Over 20 years ago, I bought my young daughter a kitchen set from Sears for Christmas. It came in three boxes, was made out of metal and had what seemed at the time a million screws to put it together.
As I sat on the floor that Christmas Eve using a screwdriver and watching my hands turn red from the task, I vowed never again to be without a power tool to make that kind of task easier. Months later, I bought my first power drill. Bulky and heavy, that drill did make it easier to put anything I bought together. Over the years, I moved up to a cordless drill. That has made many a task even easier.
When you are a homeowner, there are always tasks and projects that need to be done to your house. I still remember the day I was going to the basement and when I flipped the switch for the light, it popped, smoked and stopped working. The push-button switch was probably as old as the house itself! I was afraid of messing with anything electrical, so for over a year whenever we went into the basement we would walk down the dark stairs until we got to a different light and pull the string for it.
Finally, sitting in the dark during a power failure, I thought back to the days of my grade school science fair and those experiments with the dry cell battery. “It can’t be that hard to change a switch,” I said to myself. So I went to the local hardware store, bought a new switch and a book on electricity. I removed the fuse for that line, unscrewed the wire from the blown-out switch, rewired it to the new switch, wrapped electrical tape around it and put the fuse back in. Voila! I had a working switch. I also became bolder as to what I would and would not tackle around the house.
Over the years, I acquired more and more tools. When I had a parquet floor put in on the enclosed back porch, the worker used a miter saw. I saw the benefits of that kind of saw, so I bought one myself. Later I bought a table saw. All of those saws came in handy when I added a second story addition to my house. I was very happy with the work my contractor did. But he was anxious to move on, and when I said I would do the “finishing carpentry” installation, my contractor wrote me a check for a couple of thousand dollars, shook my hand and told me “good luck.”
I embarked enthusiastically on the task of doing the baseboard and window moldings. Since I was responsible for putting in the moldings, I searched for a more feminine one for my daughter’s room while installing a masculine one in my son’s room. Of course the hallway also had to have its own molding pattern and then my bedroom had to have a completely separate one as well. Without those power tools, the task of cutting the wood would have been almost impossible. The angle cuts for the molding around corners were learned via the “trial and error” method. It also took me much longer to do the work than it would have taken a professional. But the custom outcome was well worth it.
Next, I purchased an electric tile cutter. I had always wanted to install my own tiles and most contractors balk (or want more money) to do any fancy cuts or designs. That tile cutter came in handy when I found some unusual twin tile liners. I didn’t need the full width, so I cut the tiles into two thin liners. It was the type of tedious work that most contractors don’t want to undertake unless you’re paying extra money.
Of course I have a supply of Phillip and regular screwdrivers. I also have a variety of wrenches, drill bits, chisels and other power tools. The advantage of owning tools is part of the secret of not having to pay someone to come do something for your house. A friend who put in a new threshold told me of having to pay $6 to have someone cut that threshold from 36 to 34 inches.
When you own an older building, many of the items in it are not “standard,” according to today’s guidelines. When you’re a female owning a house, it seems even worse since most men might have a friend who has tools but not a lot of women do. Right now, many of the power tools are reasonably priced and should be part of your homeowner’s arsenal of tools on hand. Then sign up for some of the free classes offered at any of the local home improvement stores. Then give it a try. Write us here at the paper and maybe we’ll feature your project and share your experience with others.