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12 Jul Essential Tools for the Newlywed/Homeowner

Tools isn’t a euphemism for character traits…I’m talking real tools here.

I’ve been married for 7 years and a homeowner for almost two. For the first 5 years I lived 50 feet from my parents house and therefore had access to a lifetime supply of tools. My father was a high school shop teacher, so he had tools above and beyond the ordinary. At the time I didn’t realize how good I had it. After moving into my own home 30 miles away, I soon realized that my tool collection was sorely lacking and thus began my tool purchasing days. I’ve learned a few things along the way and here’s my top 5 tools that should be at the top of everyone’s list if they’re about to endeavor into home improvement.

  1. Measure Twice – If you don’t have at least two tape measures, start here. Believe me. If you do no home improvements at all, you will need this to measure out your house for furniture or hanging pictures on the wall. When we were furniture shopping I pretty much carried a 25′ tape measure with me constantly. You need two simply because they “get lost” from time to time (read: this is something that your spouse will use and won’t put it back!)
  2. Step it up – again, it doesn’t matter how many improvements you plan to make…if you hang curtains, paint the walls, or just need to change a light-bulb a step ladder is essential. Depending on your ceiling/personal height you may be fine with a 6′, but a 8′ might be a good option. Aluminum or Fiberglass is also your call…if you plan to do electrical work, go with fiberglass. If you’re a heavier fellow, make sure to get one that’s rated for 300lbs. In my case I have a 6′ aluminum one rated for 250lbs, but I’m 4’5″ and weigh 125lbs.
  3. Drill Baby, Drill – I’m really not sure what people did before the invention of the battery operated power drill. It is used constantly in my household. If not for drilling holes, then for screwing, tightening and just speeding up any general screwdriver job. My advice- get the best thing you can afford. I’m not particular to brand names, but I’ve heard a lot of good things about the Lithium Ion Makita’s. Pricey, but I think worth it.
  4. Nail it, Screw it. – I had a hammer, drill, and screwdrivers galore shortly after getting married…but until I moved into my own house (and away from my father’s collection) I didn’t ever have any nails or screws or fasteners of any kind. I remember at least 3-4 occasions after moving into my new house when friends and family would be over helping me with a project and they would say “we just need some screws”…and I would say “I don’t have any”. Kind of embarrassing really. So, go out and buy yourself a few boxes…personally, dry-wall screws go a long way and are useful in a number of situations. If you’re getting ready to start a project, I recommend buying twice as many nails/screws as you need. Inevitably in the future you will need more and it’s a lot more expensive to haul yourself to a hardware store and buy them again.
  5. Buy It Once. This isn’t a tool specifically, but it’s probably the most important thing to remember in this list. Jen’s grandfather shared this mantra with her and I’ve found myself echoing it to myself over and over again, often the hard way. Sure you can go into Harbor Freight and buy a ton of tools for really cheap and in some cases, I think that’s fine. BUT for the things that you know you’re going to use for the rest of your life, for tools that are going to have a long, rough life, buy the good stuff. If you don’t, you’ll buy the cheap stuff, it’ll break or won’t work right to begin with and then you’ll buy it again (and again). So it may cost 50% more on the front end, but in the long run it’ll save you.

So, there you go, my list of the tools you need to begin your collection as you endeavor into the world of home-ownership and repair. Did I miss anything? Are there other tools that are vital for you? Let me know in the comments.

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