Power trip

Plug in to amp up DIY ren­o­va­tions

Winnipeg Free Press - Section G - - HOMES - DAVID SQUARE

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.

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