DD called me twice last week as she is moving out of her apartment
(across the country, or I'd be there helping -- even though she
doesn't want help.) "How do I get the legs off the couch? OK, what
kind of screwdriver?" and "What tool do I need to buy to take the bed
(#2 phillips, and 1/2" wrench, respectively)
Her birthday is coming up pretty quick, and I tho't I could get her a
small tool box with some basic good-quality tools. Sears used to sell
a short toolbox made of tough plastic and designed to fit under the
seat of your truck. What to stock it with?
A few of essentials: ChannelLock pliers, maybe even 2 pairs (no
substitutes); a long 1/2x9/16 box-end wrench; 12 oz. claw hammer; a
few assorted screwdrivers; cheap torpedo level; tape measure; wire
strippers, and maybe a pair of water pump pliers.
But what about combination wrenches? Should I get a set of metrics or
SAE? Same question with allen wrenches. Her car has all metric
fasteners, but I really don't see her doing any car repairs herself.
Everything else has English fasteners, right?
A 10" or 12" pipe wrench, or would that be just inviting trouble? :-)
You forgot the most essential of all, two pair of Vise Grips, medium
and large. Next, an impact driver set with multiple bits. The latter
is the only way known to man that will deal with funky Philips screws
(the mechanics curse). Check out the sets on Amazon or Harbor Freight
(see HF #37530 and 93481). A 12" pipe wrench is just a paper weight.
If you must deal with plumbing, get two 18" ones and spare the
knuckles. You won't need combo wrenches for a while. Just get the one
or two from time to time that you need. None really better than
Craftsman unless you like the higher polish and price at SnapOn.
These suggestions will save your reputation as family tool guru. Good
Sears has some quite decent complete tool kits in fitted cases for
$50-$60 that include pretty much everything. They are cheaper than
trying to piece a set together yourself. I keep one of those sets in my
truck, supplemented with a couple specialty items like torx socket bits.
Since I posted earlier I've been looking online at a Craftsman
150-something piece tool kit that looks pretty good, in a plastic
organizer tool box for about $100. Then an $8 "compact truck box"
(17" long shallow plastic toolbox) for the ChannelLocks, screwdrivers,
level, needlenose pliers, outlet tester, and other stuff the tool kit
I need to take a trip to Sears after work and see if their sockets and
screwdrivers are still high quality like the ones I bought 20 and 30
I can't comment on Sears tools, havn't bought there in years. Harbor
Freight has some tool assortments that are reasonable. Their Vise Grip
knock offs aren't all that great. The jaws are flat, and don't grab
In my service van, I have a "jump kit" which does most of the calls I
need to do. Used it today, actually, and it had the tools I needed.
Just off the top of my head.....
Assorted small screws
VOM from HF
10 in 1 screw driver that does torx, phillips, slotted, and two sizes
of hex head, and two square tips that really come in handy
allen wrench assortment in plastic holder
two crescent wrench which have been used for hammering
small Vise Grips (the real brand name ones)
9 volt batteries for alarmed exit devices
I'm sure there are other tools. These are crammed into a fishing
tackle box from Walmart, with a fold out tray.
Walmart has a set of household tools in an attractive pink tote-bag for the
ladies. Here are some things you didn't mention:
* Safety glasses (girls will insist on these)
* Tape measure
* Girl-sized hammer
* Level (ladies hang pictures)
* Roll of duct tape
* Can WD-40
* Three sizes each: slotted and phillips screwdrivers (or a
kit of a screwdriver shaft and selection of bits)
* Small set precision screwdrivers
* Utility knife
* Regular pliers
* Needle-nose pliers
* Roll black electrical tape
* A tool bag to hold all the stuff (plus screws, nails, string,
picture-hangers, wire, etc.). Ladies prefer tool bags to tool boxes.
Here's a set of 105 tools from HF for $50
You'll have to get a bag and dump all the tools in it because the box has no
room for a hammer and all the other little bits one collects.
For a lady doing household jobs, a set of top-quality tools is probably not
the best choice; she's probably going to use the hammer maybe three times a
year and the vice-grips never. Second-line tools are usually adequate and
the savings can be used to expand the variety.
I had a similar situation with my girlfriend but approached it
differently: I bought tools that *I* would use rather than girlie tools.
My thought were that I end up doing most of the maintenance around
there. Rather than having to bring my tools over all the time, it was
much handier to give her a set of tools. I don't care if she never uses
them... at least I know I will have what I need to fix things as they
Although I'm not a huge fan of Harbor Freight for a lot of things, they
sell hand tools that are quite workable and also quite inexpensive.
Screwdriver sets, pliers sets, socket sets, allen wrenches... all way
cheaper than at Lowes or Sears.
And the plastic tool box itself: you can pick one up for very cheap at
Lowes or Home Depot. Stanley makes all kinds.
That's what I'm doing; buying tools that I would buy for myself --
except for the 12 oz hammer (I like 20 oz hammers.)
I've been very impressed with combination wrenches and screwdrivers
from Harbor Freight. As good as Craftsman (the wrenches) but much
much cheaper. Pliers have been a mixed bag; most of them are
terrible but some are quite good.
I didn't like any of the toolboxes that I saw at Home Depot today.
Forget the tool bags...a nice tool box that opens up with trays is nice.
Pliers, a set of ratchet screw drivers, a boxed set of small screw
drivers, standard hammer, tack hammer (we hand a lot of stuff on walls),
rubber mallet, a small electric sander, a small container of wood glue,
roll painter's tape, a couple of plastic tarps, razor blade scraper, a
squeegee and the thingy that looks like a squeegee mop for washing
windows, assortment of tacks and picture hangers. Don't encourage her
to try electrical work unless she understands how to do it .. soldering
iron, black tape, solder. A BOOK on general household repairs. Set of
washers for faucets...a wet vac for the certain day that the toilet
overflows. A tube of silicone caulk. Heavy duty kitchen shears or tin
shears. Some goof off. Small cordless drill...hanging curtains, etc.
How do I get the legs off the couch? Scary :o)
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