For a new home-owner...


Old 09-17-02, 08:12 PM
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Join Date: Jul 2002
Location: new jersey
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For a new home-owner...

Ok, here's a real softball question for you guys, so feel free to hit it out of the park.

I'm a new homeowner and I want some input on a few essential tools I should get. In my limited experience I've proven to be pretty handy, but I have a very limited budget, so I'm looking for pieces of equipment that can be used for as many different projects as possible. I'm looking for suggestions on 2 categories, hand tools (wrenches, screwdrivers, etc) and power tools (circular saw, table saw, drill, etc)

Tools I already have (hey up till now I rented, so I don't have much):

-cordless drill, not sure of the power off hand, but it's pretty small and light, not to mention about 6 years old. So it'll probably do for now, but not for long or for a serious project.

-2 hammers

-various screwdriver tools (the kind with interchangable bits/heads) so not an actual set of scredrivers

-2 adjustable wrenches

-a handsaw (sorry, don't know what type off the top of my head, but it you asked a kid to draw a picture of a hand saw it would look like the one I have.)

I've got other assorted crap like allen wrenches and a few misc odds and ends, but that's pretty much it.

I don't have a specific project I need to do right away, but within the next year I'll probably be doing some roofing work (mainly just flashings I hope), minor remodeling (new screens, mouldings, etc), I've already had some plumbing problems, so I'm sure that'll come up again somehow, and minor electrical (replacing outdated outlets and such)

The home is about 65-70 years old, so perhaps some of you can anticipate what I might need.

Sorry for the long post, but I wanted to provide as much detail as possible, since I'll no doubt be making many trips to Sears, Home Depot, and the like.

Thanks for any input you can give me.

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Old 09-18-02, 04:49 AM
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Gee, I love helping other people spend THEIR money, LOL.

First off, buy quality tools. My personal preference is Craftsman. Sears has been around for over 100 years and their tool guarantee is unconditional - take in a broken Craftsman tool, they give you a replacement no questions asked.

You might try prowling some yard/garage sales for used tools, but try to comply with the quality angle.

You actually have a pretty good start on basic hand tools. Be surprised how much you can do with a hammer and some screwdrivers and the cordless driver will be very handy. If you need a new one go with something in the 12-18 volt range and get an extra battery for it so you can have one on the charger fresh while you are using it.

Hand tools:

Standard and metric wrench sets
Standard and metric socket sets
Drill and driver bit set
Pliers sets; include cutters, needle nose, channelock, locking, and electrical (stripper/crimpers)
Combination square

Portable power tools:

Circular saw
Sabre (jig) saw
Variable speed reversible drill

Power tools:

Table saw
Compound miter saw
Drill press

Often the easiest thing to do is to accumulate tools on as as-you-need-them basis - when you need a new tool for a project, buy it and add it to the tool box. Stretches out the cost of the tool buying that way, too.

Happy homeowning! One of my Grandfather's more memorable quotes is that homeownership is a life sentence at hard labor.

Old 09-18-02, 06:15 AM
hi ho sliver
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sears only replaces "hand" tools , not electrical, which you don't want in the first Ridgid, Jet, Delta.....and maybe even Grizzly......enjoy!
Old 09-18-02, 11:48 AM
Join Date: Jul 2002
Location: Ca
Posts: 743
Over the last 2 years I ruined a Skil jig saw and a Skil 3/8 drill.

Skil power tools are commonly called "throw away" in the industry. Unless you are using them for for very light duty, try to stick with Bosch, Makita, Milwaukee etc. They will last you a lifetime. There are lots of these tools on ebay but the name brands often get bid up very close to retail.

I do however believe that Craftsman hand tools are fine for the average homeowner (they usually have 2 grades of tool). I have rebuilt car engines using craftsman hand tools.
Old 09-18-02, 12:15 PM
Join Date: Aug 2002
Posts: 225
Buying power tools from Sears is a joke.

You can buy the same brand power tool for $30 at Home Depot and Sears. If you have a problem, Home depot will swap it out, no questions asked. Sears on the other hand will require a birth certificate and SSN's of all people in your household, and then they will send it out to get fixed!

I wish Sears customer service was as good as their hand tools!!!
Old 09-18-02, 10:58 PM
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a Dremel! These can serve as copper pipe cutters and griding tools and lotsa stuff. Plus 5 year warranty! Ive already broken 2, got a new one ta da.

Oh yeah I hate Sears too! They screwed me by not replacing my bench vise. Bigggggg mistake Sears. Now I buy everything at home depot or Ace or specialty stores. S-K makes screwdrivers and sockets BETTER than craftsman and they have a lifetime warranty too. Also have sizes that sears doesnt even make.

I also reccomend you buy some VIse Grip brand pliers. They have all kinds and they are soooo handy. Plus .. you guessed it lifetime warranty! I love tools you only have to buy once.

The first tool you need.... A Good 25' tape measure. I have a stanley its decent. Ive killed two Craftsmans one 25' and one 100'. I will never buy craftsman tools again. Id rather forge my own.

Be strong when you shop though, I went to HD the other day for a drill bit and it ended up costing me $80.

Hope this helps-Josh
Old 09-19-02, 07:26 AM
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By and large you can get by with not buying anything until you need it... of course if the nearest home improvement store is far away this isn't a good idea (I have 3 Home Depots and a Lowes within 4 miles of my house).

Things I'd recommend on the "must have" list:

A tape measure, at least 25' long.

A 2 foot level and torpedo level.

A 6-8 foot step ladder. Prefer fiberglass, but if it's too expensive and you don't think you'll ever do anything with electrical then wood is just fine.

A small crowbar.

Some pliers - needle nose, locking, etc.

Beyond that, tools that aren't too expensive and are a good idea:

A socket set can be really useful, but you may have basic sockets with the replaceable-bit screwdriver. Just don't over-torque it - get a real socket set instead (or you'll wind up buying both a socket set and a new multi-bit screwdriver).

You'll probably find need for a hacksaw.

A circular saw and jig saw can do most cuts you'd ever need unless you get into serious home improvement or woodworking.

When you go to buy power tools, avoid Sears, particularly for cordless tools. I have a Craftsman drill/driver which works fine, but when I need a new battery I have to mail order it from Sears. They don't carry them in the stores or in the repair department. If I had a DeWalt, Makita, Milwaulkee, etc. then I could go to virtually any home improvement stores (or even Sears!) and pick up a battery.

If you have more time than money, or just enjoy finding a good deal, then garage sales and pawn shops are good bets. Otherwise eBay or the local home improvement store are the place to go.
Old 09-19-02, 07:46 AM
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Meant to specify Craftsman HAND tools in my original reply, although I do have some Craftsman power tools as well in addition to some Delta and Dewalt. [And before someone slams Delta, it's a 50+ yr old table saw that was my grandfather's ]. Some of the customer service complaints may be problems with local stores. I broke the shaft lock mechansim on a two week old Craftsman router a couple of months ago (likely my fault) and when I took it to the repair counter for warranty work they sent me to the tool section for a replacement, no questions asked; I didn't have the box, shaft wrench, owner's manual, zip, just the router itself.
Store management may play a large part in customer service satisfaction.
Old 09-27-02, 09:20 AM
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A camera. Preferably digital with zoom. A 35mm with a telephoto lens will work as well. I prefer digital because it is much easier to archive the picture without shelling out the cash for a Kodak picture CD.

To take pictures before you start a project.
To take pictures during a project.
To take pictures when you complete a project.
To take pictures of things before you take them apart so that you can figure out how to get them back together again.

To document damage
To document the material condition of your home for insurance purposes.
To document the contents of your home for insurance reasons.
To document all of the tools that you are going to buy for insurance reasons.
To document you using the tools that you buy in the event of the "you bought this now you never use it" argument.

Old 10-17-02, 11:51 AM
Join Date: Sep 2002
Location: Michigan
Posts: 126
You didnt mention if this was a fixer upper;
here is my santa list:

safety glasses
ear protection
dust mask
and surgical gloves; I use those alot; painting, cement, tile, car repair, etc. (I try not to get my hands permanently dirty)

and hope you didnt throw out your old work cloth either;
you will get plenty dirty.

and remember: SAFETY FIRST! you dont want to stop in the middle of the job because of some injury. Even a small cut will debilitate you somewhat!

Now that you have the full list;
all you have to do is convince Santa that you really really need these toys.
Old 10-17-02, 11:53 PM
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Wink one saw does it all

There aren't too many tools out there will do the job of 4 or 5 others but here is one of them. Get a high quality reciprocating saw. You can buy blades for it that will cut anything you need to cut. You can get into places with a long blade installed that you can't even get your hand into. You can cut wood, metal, plastic, drywall. You can cut circles, straight lines, wavy lines. Some quality brands are: DeWalt, Sawzall by Milaukee, Makita, and even Craftsman if you buy the profressional grade.
Old 10-21-02, 09:23 AM
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Hand tools:

Craftsman is fine for the average DIY guy. As mentioned they will replace the hand tools without quibble. I've brought in things I've found in the street, brought in from garage sales, swapmeets, given to me, etc. I get a new one, no issue.

Power tools:

I always do my homework on this stuff. Sears usually contracts with major vendors. Many of their reciprocating saws are Dewalts for example. I bought a DieHard battery charger from them, it was a Schumaker. The trick is with Sears is to know where they get it from (not hard...the first 3 digits of any Sears model # is their source) and work with that vendor. Saves time and money .

I've had customer service issues with both Sears and Home Depot. By far, Sears is more responsive, courteous, direct and "forgiving". I've made them go over and beyond the call of duty and throw in a few extras .

When I bought my battery charger, I originally went there for the 89 dollar one they had on sale. They were out of stock. I asked for the next one, they were out, the next one, out too. The only one they had was the Caddy of the bunch and it was 250 bucks! After some negotiating and showing them their ad which says "If we are out of stock on the requested item, you can either get a raincheck or an upgrade". I told that to the manager who said, "We don't do that. I said, "Get your big cheese out here, this is false advertising".

Make a long story very short, when it was all said and done (including an e-mail to Sears corporate), I got the Caddy battery charger (their item #28-71465) for 100 bucks . Not bad from 250 originally !

With Home Depot, I have found my particular store to be wrought with incompetence. Lowes has taken too long to build a store within a mile of the Home Depot near fact HD opened a 2nd store in less time than it's taking Lowes to build one! I believe the Lowes will whip HD into shape.

I tried to buy a display model Husky 13 drawer toolbox at HD. What a story. The manager said to me, "You've been asking about this before...I also remember you calling the corporate office, etc, etc." My reply to him was this, "You have two choices. You either listen to my reasoning, understanding where I'm coming from, or I call the head office which only results in an aggravating phone call telling you to do it anyhow!!! Lol.

This bozo was trying to tell me, "We send all those defects back to vendor...we do so much busines with them, blah, blah, blah".

I told him, "Oh Stanleyworks (their vendor) must be happy about that!". His face dropped....I guess he figured the customer would never know who makes what for what. All I did was call the phone # in the booklet and ask what company it was.

In turn, I got the display model toolbox for 120 bucks (300 regularly) and called up Stanley...they promptly sent me the missing pieces free of charge .

I am suspect of many HD Husky tools as they are made in Taiwan now. Also, Sears has a broader line of tools than anyone out there, short of the industrial catalogs...

My .02.
Old 11-08-02, 10:41 AM
Join Date: Jul 2001
Location: Indiana (formerly Massachusetts)
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while we are on the subject: i am not a big fan of sears either.

one thing i can't understand, they do give a hard time on returns and then they put them on the used racks and charge almost new prices for them? i don't get that. some of the returned tools are real beat up!

I talked with an employee and I think they hope noone buys the used stuff, because then they get it for a tenth of what the price says. I think it is a racket.

I also don't like Sear's sales! They are too low and deceptive.

I know it is off the subject, but i couldn't resist.
Old 11-08-02, 12:23 PM
Thread Starter
Join Date: Jul 2002
Location: new jersey
Posts: 100
Talking many thanks...

Gentlemen (and Ladies, if applicable),

Thank you so much for your input to my original question. Special thanks to Robert Smith for his last post, because I was having a hard time finding the original thread until he posted and I was sent an email link.

Three questions have occurred to me since my orignial question.

-Aside from conductivity, why does everyone seem to recommend a wooden or fiberglass ladder rather than a metal one? Is it a weight thing, strenght, durablilty? Just curious.

-I've been warned away in previous posts from Sears and Skil powertools are there any other brands I should aviod like the plague? I saw an ad recently for a set of Ryobi cordless tools, haven't heard too much one way or the other on that brand. Keep in mind that I'm just a homeowner, not a contractor, so with any luck I'll only need them for light to moderate work loads.

-I can't find it in this thread, so it must have been in one around the time I posted this one, but someone recommended a place (a magazine I think) that rates different brands of tools by type. Does anyone know/remember where would be able to find a reference like that (sort of a Consumer Reports for tools)?

Thanks again for all of your input. I made sure to print it out this time so I have it for easy reference.

Old 11-08-02, 03:56 PM
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ladders are rated by letters/numbers type III is household, avoid at all costs, go for type I or IA commercial/industrial, throw wooden ladders on a fire where they belong, Fiberglass is the way to go. That said, I do have an aluminum "bendy" ladder, Its 12' and you can adjust how it sets up, change from double ladder to single ladder and into scaffolding, I never use it? But it was only available in AL when i bought it. All good extensions/ step ladders should come in Fiberglass. Its handy to get a 6' and an 8' step. I saw double sided 8' steps recently, nice if you can $$ it. -Josh
Old 11-08-02, 10:29 PM
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Thumbs up Keeping it simple

This is how I set my sister up. Tools are dangerous in her husbands hands.

Stihl, chainsaw safty glasses, they wrap around like the David Duval Oakleys, hence no frame, lightweight, invisible when your wearing them. Six bucks.

Proper fitting leather gloves.

Complete assortment of screwdrivers, not of the same make or coloured grip, makes it easier to grab the one you want.

You have hammers etc.

Porter-cable orbital reciprocating saw. 12 amp motor, low vibration and very rugid. Contracter grade because it is a life time tool, you only buy one. This saw can be used, with the right blade, to cut ANYTHING, in awkward postions and conditions.

Quartz light and stand. Working in the dark is tiring and dangerous. Hint, but a spare tubuler bulb, wrap it in plastic and stick it in the leg tube.

50 ft of hemp rope. Not nylon. Nylon can be tricky to keep a knot in. This is used to tie your ladder off, secure lumber for transport,
haul tools up onto the roof because you don't carry them up a ladder. Never use a vehicle as an anchor.

Duct tape. No explanation required

An eye wash cup, 2 bucks, ask your pharmacist if you can't find one, because you will need one.

Fine pointed tweezers, put them in an envelope in your tool box, because pliers are not much good for pulling slivers. Leave them there until needed!

You have the rest of your life to amass tools. Buy quality only, but this on top of the other suggestions and your doing well.

Good luck, be safe


ps; Ryobi will probably do everything you want it to, and I find Taunten's Fine Homebuilding has some very unbiased tool comparisons as well as project info.
Old 11-15-02, 05:02 PM
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For the larger power tools (table saw, radial arm saw, etc..) Sears is hard to beat for the price. I looked at some of the home improvement store stuff and still went back to Sears. It was hard to find a reasonably priced table saw that wasn't direct drive. On the smaller power tools, go with Dewalt and the like.
Old 11-17-02, 08:49 PM
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Location: Lake Forest, California (Orange county)
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Mr. New Home Owner!

I've read through all of these posts and have listened to the rants and raves of each. I have been a professional handyman for almost 30 years now and have come to the conclusion that if gas or electricity (including battery power) can do it then that's the way to go (outside of making hand carving on fine furniture of course). I have tried all types of battery powered tools, from Skill, Craftsman, Bosch, Dewalt, and Ryobi. I am tough on tools, in the course of some remodeling they get dropped and generally tossed around. What I've bought lately are the sets from Ryobi. They have a couple of great "sets" at the Home Depot around here. About a year ago I bought an 18 volt set that has a drill, Recip saw, circular saw, 2 batteries,charger, case and flashlilght for $199. That was a great price (compaired to the same type of set from Dewalt for about $560) I use the drill for everything and the recip saw almost as much. They have never let me down. NOw they sell this set for $169 and if you want a 18 volt wet/dry dustbuster the price goes up to $199. I saw the new set and pouted a bit since some of my small jobs (like hanging drapes and such leave little piles of dust around) But then I asked about the dustbuster and it sold for $49 with a battery (retail $69) and charger (retail about $79) so I figured I was ahead! LOL I've also got a Ryobi 10" table saw that I paid $99 for which works just great for the jobs that I use it for. Granted not ripping 2X4's, but for the everyday little stuff. And I can pick it up with 3 fingers!! They've also got a number of other "homeowner" type bench tools (drill press, scroll saw, miter saw) for $99. Granted (again) if you want to get "SERIOUS" Then by all means go with the best you can find-Rigid or Dewalt. But be prepaired for some serious "sticker shock"! I know this is long, and I could go on for 2 days about tools but......
Old 11-17-02, 09:30 PM
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I won't go into which tools I think you need. I think everyone has covered that and then some. I just wanted to re-assert the suggestion to buy quality. It costs more, and may take you longer to build your collection, but in the big picture, it costs less. Much less. Especially when you factor in safety. Cheap tools can hurt you, damage the things you are working on, and generally do a poor job. I have tried to save money by buying a low-priced noname tool here and there. Most all have been broken, given away, or thrown in the trash. When you're in the middle of a job on a saturday afternoon and your saw flies apart, your flare-nut wrench rounds off a pipe fitting, then you have lost valuable time. (and may have caused damage that takes more $$ to fix).

Craftsman hand tools are fine. They are above par for the most aggressive home-owner. Some of their power tools are good. Some leave something to be desired. I have a large table-saw from them, and have abused the thing many times with no problems. Since I bought mine, I have been told they changed vendors for their table saws. I have a large variable-speed router from them that does a good job, but doesn't seem to be real tough and is already making some funny noises after maybe 1 hours' use. Their cordless tools, or at least some, are made by ryobi.

Ridgid is a great deal for the money most of the time too. I love the lifetime warranty, and have never had problems making good on it, just as with sears hand tools.

Anyway...quality equipment will be ready when you are, and do what you want it to, and make the job easier for you.

Take care!
Old 11-25-02, 04:23 AM
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I second (or third) Ryobi as a choice. I own Ryobi cordless drill, circ saw, recip saw, finish sander and router (w/table). No problems with any of them.

Although I'm a DIYer, I'm pretty tough on tools. I've burned up three Craftsman 1/2" drills (by B&D) and two Craftsman (Skil) sabre saws over the years. The failures always seemed to happen when I was in the middle of a project after store hours.

OTOH, The Ryobi drill has been dropped several times over three years. The 7" circ saw has all kinds of projects under its belt including new sub-flooring, basement interior walls, a 40 x 20 two-level exterior deck and kitchen countertops. The recip saw has done everything from trimming tree branches to cutting five or six dozen cuts in 4x4 fence and deck posts to hacking out an 8' x 6' section of aluminum-sided house wall, where I installed a sliding door. The router put multiple grooves into several hundred feet of 1x4 poplar for a wall section. The sander prepared that poplar.

I bought all of the tools as I needed them, mostly from Home Depot. I don't think I spent over $100 for any of the tools. I can't afford the best, but I won't buy the cheapest.

My experience with returns and problems is, it's up to local management. HD has generally been terrific in their customer service, but I did have a major issue with poor workmanship in three out of 15 kitchen cabinets. I found that talking with anyone at the CS counter was pretty much a waste of time. I asked to see the manager, who wasn't very responsive until I asked him for the number of the corporate office in Atlanta. You'll be surprised at how fast they'll fix your problem.
Old 11-25-02, 06:10 AM
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Thumbs up Ladders

Unless you weigh 150 lbs or less buy the good fiberglass type I or better.
A 6' version will run you $70.00 or so but worth every penny.
Cheap ladders are dangerous, worthless junk for anybody doing any type of serious work.
Maybe fine for a 5' tall 120 lbs woman using it to get jars from the top shelf of the kitchen but thats about it.
Old 11-25-02, 07:37 AM
Join Date: Jul 2001
Location: Indiana (formerly Massachusetts)
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I replied earlier about Sears and now I feel the need to comment on Home Depot. I have lost all confidence in them. I feel their products are inferior and their customer service is non-existent. I avoid it as much as possible whereas before it was my favorite place to be. The new hire-ee's don't know a thing about the different products nor home improvement and most times give erroneous info that can cause more harm than good. Their returns are good if you have an hour to kill which is sometimes how long it takes. Mentioning the headquarters might get you somewhere, but the incompetence is so widespread, I don't think they care. Good luck and use DIY instead.
Old 11-25-02, 09:06 AM
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Location: new jersey
Posts: 100
Exclamation Wow...

This thread is like the gift that keeps on giving (almost better than beer-of-the-month club)

I'll definately hold out for a fiberglass ladder, 'cause the one I'll need will be at least 24' (to reach the fairly steep 2nd floor roof). Plus I'm getting further and further from 200 lbs (in the wrong way ) every day. At least with winter comming I hopefully won't have much need for going on the roof. I suppose it can wait until spring to put on a chimney cap, remove an old TV antenna, and survey the possibility of roof/attic vent(s).

I appreciate all of your input on tools and related subjects. Don't let me stop the conversation, but I wanted to drop a little love on those who have given advice/help.


Old 11-25-02, 01:48 PM
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Just a ladder update, they now make IAA ladders rated @ 375! just saw these up at lowes. Very sweet. 6' was $125. A good ladder is worth 4 junk ones though. -Josh
Old 11-26-02, 06:47 AM
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I felt the same way about HD when I was mired in the middle of the return of our kitchen cabs. They eventually made good on it, though, and even gave us some perks to make up for the inconvenience.

Until they build a Lowe's, HD is the only game in town. I notice that local Sears Hardware store is now selling Ryobi ...

(I do try and buy as much as I can from mom 'n' pop hardware stores. In fact, the local HW store beat out all competition by over $100 on my Toro snow thrower. AND threw in lifetime service. Any time it won't start, bring it in for a free fixup.)
Old 11-26-02, 07:13 AM
Join Date: Jul 2001
Location: Indiana (formerly Massachusetts)
Posts: 323

I am sure they don't intend it to be that way but my local HD is garbage. Like I said, unmotivated and uninformed. There is an occasional exception but over all, bad experience.

Let us do what we can to support those willing to provide the product and the know how.
Old 11-26-02, 07:06 PM
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Boy, and I thought that HD only sucked here in Canada. Do I feel like a moron!
Old 11-27-02, 07:20 AM
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Shop Vac

You may not need it now, but a good shop-vac is a precious thing - don't use your house vacuum.
Old 11-28-02, 04:20 PM
Join Date: Jun 2002
Location: Maryland
Posts: 224
Smile suggestions from another new homeowner

I'm not an expert on tools, but I did just buy a house 6 months ago and I have used/needed most of what the others have already suggested. The one thing they didn't mention (which maybe isn't considered a tool?) is a caulk gun. My house is 25 years old and there seems to be no end to what needs to be done, from tarring around roof flashing to sealing doorways and windows.

Happy hunting!
Old 12-04-02, 05:08 PM
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