A key ingredient for completing jobs around the home, a well-stacked toolbox lets you do almost anything, from hanging a new mirror and assembling furniture to more serious renovation projects. Let's expand the contents of a typical Australian homeowner's box, from the most basic tools to specialized kits for experienced amateur craftsmen.
The worst thing you can do is to walk into a hardware store and rack up a bunch of tools, spending hundreds or even thousands of dollars. The best course is to buy a few basic tools you're most likely to use, such as screwdrivers and a wrench, and let your toolbox evolve, as you're picking up new projects. This way you can buy the best quality tools you can afford, without straining your budget. Make sure you put your tools back in the same place after use. If you don't have an actual box yet, a simple drawer with an organiser will do.
As Clint Eastwood's Walt Kowalski character underlines in Gran Torino, you can do half of your household chores with these three things: WD40, vice grips and a roll of duct tape. Vice grips are truly a ubiquitous tool that can replace pliers, a pipe wrench, wire cutters, a clam, a ratchet, and if needed, a hammer. WD40, on its part, has more than 2,000 handy uses, and duct tape even more. The best thing is that all three items won't cost you more than $15. If you want to be fully covered, throw in a quality Leatherman multi-tool, and a ratchet screwdriver with a set of interchangeable magnetic bits and you're ready to go.
Still, for most household jobs, you need more than WD40 and duct tape. An all-round toolbox needs to include a screwdriver set of flats and Phillips-heads. Magnetic tips are always welcome, and well-stocked vendors, as this hardware store in Sydney, stock a wide range of regular and electric screwdrivers and screwdriver bits. A claw hammer lends itself to many uses, while in the pliers department, the already mentioned vice pliers will do. For heavy duty tightening and loosening, you need an adjustable wrench as well. A good tape measure and a level ensure there are no more crooked-hung photos.
Although for many homeowners, an electric drill is a basic tool, unfortunately too many of us keep borrowing one when needed. On the other hand, a utility knife is a toolbox workhorse, especially if you buy one with replaceable blades and rubber grip. A ring of Allen wrenches or Allen keys comes handy for bike repairs and putting together furniture kits, since both rely on screws with hexagonal heads. Although larger plumbing jobs are best left to pros, for a bunch of small jobs like putting in a new faucet, you need a pipe wrench, as well.
A serious home craftsman who is capable of carrying out most home-related projects needs to invest in more specialized tools as well as power tools in order to increase their effectiveness. The perfect examples are the nail gun, which saves both your time and strength over using a hammer for driving hundreds of nails, and a circular saw, whose interchangeable cutting disks cut through masonry, tile, wood, and steel. A rubber mallet is irreplaceable in installing laminate flooring or ceramic tile as it lets you set the pieces in without damaging them.
This quick guide has hopefully helped you figure out where you stand with your tool and what you need to buy to make your toolbox truly useful for the range of tasks you encounter every day.