12 Home Tools You Need – Part 4

toolbelt without tools A Guide for New Homeowners.

Like most new homeowners, you’ll soon come to the point where you want to build something of your own.

Maybe it’s a built-in shelf, a coat rack, or something more ambitious, like a pass-through between the kitchen and the dining room. Of course, a few more tools will come in handy when you’re ready to take on a “project”.

Today, I’m adding three “Project Tools” that extend your capability to take on some small-scale home improvement projects.

If you’re just tuning in to this Fridays-in-July series, you can check the previous editions to get up to speed:

Part 1  Pre-Move Tools

Part 2  Moving-In Tools

Part 3  Maintenance Tools

Project Tools

superbar prybar #9

Pry Bar


Pry bars are the smaller and more sophisticated cousin of the traditional crowbar. Besides being a staple in your “demolition arsenal”, pry bars can be used with “finesse”as well.

They’re great for removing tough-to-pull nails, especially in places that your claw hammer won’t fit. You can also use your pry bar to gently remove mouldings, shelves or carpet tack strips or to lever up heavy objects just enough to slide a shim or board under it.


There are a few designs on the market with tough-sounding names like “SuperBar”,”WonderBar”, “SuperWonderBar” and the ludicrously named “Fatmax Xtreme Fubar Functional Utility Bar”. (They had me at Fatmax, but I lost interest by the time I got to Functional…)

While real manly-men may get all excited by the awesome swath of ultimate destruction implied by the thirteen-syllable Fubar, I suggest the base model 15″ Superbar as a more useful overall design.

These things are tough and meant to be struck with a hammer, twisted and suffer all kinds of abuse. (I recommend you kick it around the store parking lot before you bring it home. You don’t want it to look too new in case your neighbours see you using it.)

crosscut handsaw #10

Hand Saw


We’re bombarded with ads outlining the benefits of every type of saw going – except a handsaw.

Handsaws are inexpensive, portable, reliable, and the only ones that work without electricity or batteries. If you need to cut a  2 x 4 or cut a notch in the corner of a shelf, you can grab the saw, make the cut and move on without much fuss. There are a bunch of DIY situations where a power saw just isn’t the first best choice.


Since your handsaw is likely to see only occasional use, you don’t need to invest in anything fancy. A basic, reasonable quality crosscut saw will get you through most situations.

A compact design like the 15″ Stanley FatMax is easy to store near or even in your toolbox. Keep the cardboard packaging sleeve that the saw comes with to protect the teeth of the blade (and you – because those teeth can bite!).

combination square #11

Combination Square


Right angles are better than wrong angles, aren’t they? Well, a combination square will tell you the difference.

Combination squares also allow you to lay out and mark 45 degree angles, measure stuff, and even quickly check if something’s level. The sliding head of a combination square can be set and locked anywhere along the ruler so it functions as a depth gauge as well.

I’m pretty sure Euclid made one of these for his toolbox.


Combination squares are a pretty boring item to shop for really.

A 12″ Stanley or Empire Level combination square will run you about twelve to fifteen bucks. If you’ve got extra cash burning a hole in your pocket, you might eyeball the “speed squares” as well if you intend to do any serious construction.

Next week I wrap up the series with a look at Power Drill/Drivers.

(Part 1) Pre-move Tools

(Part 2) Moving-in Tools

(Part 3) Maintenance Tools

(Part 4) Project Tools

(Part 5) Power Drill/Driver

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