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Build a Toolbox

Build a Toolbox

By: Dan Behymer, Posted: , Section: Home Maintenance

BUILD A BASIC TOOLBOX

From simple fix-ups to major home improvements, the right tools make all the difference. Novice DIYers should assemble a toolbox with a handful of essential tools that are most widely applicable to any job. Additional materials can be purchased as required, expanding your arsenal as your experience and skill set improve. Choose a toolbox with ample storage space for large, irregular items such as a hammer and square, but one that’s light and compact enough for easy portability.

1. HAMMER

From hanging a picture frame to building a wall, the right hammer is an essential household tool. You’ll find specialized models for heavy-duty framing and for fine woodwork, but a good basic model should be medium weight (16 to 20 ounces) with a smoothfaced head, rip claw, and non-wood handle.

2. SCREWDRIVERS

Whether you’re putting something together or taking it apart, the right screwdriver makes all the difference. You’ll find various types of screws in everything from woodworking to automotive work, and each type requires a matching screwdriver, so you’ll need a variety. Common screw types include flat-head, Phillips, square-drive, Torx™, and Pozidriv.

3. TAPE MEASURE

The tape measure will likely get the most mileage of all your tools. A 25- to 30-foot tape will suffice for most jobs, big and small.

4. UTILITY KNIFE

You can use a razor-sharp utility knife to open up packages, cut roof shingles, trim insulation, and so much more. Choose a model that offers convenient in-handle storage for extra blades.

5. TORPEDO LEVEL

This handy tool utilizes a bubble vial to check for level and plumb on anything from picture frames and shelves to fence posts. Although longer levels are more accurate, a torpedo level comes close and fits in a toolbox.

6. SPEED SQUARE

This is a very handy tool used for simple measuring, drawing straight lines, and marking angles. It also makes a grade-cutting guide for a circular saw.

7. CHALK LINE

Another member of the marking and measuring family of tools, a chalk line can be very useful when working with drywall, roofing, floor installation, or any other unusually large piece of construction material.

8. SAFETY GOGGLES

Arguably the most important item to keep in a toolbox is a pair of safety goggles. These will obviously help keep dangerous particles out of your eyes while cutting or performing demo work, but they can also be worn while painting to protect from flying specks.

9. WOOD CHISEL

A ½-inch wood chisel is useful for many different applications, not just carving and shaping wood, as it’s actually intended to do. Much to the manufacturer’s chagrin, chisels can be used as everything from a miniature pry bar to a paint scraper. Keep two chisels handy: One for cutting wood and another for general usage.

10. Wrenches

Available with adjustable jaws or with fixed box-end designs, wrenches provide a firm grip for loosening and tightening bolts, nuts, and other faceted fasteners.

11. PLIERS

Available in many sizes and designs, pliers tightly grasp and hold items that can’t be held by your fingers alone.

12. TONGUE-AND-GROOVE PLIERS

The adjustable mouth of tongue-and-groove pliers makes this tool handy for grabbing large items as well as small. Its primary use is for grabbing plumbing fixtures too big for standard wrenches, and the long handles provide plenty of leverage.

13. LOCKING PLIERS

Known by the brand name Vise-Grip, this tool works like adjustable pliers but locks into place with incredible grip, freeing your hands for other work.

14. ALLEN WRENCHES

Appliances, machinery, and power equipment often have screws with a hexagonal recess set in their heads. These screws require Allen wrenches, which are small L-shaped tools in sets of both metric and imperial measurements.

15. SOCKET WRENCH SET

These modular systems include a wrench handle and individual sockets of different sizes, as well as extenders and adapters. The steel sleeve of the socket slips over a hexagonal nut or bolt head, and the wrench’s ratcheting action turns the fastener in only one direction while “freewheeling” in the other for fast tightening and loosening.

16. TOOL BELT

A good tool belt will keep your tape measure, pencil, fasteners, and other small items right at your side, saving you repeat trips back and forth to the toolbox to search for and retrieve supplies.

MASTER LAYOUT AND MEASURING

You’ve probably heard the phrase, “measure twice, cut once.” The following tools help make that a reality.

FRAMING SQUARE

The metal L-shaped framing square has a 24-inch leg (the blade) and a shorter 16-inch leg (the tongue). The rigid 90-degree heel can easily verify the accuracy of right angles found inside and outside corners. Most framing squares also come with reference tables to assist in determining roof pitch and calculating rafter heights, along with other general applications.

T-SQUARE

For large areas, drywall, and sheet goods, a T-square can be used to measure and mark straight, accurate lines up to 48 inches. It can also be edge-clamped in place and used as a guide for making straight cuts.

COMBINATION SQUARE

The combination square consists of the blade (a metal ruler) and a stock, which slides along the blade and may be completely removed. A thumb-screw tightens the stock in place. The combo square can be used to check inside and outside corners for 90 and 45 degrees. It can be used as a marking gauge to draw a parallel line against an edge, and the blade can be used to measure the depth of a hole or mortise (notch). The stock features a bubble vial for checking level and plumb.

LEVELS

Both a 2-foot and a 4-foot level are handy for determining if an object is indeed level. When the bubble rests evenly between the marks on the vial, the tool is level (or plumb). The longer a level’s length, the greater its accuracy. However, in many cases a 4-foot level is too long and cumbersome for a small job, making the 2-foot version a better option.

SCREW IT BETTER

As your projects get more complex, you’ll want to consider adding to your screwdriver collection.

Multipurpose screwdrivers contain a variety of bits

MULTIPURPOSE

This option can reduce the number of tools you need to carry with you. A variety of bits, usually stored in the handle, insert into a hexagonal drive shaft. Compare models to find the best bit selection for you.

MINI

Eyeglasses, mobile phones, computers, and personal electronics often have very small screws, which in turn will require very small screwdrivers. Minis are available in flat-head, Phillips, Torx™, Pozidriv, and more.

SMOOTH THINGS OUT

Whether you’re removing paint or prepping a new piece of furniture to stain and finish, sanding will be a necessary step in the process. The abrasive particles in the sandpaper are graded and numbered as “grit,” indicating how coarse or fine these particles are. A good approach for a DIYer is to select three grits to have on hand. Start with the sandpaper that’s just coarse enough to get rid of the worst surface defects. An 80-grit sandpaper is usually a good place to start. However, coarse grits will leave fine scratches on the wood, so the next step will be to turn these large scratches into smaller scratches with a finer paper of around 120-grit. For the final sanding phase, sandpaper at 220-grit will work for most types of wood. Wood with dense grain may require finer grits, such as 320-grit, to remove the last of the scratches, thus resulting in a smooth, ready-to-finish surface.

RATCHETING

As with a socket wrench, the quick-drive ratcheting action drives screws fast while “freewheeling” in the opposite direction. This eliminates the need for the user to release and re-grip the screwdriver, saving time and labor.

CORDLESS

A rechargeable battery-powered screwdriver can be fitted with any number bits in a wide range of sizes and drive-styles. When you’re dealing with a lot of screws, you’ll appreciate the high-productive efficiency this basic power tool brings to your projects. Keep one on the charger for graband- go convenience.

Power sanders do the work for you. Small palm sanders can smooth a wood surface in preparation for staining and sealing. Aggressive belt sanders can tear away an old wood surface with ferocious efficiency. And oscillating disc sanders strike a balance between aggressive material removal and finish-sanding.
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