The Basic Home Repair Tool Kit – Part Four
Chisels, Utility Knives, Planers, Putty Knives and Scrapers
The home repair tool kit is a lot different from what it used to be. When I was younger, there were no power tools in my father’s vast array of tools. The brace-and-bit and folding wooden rule have gone. Now, everything needs to be plugged in or recharged. Not a bad thing at all, but not being a carpenter, like my father and his father before him, I wonder how mobile power tools make the professional carpenter.
However, the jobs to be done remain the same and the rule for buying tools remains the same, buy the best you can afford. So, let’s take a look at a few modern tools that would make up a very well-equipped set of tools.
Chisels: generally speaking, you will need a basic set of four chisels: quarter, half, three-quarters and one full inch in width. The are used for fine work or places where a saw can’t get. If you need to cut across the wood’s grain make a shallow cut at either end of work area, otherwise the chisel will rip the wood too far. The cuts act as barriers – cut off points. Tap the chisel with a wooden or plastic mallet to preserve your chisels (or the side of a hammer, if you must). Chisels are sold sharp, but sharpen them up again.
Pro Tip: buy or make a cloth wallet to keep them in to protect the sharp edge. Beware of buried nails!
Utility Knives: or, in the UK, Stanley knives are razor sharp. Most are retractable now for safety reasons. The blades come with two sharp edges, so when it becomes blunt, unscrew the handle and reverse the blade. Spare blades are kept in the handle too. Use the knife for any use you need, the blade is tough and versatile. Cut vinyl, linoleum, plastic, almost anything.
Pro Tip: NEVER just toss the knife into your bag. Put it in and make certain that the blade has been retracted. Millions of professionals have cut their hands on open blades while rummaging in their toolbags.
Planes: the plane is used for planning wood. It is for fine work and the blade has to be sharpened regularly. There is also a power planer, which makes short work of stripping thin layers of wood off, say, a slightly over-size door.
Putty Knives: a putty knife is a tool with a very flexible blunt blade for spreading putty on widows or adhesive on walls. These latter knives are often 12″ wide, window putty knives are 1″ wide. Make sure you clean them thoroughly after use.
Pro Tip: if you forget to clean the knife after use, rub it clean on coarse sandpaper.
Scrapers: scrapers are made for removing old paint from timber, but they are versatile. A blunt scraper is virtually useless, so keep it sharp with some sandpaper or wet-and-dry. Most decorators find the 1.5″ scraper the most useful although non-decorators usually buy the 3″ scraper. If you keep it sharp, you have to be careful of two things: leaving it in your bag when not in use, as for utility knives above and, when in use, that you don’t drive the scraper into the wood you are scraping, especially if it’s an old, slightly rotten window frame.