Ladies' Tool Kits For the Home

Tools For Ladies???

These days, there is at long last some acknowledgement that men are not the only ones who can learn how to use tools, or need tools. Many women are now comfortable performing basic small home maintenance or repairs on their own.

To this end, there are several tool kits available, purportedly "just right" for the lady of the house. They are smaller in size, lighter in weight, and usually come in pretty colors.

Ladies, don't be suckered in by these cutesy kits. For the most part, they are garbage.

Bypass cute. Cute is not for tools. Cute is for clothing, stuffed animals and small children. These "just for women" tool kits are about as functional as small tool kits for little kids. They are barely a step above toys.

Their quality is low, and they will be inadequate for most jobs, leading to frustration at best, and injury at worst. If you plan to do any tasks around the home, you need real tools. A basic tool kit for household use is easy to assemble.

One Place for Cheap Tools

(The only "cheapie" tools I own are those I keep in my truck for emergencies. Why? If anyone should steal them, I'm not out any of my good tools, and the joke's on the thief!)

Selecting Tools

Hammers:

Hammers need to be sturdy, and with enough weight to get the job done; they are rated in ounces. A 16 ounce hammer obviously weighs one pound. That is not a lot of weight to handle. Framing hammers and roofing hammers typically come in around the 22 ounce range, and are not needed for a basic home tool kit. 12 ounce hammers, on the other hand, are very light weight, and may not generate enough force to do the job.

When selecting a hammer, don't just go for the cheapest. Find one that feels comfortable in your hand. Many hammers have anti-vibration technology, so the 'shock' of the impact does not telegraph back up your hand and arm. Also, a rubber or leather grip is helpful in keeping a firm grip on the tool, as well as having additional shock-absorbing qualities.

You do not need a textured or "waffle-face" hammer head for basic home repairs. However, a second, small hammer, called a 'tack hammer' is useful for jobs where the heft of a standard hammer is not needed and can be a liability, such as hanging pictures, or attaching hooks to the backs of picture frames.

A hammer should be held by the grip end, and should feel balanced and swing easily. Grabbing the hammer too close to the "business end" is called "choking up" on the tool, and can cause injury to the wrist from being too close to the impact. Any shock-absorbing features built in will not have a chance to do their job if the hammer is held too far down its shank.

Pliers:

There are many types of pliers, but the three most common types useful for simple repairs are: diagonal-jaw pliers (often called "dikes'); linesmans' pliers; and needle-nose pliers.

  • "Dikes" are cutting pliers. Use these when you have repairs involving wire, or for cutting cable ties (zip ties).
  • Needle-nose pliers are for manipulating small parts and/or getting into small spaces, as they have very thin, tapered jaws.
  • Linesmans' pliers are sturdy, with a bulky, grooved jaw for non-slip grasping of a part. Do not use them on decorative finished surfaces. They also have a cutting surface behind the forward part of the jaw. Linesmans' pliers can cut heavier gauge wire than dikes.
  • Channellocks® are generically called 'tongue-and-groove pliers. "Channellock®" is a registered brand name that has come into generic use for this type of plier. These pliers are very useful for a variety of applications where size of the surface to be gripped may be variable. They also come in handy in the kitchen for those stuck jar lids!
  • Slip-Joint pliers, similar to Chanellocks®, can accommodate more than one size of object to be grabbed, but there is only a single adjustment point, so they are more limited.
  • Vise-Grips, or locking pliers are another handy tool. As with Channellocks®, Vise-Grip started out as a registered trademark that has come into common use. This tool is very useful in situations where you need 3 hands, but are by yourself. The jaw can be adjusted by means of a screw mechanism, and then a lever depressed on one handle, locking the jaw onto the object you need held still.

 

Assorted pliers and wrenches. (click to enlarge) Liz Elias, 2011
Assorted pliers and wrenches. (click to enlarge) Liz Elias, 2011

Wrenches:

  • A full set of wrenches in both standard (SAE--which originally stood for "Society of Automotive Engineers" the standard-setting body at the time) and metric sizes is never a bad investment. So many things these days have multiple sizes of nuts and bolts in a single item, and often they are mixed between metric and SAE. With a good assortment of types and sizes, you should always have the right tool for the job at hand.

Wrenches are either box-end or open-end. Most wrenches are double-ended. Sometimes, each end is a different size, and both ends are the same type. Others are made with a single size per wrench, but with one end open and the other side a box-end. I like the latter, myself; that way, if you find in the middle of a job that you need the opposite type, you don't have to stop and hunt for a different wrench. Just flip it to the other side.

  • The ubiquitous crescent wrench was initially a crescent-shaped handle, but that is no longer always the case. It may or may not have begun as a brand-name that was not well protected. In any case, it is technically called an adjustable wrench because it has a worm gear mechanism that allows the jaw to be opened to a range of sizes for unscrewing a bolt or holding a nut still while the screw is tightened or removed. They are not my first choice, as they cannot be tightened down as tight as a pair of vise-grips, and may be inclined to slip off the nut. Crescent wrenches come in a wide range of sizes from, "Oh, how cute!" to "OMG!"

Manual screwdrivers
Manual screwdrivers
Screwdriver bits in index
Screwdriver bits in index
Drill bits in index (Click any photo to enlarge) Photos: Liz Elias, 2011
Drill bits in index (Click any photo to enlarge) Photos: Liz Elias, 2011

Screwdrivers:

  • Flat-blade screwdrivers are for straight-slotted screw heads. This type of screw is less desirable, as the slot is easily stripped out and rendered useless from too much turning force. This can happen if the screw has become corroded or rusted in place. If the slot strips out, you have no way to easily remove the screw. It can be done, but is no longer a simple task.
  • Phillips-head screwdrivers are used for Phillips-head screws. These are the ones that have what resembles a 4-point star on the screw head. With more points for the driver to grab, they are somewhat less susceptible to stripped heads, but it can happen. The most common cause is using the wrong size driver. It is very important to be sure the screwdriver fits snugly in the screw head.
  • There are several other types of screws, but these are the two most common types found in most household applications. Computers, mechanical and automotive uses frequently use some of the other types.
  • In addition to hand-held manual screwdrivers, there is also the option of using a power-driven drill/driver (so called because they can accommodate both drill bits and screwdriver bits; either drilling a hole or driving a screw). Drill/drivers obviously will exert more force than hand-turning a manual screwdriver, so care must be taken not to strip screw heads. However, they are a useful tool in situations where the material is hard enough to make it difficult to drive the screw by hand, or where a large number of screws must be used.

Remember this: When referring to a power drill/driver, the drill or driver is the tool that holds the bit. It is the bit that does the work, whether boring a hole or driving in a screw. Bits come in a wide variety of sizes, and can be purchased either singly or in sets. In sets, they typically come in plastic cases, called an index, as shown above right. The same is true of screwdriver bits.

You CAN Do It Yourself!

Women are no less capable than men of learning basic repair and maintenance for common household issues. The only place where men may have a slight advantage is in the "muscles" department.

With basic household repairs, however, muscles are not always called for--in fact, finesse is a more desirable requirement, and we gals can usually beat out the men in that department. ;-)

In any case, the entire concept of women doing so-called "men's work" is not new. Think back to WWII (or read your history books if you're not old enough to remember). Entire factories were staffed by ladies represented by the iconic "Rosie the Riveter" character.

© 2011 DzyMsLizzy

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Comments 15 comments

Just Ask Susan profile image

Just Ask Susan 5 years ago from Ontario, Canada

Great info here thanks!


Micky Dee profile image

Micky Dee 5 years ago

Awesomely useful! Try to use the right wrench or sockets for the nuts and bolts. If you have more foreign products, you might get metric wrenches and sockets. Be careful with the pliers and "grips" on nuts and bolts. They can be "rounded off" and made difficult with the tools that don't quite fit. Great post as always DzyMsLizzy!


DzyMsLizzy profile image

DzyMsLizzy 5 years ago from Oakley, CA Author

@ Susan -- Thank you! Glad you liked it!

@Micky Dee--Thanks for your additional input. So right you are! My dad's pet peeve was someone not using the right tool for the job. I thought he would blow a gasket the day he saw someone trying to use a table knife as a screwdriver!

Pliers and grips are indeed not the right tools to loosen nuts and bolts. Use the correct size wrench. HOWever, grips are very handy for clamping on and wedging against an edge of whatever you're working on, to keep the nut from turning with the screw......if you find yourself working alone. ;-)

(I had the unfortunate experience of having to help a friend drill out a broken head bolt & install a heli-coil on one occasion...not fun!)


Susie Writes profile image

Susie Writes 5 years ago from Northern California

Wonderful hub! When I first got married 30 something years ago, my father gave me a tool box filled with everyday tools one might need in a household - good quality, heavy duty items. My husband, a very handy man, had his own set that was always strewn about. My very astute Dad also bought me a combination lock to go on my tool box and instructed me to NEVER give out the combination. Very wise advice that I did not follow. My tool box has never been the same. And my husband still looks for his tools - and mine now too! I finally bought another set that I keep hidden. LOL!


DzyMsLizzy profile image

DzyMsLizzy 5 years ago from Oakley, CA Author

Hi, Susie Writes!

That is a great story--and a word of warning--Make sure your tools stay YOUR tools! ;-)

I, too, find that certain of my tools tend to find their way into the main workshop, to be found later in hubby's toolbox...where he already has 2 of his own... LOL

Thanks for stopping by--glad you enjoyed the article!


Owl Ka Myst profile image

Owl Ka Myst 5 years ago from In the Valley of Grapes

Tools are not just for the guys!

I worked with another woman and when the new tool catalog came in we stood over the work bench drooling...the guys laughed at us, but we know they loved it!

and

OH YES!!! Gotta protect your tools...err....um...yeah...

I have go through many tools, painting them girlie colors did not help.


DzyMsLizzy profile image

DzyMsLizzy 5 years ago from Oakley, CA Author

Hey there, Owl Ka Myst--

Right on! I get in trouble in the hardware store--not in the fashion boutique! Long live tool catalogs!

Cheers!


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 5 years ago from England

Hi, yeah! ha ha I do have a drawer in my kitchen with my essential tools, hammers, screwdrivers etc, and believe me they are not pretty! lol most of them are ancient, passed down through the family, cheers nell


DzyMsLizzy profile image

DzyMsLizzy 5 years ago from Oakley, CA Author

Hey there, Nell!

Yep, I hear ya on that! I too have tools that were my dad's. The handle of the ball peen hammer is of wood, but you can hardly see the grain, so stained is it with old dirt, grease and oil.... ;-) ... and you know what? It's one of the handiest 'just right' hammers for working in cramped quarters!

My "real hammer," a newer 1990's vintage, shock-absorbing fiberglass shank and all... needs room to swing!

Thanks for stopping by!


Moana Lee profile image

Moana Lee 5 years ago from LA

Thanks! Really good!


DzyMsLizzy profile image

DzyMsLizzy 5 years ago from Oakley, CA Author

Thanks, Moana Lee! Glad you liked the information. Stop by anytime.


David Martin 5 years ago

The message is clear--women and girls CAN do these kinds of things. The illustrations are especially helpful in taking the mystery out of tools. Perhaps we can get this message to be instituted in, say, middle schools where attitudes are being formed in young women at that time.


DzyMsLizzy profile image

DzyMsLizzy 5 years ago from Oakley, CA Author

Thanks, David!

I think that is an excellent idea--adding this to the school curriculum.

My dad, for example, would not even let me go for my driver's license until I at least knew how to change the oil and a tire.


Civil War Bob profile image

Civil War Bob 4 years ago from Glenside, Pennsylvania

Good Hub, Dzy...voted up, useful and interesting.


DzyMsLizzy profile image

DzyMsLizzy 4 years ago from Oakley, CA Author

Hello, Civil War Bob,

I'm pleased that you enjoyed the article. Thanks very much for the praise and the votes. Much appreciated!

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