Becoming a first time homeowner introduces you to new tools you may have never used. If you can’t tell a wrench from a hammer, you might wonder how you might operate something as dangerous as a power saw. Whether you want to hang a picture perfectly straight or if you need to power wash the pollen off your new driveway, we’re here to help you navigate the world of handyman tools!
Unfortunately, a stud finder won’t help you find a hot date – but it will help you find studs in your wall! If you hang heavy frames or shelving on the drywall rather than the stud, you risk damaging the wall. A stud finder makes the challenge of finding the studs a breeze! Stud finders come in multiple models; some rely on a magnet to find the studs, and others can detect changes in the wall density.
Both kinds operate similarly. Turn the device on, place it along the wall, and slowly move it horizontally across the wall. When the stud finder detects the stud or change in density, the results light up on the device’s screen.
Pro Tip: Studs are places generally 16 to 24 inches apart from each other, this can help guide you as you search them out. Stud finders aren’t foolproof, and they may detect material such as plumbing. If your stud finder detects a stud that is less than 16 inches away from another, then chances are, you’ve found a bit of plumbing instead.
To keep your new driveway in tip-top condition, invest in a power washer! If you have a gas-powered power washer, check the gas and oil levels first. If it’s electronic, then no problem, simply plug in the machine to get it started.
Tighten the pressure hose to the spray gun, and connect the other end to the power washer machine. Connect a garden hose to the machine as well. Make sure that all hoses are tightly secured before starting the garden hose. Once the water starts flowing, test out the water connection and pressure power by watering a patch of grass first. Start slow, and gradually build up to the pressure you need to get your driveway squeaky clean.
Ready to build the DIY of your dreams? Time to buy a circular saw! These handy saws are commonplace in the world of DIY projects, and as long as you follow the instructions, they’re very safe to use.
To make a straight cut, measure the material (we’ll say wood for the sake of simplicity) and place it upon a workbench. Make sure the workbench is clear of any clutter. Set the blade’s depth to no more than ¼ inch, the more blade that’s exposed, the higher the risk of you accidentally slicing your finger. Once you’re ready, squeeze the trigger and slowly move the saw across the wood. Do not pick up the saw until the cut has been finished! Additionally, some circular saws come with an extra safety measure where the saw will only start if you press a button and squeeze the trigger. If you’re nervous about accidentally turning the saw on too early, invest in a circular saw with this feature.
The breaker box is the key to your power kingdom. If you need to cut your power or restore it, start at the breaker box. Open the panel to access the different switches. Some breaker boxes will already have the switches labeled for your convenience. If they’re not labeled, you’ll have to go through the laborious task of testing each one to see what appliance or outlet of the house it controls. To prevent having to repeat this exercise, take the time to make a little label next to each of the switches. Once you know which switch controls which appliance, cutting off the power or restoring it is as easy as flipping the switch!
Levels are small devices used to determine when an object is, well, level – perfectly horizontal or vertical. This is especially useful when you want to hang a picture and ensure that it’s perfectly straight on the wall. At its most rudimentary is a small tube-shaped vial filled with liquid and an air bubble, with indicator lines on the outside of the container.
To use it, simply place the level on the surface of the object you want to level. Move the object until the air bubble is in the center of the vial; in most cases, this means the bubble will be in between the two indicator lines. For larger objects, consider purchasing a device that contains multiple level vials.
Like all other power tools, using a power drill for the first time may seem intimidating feat. Fortunately, power drills are relatively simple tools to use! First, start with learning the different pieces of the tool: the chuck, which holds the bit in place, the clutch, which controls the amount of torque (the twisting force), and the trigger, which you squeeze to make the drill work, and the forward/reverse switch, which controls if the drill moves clockwise or counterclockwise, respectively.
Attach the appropriate sized bit into the chuck and tighten the chuck so the drill is properly in place. Determine the level of torque you want your drill and adjust the clutch accordingly. A good rule of thumb is to use a lower torque for drilling into drywall and higher torque for drilling into thick wood or metal. Once you’re ready to start, plug it into the power source (unless it’s cordless!) and squeeze the trigger to begin drilling.
This is just a small sampling of household tools you might start using in your new house. With all of the above tools, remember to practice safety first! Always double check electrical outlets, wear safety gloves and goggles as appropriate, and be aware of your movements when using these tools.