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New Homeowners The Third Set of Five Tools

Updated on July 24, 2011

MORE Tools?

Continuing my series of "the first useful tools to buy", here are a set of hand tools and power tools that can act as gifts for men, when you're stuck for ideas.

If you're thinking of investing in some tools, or creating a toolbox of your own, here are some more ideas of things to have on hand for small home repairs and projects.


Unless you’re doing woodwork, you’re probably not going to think of buying sandpaper, but it really helps to fix those small flaws in your walls, doors, and floors that annoy you. Catch something with your sock? Sand it down, and it will become a tiny bump you’ll never notice again.

Buying it: I recommend 120 grit sandpaper. It’s aggressive enough to get the job done, but not gritty enough to leave scratches. Don’t worry about getting the expensive stuff, you’re not going to be using it that much.

Caulking Gun

Learning how to use a caulking gun is a skill you are going to want to learn. It’s a bit tricky, and you can make a big mess the first couple of times, but it’s really important to keep up on your water-sealing around the bathroom tub, and a bit of caulk can really improve the look of your baseboards.

Putty Knife / Scraper

Otherwise known as a scraper by the layperson, a putty knife is a universally useful tool. You may want to buy two, the second one being the best tool to clean the first one off when you get it full of crusty dried putty.

Buying one: start with a small putty knife of 4” or so. For actual drywall repairs, you are probably going to need a 6" scraper to actually get the wall smooth (depending on the size of the dent), and for everything else, a little 2" scraper really comes in handy.


A dremel is a more expensive investment than the tools I’ve talked about so far, but the advantage is that there are so many heads and adaptors for a dremmel that you can use one for any project. The magic of a dremel is that it’s a power tool with low enough power that it’s not scary to use, and can handle small jobs where another power tool would be overkill. I highly recommend buying a cordless one, because you’re going to end up in all kinds of strange positions and remote areas when using it, and dragging a cord with you isn’t really that handy.


A close companion to the vice grips, a clamp allows you to hold something while using your other two for the job at hand. A quick clamp is a great choice because it won’t mark surfaces, secures items quickly with a minimum of fuss, and releases just as easily. The downside is that they can slide, and aren’t great when you need to secure something in an exact position, because the act of tightening the clamp can move the object 1/32"-1/64" (very slightly). One overlooked and underused application for a clamp is for safety – you might be able to get away with not using one, but sometimes it’s just better if you secured an object in place before doing something else, and the convenience of the clamp may actually get you to bother using one.

b. Buying one: buy an 18” one. They are useful for most purposes without being too big to store.


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