In response to a question from one of my friends, I’ve been planning a series of posts explaining how an ordinary homeowner can learn to be handy around the house. But after thinking about it for a while, I realized that before you can acquire skills, you have to have the tools. After all, you can’t paint if you don’t have a brush.
Now, the question of which tools are essential isn’t easy to resolve. Just ask my Patient Wife, and she will tell you that I come home every week talking about a new tool that I can’t do without. (Then again, she has similar ideas about art supplies, so I guess we’re even on that score.)
For this reason, I’m going to spend a few posts showing you the tools that usually ride around in the truck with me. You could probably fit all of them in the trunk of your car. Not all of these are necessary for the average homeowner, but the handier you get, the more of these you will want.
Today I’m going to start by showing you the most important tool of all: my bag. I have spent many years in search of the perfect bag, and here it is.
This particular bag is extremely nice. It’s got a firm handle that sticks right up so I can grab the bag with ease. It’s open on top, and there are lots of little pockets and dividers in the opening, so I can stand my hand tools upright and grab them when I need them. There are also pockets around the sides which are perfect for pens and screws. Last but not least, the bottom doesn’t leak, so I can drop little screws and things in there when I’m in a hurry and then clean them out later.
Of course, you can't hammer a nail with this bag, and it makes a lousy saw, so you may be wondering why a tool bag is the first tool you should buy. Consider this typical conversation between me and my first boss, back when I was an apprentice:
ME: “Where did my pencil go?”
In other words, if you don’t have a good bag that you can easily carry around with you, your tools will wind up scattered all over the place, and you will lose them, or they will get damaged, or people will “borrow” them.
But if you keep your tools safe and well-organized, out of the weather and easy to reach, they will reward you with many years of service. I’ve had my vice-grips for more than 25 years, and they came to me well-used. Even electrical tools can last a lifetime; I’ve had my planer and jig saw for 25 years as well, and they are still going strong.
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