If you are like me and turn to the World Wide Web for every answer, assembling a set of tools to tackle home improvement, gardening or painting can be a painful experience. By the time I get through the lists of gear and contemplate shipping expenses it’s time for aspirin and glass of wine. But then I recall what it cost for a plumber to fix my dripping sink and a painter to cover the water-stained bathroom ceiling. Time to “man up” and purchase the truly necessary so as to avoid looking incompetent and another $100 labor bill.
Where to begin? Like all wise older children—I’m 54—I decided to start with Mom. Mom has been around a while, lived on a farm, owned several houses and likes to putter in the garden. Perfect, she should be a fount of wisdom when it comes to acquiring the proper equipment.
My mother is an organized person, so I expected a lesson on a proper tool box to avoid losing gear or leaving it in the rain and mud. Instead she suggested a large Tupperware storage box—preferably one with a lid, but, in the worst case, one which could be covered with a piece of cardboard so the neighbors would not see my clutter every time they walked into the garage for a beer.
Into this box I was instructed to toss:
Several rolls of duct tape. As she put it, “Everything can be fixed with duct tape.”
A roll of blue paint tape. “What duct tape won’t fix, paint tape will,” she admonished.
A ball of string. “Why waste money on a tape measure when you can use string,” she continued. “Plus, it’s good for fixing things duct tape won’t.”
Toothpaste. “Fixes holes.”
One large hammer. “The larger the better,” Mom warned. “Nothing works better on stubborn items than the largest hammer you can swing.”
Two screw drivers. “One of those flat ones and a pointy one.”
Pliers. “Just need one, bigger is better—can do anything from open beers to castrate goats with a large pair of pliers.”
Hacksaw. “That blade will cut wood and metal.”
Sharp serrated kitchen knife. “Works on everything from pruning to cutting drywall.”
Electric drill with bits. “Damn handy, even worked on the neighbor’s tires when he insisted in parking in my driveway.”
Three inch paint brush. “Rollers are messy and who wants to clean paint trays, just don’t spill.”
- Shovel, rake and hoe. “Why would you waste money on those little hand tools when a shovel is available?”
wrote down the list and then asked about a ladder. “Borrow one from neighbors, who wants a ladder cluttering up the garage?”
“Anything else?” I inquired.
“A phone and your checkbook. You’ll need them to have someone come clean up the mess and repair damages.”
Seems home improvement and do-it-yourself is a lot harder than the internet would lead you to believe. Just ask Mom.
Eric Anderson is a retired Air Force officer who can be found puttering in his shop when not scribbling on the keyboard. A new resident of Port Townsend, he is an avid sailor, struggling carpenter, and would-be writer.