Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

MIKE HOLMES: Tools every homeowner should have

You'll need four of them just to hang a picture

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Most homeowners will find that they will need a drill for projects around the house.

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Most homeowners will find that they will need a drill for projects around the house.

My dad used to say, "Mike, if you're going to do something, do it right the first time." Part of that is having the right tools.

Every once in a while someone will ask me what tools they should have in their home. And even though I'm not a big fan of DIY, there are basic things every homeowner needs to do around the house that require a few tools, such as putting furniture together or hanging things on a wall.

What are the essentials? For me it comes down to practicality, because a tool is only as good as the person holding it. So you don't want to overwhelm yourself with tools you might (or should) never use. That's how some accidents happen.

There are a few key tools I think every homeowner should have in their tool box, which are pretty simple and straightforward to use.

TAPE MEASURE: A tape measure is probably one of the most important tools you can have. You need it for all kinds jobs, big and small.

If you're buying blinds you need a tape measure to know the length and width of your windows. If you're buying furniture you need to make sure it fits in the appropriate space -- not to mention through the door!

Even hanging pictures is easier -- and looks a lot better -- if you use a tape measure to help make sure they're centred.

You want a tape measure that's at least 16 feet (about five metres) long and three-quarters of an inch (about two centimetres) wide. That allows you to support it with one hand when it's extended, which makes it easier for you.

 LEVEL: Every pro knows how crucial a level is. Have you ever hung a crooked photo? It can bother you the entire time it's up. Most jobs around the home require a level, such as installing a flat screen television, putting up shelves and hanging pictures.

Get a level that's at least three feet (about one metre) long. And for durability a metal level is best. You can also use a virtual level on a mobile app -- although I prefer the real thing -- or a hands-free laser level.

 DRILL: Most homeowners can get away with not having a drill for a while. But sooner or later they're going to need one. A cordless drill is more convenient but replacing the batteries can get expensive. As well, a drill you have to plug in is also cheaper.

The great thing about drills is their versatility. By replacing the bits (attachments), you can use a drill to sand, make different sized holes, grind metal, remove rust and mix paint, grout, thinset and mortar.

-- STUD FINDER: No, this isn't a dating service -- although it might just be a matter of time before it is. A stud finder helps you locate the wood framing behind your drywall. Why should you know this? For one, you don't want to accidentally cut into your framing.

But more importantly, if you're hanging something heavy, such as a big canvas painting, glass frame, television or a shelf that will need to support some weight on it, you want to make sure it's secure and screwed into something solid, such as a wood stud.

If you just screw into drywall, there's a good chance what you put up could come crashing down.

 SCREWDRIVER: Your best bet is getting a screwdriver set, because it's frustrating when you want to do a simple job, such screwing in a light switch, and you don't have the right screwdriver to do it.

To avoid a situation like this make sure you have a flat and Phillips-head screwdriver in different sizes. And get a Robertson head -- made in Canada, you know. Magnetic tips are really convenient because they hold the different bits in place.

 HAMMER: No tool box is complete without a hammer. Hammers come in different shapes and sizes. You want one that is easy for you to manoeuvre, that you use for various tasks and that you're comfortable swinging.

My personal favourite is the Stiletto because the weight is properly balanced, it's light and powerful -- you don't need much force to hammer something in. But it's expensive. The average homeowner wouldn't need one for the kinds of tasks they'd be doing.

It's surprising how many different tools you need to do something simple such as putting up a picture -- at least four of the ones I mentioned (tape measure, level, stud finder and hammer).

But even the simplest jobs can be messed up without the proper tools. So make sure your tool box is fully equipped to make it right.

-- Postmedia News

Catch Mike Holmes in his new series, Holmes Makes It Right Tuesdays at 9 p.m. on HGTV. For more information, visit hgtv.ca. For more information on home renovations, visit makeitright.ca.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition August 31, 2013 F12

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