Putting together a basic tool collection is one of the first orders of business for new homeowners and would-be do-it-yourselfers.
Selecting the correct tools for the basic kit can save time and effort when routine home repair and maintenance problems occur.
The tools described in this column comprise what I think is an excellent basic kit. The entire collection can be bought for $125 to $150. Additional tools and accessories can be added as they are needed.
A cordless drill-driver is the key component of the tool kit and, at $40 or more, the most-expensive of the tools. Other tools cost from about $2 to about $15 each.
A cordless drill-driver is capable of drilling holes when fitted with a drilling bit, and of driving or removing screws when equipped with a screwdriver bit.
I prefer a cordless drill driver to a corded drill because there is no need to have an electrical outlet nearby or an extension cord when working.
A disadvantage of a cordless drill: It must be kept charged. Some high-quality drills have charging times of an hour or less, but cheaper ones can require several hours.
Some drill-drivers are sold in kits that include several drill bits and screwdriver bits. If these are not included, buy a set of drill bits in sizes running from 1/16 inch to 1/4 inch, and a combination screwdriver bit that will handle both regular slotted and Phillips (X-shaped slot) screws.
Other tools for the basic kit:
* Hammer. A 16-ounce claw hammer is a good choice. The claws can be used for pulling nails or prying things apart.
* Saw. For fast sawing of wood and easy storage, I recommend a toolbox-sized saw such as Stanley's Short Cut. They're also excellent for pruning trees.
* Utility knife. This has a replaceable, razor-sharp blade. Extra blades can be stored in the handle.
* Slip-joint pliers. These pliers have toothed jaws that can be adjusted for gripping objects of various sizes. Most pliers have a built-in notch for cutting wire. Buy pliers about 8 inches long.
* Locking pliers. The main feature is a lever mechanism that lets the pliers be locked to an object, greatly increasing gripping strength. Locking pliers can be used to loosen stuck bolts and have many other uses.
* Adjustable wrench. This type of wrench has smooth jaws that can be adjusted to fit and turn nuts and bolts of various sizes without damaging them. A 10-inch wrench will handle many jobs.
* Screwdrivers. Even though the cordless drill-driver will quickly drive or loosen many screws, it pays to have several sizes of conventional screwdrivers on hand. I recommend having a small and medium-sized screwdriver in both slotted and Phillips types -- four screwdrivers in all.
* Tape rule. A useful, all-around rule has a 25-foot tape that will retract automatically and includes a locking button that will hold the tape in any extended position.
* Putty knife. Good for scraping and light prying as well as spreading putty, caulk, patching plaster and other compounds.
* Wood chisel. An 1/2 -inch-wide wood chisel will handle many jobs in which small amounts of wood or other nonmetallic materials must be removed.
* Sanding block. I recommend 3M's Hand Ease sander, which has a round, easy-to-grip handle for convenient smoothing of wood and other materials. The sander holds a small roll of self-adhesive sandpaper.
* Goggles. Protects when drilling, hammering or handling hazardous materials.