Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Setting Up Shop

After the initial "Yeah, Lets Do This!" DIY euphoria wears off the next logical thought is "Sh$t, do we have all the tools/space we need to get this done?" Most of the time the answer is no, most people yours truly included have had to pick up different and varying tools as we've gone along. With those tool purchases have come two rock hard truths:

1) Tools (good tools no crappy 19.99 one use knuckle busting crap boxes) are expensive.

2) Depending on the project they can take up A LOT of space.

At ease though before you go hiring some one for $150.00/hr to come and do a job that can be done by you (impresses' the wife unless you're like me, and showed her you can do this kind of stuff early on, then you're hosed, its expected, but i digress) . I have developed a list of the must have tools for your home improvement and maintenance projects.

Tape Measure, If you don't have a good Tape Measure, you've already lost. There is no replacement for a solid tape, before you go out and buy just any old plastic 2 dollar tape measure with all the handy markings, labeling each increment in cute font with the measurments called out above each hash i.e. 32nd's 16th's 8th's Quarters and halves, HAVE SOME SELF RESPECT. Take some time to learn how to read a tape, its not difficult and if you can't figure it out, should you really be doing home improvements in the first place?

A good tape is one that is robust enough to hold up to occasional use, measures up to 25' ( I stay away from plastic case tapes, personal thing, plastic tools=crap. Its just me. ) I prefer a steel case tape measure. Don't fall for the "Hyper Fat Super Duper Neato Measure to the Moon" tape, that's Hype, and its stupid, if you have to measure over 25ft, you have; A) an enormous house and B) A retractable tape measure is the wrong freaking tool (on this note the tapes that can be extended for miles suspended in the air before crashing to the ground are awesome for the guy "huh, look how far it stretches" factor and almost totally useless other wise).

Number 2:
Speed Square/Pencil Combo

If you dint know what a speed square is, well your proverbially up a creek and almost past salvation. If you don't know what a pencil is, please email me quickly and tell me how you managed to by a house and what your thought process was after buying said house that made you think that you could handle a few quick home improvements.

If in fact you've taken some time to google a speed square and found an image that looks a lot like a triangle with funny markings on it. Bingo, you've discovered a speed square. The reason a speed square is indispensable is, it helps you draw a straight line, find and recreate angles, gives you quick and easy measurements, and lets face it, they look cool (also you and I both know you can't draw a straight line and this handy tool will eliminate you pulling out a ruler and looking like a dufous in front of said domestic partner, seriously rulers are for first graders. Speed squares are for MEN.)

This may seem an insipid part a project but until you attempted to run a bic disposable mechanical pencil down the 3.5" of a 2x4, you don't under stand.
A wide carpenters pencil has its merits; wont break, easy to sharpen, looks bad ass as you use your pocket knife to get the point usable (if you don't have a pocket knife, buy one. Now. I wont even go into the usefulness of it, just go purchase a blade you can keep in your pocket) You will also need a good fine point pencil. For all of the merits of a good wide carpenters pencil there are times when a well sharpened number two 2nd grade pencil works really well, think fine carpentry, long lines that you want to make disappear with a saw blade etc. etc. etc.

Becky and I have gone round and round she likes her mechanical engineering pencils. I think they are dainty and out of place anywhere actual work is taking place. With that said, have two good pencils at all times one nice wide carpenters pencils. One nice sharp Number two 2nd grade pencil.

Never, ever thought I would go this long on those two tools (three kinda, but come on 1's a freaking pencil) but for any measure of success these are absolutely necessary if you cannot measure twice you have no business cutting once.

Next installment of Setting up shop coming soon...

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