Sunday, October 16, 2011

My Top Ten Tools

Hey all! How are ya? Hope you had a wonderful weekend my peeps!

We stayed with my sis this weekend cause the FLOORS ARE DONE!

I was pleasantly surprised late late week when our flooring guy said he would work through the weekend to get them finished up.

To say I’m thrilled is the understatement of the century. :) Hopefully by the end of the day tomorrow the baseboards will be painted, the quarter round will be installed and our furniture will be moved back in! After that I will share many pics, don’t you worry.

I’m just smitten.

I still need to clean the entire house. ;) The dust was WAY better than we expected – we actually had more dust with the removal of the old floors and the install then we did the sanding. Crazy! But everything is just covered – I have a ton of cleaning ahead of me but I couldn’t be happier about it. :)

Anyhoo, I’m so excited to show you and will do so ASAP!

During the flooring madness this week, I did some reorganizing (I tend to do that when I feel like things are out of my control). I moved my tools from the basement to a couple different spots – mainly because the top of our basement stairs is ALWAYS piled high:

I told you about my piling problem here. It has not been cured quite yet. I feel it may be a lifelong affliction. ;)

Because I’m in perpetual project mode around here, and because immediately after I’m in project mode, I’m in l.a.z.y. mode – the tools sit at the top of the of the stairs forever and a DAY.

MANY days. (Plural. Times ten. Plus infinity.)

I could just be less lazy and walk them down the stairs to put them away, but no. I told you I’m a piler.

So I moved some of the tools to the cabinets in the garage:

And some to the Craigslist dresser in the foyer:

Odd place for the tools, I know. But I’ve had a few in there for  a while now and it’s worked out great. I didn’t use that space for much else, so it’s now filled with gadgets and painting stuff. I LOVE IT.

While moving everything, I came across quite a few tools I know I couldn’t live without and I thought it was high time I shared my top ten tool list with you. These aren’t heavy duty power tools – just the basics. But they are the basics I use almost daily.

With these you can hang pictures (straight), install a light fixture, do some minor fixes around the house or even install molding on your walls.

In no particular order (because I can’t play favorites with my precious tools), here is my go-to list…

1. Screwdriver set.

There are two types of screwdrivers, and all you really need for the most basic of projects is a Phillips and a flathead:

image image


You can see by those pics that the Phillips has a “star” kind of shape to it, and the flathead is…well…flat. ;)

You’ll want a variety of sizes of both – but to get by, one of each will do. The Phillips version is for the most basic screws, and the flathead isn’t used quite as much. At least I don’t use it often – but it’s useful for the screws you find on outlet covers and the such. (Yes, I just said “and the such.” Wordsmith, I tell ya.)

The flathead is also good for opening paint cans. ;)

2. Hammer and nail set.

OK, talk about basic. If you don’t have a hammer, well – HOW DO YOU SURVIVE???

Kidding. (Sort of.)

The hammer is pretty self explanatory. The nail set is a must have for anyone who wants to try their hand at installing molding:

nail set

When you install trim by hand (with a hammer and nails – which I used to do!) you’ll want to use this to get the nails deep in the wood, so you can cover them with putty.

Even when I use the nail gun, I have to pull out my nail set pretty much every time:


(No, not my hairy arm. Source here.)

Sometimes the nails just don’t go in quite right and this helps to drive them in. (Especially when they hit a stud and they won’t budge with the hammer!)

3. Tape measure.

Again, a basic:

But go for the good one when you get one. I like the longer lengths – they come in 12 or 25 feet (or higher), and I’d always go for the 25 feet. You think you’ll never need it that long…and then you do. ;)

And I love the ones that you can pull out and they stay put. The most basic tape measures retract unless you lock them manually. My faves lock by themselves, and then retract when you push a button.

And if you’re like me…you’ll lose them like you lose socks. For real…I’ve probably purchased 25 tape measures in the past five years. I have absolutely no clue where they go.

It drives me a teensy bit crazy. I have visions of them all hiding away, snickering at me every time I need one.

4.  Level.

I use a level ALL THE TIME. I use it when installing board and batten, beadboard or wainscoting. I use it when I hang pretty much anything, even curtain rods. I have a two foot level:

But they come in a ton of sizes. I also have a small one (about five inches) that I use for little projects, and a teensy one (about a inch wide), for checking pictures and art for level. I couldn’t live without them!

OK, I totally could, but everything hanging in our house would be wonky if I had to.

They tell you if something is straight across or straight up and down, based on the bubble:


When it’s right in the middle like that, you’re golden. ;)

5. Pry bar.

If you are going to remove baseboards, this is your tool:

crow bar

Our baseboards are CRAZY hard to get off the walls, and I couldn’t do it without this one.

I used the pry bar when I pulled up the laminate in our laundry room a couple weeks ago – you can get it into tight spaces by tapping an end with a hammer and wedging it underneath. It’s the power you need to deconstruct. FUN!

6. Wire cutter.

This one is a must have if you plan to change out a light fixture:

wire cutter

Which, by the way, isn’t hard – at all. I know it’s intimidating, but the basics of changing out a light are very simple. Someday I’ll do a post about it. When I can find a third hand to take pictures. ;)

This tool can cut through all kinds of tough stuff – I use it on much more than wires.

7. Miter box and hand saw.

This little box has transformed my home:

miter box with saw


This and a hammer and nails or glue is all you need to install molding throughout your home. For years this is all I used. With thicker wood it can be a workout, but it’s certainly doable.

You can do mitered (angled) cuts with it – it sets up the perfect angle for you. Listen carefully -- you do NOT need a compound miter saw and nail gun to install molding! It just takes a little more time and muscle with the miter box and hand saw. But muscles are good for you. ;)

8. Wrench set.

These come in handy all the time as well – when you need them it’s hard to find something else that will work just right:wrench set


Of course they are helpful for tightening things – but mostly use them when I’m trying to pry something apart or put it back together. So with wrenches, I recommend having at least two – they usually come in a set like you see here.

Finally, my two biggies! Hold on to your seats. It’s exciting. WHOO!!

9. Drill bits. and 10. Drill.

Told  you –- crazy exciting!

Drill bits are used in the drill, and I explained about the different types of bits here:

drill bits

For the most projects you’ll just need a basic drill bit set. It will drill holes into drywall and wood easily. I seem to use my bits and drill at least once a week, if not more.

I explained more about the differences between cordless and plug in drills in that post as well. I have both, but nine times out of ten, I use my cordless drill:


It’s all you need most of the time. I only pull out the cordless when I’m drilling holes or screwing into something really thick, like a door or dense wood. The cordless is just easy to use – no need to worry about an outlet or extension cord when you need it.

So there. you. go. My top ten tools for any DIYer – beginner or otherwise! With the screwdriver and wire cutter, you can change out a light or install a dimmer switch. With the miter box and hand saw you can make your own vintage-looking trough thing. And with the pry bar and a wrench, you can rip the carpet and tack strips off your stairs. ;)

So did I miss any must have tools? Is there one you can’t live without? I’ll do a post on the bad boys (the power tools) sometime soon – they deserve their own individual posts. They are just that cool. :)

P.S. You can see some of my other tool-related posts here:


I’ll be back soon with some flooring pics!! Have a wonderful Monday!

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