Monday, November 29, 2021

The Realist: Hand Tools for Common Home Repairs

I hope you all had a good Thanksgiving and weekend. I am pleased to announce that we have a guest post written by The Realist on basic hand tools to keep on hand. Enjoy ....

From left to right: Irwin 9-in-1 screwdriver, 9-in-1 screwdriver disassembled, Klein Tools 4-in-1 electronics screwdriver, 4-in-1 electronics screwdriver disassembled, Channellock model 317 long-nose pliers, 8-inch adjustable wrench, Channellock model 420 water pump pliers, and 7-inch Vice Grip locking pliers.

Disclaimer: All products mentioned in this article were purchased by myself. I did not receive samples, evaluation models, or other compensation from any manufacturer or retailer. I have no formal relationship with any manufacturer or retailer mentioned in this article - I have only been an arms-length customer. All brand names and product names used in this review are the trade names, service marks, trademarks, or registered trademarks of their respective owners. I am not a licensed or certified tradesman. Further, this article reflects my unique circumstances and subjective opinions with regard to performance and other characteristics of the products being discussed. Your mileage may vary.

    Growing up, my father taught me how to fix many things around the home and on our vehicles. Since then, my repair skills have continued to improve. Besides having the knowledge of how to fix things, having the appropriate tools is necessary to fix many things.

    As the economy gets more dicey every day, being able to fix things yourself rather than pay someone else to make repairs or buy a replacement item (if you can find it for sale) will become increasingly important. I have no idea how much money I have saved by being able to fix things myself. Certainly, being able to make repairs around the house has saved me a bundle of money. Even though I dislike working on automobiles, I have made many automobile repairs over the years. Further, I have occasionally purchased non-working or "needs repair" items, and usually been able to repair them, saving money over purchasing the item new.

    You learn how to repair things by doing repairs. Although, now there are many excellent YouTube videos that explain how to perform various repairs, and you can dramatically shorten the learning curve by watching a few videos on a specific repair topic.

    There are three tools I use for probably eighty percent of the repairs I make: a 9-in-1 screwdriver, a 4-in-1 electronics screwdriver, and long-nose pliers.

9-in-1 Screwdriver

    The 9-in-1 screwdriver has three hex-nut sockets and six different screwdriver bits. There are numerous manufacturers selling this type of screw driver. I just happen to have picked up the Irwin brand

    This screwdriver meets the overwhelming majority of my needs. The hex-nut sockets are really handy when doing appliance repairs, and in my experience negated the need to use a socket set or traditional nut drivers. The straight screwdriver tips are ground such that they are parallel, which reduces cam-out when tightening or loosening regular slotted screws.

4-in-1 Electronics Screwdriver

    The 4-in-1 electronics screwdriver, has two small straight tips (1/8 and 3/32 inch) and two Phillips tips (#0 and #00). In the past, I have used other small multi-bit screwdrivers, and would recommend them, except they are no longer sold. I am currently using the Klein Tools screwdriver. There are sets of individual screwdrivers that accomplish the same purpose, but they are not as compact as this screwdriver.

    I use this screwdriver a lot when repairing small appliances and small electronic devices, which frequently use smaller sized screws.

Long Nose Pliers

    The long-nose pliers I use are the Channellock model 317 . I have been using these pliers for
several decades. Harbor Freight sells similar pliers under their Doyle brand that seem to be well made.

    Long nose pliers, as opposed to needle nose pliers, have the strength to squeeze or grab things, yet are thin enough to reach into many tight spaces. They also have wire cutters.

Other Tools I Use Frequently

    While the three tools above address eighty-percent of my tool needs, an adjustable wrench (Crescent wrench), adjustable water pump pliers (grove joint pliers), locking pliers (e.g. Vice Grip pliers) round out most of my tool needs, meeting ninety-percent of my tool needs.

    The adjustable wrench is handy for many tasks. My go-to wrench is 8-inches long. It is small enough and light enough to be used in many tight areas, yet offers more leverage over a smaller wrench. It is the perfect size for assembling many things that come unassembled.

    The water pump pliers are a necessity when doing many plumbing repairs, such as working on the various drain pipes under a kitchen sink.

    The locking pliers are necessary when dealing with a rounded bolt head or grabbing something round that needs to be twisted. (I found the pictured Vice Grip locking pliers along the side of a road several decades ago, cleaned them up, and have been using them ever since.)

Tools You Should Have

    The above tools do not eliminate the need to have other common hand tools, such as a quality socket set, box and open-end wrenches, several different sizes of adjustable wrenches, hammers, pry bar, handsaw for wood, hacksaw for metal and plastics, files, hex wrenches, a Torx bit set, and an electric drill or manual drill. While I don't use these tools as frequently, they are also necessary for a variety of repairs I do perform.


    Not mentioned in the tools above is a pocket knife. I always have a pocket knife on me, and it gets used for all kinds of tasks.

    Six tools address ninety-percent of my tool needs for household repairs. I regularly use two different sizes of multi-bit screwdrivers, three different types of pliers, and an adjustable wrench. You will note, I didn't include a hammer in this list because I usually use screws for many applications where nails are traditionally used. But yes, I do have several hammers for various tasks.

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