Every girl should have her own hand tools and her own toolbox. (That way she’ll always know where they are when she needs to use them!) More and more specialized hand tools for women are being introduced all the time – smaller, more compact tools, pink tools, lighter weight tools. You can go whichever route you want, however before purchasing your hand tools, it is recommended that you educate yourself a little on hand tools and get an idea of which tools should be included in your tool box.
Here’s a list of the essentials to include in your tool box along with special considerations for tool selection.
Hammers are manufactured for a variety of uses and come in different weights. Handles are constructed of wood, fiberglass, or steel. Hammer heads are designed for specific purposes – framing, drywall, shaping metal. A good general-purpose hammer would be a curved, claw hammer with a fiberglass or steel handle.
Look for one with a grip – it will help to absorb vibrations when striking nails. Also important is to make sure the striking surface is smooth not waffled if you are doing finishing work. When it comes to weight, trying before buying is a good idea. What might be fine for someone else may simply be too heavy or too light for you.
If hearing someone ask for a Robertson screwdriver or a Phillips screwdriver sends you into a tail spin, fear not. I have a simple way of remembering which is which. This might seem a little corny, but it works for me!
Do you know any famous people with the name of Phillips? (Spelling is not important here.) My choice is Michelle Phillips – a singer (The Mamas & The Papas), songwriter and actress. Okay for the slightly younger generation she’s also the mother of Chyna Phillips of the singing group Wilson-Phillips. The point is, Michelle Phillips is a ’star’. The business end of a Phillips screw driver is in the shape of a star.
As for the Robertson – use the theory of deduction – it’s not a star, so it must be a square. A flathead screwdriver or slot screwdriver is pretty self-explanatory.
Look for a screwdriver set that has interchangeable heads or bits with multiple head sizes. If the heads are long enough they can also be used as drill bits.
This is for locating walls studs, not some studly guy! Very handy to have if you are hanging heavy items on the wall. Allows you to locate the center of wall studs and drill a screw or hammer a nail into studs to provide stronger support for what you are hanging.
A 24″ level would be great, but it’s a little tough to fit it in an average-sized tool box. If you want to be able to keep everything together inside your tool box you may want to consider something a little smaller.
Tape measures come in varying widths and lengths as well as different materials. There’s no need to go to great expense when purchasing a tape measure. A retractable tape measure that extends to 25′ with a blade width of 1″ should be more than sufficient for general use. Most tape measures have a locking mechanism to keep the tape from retracting. The only special consideration would be look for one that isn’t too bulky so it is easier to handle.
Safety should always be your number one priority and eye protection is at the top of the safety list. Invest in a pair of sturdy safety glasses. Remember that these should be about function, not fashion. If you can’t get past the fashion aspect, you’ll be happy to know that there is a company that sells safety glasses that fit both functional and fashionable requirements. Check out Safety Glasses Inc. for the latest styles in safety glasses.
There are three main types of utility knives. One type uses replaceable blades, the second type uses breakaway blades or snap off blades, and the third type has retractable blades. Many utility knives have interior storage for extra blades. I prefer to use a utility knife with replaceable blades – there is less chance of a blade breaking in mid use than with those that are meant to breakaway, and there’s no chance of the blade retracting while in the process of making a cut. The replaceable blades also have a slightly longer blade edge.
The pry bar is an awesome little tool that can be used for pulling nails, prying and lifting. It’s a small tool that packs a big punch. One end of the pry bar is designed so that you can get in to tight spots, the opposite end is used for leverage.
Locking pliers are like a portable vise. Use them for clamping, tightening, and twisting. I recommend getting two – one with a curve jaw and one with a long nose. Curve jaw locking pliers enable you to apply more pressure. Long nose locking pliers allow for better access in narrow or hard-to-reach areas.
Needle-nose pliers or long nose pliers are ideal for fine work in small enclosures. Because of their long shape, needle-nose pliers can reach into spaces that fingers can’t normally access. In addition to gripping or reaching, they are also capable of cutting wire.
Electrical tape and duct tape are definite musts. They are great to have on hand for quick fixes, but remember that they are not meant for use as long-term solutions.
Miscellaneous Tool Box Extras
Flashlight – a compact flashlight is perfect for tucking inside your tool box.
Ratchet Set – choose one that includes both metric and standard sizes.
Wrench Set – Combination Wrench Sets include both metric and standard sizes.
Assorted Screws, Nails, Drywall Anchors
Pencil and Paper
I hope this list of hand tools helps you get started on outfitting your tool box. More tool lists will follow in future posts for specialized areas such as painting, plumbing and electrical work.