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Being Your Own Home Handyman - Part 2

  • Timing:
  • Do not start any projects if you are tired, not feeling great or are frustrated over some other situation.

    It is best to start any project in the morning on a day when your local home improvement or hardware retailer is open!

    Starting a project when key retailers are closed is a recipe for disaster. You need the flashlight in order to see what you are doing, you turn it on; it works great. Twenty minutes into the project the batteries die and you are left in the dark, or the replacement light switch you purchased is defective or the installation kit that comes with the ceiling fan is missing a mounting screw. If you can’t remedy these situations at the time that they occur, you will end up having to leave the project in the middle and those are the projects which are never completed.

    As well, having your local home improvement retailer open for business may provide you with some how to advise, should the instructions that came with the new faucet be a poor translation from Chinese!

    Don’t be fooled by the 24 hour home improvement centers. They do not have their how to staff on at 2:00 am, the only staff you will see are stocking shelves.

    Be careful about time constraints. You have thought out the project and you are sure that you can complete it in about a half an hour. Its 9:00 am, and you don’t have to pick up the kids from football practice until 10:00 am, so you have plenty of time. This is not a good starting situation as you have placed a serious time burden on completing the project and it is likely that during working on the project you will be checking your watch to make sure it’s not time to go get the kids. You must be able to concentrate on completing the project without interference.

    Do not attempt to replace the toilet flapper valve in the guest washroom that has allowed water to run for the past two months, the morning of the day that you are planning a dinner party!

    If you end up rushing you will most likely have a disaster on your hands.

    Do not have food on the stove or in the oven that needs to be watched while you are undertaking a project. Either the project will not be done properly or your food will burn. Your 100% undivided attention must be on the project.

  1. Things you must have:
  • Tools:
  • You do not need to have the tool inventory of your big box home improvement retailer in your home in order to accomplish most home handyman tasks.

    Most home handyman type projects can be accomplished with basic hand tools and an electric drill. If you are starting out and do not have any tools or you just have a few I would recommend that you buy tools as they are needed for each project.

    But remember that there is a proper tool for almost every job, and if you want the job to be completed properly and safely you should use the proper tools. A knife is not a substitute for a screwdriver. A hammer is not a substitute for a screwdriver. A screwdriver is not a substitute for a chisel or pry-bar.

    Buy reasonable quality tools, you don’t need professional quality tools, you are not going to use them 5 days a week, 52 weeks a year. However, don’t buy the cheapest tools that you can find. Screwdrivers that are in a bin, marked $1 each, are not worth the $1.

Figure 1 - Tool Bucket

    The tips on the end of tape measures become damaged over time. Replace the tape measure if it is not going to read accurately.

    Invest in tool storage. I highly recommend that the budding home handyman use a tool bucket, as shown in Figure 1. I have been using one for years. You put all of the tools from your tool box that you will need for the project into the storage pockets around the outside of the bucket. That places them in position where they are easy to find as you work. On the inside of the bucket you can place larger tools, parts and fasteners, or your electric drill if required.

    I do not recommend that you place tools in your pants pockets. The first time you sit down you will either drive a screwdriver into your backside or place a large tear in the cushion of your favorite chair.

    Do not buy tools that do multiple tasks. In most cases these tools do not do any of the tasks easily or properly. There is one exception and that is screwdrivers that have different types and sizes of bits. Although I believe that having individual screwdrivers is generally easier and more efficient, I do have a screwdriver that has an assortment of torx bits of different sizes.