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The right DIY tools: Ignore ‘bargain’ sets

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Many DIY stores offer toolbox packages with a collection of basic tools, but do you use them all?

Berlin – Hanging a picture on the wall and tightening loose screws are a few of the household jobs that everyone has to deal with at some stage. That’s why it’s important to have a good selection of tools ready.

But what tools are essential to have in the home? Many DIY stores offer toolbox packages with a collection of basic tools. They can seem like a bargain, but most people only need a fraction of the tools they usually contain.

“Tool sets can act as a guide,” says Michael Pommer, a trainer at the DIY Academy in Cologne. He recommends you read an all-in box’s published list of contents as a guide, but buy the tools separately, choosing only the ones you think you will really need.

Experts advise having a range of screwdrivers for slotted-head and Phillips screws at your disposal. Screwdriver bits can also be bought in box sets that will allow you to tighten or release any type of screw.

Peter Birkholz writes guidebooks for Germany’s consumer organisation, Stiftung Warentest.

When it comes to pliers and saws, he also recommends avoiding buying the set boxes and buying the tools individually.

“A pair of pliers, a wire cutter and combination pliers with a side-cutter are enough to begin with,” he says.

For cutting wood you will need a tenon saw or a small Japanese trim saw. A hacksaw is useful if you need to cut metal or shorten a screw.

In addition, it’s good to have two heavy hammers, a box-cutter knife with disposable blades, several spatulas, a spirit level and a folding ruler or a laser distance measurer. “If you have a lot of recessed light fittings in the home, you might want to get a small suction cup for changing broken lamps,” adds Pommer.

When it comes to electrical tools, a drill is essential.

“A drill should have a hammer action and be able to turn both clockwise and anticlockwise,” explains Birkholz. With a drill like that, you will be able to make a hole in any wall and use the device to turn a screw as well.

You will also need a set of drill bits for metal and masonry if those materials are part of your home.

Cordless screwdrivers are popular due to their light weight and speed of use, but it’s only worth having one if you think you’re going to use it a lot. “A cordless screwdriver won’t last forever, because it’s rechargeable battery will slowly decline in performance.

After about five years of use they tend to fail completely,” says Birkholz.

Usually it’s almost impossible to find a replacement power pack. If you think you will need to get several electric tools, you should consider buying all of them from the same maker. That will allow you to use the same rechargeable battery for each of your tools.

Just like any other product, quality and price play a big role with tools. Pommer advises choosing quality-made tools for your basic kit.

“Good tools are recognisable by the name of the maker on the side. Just ask a sales person to find out who are the best,” he says. Good tools are safer to use, believes Pommer.

You will also need a small supply of standard materials such as screws, nails and wall plugs at the ready. Adhesive tape and tough cord are also useful, but you won’t need to keep a supply of silicone sealants or wall filler in your home.

“They get old and dry in a tube, and filler powder just draws in moisture from the air,” warns Pommer. – Sapa-dpa


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