We have discovered, through reader surveys, that do-it-yourself (DIY) projects are some of our most popular articles. Mother's readers love to tinker and are resourceful recyclers of what others may consider trash. Over the years, Mother Earth News has featured DIY projects that range from extremely simple, such as a backyard bench, to very complicated, such as the wood-gas generator.
But every project, even the simplest, requires some kind of tool. If you're just getting started in the DIY world, you may want to spend some time at a local hardware store to get an idea of the breadth of carpentry, plumbing and electrical tools available. You'll discover that there's a specialty tool for every aspect of a project, such as a scroll saw for making fancy cuts or a crimping tool for PEX plumbing pipe.
But you can rent specialty tools and save cash and space in your workshop by purchasing a few high quality, multipurpose tools that will last a lifetime.
Talk to the hardware store folks about the basic tools necessary for the list of projects you plan to do. Get a feel for which brands have the highest quality at a price you can afford. I have a wooden-handled hammer that my mother used while building our house when I was a baby (that would make the hammer 60 years old). It's just the right weight for my hand. A heavier hammer might drive the nail better, but I couldn't hold on to it for long because of the stress on my wrist.
Another good place to check out basic tools is at flea markets and auctions. A tool that has functioned well for 50 years and costs a fraction of a new one is a treasure. A little lubrication or a new wooden handle and you are ready to go!
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