published Friday, March 5th, 2010

10 basics for a starter tool kit

Audio clip

Matt Skudlarek

Ask handymen if young people leave their parents' homes equipped to handle basic home repair, and most will tell you today's young adults are woefully unprepared.

It's a matter of shifting priorities, both for parents and their kids, said Jake Yoder, the owner of East Ridge Hardware and 34-year veteran of the hardware business.

"Folks have gotten lazy," Mr. Yoder said. "It's surprising how much a lot of young fellows just don't know."

"My daughters worked with me for years in the stores, and now they're teaching their husbands how to do things," he added, laughing.

That may make Matt Skudlarek, 22, the exception, rather than the rule.

Mr. Skudlarek has been living on his own since he was 18. Thanks to learning to make do with what was available as a child and a well-stocked tool box, he said he's saved money and time by taking repairs into his own hands.

"(Growing up), it was more about, 'If something breaks and we can't afford to get a new one, how are we going to fix it and make it last longer?'" he said.

Experts agree that learning to repair something is as much about having the right tools as knowing how to use them.

Here are their recommendations for stocking a starter tool box:

1. Claw hammer

You'll need one when you are: hanging picture frames, tacking in trim, slotting in door pins or repairing loose boards.

Cost: $3-$9

2. Interchangeable-head screw driver

You'll need one when you are: assembling furniture, tightening door hinges, changing door knobs or installing window blinds.

Cost: $3-$10

"Everything's got a screw in it. You can't replace your faucet, your light switch, your door jam or hinges without one. You can't fix anything without a screwdriver." -- Tim LaFevor, assistant manager of Ace Hardware of East Rdige

3. Tape measurer

You'll need one when you're: arranging a furniture layout, checking cabinet sizes or making sure hung pictures are hung properly.

Cost: $2-$4

"I live with my tape measurer." -- JR Hughes, owner of JR's Remodeling

4. Level

You'll need one when you are: hanging a bathroom mirror, wall-mounting a flat screen TV or replacing a door.

Cost: $3-$5

5. Cordless drill

You'll need one when you're: installing cable, hanging something from a wall stud, replacing a kitchen drawer or wall-mounting a bathroom sink.

Cost: $16-$30

6. Needle nose pliers

You'll need a pair when you're: retrieving small objects lodged in a sink drain, replacing an electrical outlet or light switch or removing a filter screen when unclogging a shower head.

Cost: $2-$6.

7. Tongue and groove pliers

You'll need a pair when you are: installing a new faucet, fixing a leaky bathroom sink or replacing a shower fixture.

Cost: $7-$12.

"You can use it as a plier, as a wrench, even though you're not supposed to, you can tack in nails with it. It's good for a lots of different kinds of uses." -- Jake Yoder, owner of East Ridge Hardware Store

8. Utility knife

You'll need one when you are: cutting carpet, opening packaging or putting up wallpaper.

Cost: $2-$5.

9. Socket wrench set

You'll need one when you are: putting together a crib or play set, doing automotive repair or tightening a table leg.

Cost: $12-$16.

10. Adjustable wrench

You'll need one when you're: assembling a bed frame, reseating a toilet or enacting bicycle repairs.

Cost: $3-$5.

__________________

TOTAL COST

$53-$102 (prices based on estimates using Google Products)

HONORABLE MENTIONS

Have room to spare in your box? These tools almost made the must-have list:

* Hacksaw ($6-$10)

* Vice grips ($6-$13)

* WD40 ($5)

* Duct Tape ($3-$5)

CLASSES

Every month, area Home Depot stores offer workshops to show you the ropes on basic home repair scenarios. Here are the options for March:

* Interior painting: Saturdays, 10-11 a.m.

* Tiling floors and walls: Saturdays, 11 a.m.-noon

* Installing door hardware: Saturdays, 1-2 p.m.

* Spring lawn preparation: Sundays, 1-2 p.m.

about Casey Phillips...

Casey Phillips has worked as a features reporter in the Life department since May 2007. He writes about entertainment, young adults, technology and people of interest. Casey hails from Knoxville and earned a bachelor of science degree in journalism and a bachelor of arts in German. He previously worked as the features editor for Sidelines at Middle Tennessee State University. Casey received the East Tennessee Society of Professional Journalists Award of Excellence for Reviewing/Criticism in ...

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