Basics of Home Repair Tools

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Home renovation requires the right tools and materials to complete the job efficiently. Understanding the essentials will help you in the long run.

Toolbox NecessitiesYou can create your own basic toolbox with common repair tools such as:

  • A 14- or 16-ounce hammer
  • Standard and Phillips screwdrivers
  • Pliers
  • An adjustable wrench
  • A basin wrench
  • A 2-inch paintbrush
  • A handsaw or power saw
  • A hand drill or power drill
  • Assorted fasteners
  • Glues and adhesives for wood and plastic

In the upcoming article, you will learn about tools that measure, cut, drill, nail, tighten and loosen, hold, clamp, test, paint, and more. You will also learn which tools are essential and how to use them safely.

Let’s first talk about quality. The best rule to follow when purchasing tools is to buy high-quality ones. Not only are they safer to use, but they also last longer with proper care. You can easily recognize a quality tool by its machining: the metal parts are smooth and shiny, and the tool is well balanced and comfortable to hold. On the other hand, inferior tools often have defects or rough metal (concealed by paint) and exhibit crude machining. Above all, good tools are safer to use. Cheap tools can break and cause accidents.

Although high-quality equipment costs an average of 25 percent more, cheap tools are never a bargain. You get what you pay for, and you may have to replace them more frequently. The money you save on your first do-it-yourself repair will pay for the tools you need. And once you have the tools, they are yours to keep.

Some essential tools include measuring tools, saws, drills, fastener tools, and tools for electrical and plumbing repairs. We will discuss all of them.

Measuring Tools

Accurate measurements are required for every home renovation project. You need to know the precise length, height, and width of everything to ensure everything is plumb, level, and square. The following are basic instruments for measuring and marking:

Tape measure: Flexible tape measures are available in lengths of up to 50 feet; a tape that is 12 to 25 feet is usually considered adequate. You should buy a tape at least 5/8-inch wide so it will stay rigid when extended. Most tapes have an automatic power return that is useful but not necessary.

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These are common measuring tools.
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Carpenters use different types of tools to ensure their work is precise, including squares, levels, chalk lines, stud finders, and handsaws. The standard size of a carpenter’s square is 18 to 24 inches for the body and 12 or 18 inches for the tongue, which is important for cutting straight edges on plywood and hardboard. However, for smaller jobs, a combination square is more convenient to use since it is smaller, typically only 12 inches long, and can be set at any point with a thumbscrew. A try square is similar to a small carpenter’s square and is used to check the squareness of edges in planing and sawing work. Two- and three-bubble levels are standard for most leveling needs, and a chalk line is used for marking a straight line over long distances. A stud finder is useful for finding the studs behind walls to hang heavy items. Finally, handsaws come in a variety of types, including the crosscut saw which cuts across the grain of wood and is used for cutting plywood and hardboard panels and for cutting miters (angles).

“Ripsaw” is a type of saw that cuts wood along the grain, known as “ripping”. Its teeth are spaced three to five per inch. As compared to a crosscut saw, the teeth of a ripsaw are wider set, enabling it to slice through wood like a chisel. However, the final cut made by a ripsaw is usually rough and requires sanding to get the wood to its final measurement. On the other hand, a backsaw has a reinforced back that stiffens the blade. Its teeth are closely spaced like those of a crosscut saw, which results in a smooth cut. A backsaw is used for making angle cuts and trimming molding, and it’s designed for use in a miter box. The reinforced back of a backsaw serves as a guide. A keyhole saw has a 10- to 12-inch tapered blade, and it’s used to cut openings for pipes, electrical boxes, and almost any straight or curved internal cuts that are too large for an auger bit, a drill, or a hole saw. A coping saw has a thin blade secured with two pins at the ends and is available in a variety of blades with both ripsaw and crosscut tooth spacing. Lastly, a hacksaw is used to cut metal, plastic, and pipe. However, when a handsaw won’t suffice, power saws are used. They can be intimidating at first and should always be used with proper safety precautions. Circular saws are portable electric tools and the power version of a crosscut saw or ripsaw. Saber saws, also called jigsaws, consist of a 4-inch blade driven in an up-and-down or reciprocating motion. They are portable power tools that use many blade designs for various materials. In the next section, we will discuss drills and fastener tools, which are crucial parts of home-repair projects. There are different types of drills and fasteners available in the market, and we’ll provide the necessary details to help you choose the right one.

Hand and power drills are essential tools for home repairs. A 3/8-inch drill can make holes up to 3/8 inches in metal and 3/4 inches in wood. It can also be used with a hole saw to cut holes up to 3 inches in diameter. Many 3/8-inch drills have a hammer mode for drilling in concrete and a reversing feature for removing screws. A variable-speed drill is also useful as it can start slowly and then increase in rotation. There are various attachments and accessories available, such as wire brushes, paint mixers, and circular saw attachments.

Power drills are available in corded and cordless models. Cordless drills are becoming increasingly popular as they use an onboard battery and come with a recharger.

To choose the right drill bit, you need to consider the drill you are using. The following table will help you choose the correct drill bit:

Drill Bit Drill Type Use
Twist Hand, power, or drill press Small-diameter holes in wood and metal
Spade Power or drill press Holes up to 1 1/2 inches in wood
Auger Braces Holes up to 1 1/2 inches in wood
Expansion Brace Holes up to 3 inches in wood
Fly cutter Drill press Holes up to 6 inches in wood; smaller holes in other materials
Hole saw Power or drill press Holes up to 3 inches in wood

There are two main types of hand drills that are commonly used: the push drill and the hand brace. Push drills are good for making pilot holes and for setting hinges, while a hand brace is particularly useful for working in restricted areas because of its ratcheting mechanism.

Fastener tools are often the first tools to be added to a handyman’s toolbox. They help to apply fasteners such as nails, bolts, and adhesives. Some common fastener tools include hammers, screwdrivers, pliers, and clamps.

The most popular type of hammer is the carpenter’s curved-claw nail hammer which is made of steel and has a wood or steel handle. It’s used for driving nails and other fasteners, and the claw at one end of the head can be used to pull nails out of wood. A rubber mallet is also useful for light hammering on surfaces that can be damaged. Other specialty hammers include ball-peen hammers for working with metal and mason’s hammers for brick and concrete projects.

Every toolbox should have a set of high-quality screwdrivers that are only used for tightening and loosening screws. There are many types of screwdrivers, such as standard head, Phillips head, and Torx head screwdrivers, which vary depending on the screw head each is designed to fit.

Wrenches are used to turn bolt heads or nuts, and selecting the appropriate wrench depends on the fastener’s design and size. Wrench types include open end, combination, adjustable, and Allen wrenches. It’s important to pull the wrench towards you instead of pushing it away to reduce the chance of injury if the wrench slips.

When working on home repairs, it’s important to have the right tools for the job. Wrenches, pliers, and clamps are all essential items for any DIY enthusiast.

Wrenches come in various types, including adjustable, socket, and Allen wrenches. Adjustable wrenches should only be used if the correct size wrench is not available, as they can damage the fastener. Socket wrenches are preferred as they fit over the fastener, making removal easier and safer. Sockets come in standard and extended depth, and are often purchased in sets by drive size. Allen wrenches are used on fasteners with a hexagonal hole in the head, and are available with L- or T-shape handles.

Pliers are used to grasp and hold parts, and should not be used as wrenches to tighten or loosen fasteners. Common types of pliers include slip-joint, groove-joint, needle-nose, and locking pliers. Slip-joint pliers have two settings in the handle to allow for two widths, while groove-joint pliers use an elongated hole in the handle with grooves that allow for multiple widths. Needle-nose pliers have jaws that come to a point for securely grasping small parts or wires, especially in tight locations. Locking pliers, also known as Vise Grip pliers, are adjustable and can be locked to hold a part in place.

Clamps are essential for holding parts together while glue dries. Spring clamps are inexpensive and are used for clamping small jobs, while C-clamps come in a wide range of sizes. It’s important to have different types of clamps for various home-repair projects.

type of material, such as a wire, is continuous or broken. To use a continuity tester, clip one end of the test wire to one end of the wire being tested and touch the test probe to the other end of the wire. If the tester light glows, the wire is continuous. If the light doesn’t glow, the wire is broken.

Volt-Ohm-Milliammeter (VOM): A VOM is a more complex electrical testing tool that can measure voltage, resistance, and current. It has a meter with a needle that moves to indicate the measurement. A VOM is used for diagnosing more complex electrical problems and is a must-have tool for any serious DIY electrician.

Plumbing Tools

Plumbing problems can be tricky to diagnose and fix. Fortunately, there are a few basic tools that can help you solve most common plumbing issues. These include pipe wrenches, pliers, and augers.

Pipe wrenches: Pipe wrenches are used to tighten and loosen pipes and fittings. They have sharp teeth that grip the pipe or fitting securely. Pipe wrenches come in a variety of sizes, from small handheld tools to large heavy-duty wrenches.

Pliers: Pliers are a versatile tool that can be used for a variety of tasks, including tightening and loosening nuts and bolts, cutting wires, and bending and shaping metal.

Augers: Augers are used to clear clogs in drains and pipes. They have a long flexible cable with a spiral tip that can break up and remove blockages. There are manual augers and power augers, both of which are effective at clearing most clogs.

Whether you’re a DIY enthusiast or a professional tradesperson, having the right tools for the job is essential. By learning about the tools of your trade, you’ll be better equipped to tackle any project that comes your way.

To identify the source of an issue, it is necessary to investigate which electrical component is conducting electricity. This can be achieved using a continuity tester or a VOM, also known as a multitester. The provided image displays both tools, with the continuity tester on the left and the VOM on the right.

To test a component with a continuity tester, first disconnect the appliance and take it apart to access the component. Attach the tester’s clip to one wire or connection of the component and touch the probe to the other wire or connection. If the component is receiving and transmitting electricity, the tester will light up or buzz, indicating that the circuit is continuous. If the tester does not react or only reacts slightly, the component is faulty. Keep in mind to never use a continuity tester while the appliance is plugged in or the circuit is powered.

For more advanced electrical and appliance troubleshooting and repairs, invest in a volt-ohm-milliammeter (VOM). A VOM, which is battery-powered and used with the power turned off, can check continuity in wires or components and measure electrical current from 0 to 250 volts AC or DC. A multitester with plug-in test leads and an adjustment knob or switch is used to measure current on the desired scale. Remember to never use a VOM while the appliance is plugged in or the circuit is powered on.

Compressed air can be used to clean appliances and electrical fixtures, while electrical contact cleaner can clean components with food, grease, or oil on them. Special plumbing tools include pipe wrenches and basin wrenches, which can be purchased at hardware stores and plumbing-supply houses.

The wrench can be flipped over to the opposite side to continue turning without taking it off. A socket wrench set is helpful for removing deep packing nuts and for household repairs. To change a toilet seat, a wrench or deep socket wrench may be necessary. For replacing or repairing a toilet, a spud wrench may be needed to remove the slip nuts holding the spud to the bowl and tank. Plumbers’ snakes are available in different lengths and a closet auger is specifically designed for clearing clogs in toilets. Painting tools are also important for achieving a professional-quality job. Paintbrushes can be natural or synthetic bristle brushes, with synthetics being just as good nowadays.

When it comes to painting, it’s important to invest in good quality brushes. Even if it means spending a little extra money, it’ll be worth it in the long run. Quality brushes not only make painting tasks easier and quicker, but they can also be cleaned thoroughly and last for years with proper care. When shopping for brushes, examine them closely to distinguish between good and bad ones. Look for brushes with split ends, or flags, as they have better paint-spreading capabilities. The bristle length should be around 1.5 times longer than the width of the brush, except for wider wall brushes. Choose a brush with a smooth, comfortable handle made of wood or plastic. Paintbrushes come in different sizes and types, such as wall, trim, and sash brushes, which are necessary for hard-to-reach spots that a paint roller can’t reach. Foam brushes are also available for smaller interior or exterior trim painting. Paint rollers are great for large flat surfaces like walls and ceilings. Most painters use rollers for filling in blank spaces and brushes for trim work. Rollers come in varying widths and have handles made of plastic or wood that can accept an extension handle. The metal-rib version is the best because it’s easier to clean and less likely to stick to the inside of the roller cover.

When it comes to selecting a roller cover for painting, the type you choose will depend on the type of paint you’re using. Roller covers are typically made of either fiber or urethane foam and are designed to soak up paint from a tray and release it onto a flat surface. Most rollers are made of materials such as lamb’s wool, mohair, Dynel, acetate, or polyurethane foam and are labeled for use with specific types of paint. To ensure the best results, choose the appropriate roller cover for your paint.

The length of the roller cover’s nap, or pile, is also an important consideration. Pile lengths can range from 1/16 inch to 1 1/2 inches and should be matched to the surface being painted. Long nap rollers are best for rough surfaces, while short nap rollers work well on smooth surfaces. The pile is attached to a tube that slips over the roller’s plastic or cardboard frame.

Paint trays are typically made of aluminum or plastic and come in standard 7-inch and 9-inch sizes. The 9-inch size is most popular as it allows for use with either a 7- or 9-inch roller. Some trays even have hooks that enable them to be attached directly to a ladder. To make cleanup easier, consider purchasing disposable plastic tray liners or lining the tray with aluminum foil.

With the right tools and a little elbow grease, you can easily transform your home with a fresh coat of paint.


1. What are the essential tools for home repair?

The essential tools for home repair include a hammer, screwdrivers, pliers, wrenches, a tape measure, a level, a drill, and a saw. These tools are necessary for basic repairs such as hanging pictures, fixing leaky faucets, and assembling furniture.

2. What type of hammer should I buy?

A claw hammer is the most versatile type of hammer for home repair. It has a flat surface for pounding nails and a curved claw for removing them. Choose a hammer with a comfortable grip and a weight that feels manageable for you.

3. What size screwdriver do I need?

You will need both flathead and Phillips head screwdrivers in various sizes. A set of screwdrivers with interchangeable heads is a good purchase. Look for a set with at least four sizes of each type of screwdriver.

4. Are power tools necessary for home repair?

Power tools are not necessary for every home repair project, but they can make some tasks easier and faster. A drill and a circular saw are two power tools that can be useful for basic home repairs. If you plan to do more advanced projects, additional power tools may be necessary.

5. What type of pliers do I need?

A set of pliers with different types and sizes is useful for home repair. Needle-nose pliers are good for reaching into tight spaces, while slip-joint pliers can adjust to different sizes. Tongue-and-groove pliers are useful for larger projects.

6. What should I look for in a tape measure?

A tape measure should be at least 25 feet long and have easy-to-read markings. Look for a tape measure with a locking mechanism to hold the tape in place. Some tape measures also have additional features such as a built-in level or stud finder.

7. How do I choose the right saw for my project?

The type of saw you need depends on the project you are working on. A handsaw is good for cutting wood, while a hacksaw can be used for metal or plastic. A circular saw is useful for making straight cuts, and a jigsaw can make curved cuts. Choose a saw with a comfortable grip and a blade that is appropriate for your project.

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