Tool Guide: The Right Tool for the Right Job
By: Danny Lipford
Having the right tool for your next DIY project can make all the difference. Since expensive specialty tools aren’t needed often, consider renting them from a tool rental center like The Home Depot, rather then buying.
Wet saws use a special water-cooled blade to cut through tile and brick like butter. Blades may vary depending on the material, so check to be sure you have the right one.
Rental: $55-$60 per day
Vinyl Floor Scraper
The vibrating blade on this walk behind machine takes the elbow grease out of removing glued down vinyl flooring.
A jamb saw is handy to cut around the bottom of door frames when installing new flooring. Set the height of the saw blade to the thickness of the flooring, run the saw around the jambs, and slip the new flooring underneath.
This heavy weight drum sander makes quick work of smoothing wood floors. It takes a steady hand and even gait to get a smooth surface without leaving unsightly sanding marks.
An edge sander is used to smooth the last few inches along walls that a floor sander can’t reach. Like it larger cousin, the edger can remove material fast and requires a deft touch to keep from marring the floor.
A nail gun can get the job done in a fraction of the time you would spend with a hammer. There are several types available for different sized nails, so it’s important to decide how it will be used. Framing guns can handle nails from around 2” to 3½” while finish nailers take small fasteners and are great for attaching moldings.
Airless Paint Sprayer
Paint sprayers use compressed air or an airless pump to atomize paint and force it through a nozzle. Be sure to provide adequate ventilation and wear a proper respirator when working inside, and turn off pilot lights and other ignition sources when spraying flammable materials. Cover anything you don’t want painted, and watch out for overspray to keep your neighbor’s car from matching your house.
Texture Hopper Sprayer
This specialty spray gun is the tool of choice for applying textured finishes to ceilings and walls. For minor repairs to existing textured ceilings, a spray can of Homax Acoustic Texture will do the trick.
While you could break out the pick and shovel to dig a trench to bury a pipe in the yard, a trencher will get the job done in a fraction of the time with less damage to your yard. Several sizes are available depending on the width and depth of the trench.
If your project involves pouring a slab for a driveway or patio, you’ll need a plate compactor to compress the soil. This prevents the ground from settling and reduces the chance of cracking.
If your lawn is not looking its best, you might want to consider aerating it. An aerator uses long steel spikes to make holes in the sod, allowing water and nutrients to penetrate deep into the ground.
If you have a large garden, you need a tiller to loosen the dirt and prepare it for planting. Several models are available depending on the size of the job at hand.
A motorized auger can dig a hole eight times faster than by hand. They come in both one and two person models with bits available in diameters ranging from 6” and up.
If you have a lot of snow, you’ll probably want to buy a snowblower to keep your driveway and sidewalk clear. Various sizes and models are available. For those in milder climates, a snow shovel may be all you need. Choose a shovel that’s lightweight, has a nonstick coating, and is ergonomically designed to reduce back strain.
Innovative Ideas for the Workshop
Scotch-Blue removable painter’s tape protects surfaces while painting. It’s also available in precut pieces that are perfect for the corners of window panes.
This new screwdriver bit from Pratt-Read Tools fits tightly in combination Phillips/slotted head screws to prevent slipping.
The Spot-On screwdriver has an illuminating tip that puts the light right where you need it.
The new line of Lithium Ion tools from Ryobi provide more and longer lasting power than regular battery powered tools.
The Starrett ProSite Protractor is great for measuring and laying out angles on projects around the house.
The Bosch Miterfinder combines a protractor, level, and calculator with an easy to read digital display.
Ridgid SeeSnake has a small camera mounted on the end of a flexible cable to allow you to see and pick up objects as far away as 30 feet. The SeeSnake is available at The Home Depot.
Cougar Paws work boots with special replaceable traction grip soles are designed to keep you from slipping even when working on a steeply pitched roof.
- The Home Depot Tool Rental Catalog (PDF 4.6mb)
- Understanding Power Tools (article)
- The Perfect Workshop (article)
- Garden Tool Maintenance (article)
- Lawn Mower Maintenance (article)
Other Tips From This Episode
To keep tool cords organized, rather than wrapping cords around power tools, coil each cord up, and then use Velcro fasteners available in the produce department of grocery stores to keep tool cords neat and ready to use.
The Ryobi ProCross Laser Level is self-leveling and projects a horizontal, vertical, or intersecting laser line up to 50 feet. A battery powered vacuum pump holds it securely to the wall. It also can be mounted on a tripod or placed on any flat surface.
My husband wants to buy every tool he sees. Can you talk some sense into him? -Liz from Encinitas
Whenever you’re tempted to buy the latest tool, consider how much you’ll actually use it. If you find you’ll only need to use the tool a couple of times a year, you would probably be better off to rent it rather than spending the money buying the tool.
Power tools used on Today’s Homeowner with Danny Lipford® are provided by Ryobi.