Tool guide for non-tools
Photo: Courtesy of subject
I am by no means a professional handyman and wouldn’t even claim to be “good at fixing things”. I’m just a frugal guy who doesn’t like to rely on others to fix the basic household bugaboo. [She’s also a TV writer, responsible for Love on Netflix, and host of “Filling The Void,” a podcast about hobbies.] Maybe it’s the DIY punk in me, or maybe I inherited my grandfather’s deep belief that everyone was trying to rip him off. Anyway, I don’t really know how to use the tools properly, and after reading this guide, you won’t know either. But at least you won’t be afraid to try.
Then I moved to Los Angeles. My roommate at the time, a petite blonde who brushed her teeth with Dr. Bronner’s and drank chicken broth before it was a thing, changed her mind about it after witnessing from my clumsy attempt to hang curtain rods (I was trying to do it with a screwdriver). She went to her room, got her drill and quickly got the job done. That’s when I discovered that you don’t have to be strong or own paint-splattered Carhartts to use a power tool. All you have to do is watch a friend use it first. And if you don’t have any friends, watch a YouTube video. Some of my best friends are YouTubes. And some of them are exercises. There are cheaper and rosier ones out there, but I’m a DeWalt girl, mostly because I think it sounds and looks the toughest.
I like to hang things on my walls. Ideally, I could still use a thumbtack, but as we all know, thumbtacks aren’t as good as they think. Instead, drive very fine nails into the wall with this very light hammer and – voila – you have a solid place to hang a necklace!
With a heavier hammer, you can go to town on harder-to-penetrate surfaces like hardwood. Fun Fact: Need more holes in that undersized leather belt? Use a hammer and a nail. You are now a Certified Shoemaker.
I find myself reaching for this collection more often than using a single regular screwdriver because it’s easier to store and nicer to look at. If you’re wondering, “When will I need a screwdriver, let alone one with eight different tips?” My answer is “I don’t know. I’m not you.” But even for once in a blue moon, the rarest occasions when you need a screwdriver, no other tool will suffice. That’s what I love about tools in general, but the Phillips screwdriver in particular. Some other tools you can kind of get around without having (No hammer? Use a hard shoe. No flathead screwdriver? Use a coin!), but if a plain old Phillips head screw is the problem, the Phillips – the head is the solution. In addition, this kit is not expensive. I have mine at Daiso, but you can also find it at most hardware stores.
Hex keys are for socket head screws. Ikea uses hex screws, as do many other brands, like World Market, so it’s good to have one with a screwdriver.
Scissors are my most often used tool and I need to have a pair in every room. There are plenty that I like to use for different reasons (sharp longs for cutting T-shirts into tank tops, semi-dull longs for wrapping paper), but my Karen Kays are multi-gender. They’re small enough for all the detailed work you have going on (gluing, fiber art, sewing) and sharp enough to hem your jeans. One thing you won’t want to cut with these is anything metal. This will immediately damage the blade and you will have to throw them away. If you need to cut paper clips, soda cans, wires—that’s anything metal—use the Mr. Pen wire cutters ($6).
She makes the hardest packages (to open) her female dog. The blade is easily retractable but not so easily that your little one will get involved. Don’t bring it on a plane and you’ll be fine. I like this one because it’s cheap and comes in fun colors.
My brain likes to think of tweezers as less valuable tweezers. (I also have a less valuable tweezer that I use and I call it my “precious tweezer”.) Tweezers are the perfect tool for all the things there is no perfect tool for. . For example, if you need to pull a Jibbitz out of a Croc and you don’t feel like crying? Pliers. Or what if the little electrical wires fall out of an old speaker and you can’t put them back in because they’re now twisted and frayed? Pliers. Or if your daughter is sad because the spoke of her Calico Critters dollhouse bike has come loose and you want to fix it without getting E6000 glue on your fingers? Clamps! You can glue with one hand and use pliers to hold the object. These Needle Nose Dykes will do the trick.
When I lived on the Lower East Side, I never feared a home invasion. Maybe it’s because NYC looks like a giant house and if you shout out loud, it’s a guarantee that at least 55 people will hear it. Or maybe it’s just because I lived there in my twenties. Anyway, as soon as I moved to Los Angeles, I was suddenly terrified of everything. At night, if I walk my dog and there’s someone else on the street, he’s automatically part of the “new” Manson family. A baseball bat next to my pillow seemed like a good call until someone told me that it’s easy for an intruder to just grab the bat and use it on you. Then my friend Glen told me about the Anker. Her beam is military-grade hard core, so when you aim it at Sadie Atkins, it will essentially blind her, giving you enough time to call 911 and kick her in the stomach. Also, it has a bright SOS pulse light that is impossible to ignore (good for if you get funny games‘D).
Did you know that house fires can start by improperly storing or disposing of oily rags? If you thought you could just throw away that grease-covered towel (leather, furniture, wood, or bacon), think again! My neighbor’s house burned down because she was adding dye to her outdoor shower and dumped an oily rag in the trash can, which then spontaneously ignited. Luckily no one was home, but given my level of (unemployment) I’m not sure I’ll be so lucky. I have two steel boxes for this purpose: one is a medium sized toolbox; the other is my husband’s childhood He-Man lunch box. This is where I put everything that says CAUTION: HIGHLY FLAMMABLE on the label (wood finish, Odie’s Oil, Boos Block Mystery Oil, painting mediums) plus some rags that I end up reusing. Ideally, these canisters would be stored in an outdoor shed, but we don’t have one.
For a parent, hobbyist or just a bored teenager looking to get high.
It’s like a normal glue stick, but it can also snowboard.
For decoupage, to add a glossy (or satin or matte) finish to furniture, or for almost anything you want to glue. It will dry without being tacky or tacky or depressing.
Once you’ve purchased a hot glue gun, there’s no going back. Welcome to my world – a world in which the holidays are no longer reasons for family gathering but opportunities to present your Halloween wreath with real candy attached! Ever heard of a Hanukkah bush? Neither did I until I emerged from a Jo-Ann’s armed with a hot glue gun and a dozen bags of jelly candy. With hot glue you can stick anything to anything. Have you ever thought that your kids’ old puzzle pieces would make great fridge magnets? You thought well. The only things I wouldn’t use hot glue for: plastic on plastic (it might melt) or anything too delicate.
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