Episode-1014- Hand Tools and Homestead Gear — 63 Comments

  1. Great show! I bought a scythe this summer at a flea market. It was a nice antique one and still had a decent edge!

    One thing I found out though is there is no real good way to carry a scythe in public!

    • Sure there, is just hook your thumb into the suspenders of your bib overalls and spit out of the side of your mouth. You will look perfectly normal!

  2. Good saw Jack, I have the Stihl MS-250 myself. Eight years old and still good. Cuts about four cord of mixed hardwood and softwood a year

    • And I have a Stihl MS 180 a few years old, but my pride is a little 14″ Stihl 012 AV that’s about 25 yrs old , still purring, and never been in the shop!

  3. You aren’t kidding about things breaking down this time of year! Both our cars and washer went out this week! Looking forward to listening to this show, been wondering what tools are good to have for what. Thanks.

  4. The cordless tools can be ran of a 12 volt car battery by making a pigtail . I use this setup on obsolete tool that I can get batteries for. Great show .

    • I guess that is only true of 12v tools? Like I run 18v Dewalt tools so it wouldn’t work for them right or will it? What about the 9.6 and 14.4 stuff?

    • I converted an old DeWalt for this to keep in the truck. Don’t use a cigarette lighter plug for the end (I popped a few fuses in the process). Alligator clips or larger ring terminals directly to the battery do the trick. Pawn shops are a great place to find tools with dead/dying batteries and you can haggle a bit more if they don’t have the charger to go with them.

  5. Well work on your 18volt just fine. That 18 volt battery doesn’t stay 18 volt very long. Take may word for it . I run a starter, alternator and tool repair shop.

  6. Great show Jack.
    I like to add an item to the list if i may ..
    An air compressor and at least a brad nailer and /or finish nailer.

    I always seem to realize just how often I need to use it right after my brother borrows it. lol

  7. I generally use a old brown lamp cord as you want be drawing that many amps. Then use a matching fitting to connect at the clips in the tool, drill a small hole in the handle to run the cord in and tie a knot so it doesn’t pull out or gut the old battery and make the connection in it if you have a lot of tools that use that style of battery. You must watch your polarity as the tool may run backward or you could blow an electronic switch.

    • I’ve done a something similar. I had a bosch 12v drill that I couldn’t get battery packs for , so I opened one of the old batteries, removed the ni-cad cells, drilled a hole in the bottom, and installed a female power jack wired to the battery pack pins. I then made a cord with a male plug and clips for a battery. This worked great because the drill was much lighter and I could put a gel cell battery in my nail bag that would run it for a long time. The cord was just long enough so I could reach up over my head when doing sheet rock of whatever.

  8. OK my kind of show! Hubby is saying oh nooo she’s going to want to shop. YOU BET! I heard you Jack ” GET IT YOU’LL NEED IT SOMEDAY” yippy..

    Ladies our hands are smaller but that does not mean we don’t need the power. I have found my fav is DeWalt battery skill saw and saws all. Enough power to work, smaller hand grips and well balanced without being so dang heavy.

    However on the skill saw I had hubby undo the safety switch. I could not push that and pull the trigger. Not saying I recommend that but do try your safety switch before you buy. They are good but sometimes makes it a pain or in my case make it more dangerous. I like the color too. Makes the tools easy to spot.

    Makita cordless drills I find are the best fit with power good grip and balance. They are much lighter than the DeWalt drills. You do want some weight so the tool will do most of the work. If it’s to light then you have to use muscle power and are asking for injury. Get extra bits when you think you have enough extra get 4-5 more! While getting extra bits have a few extra blades on hand for your saws. I like using two drills at a time one for pre drilling and one for screwing. Makes it easier on the body, ( especially when building with pallets. ) and helps prevent splitting.

    I love my saws all. It might not make the nicest cuts but that thing works on everything. I will use that before I use my chain saw. It works great for taking out fence posts that I can’t pull out and cutting roots in the ground, tree branches, pvc pipes (for my cold fames) just all kinds of stuff. Fair warning it can shake stuff up a bit. Just hold on and go for it. Vise helps for smaller stuff.

    Both brands hold up to the abuse use I dish out I am very hard on tools. I use them weekly if not daily.

    Channel locks ok I call them spinny gripers. Yes I have my own girl language chink chink is air compressor with the staple gun. Hubby has been trained in my language so it’s ok. I love the spinny grippers I have weak hands so I snap a couple of those things on to a stall mat and I can drag it any where. Snap it on to a rope attached to my lawn mower and can drag heavy flat stuff around. ( short distance) Using them as a handle to hang plywood by myself or wood that is awkward or heavy for my hands to hold. Just screw a screw in clip the grippers on and poof a easy grip handle.

    I could really use a beeper to put on my tape measures I swear those things are as bad as socks getting lost in the dryer. I always carry 2 extras in my purse.

    Shop vacs well I love to hate them. The small one I hooked up to the chop saw since we didn’t have a bag. That worked pretty darn good when I would remember to turn it on before the cut. I found the small ones get clogged with larger stuff and hay very easy. The large one does not have that problem. But is hard for me to grip store and move around. Hubby loves it. So guess who gets to vacuum the shop? I can say it is better than having dust from sweeping.

    Don’t forget safety gear! Another must have tool MAGNET. Great for getting nails screws wires and stuff out of the grass shop floor or work bench. Helps prevent flat tires & injured animals. Plus it never fails the one screw or what ever you needs falls down a crack and you just can’t reach it.

    Sorry to ramble but hope that helps some of you ladies get out there and try some tools. Start small bird house or nest box next thing you know you will be building sheds.

    PS. Storing up on nails screws washers are like having flour salt and sugar. Along with having extra lumber on hand I also like to have brackets. Like joist hangers fence hangers (cuppies) & such. They can make it so so much easier for me when building. I hate having to toenail everything. Hinges and L brackets are good to have on hand too.

    Now off to make a shopping list…

  9. I think a decent welding unit is essential. I have a Hobart 140 mig that will run at 2700 watts @ 20 amps. Have at least one spare tank of gas and plenty of wire.

  10. Thought of one more thing. Flat bar, crow bar & or nail puller. Those are like erasers. I build didn’t say I was good at it. lol I take twice as much apart as I build. My motto if it don’t work the first time then get a bigger hammer.

  11. Hey, there is one tool I would ad and that would be a Brace and Bit. I never thought I would use mine (had it on the wall for decoration) but one day my last battery for my cordless drill gave up the gohst and I still had to finish driving screws into about half of my fence.

    I grabed the brace off the wall, slipped the bit holder out of my cordless drill into it, and was back in business. I quickly discovered that using that brace was nearly as fast as using the cordless drill. When you factor in trips to the charger to replace batteries it may even be faster overall.

    The only downside I found was that it works best with two hands so holding the peice and driving the screw at the same time is difficult. I usually nest that swivel handle against my chest or stomach and that allows me to hold the work-peice while I turn the brace with my other hand.

    Since I discovered that, I find myself grabing other hand tools off the wall and leaving the power tools on the shelf. It just seams more satisfying to work with hand tools whenever possible. A side benifit of doing that, is that I get to learn the skills it takes to operate that hand tool so if I ever need to do it I can.

    I would also say that using a hand tool deepens my understanding of the mechanics of the task I am doing, which helps when I use a power tool to do the same or a similar task. I find this especialy true when working with wood. Does that make sense?

  12. Haven’t listened yet but think it’s awesome that this show is playing on election day. Why talk about those two tools when we can talk about real tools that may actually be able to help you one day.

  13. I picked up a Kaiser Blade … Some folks calls it a Sling Blade, I calls it a Kaiser Blade…..kinda like an axe handle, with a long blade on it shaped kinda like a bananer.

    Seriously though….a good show. We all too often forget about the basic everyday tools, focusing on the BOB/BOV food storage and such.

    I’d add good set of linesman pliers your list for everyday wiring and such. Another one of those “on-the-grid” items that may be useful. Add to it a big spool of romex (outdoor grade). Extra switches and outlets (also weatherproof). I’d put that in the same category as the fasteners. Never know when that stuff will come in handy. Not to mention copper value ;).

    I understand not everyone knows how to run electric, but with a little know-how…..

    It could also stretch the usage and reach of your generator.

  14. Jack, I can’t wait to finish this show!

    As someone who owns tens of thousands of dollars of tools I love talking about them. 🙂

    It’s not on the list(you may have said it in the show) magnetic trays are awesome. You don’t “NEED” them, well until you have one, then you will always need them.

    Sorry to chime in without finishing the show. But this is my jam right here.

  15. I don’t know anyone who doesn’t have these basic tools. I mean only an idiot doesn’t own a shop vac. I know that not everyone is a tradesman but a shop vac is one of the most useful things ever even if it just to vacuum out the car or suck up cat hair etc.
    Its easy to overload in fasteners. just trown whats left in you pouches in a bucket and then once a month sort the bucket into whatever kinds of jars you have a round and before you know it you’ll be flooding in fasteners.

  16. One important thing missing still. A good pair of gloves, make that 10 good pairs of gloves. Can’t afford to have yourself cut, or missing a finger for that matter.

  17. Well, I wish I knew more about using all the tools you mention. A lot of what you talked about was pops and whistles to me. Unfortunately, I was raised in a world where girls don’t use power tools. I’ve learned in the last couple years to use a circular saw, a drill, and a chainsaw (I had someone teach me that one) but there is still so much that I have no clue about. My hubby is the same having been raised by a single working mom and has even less of a clue than I do about making/fixing things. He has been teaching himself plumbing though and does small repairs on our faucets/toilets.

  18. Had to listen to this show again just in case I missed something the first time. Then it hit me. I missed the most important point. My most invaluable tool? HUBBY. With out his strength stature stamina I truly would be SOL! I don’t know what I would do without him.

    I can do a lot by myself but it is nothing compared to what he can do. When we work together we rock!

    This is why I am always saying ” lift with your legs”. “Don’t work so hard. Take a break.” & his fav is “Honey you can’t die or get seriously injured yet there is still to much work to do! BE CAREFUL!”

  19. I use a post hole digger all the time for planting trees along with a long steel bar for rocks. Steel bar also useful for nudging downed trees.

    I have picked up some nice old saws and files at the Habitat store.

    • We are big fans of the hori hori at my house. We have two. I heard it’s Japanese for diggy diggy.

      Also, other great gardening tools
      Felco pruners
      Hula Hoe
      Lucko Wire Weeder

  20. Don’t worry about specialty shows about tools unless you want to talk about the best tools for jobs. I’ve learned it’s true that you can do any job if you have the right tool, so I have everything on your list today except a scythe for cutting tall grass or grain. But I’m looking for a good one. I’d also like to have an axe like the one that one of your guests makes. I wonder how many other women listeners prefer to hang out in the tool and hardware sections of stores than do any other kind of shopping. Yyou can’t have too many tools or hardware. I started twenty-seven years ago creating tool heaven. Like others I could add to your list including some basic carpentry, plumbing, and elec. how-to books. Did you list soldering iron, block and tackle, or come-along? How about wood plane? Anvil? Pipe threader? I just loved hearing you talk about this today!!! Now, I’m gonna listen again!! I might have missed something!

  21. Few quick things to add. Gonna agree with gotta haves of a utility knife, pry bar assortment. Welder, Oxy/acetylene torch and an air compressor are all nice to haves.

    One great place to look for tools of all sorts beyond garage sales or craigslist, is pawn shops. I’ve gotten more than a few sets of tools from our local pawn shop. They’ll usually have everything from wrenches and screwdrivers all the way up to generators, compressors and tool boxes. Especially if you find tools such as Craftsman or Snap-On with lifetime warranties. Just because they are a little rough or rusty, doesn’t mean you can’t return them. Plus, you can buy a bucket of cheap tools that you won’t need to worry about damaging or losing (perfect for a tool box in a truck). Every pawn shop I’ve been to has had a special section set aside just for tools, and every now and then you can find good specialty tool. I’ve seen jack hammers, paint sprayers, impact wrenches, and post hole diggers all for sale at such places.

  22. An air compressor as well. They come in handy when you are cleaning up chain saws and when you have been around any very dirty environment like splitting wood and building a hay stack with hay bails. They also come in handy for when you need to clean off Mil-spec nylon as I have used it to clean off my Camelbak Ambush.

  23. Another one that I use every day, hearing protection. I get made fun of most days for wearing them but we’ll see who’s laughing in 20 years when all those guys here is a ringing from the tinnitus.

    Buy the most comfortable ones you can get and wear them all the time. Helps drown out the wife even more. : D

    • I was kinda surprised this was off the list. I keep earplugs and 4 cheap sets of ear muffs in each vehicle. But, we do go to the races\shooting enough to warrant it. When shooting, I use both earplugs plugs and a good set of ear muffs.

      I use them when I mow, blow leaves, go to races, shooting, running a saw, I use them at lease once a week, usually more. Plus, it is good to teach the kids to protect themselves, by showing them mom and dad do it.


      • I remember This Old House segment where they measured the decibels of just hammering a nail into a board. It was like 120 to 140. Figure how many times you hammer nails in during a day not counting all power tools into it.

  24. Tap & Die set for metric and SAE nuts and bolts …
    this set has the uncanny ability to turn a bad day into a really good one, with the appropriate use of normal force and good cutting oil.

  25. One item I could have used when changing car tires is a breaker/cheater bar/pipe. Gives you the extra leverage when removing stubborn lug nuts. Handy when you don’t have pneumatic tools.

  26. A couple of notes on cordless power tools-
    I have been selling tools for over 3 years now. I sell a lot of Makita, Milwaukee, Ingersoll Rand (IR), and Dewalt power tools. Selling these brands, I also hear the complaints of my customers whenever things go wrong. Getting Makita and Milwaukee tools warrantied and worked on are easiest, followed closely by IR and Dewalt. If you want accessories and tools that match the batteries you may have, go with Dewalt or Milwaukee. They have the best selection of tools for the homeowner/homesteader in the line of saws, sanders, drills, and other accessories.
    If you want top-notch tools for the automotive side of things, get some of the new IR 20v cordless impact wrenches. I have seen these take lug nuts off that a decent pneumatic impact wouldn’t.
    I really suggest Lithium Ion batteries if you can afford it. They quickly charge (sometimes 0-100% in 15 minutes) and usually have a 2-3 year replacement warranty and are easy to repack at a battery wholesale or batteries plus.

  27. I don’t know about welding gear since it takes a special skill set to use, but I think a simple soldering attachment would be clutch. It can be used on anything from electronics to copper water line pipe. I had never considered needing something like this until my house shifted in the summer heat and decoupled the city water supply line from the foundation. With a little flux and some expert instruction, we were back in business.
    Also, I would say a decent multimeter is a useful piece of kit in vetting out individual problems. It will work to repair small appliances, or as I found, help determine which component crapped out on my AC unit. After watching and paying the tech systematically test each piece, this has saved me many service calls.
    I can attest that the shop vac is nice to have when you need it. It is much easier to clean up water leaks in bathrooms and kitchens than going through loads of towels. Thats just my 2 cents. Thanks for the shows.

  28. Hey Jack!! Great show as always.

    I’d like to suggest that you add pocket screw joinery equipment to the list. Quick and easy way to build stuff. No gluing, no clamping. It sounded and felt like cheating a little when I started, but when I build something now, I generally will use pocket screws to do it. Kreg makes an awesome starter kit that will pretty much do everything. The Kreg Jr. is $40 and the face clamp is another $20. (You’ll really have a tough time without the face clamp). So for around $60 and a little practice, you’ll be building stuff faster and probably stronger than you had before. I could go on and on about how awesome this system is, but it would probably start to seem as off I was affiliated with the Kreg company. Haha. (I’m not, by the way)

    Keep up the good work!!!

    • P.S. I’ve been using Ryobi 18v tools from Home Depot for years with little issues. I beat the piss out of them too. You didn’t mention them as an alternative to DeWalt, so I figured I’d mention it.

  29. I disagree with you on the cordless drills, I use drills everyday and I used to use Dewalt but I switched to Porter Cable, the 12v Porter Cable out preforms the 18v Dewalt by a long shot, the lithium ion batteries last for days unlike the Dewalt witch last only hours

  30. First, the Shop-Vac should be on the required list, not “nice to have.” A shop vac is a great way of cleaning up minor flooding, stuff around the shop, etc. Also, most can be switched to being used as a blower.

    Second, eye and hearing protection should be on the list. Hearing protection can be optional if you opt to forgo power tools.

    Third, what type of chisels? Seriously, there’s a HUGE difference between woodworking chisels and chisels intended for masonry work. (This doesn’t even get into the difference WITHIN chisel families.) Using a woodworking chisel to do the work of a cold chisel will quickly destroy the woodworking chisel and possibly one’s eyes.

    Fourth –
    Whenever using a tool, you’re either taking the tool to the work, or the work to the tool. If you do the latter, it makes things much, much easier if you have a decent bench to work on, and hold the work in place. “Holding the work in place” is best accomplished with a vise, of which there are legions for different purposes. Most importantly, there are cheap imported vises that will break on you, decent imported vises that will do the job, and bulletproof domestic and European vises that will outlive your grandchildren. (note, some work can be done without a vise using alternative workholding styles and tools.)

    Bench(es) and vise(s). Required on the homestead.

  31. Jack and Friends,
    I’m in the Marine Corps and stationed overseas so I get the podcasts later/furture due to being in Japan/ Afgan. With the chainsaw thing I’m an arborist an have many chainsaws mostly Stihl however, however Oregon makes a cordless electric saw that is great for small projects. Here is the link
    It’s what I tought the wife to use when I’m not able to do the job. Check it out I think you’ll all like it too.

  32. Love the show–love the comments! I’m new to the tool thing. My husband has lots, but is TOTALLY disorganized! I had been considering how to organize his tools when I began listening to this podcast. Will relisten to it and take notes this time. My husband has been made aware of the planned organization project.

    • @Thecia
      I have found that “organization” is really a personal thing. I work with 13 other mechanics. We all work on the same cars, and have similar tools. Everyone is totally different.

      At work, I am a prick about how my tools are(they are even faced). At home, storage is in demand so it is all about fitting the most tools in the smallest space.

      My best advice is, make the things you use all the time easy to get to, and put back. I also have a little tool tray I carry around the house when doing projects.

      If the work me, and the at home me( in regards to being organized) It would be a war. HA.

      This is the link to a gallery I set up of my work tools. If he needs any storage ideas.

      Hope that can help.

  33. Great show. The shade tree mechinic in me cringed a little thinking of you putting a set of vise grips on a wheel stud to hold a brake rotor. There is a chance that the vice grip might damage the wheel stud and screw up the threads. I just thread on a lug nut to hold the rotor tight to the hub when I change my brakes.

    • First if they are just lightly applied there is not risk even with threads, second the way my studs are the part I gripped them on is flat anyway.

  34. Finally, an episode that I can chime in on! I use tools almost daily at work, with metal and wood being predominant but getting into other materials occasionally.
    I agree with the other comments that a utility knife and various prying tools should be on the list. I especially agree with safety gear. Ask those that work with me in the shop, I’m very big on eye and ear protection. A good dust mask &/or respirator would also be good and useful in other situations outside the shop. A good staple gun with assorted sizes of staples should also be included. Arrow T50 is the long time standard for that.
    On the hand saws, I would suggest a combination saw for anyone that isn’t going to do a lot of wood working. It doesn’t cut as well as a rip or crosscut saw used correctly, but it cuts a lot better than either one used for the wrong job. Plus, it’s one saw to save money and space if you don’t use it much.
    On the impact driver, I wouldn’t suggest using it for car tires as suggested. There are actually two similar tools in this case. An impact driver typically has a 1/4″ hex socket to accept standard screw bits. An impact wrench typically has a square drive to fit a socket, usually 3/8″ or 1/2″ and is probably what was being suggested. The impact driver is great for driving screws and other small fasteners. It doesn’t have the power for large things like lug nuts though. I’ve twisted the adapter shaft driving 3/8″ lag screws into 2×4 boards. I wouldn’t want to try lug nuts with it.
    On power tools, I’m going to respectfully disagree that DeWalt is the top line tool brand. Unfortunately it seems their quality has gone down over the years. I would place DeWalt at the same level as Bosch, Makita, Porter Cable and Millewaukee. Most pros that I know that make their living with tools seem to choose one of these brands. Asking a group of them which is better is a bit like asking “Ford vs. Chevy” or “AR15 vs. AK”. They’ll all get the job done and it comes down to features and preference. If you have friends with power tools, ask what brand they have. If all else is equal, choosing the same brand means batteries are interchangeable.
    In my opinion, the best value for the quality cordless tools out there right now are Ryobi. No, they aren’t as good as the above mentioned tools but they are a great value for an occasional user. I actually outfitted the shop at work with them because I needed a lot at one time and could get 2-3 Ryobi drills for the cost of one of the bigger name tools. They’ve held up really well, some of them for 5 years of almost daily use. So far the only repair was to replace one trigger out of a stable of about 10 drills and impact drivers. The bigger problem is the batteries. A lot of the NiCad batteries won’t hold a charge any more. They also don’t hold a charge as long off the charger as my DeWalt batteries do. Both problems will likely be solved with the newer lithium-ion batteries they have out.
    On sharp tools, not only are they safer but if you do injure yourself it’s usually a cleaner cut. I’ve seen the evidence myself and heard it from doctors that the sharper tool leaves a cleaner cut that heals faster and better than the jagged cut from a dull tool.

  35. Perhaps these are more consumables or supplies than tools but I have found penetrating oil (WD-40), zip strips, electrical and duct tape to be invaluable tools. I am a farmer and use the heck out of all that stuff. WD-40 goes on so many rusty nuts and bolts that I deal with as well as limp a bearing along a little farther when I can’t afford to break down. Side story… In the Army, I ditched my issued weapon lube, CLP, and just used WD-40. Never had a jammed rifle after that. There is better weapon lube but that was enlightening to me at the time.

    More normal tools, I carry a leatherman with a needle nose and a small vice grip pliers as well as a flashlight (headband type). I like the ones that use 1 AA battery. they’re smaller and its easy to carry a second battery. One battery gets me through a long night of farming and then replace. (I use rechargeable batteries). Its amazing how often I need a flashlight even during the day farming.

    Wrenches: I keep 1 good set of tools and several cheap ones! The cheap ones tend to disappear as they ride along on tractors, combines, 4wheeler etc. I don’t recommend going ultra cheap, I bought one set of super cheap tools and that was the last time I’ll do that but lower end is fine generally speaking for what I need.

  36. A good brace and boring bits would be a great addition. Although manufactured bits are a little pricey they have are pretty adaptable and can be used for a wide range of drilling and boring operations