Plug in to amp up DIY renovations
WHAT tools are required by DIY renovators who want to do small repairs and upgrades to their homes? When asked this question by a friend, it seemed to me the answer was straightforward: a 20-ounce framing hammer, a roofing hammer, an eight-ounce detail hammer, sharp crosscut and rip handsaws, a mitre-box, a plane, drill bits and a hand-powered drill as well as chisels, screw drivers, Allen wrenches and, of course, a tape measure, bubble level and steel square. However, as suggested by Clint Eastwood’s curmudgeonly DIY character in the movie Gran Torino, a pair of Vise-Grips and a roll of duct tape are all you really need. While at work on a modest renovation to my home recently, I slightly modified the above list to include a reversible, cordless 18-volt Bosch drill — pricey, but the best. After further thought and effort, I scrubbed the 20-ounce hammer in favour of a pneumatic framing nailer, replaced the roofing hammer with a coil nailer and dropped the detail hammer in favour of an air-powered brad nailer, all made by Paslode — again, pricey, but the best. As the reno progressed, I made further conservative adjustments to the list, nixing the crosscut saw and mitre-box in favour of a Bosch 12-inch chop saw. I also vetoed the rip saw after an arduous go at a 14-foot length of lumber that left me wheezing. In the handsaw’s place, I added a 10-inch General cabinet saw because it was faster and so much more accurate than the accursed handsaw. Further into my reno, it struck me an electric router, though noisy and terrifying to operate, was a more versatile tool than a bunch of carpenter’s chisels and a plane that required daily honing to maintain a desirable cutting edge. I dumped the chisels and plane into the dark hole of historical artifacts and purchased a half-inch Bosch router that included a set of gleaming carbide-tipped bits that only need to be sharpened once a decade. I won’t go into detail about the myriad tasks that can be accomplished with this fearsome diabolus, only words of warning: Always wear safety goggles and Kevlar armour when operating this machismo, and never let it out of your grip when it is running, unless you find the Tasmanian devil of Bugs Bunny notoriety hilarious to watch when he’s out of control. Another part of my renovation required five-inch deck screws to be driven into aged fir rafters. After twisting two of the 80-odd screws into the concrete-like wood by hand, I forsook my No. 2 Robertson screwdriver for a No. 2 Robertson bit, locking it into the chuck of my cordless Bosch drill. A similar fate befell my Phillips screwdriver (often referred to as a McPhillips in Manitoba) when it became necessary during the reno to use these inferior U.S.-designed screws, recognizable by a cross-shaped slot machined into the head. Because they were adopted for use by the U.S. auto industry in 1936, Phillips screws have become the most commonly used fasteners throughout the world, according to an American Internet site. You have encountered Phillips screws if you have purchased and attempted to assemble furniture designed by IKEA or its comparatively smaller Danish competitor, JYSK. Though the Swedish giant usually provides the tools with which to put together its minimalist furniture, I suspect some saboteur from a rival may be substituting incorrect screwdrivers, Allen wrenches and structural wood pieces for the proper ones. By the way, the Allen wrench was allegedly invented by an American named Heublein, who may have had a fetish for hexagons and the letter L, according to a popular T.V. show. Why the tool
A router may seem the most diabolical of power tools, but a firm grip on the handles
will keep your projects from going awry.