Basic tools for the project-minded homeowner


“Hanging curtains, putting hinges on kitchen cupboards or a lock set on your doors, or to fix a set of stairs…” are some of the tasks listed by Bob Gould of Advantage Gases and Tools in Lewiston that warrant a circular saw and drill for any homeowner beginning to stockpile basic tools likely to be needed for most home repair or maintenance chores.

Gould asserts there are three calibers of power tools: “big box tools, hardware tools and industrial quality.” Sharing his expertise, Gould indicates that big box tools can be found at your big box stores (like Lowes, Home Depot, etc.); generally speaking, hardware stores carry a higher quality of power tools (although probably pricier); finally, for the greatest durability and/or added features, industrial tools fit the bill — but typically are the most expensive option.

Ironically, instead of metal sometimes plastic that compromises the quality of the tool is used in manufacturing the gears and so the tool costs less money; other times, using plastic parts instead of metal lighten the weight of the tool and make it easier to use, but also make it costlier.

Clearly, the budget-minded consumer will need to weigh the tool’s cost and features against the anticipated frequency of use and the challenges associated with getting any particular job done.

According to Fould, a good quality circular saw costs between $100-150 and should have the ability to “cross cut or rip” (cut wood both width and length wise). Circular saws are used for rough work, so, “Don’t get a finish blade [for it]…usually a 60-80 tooth [blade]” gets the job done.

He recommends cordless, battery-operated drill that should have a minimum of 13-15 amperage, but “to run a long screw or ½” drill bit or make hole saws,” an 18Volt is required (about $150). With spring fast approaching, today’s homeowner might be interested to know that with the right attachment, s/he can even use a drill to put in flower bulbs.

The quality of the battery in battery-operated tools is critical as it determines the tool’s power and run time. Reliance on information provided by a trustworthy salesperson should help you to decide which battery will perform to your project’s needs. Plus, sale promotions often include an extra battery so you don’t run out of power in the middle of a project.

Safe operation of these tools necessitates the use of safety goggles (now available with bifocal vision) and protective gloves.

Suggestions per Gould for other tools include a screwdriver set: “buy something with a lifetime warranty,” a hammer: “Don’t get a wooden handle hammer!” Instead, John Soucy, Gould’s coworker, advised the purchase of an anti-vibration framer hammer – a one-piece cast hammer with a longer rubber coated handle, pliers (slip joint or water), a leveler (preferably laser), an extension cord (if used in the freezing cold, a natural rubber coated cord has significantly more flexibility than vinyl or plastic coated cords) and finally, an easy to read measuring tape.