Tuesday, July 3, 2012

The Southern Man's Tool Box Revisited

Back in January my New Years resolution had me defining the perfect tool kit.  It's only been 6 months but it feels like half a year; and after much heated debate (ok, I'll admit it, I'm debating with my evil twin and he's a real PITA) we're ready to reveal the Southern Man's Tool Box. This is the box/tool bag which you keep handy, for those quick jobs or easy repairs.  In addtion, we also have defined those things one realy needs to have handy just in case.

Let's take a look:

Tool Box – Sturdy. I personally like the soft type of bag, but for this sort of use, the sturdy box will allow you easier access in a hurry.

Hammer - Most everyone will immediately look toward the wood handled hammer, but I go for the fiberglass. I've had 2 of them for years and they don't wear out, dont split and they don't ever need to have the head tightened.

Carpenter's pencil - No, not one of those round #2 pencils you used in school. These are flat, which means when you set it down, it WON'T roll away.  I keep several around. A notepad is also a good idea.

Adjustable Crescent Wrench  -  One medium sized, but two sizes are always better.

Screwdrivers - I'm sure this is self explanaitory, and for those who don't realize it, there are many sizes of screw drivers, both Slot and Cross headed.  I have also found useful to have a set of bits to fit all sorts of screws (cross headed, stars, hex and even some sockets) which fit into a universal handle.

Vice Grips/Pliers - Reg/NeedleNose/Combination - Anyone that needs to know what these are for has never worked on anything. Pliers help you grip things and vise grips (locking pliers) help you get a good grip on things. Channel Lock Pliers make a big job easier. Needle Nose and Combination pliers will have wire cutters, and help pull things out that you can't otherwise get out.

Small Flashlight - Nuff Said. I like to have one that will fit between my teeth for hands free working and I also have one that is strung in such a way as to go around my head and focus light right where I need it. (Store with the battery removed, in a zip lock bag.)

Utility Knife/Scraper - A cutting implement is one of those things that you don't realize you need in a tool box until you do.  Gotta open those plastic cases somehow.  And the scraper can be a life saver when painting around windows.

Nail Set - Pound in a nail and be careful not to scar the wood, you'll still see a bit of that nail sticking up. Don't try to pound it flat, you'll only end up with a nice hammer sized dent in the wood. A nail set can knock that sucker flat (or further if you want to add wood putty) in no time. (You can even use a 10 penny nail in a pinch)

Awl - I rarely use an awl, but I keep one handy. This is like a long pointy screwdriver but round and very thin.  It's originally designed for sewing and can be used to poke holes in leather. It can also be used as an Ice Pick or to mark wood or metal with a scratch.

Power Tester - When working with electricity this is a must.  Unless you like testing power with your tongue.

Putty Knife -  Metal is best, but cheap plastic ones can be used and discarded after use. 

Tape measure - This is another of those 'you should already know what it's for' kind of things.  Make sure it's spring loaded retractable and even lockable once it's in position.

Chisel - When someone suggested this, I first thought it was a bit of overkill for this box. But then I realized how much I do use my one chisel for shaping wood, or cutting stubborn screw heads off.  Keep it sharp, you never know when you'll need it.

Tapes - Teflon tape for working with pipes.   Duct Tape is one of those things you will just HAVE to keep around.   Black Electrical Tape for making connections and marking wires (colors, too, like red and white are always good for that.)

Level - A small level is always good when hanging paintings, checking walls or putting up doors.

Cable, Stud and Pipe Detector - Now you might think of this as another of those overkill things, but when we're talking about some small type emergency and you need to know where the pipe or wire is in a wall, NOW, this will be important to have.

Baling Wire (or other thin easy workable wire), length of string, rope and other cordage (got that word from a show on Discovery) and even a few cable ties can help in a small quick job.

Pack of Pipe Cleaners - These are great for cleaning tools or wiring things in place while you work with them.  Wrap one around a screw to hold it in an odd position while you drive it home with the drill motor.  

Paint Brush - This is not really so much for paint as it is for brushing dirt or saw dust out of small spots or just keeping the work area clean.

Protection - Ya gotta have this stuff for any job, so keep some handy in this handy box.  Things like a dust mask, eye protection and gloves.  (I have a pair of heavy leather gloves for the hard work and a pair of nytrile coated gloves for all other work.)

Calculator - This does not mean you need a big plug in type. I have a small light powered calculator for making sure my math works well when I need it.

Drill Motor - When I grew up in the west, we called this a Drill and Drill bits.  Here in the South, they call it a Drill Motor and Drills. Whatever you grew up calling it, keep one handy and of course, cordless is always best if you can get it.  If you don't have cordless, then be sure you have a long enough cord. 

Band-Aids - ok, yeah, this last one was included by my brother, Bubba. There are times when I rate a job by the number of band-aids I use so a fresh handful is always good to have handy (in sealed plastic like a zip lock bag to keep 'em fresh!)

Along with the above tool box, you'll also want to keep the following handy for any job that might pop up.

Bucket - My wife will tell you the story of when I "borrowed" her favorite mop bucket and ended up ruining it. I still haven't been able to find an identical replacement and it's been a year or more.  Get a good sturdy bucket for your own use, Bubba. You'll thank me later, and so will your wife.

Step Ladder - I have a nice 6 foot ladder for small jobs and I keep it in the house by the back door. For smaller jobs I have a folding 2-step ladder I keep in the laundry area.

Extension Cord - This is a no brainer when working with power tools.  Everyone should have a good heavy grade extension cord.  No, not that thing you use to put lights up at Christmas.  Get a good heavy duty one made for power tools.

Portable Workbench - You take down a piece of wall and are about to put up some nifty thing you built in the garage, so don't go messing up the dining table by working there.  A nice folding table or portable workbench for your own projects is just what Dr. Marvinator ordered.

Variety of hardware - nails, screws and a way to keep them separate.  It doesn't matter if you keep them in a coffee can or a fishin' tackle box, just be sure to always have them on hand, or you'll end up running to the store for a 99 cent pack of nails every time you turn around.

There you have it.  Gleaned from a lot of emails and not a few lists on the internet.  Oh and one last addition.
You really need to have one or two of these things:
(In case you didn't know, it's a paint can opener and bottle opener.  
The Perfect Tool, the Perfect Suthunah's Tool I would hazard.)

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