For centuries, hand tools have contributed a crucial part to the development and evolution of human beings. It’s ironic that while everyone invests in the latest technological appliances for their home – from wireless routers, plasma TVs and even smart refrigerators – they neglect having essential hand tools that can make life a lot easier by solving a wide variety of problems.
It says something about our society that while our kids know how to install Windows on a new computer, they are stumped when it comes to tightening a nut on their bikes.
That’s why we decided to showcase five of the most neglected but useful hand tools that should belong in every home. These not only make your life easier by allowing you to handle small projects yourself, they also save you a lot of time and money by eliminating the need to call a handyman.
The 5 Most Useful Tools
There’s an old saying that goes like this: “if you have a hammer, everything looks like a nail”. You’ll be surprised how many projects you find the initiative to tackle yourself if you have the right tools available.
1. ScrewdriversYou need to have different types of Phillips and flathead screwdrivers around your home. When buying functional screwdrivers, you have two options:
- Buy the screwdrivers as a set or even as individual pieces.
- Buy a screwdriver handle with a tip that can accommodate screw bits of various sizes.
Flathead screwdrivers have a single blade and are used to loosen or tighten flathead screws. Nowadays, most projects use Philips screws more than the flathead screws, so having Phillips screwdrivers makes more sense.
That said, it’s still useful to have flathead screwdrivers because they can handle other tasks such as scrapping, prying, and nudging.
Phillips screwdrivers have four-star points on their tips. The star points fit into the cross-shaped depression of the corresponding screw. The flathead screw might not allow you to apply more torque. The design of Phillips screwdrivers and screws give you more control on the amount of torque you apply. Unless a damaging over-torquing has occurred, the Phillips screwdriver should move in and out of the depression with ease.
2. HammerA hammer has been man’s companion for years. Chances are you have probably seen your grandpa carrying one, especially one with a wooden handle.
In most cases, a hammer comes in handy when you have projects that need driving nails into substance. It is also useful for demolitions jobs.
Even if you don’t invest in many types of hammers, at least try a claw hammer. A standard claw hammer head weighs about 1 lb.
If you intend to use it on multipurpose projects, go with the 16-ounce claw hammer. It is light to carry around but also heavy enough to handle most repair projects. However, if most of your projects involve lighter work such as driving smaller gauge nails, then investing in a lighter hammer is a smarter option.
Picking a hammer is almost the same as picking a baseball bat or golf club. The most important thing is to have a hammer that is comfortable to swing and feels good to hold. If possible, visit a hardware store to test it for yourself.
3. Tape MeasureWhether you want to measure the size of your TV screen to check if it fits the allocated space, or you are constructing a new cabinet, a tape measure will help you avoid minor errors.
When selecting the tape measure, go old school. A 16-foot or 25-foot retractable tape is enough for general purpose use.
If you are fixing shelves, fitting a painting, or if you have to carry your tape with you, for instance, when shopping for building materials or furniture, then a 3-meter tape can suffice. It is small and compact and can easily slip into your pocket.
This tool can be a source of fun for kids, and you must, therefore, take caution. They love extending the tape to full stretch then watch it quickly retract.
For this reason, you should store your tape measure in a lockable place. Tape measures with metallic measuring strip are particularly hazardous as they can accidentally hurt the fingers.
4. PliersStandard pliers will help you in a variety of maintenance tasks. They can hold, bend, pull, twist, cut, or even open and tighten nuts.
The needle nose pliers are ideal if you want to hold items in hollow cavities where the standard pliers cannot access. They are also useful if you are completing an electrical related project since it can cut, strip, grip, and bend the end of wires.
The vice grip pliers are also worth having at home. They are good for locking stuff in a fixed position. They can come in handy if you need extra support but all you have is your two hands. Some locking pliers let you use one hand to disengage the locking mechanism while others require two hands to release.
These pliers are also versatile in use. They can work as an adjustable wrench, a pipe wrench, a ratchet, wire cutters or even a clamp.
When shopping for pliers, consider the strength and ease of working with the tool. Choose a strong set that is fitted with silicone, plastic, or rubber. Again you must ensure that they are easy to work with.
5. PaintbrushEven with the popularity of sprayers and paint rollers, a paintbrush remains an essential hand tool to have at home.
A paintbrush gives you more control over the kind of final appearance you want and can help make a surface look unique, especially if you’re redecorating on a budget. As a rule, always buy what is within your budget limits.
Paintbrushes fall within two main categories:
- Synthetic bristle brushes
- Natural bristle brushes
Paintbrushes with synthetic bristles are preferred since they can handle different types of paints. Natural bristle brushes can only be used to apply oil/alkyd paints.
It is important to choose paintbrushes with long, tapered bristles and fine ends. Ideally, the length of the bristle should be one a half times longer than the paintbrush width.
Arm Yourself With These Useful Tools
These are just some the many essential hand tools that are usually neglected, yet worthy of being part of your home arsenal. They are ideal for everyday projects around the home, even if you don’t consider yourself an experienced handyman. It’s worth investing in such tools because they help you save money and time in the long term. Do a quick check of your hand tools inventory and if any of them are missing find the time and money to purchase them and you won’t regret it.