Heritage Restoration, Inc.
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Essential Hand Tools for Everyone

With a well-stocked toolbox, you can always finish the job, no matter what task is on the list. The listed hand tools are generic, so be sure you are investing in good-quality tools that will last a lifetime and beyond. Keep tools sharp, toss or repair any broken/defective tools and use the right tools for the right jobs.

Hammer: A 20-ounce rip claw hammer does it all.

Nail Punches: Get a variety.

Cat’s Paw and Pry Bar: A thin edge “restorer’s” cat’s paws for gently getting behind wood. Large pry bars help leverage larger, heavier items.

5 and 1: The greatest painter’s tool. There are way more than 5 uses.

Low-Angle Block Plane: It is small and versatile.

Folding Blade: Has a disposable blade and is a must on any belt.

Tape Measures: Small ones, big ones, the less fancy the better. Have one in every place you may need it on the fly. A folding rule provides greater accuracy.

Multi-tool: They can be selected based on what you do best. They have been around for decades and have become more versatile over time.

Rasps/Sureforms: There are many rasps to choose from, but some basic ones for metal and wood help shape your project. A Sureform is a drywall shaper.

Japanese saw: They are extremely sharp and have flexible blades. Some blades are replaceable. There are small/large, rough-cut/finish-cut.

Speed square: It has one 90-degree and two 45-degree angles. They are good for cutting anything from basics to complex rafter systems. There are small and large versions.

Framing square: It is a basic 90-degree flat metal tool with a 2-inch blade on one side and an 1 1/2-inch blade on the other, with everything on it to frame a house. It is one of the most underused tools, which takes a lifetime to master.

Combination square: 12 inches long and has a slide lock that provides 45 and 90 degrees. It has a small, somewhat useless level and a pin scratch awl on it.

Awl: It can scratch mark, starter punch or clean out. The awl is as old as building itself.

Chisels: Chisels fall into two toolbox categories, finish and beaters. Finish chisels are for fine finishing. Beater chisels are used whenever work will make a chisel dull or nicked. A variety from ¼ inch to a 1 1/4 inch is good. The better the steel, the better the edge.

Gloves: Well fitting, durable gloves for all seasons, such as deerskin. Disposable rubber gloves for painting and gluing. Fabric dipped in rubber for real dirty or potentially glove-damaging work.

Dust masks: N95’s with an exhale valve are standard for work that creates dust. Some are more durable and reusable than others.

Pencils and markers: I carry a mechanical pencil, although a variety of pencils, such as framing and standard No. 2’s are best, depending on what you are marking. A fine-tip permanent marker also is handy.

Bags vs. toolbox: A durable soft bag is great for small tools and quick grabs, while a toolbox is good for specific tool categories. Budding craftsmen start by making their own toolboxes.

Phone applications: Smartphones have some great applications that come in handy, such as a level, builder calculator, compass, etc.

First aid: Be prepared, always. A rag and duct tape may not always be enough, or sanitary.

Multi-bit screwdriver: There are many types, although look for ones for which you can buy a lost bit and that have good, durable storage on the handle.

Alcohol: After a successful (or not so successful) completion of a job, a reward is always welcome.

Many of the aforementioned tools can be found at retail stores, although there are plenty of on-line sources for good quality tools. On-line auctions also can have the best prices for good quality older tools. So be safe, stay sharp and always be prepared.

Happy Holidays!

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