By: Bob Boilard, Vice President of Boilard Lumber
“When all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.”
This quote from Abraham Maslow may actually be about psychology, but we think it applies here, as well. Tools are necessary for almost every home project and having the right tool for the job is crucial to your success. Making a decision can sometimes be difficult, especially if it’s your first time attempting a DIY project: that’s why we’re here to help you get started.
Identifying Your Need
The first thing you need to do is to pinpoint your specific requirements—you’ve probably heard the saying “measure twice and cut once.” Don’t just start attacking a project with the first tool you see: preparation is one of the most important aspects of any job and includes identifying exactly what you’ll need up front to meet your specific requirements.
For instance, you probably aren’t going to assemble an entire bookcase with a handheld screwdriver, and along the same lines, you likely aren’t going to use a nail gun to hang a picture. While both are technically possible, they are just unsafe and impractical. You always need to ask yourself:
1. What is the job?
2. How much strength is required?
3. How much accuracy is required?
4. How much space do you have to operate in?
5. What are the features of a tool that would match each of these previous requirements?
While they are stronger, power tools aren’t always necessary for smaller home projects. Sometimes you’re looking for finesse and not overwhelming power, making hand-held tools the best option. Other times, the opposite is true. Just remember, all tools are designed with a specific function in mind.
Here’s a look at the benefits and setbacks for hand tools when compared to power tools:
Price – Less expensive
Power – Limited to user strength
Maintenance – Minimal
Reliability – Always available
Portability- Lightweight and compact
Speed – Slow; requires more time
Accuracy- Limited to user
Price- More expensive
Maintenance- More prone to part failure
Reliability- Requires power source
Portability- Bulkier & Heavier
Speed- Very fast; powerful
In general, power tools are stronger, faster and often more accurate while hand tools are inexpensive, don’t require an external power source (besides you!) and are easy to use. Power tools have more components that can wear out or break down while and tools may not have enough power for big jobs. Power tools may have the strength for jobs hand tools can’t handle, but hand tools can fit into tight spaces that power tools often can’t.
Not to throw a wrench into the works (pun intended), but there is also a third category of tools which share some benefits with each category.
Pneumatics are a type of power tool which can be given their own classification. While frequently powered by an outside power source (compressed air), they can also be used in handheld situations when powered by compressed carbon dioxide in small cylinders to allow for portability. This category includes impact wrenches, ratchet wrenches, nailers, pinners and more.
Besides getting the job done correctly, why is using the correct tool so important? When you use tools for the wrong purpose, you increase the possibility for injury to yourself and those around you (it can also seriously damage your tools!). This risk can be mitigated by understanding all of the tools in your toolbox. Here are some helpful tips to avoid both injury and damage:
• Don’t use worn out or dull tools: a blunt point or dull blade can lead to an injury.
• Don’t use tools for inappropriate purposes: if you frequently use a screwdriver as a chisel, don’t expect it to work correctly when you need to turn in a screw.
• Always operate the tool in a direction away from your body to help avoid punctures, cuts or broken bones.
Boilard Lumber Can Help
Home remodelers and professional contractors alike choose Boilard Tools for home improvement or construction solutions. Whether you need a hand tool, a power tool or a pneumatic tool, you can count on us to deliver the best possible value coupled with superior service. We offer a wide selection including hammers, drills, wrenches, joiners, saws, sanders, planers and more. Check out our selection in store or online if you think you need a replacement.