for a specialty tool store. These are where professional carpenters, plumbers, electricians, and other craft people buy their tools and equipment.

Our favorite store in Cedar Rapids is Acme Tools. They only sell quality tools made by many manufacturers and we’ve never been unhappy with any tool purchased there.  In recent years we’ve been purchasing Milwaukee brand tools at Acme and have found them top notch.  “We only sell high quality tools, and our sales people are experts always happy to help customers select the right tool for their needs and show them how to safely use it,” said John Guidinger, General Manager.

Quality tools are more than just tools. They are well designed and crafted instruments that feel good in your hands and help making tasks a pleasant experience.

*Blogger Note:  These are independent, unpaid reviews.

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