Tools of Trade

toolsA few decades ago I knew the coolest woman. She was so different from what I have been brought up with as the feminine ideal. She lived alone with a cat instead of married with kids. We met because she boarded her horse where I had mine. I remember the day I found out she was in the Reserves and spent weekends jumping out of planes and was absolutely speechless. I mean.. she was a woman. Jumping out of planes was not a female thing to do.

Over time I grew in awe of her confidence and ability to do things I only saw my dad do. She could change her car oil, fix a broken hinge and the day she showed up at the barn with a large tack box she stated she built I finally could stand it no more and asked how in the world she could do all this stuff. She laughed and said it was a learning process and you start small and in time your confidence as well as skills build. As she helped me build a tack box of my own she said something I will never forget. The only difference between men and women are power tools. 

That’s right.. power tools. She said most boys just grow up alongside dad learning to use them while we learn to make cookies and casseroles. She felt women just need to get some tools and start learning to use them and seemed to think Craftsman was missing a huge market by not providing power tools in pastel colors designed for smaller hands.

As time went by,  I have kept that idea in mind and tried to add and master some basic tools that have allowed me to do a lot of things. We obviously get handy with hammer and screw drivers.. but what else should we get comfortable with?

drillOver the years I have found a few tools really useful for a single woman. First and foremost is a good cordless drill. Now I don’t need all kinds of torquing power so this one for $49 at Home Depot has served me well. I keep it charged and use it here and there around the house and now in creating the gutter garden. Where it has been most useful is building the chicken coop. The battery lasts, for me, all day. It is of good weight but not so heavy I find it difficult to handle.

dremmelAnother tool I just love is my Dremel.  I got mine at Lowe’s for about $100 and have had it a good five years now. I have drilled pilot holes, sanded edges, cut PVC and Plexiglas and done many other things with this tool. And, since there is no reason a power tool can’t be used for a little vanity instead  working all the time, I am going to get some attachments so I don’t have to hand file my acrylic fingernails.. lol. I have attachments that came with this kit that I have no idea what they do. I really like there are still things I could use it for if I only put in some time.. probably over on YouTube.. like using it to router.

mouseWith the move back to Texas I forgot I had this little guy. I call it my mouse sander and I got it at Home Depot for about $25. I have had this a good eight years and it used to get a lot of use. I was into finding old furniture and picture frames and doing a Primitive type paint finish on them. So the sander sanded a lot of corners and paint off. This one fits comfortably in my hands. I am not tall and I do have a smaller hand so that is important. If you like to thrift shop or just have a tight furniture/decor budget.. this gadget can make short work of turning some junk into a stunning decor piece.

hacksawI got this miter box with the intention of redoing all the trim around the doors and floors in the house from Home Depot for about $15. At this time I have not started that project, but the saw has come in handy. I have used it on the chicken coop, cut some PVC pipe and a few branches before I got my lopers. Still have same blade and a small easy to use saw I think is a good basic to have in any tool box.

squareA Recent purchase is a T-Square. I am comfortable with “close”..  so not anal about making sure lines are straight and square was never in my vocabulary. But the coop build and trying to cut things using a line drawn by a board edge led to some slanted cuts in places that needed to be straight. Less than $5 at any store is this plastic T-Square. For what I use it for I did not feel I needed to spend a lot of money. Now I can draw a straight line and at least make sure corners are square. Should really come in handy with finishing the coop and since I am now convincing myself I could probably build some much needed book shelves.. I will get plenty of use for it in the future.

jigsawThis is probably not a must have.. but if you get into build projects this is a good tool for cutting to have. I considered a chop saw and a skill saw and determined this might be the most versatile for what I might get into for projects. I got my variable speed jigsaw from Home Depot and spent about $60. Weight is good and I have done a lot of cutting with the coop build. It has handled 2×4’s, 4×4’s and 2×6’s. The blades have done a lot of work and still cut well. I will be able to use it when I need to cut plastic 55 gallon barrels to make rain barrels and when I get around to making those shelves. After a cut or two you are a pro, and following a drawn line is easy.

The surprising thing I have learned in all this is you don’t have to spend a fortune to have quality tools. I have not bought top of the line or the most powerful but instead researched for my need and then invested in good quality at my price point. So far my investments have got the job done and are ready to do more.

Like I was told all those years ago.. power tools are a great equalizer. I still have some projects where I would just feel better if there was some testosterone present with a power tool for every detail. But you can bet I will be right there getting in some hands on experience so I can tackle a smaller scale project with my new-found experience.

I love my power tools and what they allow me to accomplish. Though my finished projects are not perfect, there is real satisfaction when looking at something completed. Knowing you had no clue what you were doing when you stated, and yet here it is and you did it yourself, is empowering. I am finding once I get past the intimidation and just get out there and do it.. I get comfortable and confident and suddenly another world of what I can do opens up. A world where women can and do jump out of airplanes.


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