It's easy to be overwhelmed by the selection of tools at your hardware or home improvement store. As a general rule, I rely on the old adage that you get what you pay for. That means, on a limited budget, I pay what I can for what I consider specialty tools and spend the most I can on standard tools that I use the most and hope will last the longest. A well-made, strong set of pliers can often spare me from tantrums and further damaging the stuff I set out to repair.
But the rub always seems to be how many, of what kind, and which quality of manufacture are appropriate for the most critical jobs around the home. When assembling your home toolkit consider which jobs you're currently capable of doing and which ones you plan on punting over to the professionals.
A Dizzying Array of Pliers
Considering that my hands can only grip and apply a limited about of force on home hardware, I desperately need a reliable set of pliers-in fact several sets. My toolkit always has one-each of sturdy needle-nose, slip-joint, linesmen's, and lock-joint pliers.
There's always a best choice set of pliers for the job at-hand.
Here's what I have:
• Channel-locks are okay for tightening or removing nuts, bolts, and screws IF you don't have a matching, open-end wrench that fits perfectly. They're angled perfectly for getting my elbow grease into the job.
• Slip-joint pliers, the kind most people pick up at discount stores or garage sales, come in two sections held by a center axle that shifts from loose to tighter. They're good for general use but, frankly, are terrible for gripping wire, or rounded pipe, or for getting a great hold on nuts and bolts.
• Linesman's pliers are indispensable pivoting pliers that work perfectly well for gripping, bending, and snipping wire.
• Needle-nose pliers can save you from the loony bin when you have to get a purchase on a small or hard-to-reach piece of hardware.
While you're shopping, you can also find cutting pliers, midget pliers, plumber's pliers, crimpers and strippers, duckbill pliers, and parrot-nose pliers.
Confused? Consider buying a few of the pliers that serve the most-often uses where you have direct experience. You may be amazed how much easier repairs can be when you have the right tools.