5 Es­sen­tial Tools for Vic­to­rian Restora­tions Give your home the facelift it needs, us­ing a hand­ful of must-have tools.


Victorian Homes - - Contents - By Matt Mazanec

In many ways, the owner of a his­toric home will even­tu­ally Jack be­come a of all trades. From the restora­tion of an old piece of fur­ni­ture to the com­plete ren­o­va­tion of your cen­tury-old home, you’ll de­velop skills along the way. Know­ing which spe­cialty tools are avail­able will make your life eas­ier. If you want the project done right the first time—with­out sev­eral trips to the hard­ware store or wast­ing end­less hours—take a look at these five must-have tools for the pro­fes­sional restorer.

1. A cord­less os­cil­lat­ing Dremel tool

Once you have this tool, you’ll won­der how you lived with­out it. Small and hand­held, this pow­er­ful lit­tle tool has dozens of uses and, with a recharge­able bat­tery, it can fit al­most any­where. A good Dremel will cost less than $100 and usu­ally comes with many dif­fer­ent in­ter­change­able bits. A mul­ti­tude of spe­cialty bits for grind­ing, pol­ish­ing or cut­ting dif­fi­cult sur­faces are also avail­able. You can use a Dremel for a wide va­ri­ety of projects, from cut­ting nails, tile and wood to grind­ing or sharp­en­ing ob­jects. It can also pol­ish any­thing with fine de­tails, sand ex­tremely tight spa­ces and cut dry­wall to make the per­fect kit. This tool will save count­less hours of frus­tra­tion and take the guess­work out of how to make that per­fect cut.

2. A mini pry bar

A restorer will in­evitably have a pry bar in their tool chest, but a pro­fes­sional restorer must have a pocket or mini pry bar. You can use this lit­tle tool to open paint cans, but it has so many other uses. For ex­am­ple, with a pocket pry bar, you can re­move fine trim in an old build­ing with­out split­ting or mar­ring it, and the process will be much eas­ier than try­ing to use a reg­u­lar-sized pry bar.


Sim­ply put, any­thing that you might try to pry apart with a util­ity knife will be a lot safer and achieve bet­ter re­sults with a pocket pry bar.

3. Block plane

Do you have a door that sticks or won’t close all the way? What if you want to fancy up or match a piece of trim that has a cham­fer? With a good block plane, those projects will be quick and easy. When in­stalling sal­vage doors or win­dows, you’ll dis­cover that al­most noth­ing is square, straight or plumb in an old build­ing. By us­ing a block plane, you can shave off a lit­tle or a lot to make that old piece feel per­fectly at home.

4. Ra­di­a­tor spud wrench

Many of us have old cast-iron ra­di­a­tors in our homes or, at the very least, pipes that were screwed to­gether be­fore the dawn of time. Break­ing these seals and un­screw­ing old nuts is dif­fi­cult, even with the heav­i­est wrenches. A ra­di­a­tor spud wrench is just the tool to make the job eas­ier. If you’re ren­o­vat­ing an old ra­di­a­tor, this tool will fit in­side the con­nec­tion nut or spud and give you a much bet­ter grip than a sim­ple pipe wrench. This gives you the abil­ity to change the con­nec­tion size to fit a new or ex­ist­ing shut-off valve. Spud wrenches also work great for old plumb­ing pipes. You’ll be able to loosen the nut and not dam­age the sur­round­ing pipes. Spud wrenches are ex­tremely ver­sa­tile and will fit many dif­fer­ent nut sizes. This un­usual tool might just be­come one of your new best friends.

5. Den­tal tools

Strip­ping paint off old wood­work can be one of the most sat­is­fy­ing—but also te­dious—projects you’ll tackle. It’s easy to get off large swaths of old paint, but to re­move paint from fine de­tails with­out dam­ag­ing the wood­work is an­other chal­lenge. The key to en­sur­ing that those fine de­tails re­main in­tact and clean is to use the same tools you see when vis­it­ing your den­tist. These tiny tools are sharp, can get into the small­est crevices and are ex­tremely durable and strong. You’ll only need to use these once to ap­pre­ci­ate their value. Af­ter you’ve re­moved all the paint pos­si­ble us­ing a paint strip­per, heat gun and paint scrap­ers, use den­tal picks to clean out the smaller parts your other tools couldn’t reach. This ex­tra step will en­sure that your com­pleted project looks as good as new. You can get den­tal tools new or used on ebay or other re­sale sites.

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