5 Tools Every Woman Needs in Her Garage
By Emily McClendon
Maybe you’re the kind of girl that doesn’t know a Standard from a Phillip’s head screwdriver, or maybe you just got finished replacing your own transmission; either way, there are certain tools every woman needs to have on hand. I’m talking about the tools anyone can use, and that everyone should own. Regardless of your significant other’s possibly extensive tool collection, you should personally make sure you have these tools in your garage.
The air compressor is the mainstay of any tool collection. Not only is there the obvious use, powering air tools, but air compressors are useful for tasks from cleaning the garage to simply maintaining your tire pressure. Traditionally, the two major considerations for purchasing an air compressor are HP (horse power) and PSI (pounds per square inch). Horse power has traditionally had the largest influence on the buying decision, with the stance that higher horsepower is better. However, HP can be a misrepresentation of air compressor performance. In the same way car performance can be affected by a number of variables beyond HP, so too can air compressor performance rely on additional considerations. The same is true of PSI, although a higher PSI would seem to mean a better air compressor, in actuality most air compressors require a PSI of 90+ to work effectively. Anything above this level does not significantly improve air compressor performance. The true metric that should be compared when considering which air compressor to purchase is CFM (cubic feet per minute). CFM gives a true indication of how much power an air compressor has, the greater the CFM, the greater the power of your compressor. So whether you need to pressure wash your driveway or blow a plastic bottle to kingdom come, find the right air compressor for you, but make sure you have one!
Not the most glamorous tool in your handywoman’s arsenal, a battery charger may seem superfluous, but believe me, you need it. Your car battery only provides the initial electrical charge required to start your car, but as anyone who has left their lights on knows, it is a critical function. Although the same initial charge can be provided from another car, if you’re home alone or have only one car, the only choice is to go buy a new battery, or call a friend or tow truck to jump you off. Battery chargers are also essential for vehicles that are in storage for long periods of time, such as ATVs and boats. A battery charger may not seem critical until you have an interview to get to and your car won’t start, but one incident like this and your charger will have paid for itself and then some.
Socket wrenches are another all around, multi-purpose tool. Although all socket wrenches are comprised of the same basic shape, a “female” head to which the “male” socket is attached, sockets have varying levels of depth, and are categorized accordingly. “Shallow” (also known as “standard”) sockets have a lower profile and are used to access narrower spaces. Alternatively, ”deep”, or high profile, sockets are useful for tightening or loosening nuts in which the bolt is protruding. Additionally, sockets are produced in hexagonal (6 point) or double hexagonal (12 point) configurations. For most homeowner needs, 12 point sockets are perfect, as they are faster than the 6 point sockets most commonly used in professional applications. Socket wrenches are particularly ideal for women due to the torque provided by ratcheting sockets. The additional force provided by ratcheting sockets reduces the amount of effort needed and a breaker bar can be used to amplify this effect. A good set of sockets can be used to handle almost any angle or size nut quickly and more easily than a traditional wrench.
Falling nominally under the category of vise grips, locking pliers come in every configuration traditional pliers do, including needle nose, flat nose, and round nose. The advantage locking pliers offer is an adjustable width that can be locked in place, removing the need for hand strength to continually hold the pliers closed. While vise grips are usually marketed for use in industries like welding, applications for locking pliers abound around the house. Locking pliers can be used for any job where you need to hold something securely but do not want it to come in contact with your hand. Getting a pair with a one handed release can really make jobs easier, especially for jobs in tight spaces.
While there are specialized locking pliers (vise grips), the more generic options are fine for anyone who doesn’t form sheet metal as a hobby. In fact, major tool companies such as Leatherman have recently released locking pliers as an option in their multi tool. Companies are also improving their offering of locking pliers with cushioned grips, making them much more comfortable to use. In a pinch, locking pliers can even be used as a hammer, truly making this a versatile tool.
Cordless Drill with Bit Set
If you have one tool, it’s probably a screwdriver. Everybody has screwdrivers, and they come in so many shapes and sizes, it’s hard to imagine throwing them all away, but that’s exactly what you can do if you get a cordless drill. The idea of a cordless drill can be intimidating if you’ve never used a power tool before, but in actuality manufacturers have started releasing models that are lightweight and easy to use. A sturdy cordless drill with a large bit set can cover any screw sinking or removal need, and can drill holes through almost any material.
The most important attribute to consider when buying a drill is voltage. Very simply, the higher voltage a drill has the more powerful it will be. You should also look for a drill that offers a reversible option, variable drill speed, and a large chuck (where the bit goes) size. Finally, make sure the drill you choose has good reviews for battery life and comes with a smart charger, which will cut down on charging time compared to conventional chargers.
While picking out tools may not be the most glamorous shopping excursion, the proper tools are necessary for everyone, man or woman. With the right tools, almost any household job can easily be accomplished. Don’t worry though, nobody will ask you to take out the trash.