Tips On Tools


Father’s Day is June 20, and among the most popular presents for pop are tools.

The Carey Brothers offer the following advice for buying tools:

Measuring tapes

When you purchase a measuring tape, look for one that allows you to replace the blade. The blade is its most commonly damaged part. As tradespersons we have damaged a blade in as few as five days. The five-day-old tape was brand new in every other respect. A wide measuring tape is easier to use than a narrower one when measuring long distances (15 to 30 feet). And the larger numbers are easier to read. If you have a choice, select the one-inch blade. With this wider, more stable blade, one person can measure long distances without a helper to hold the other end. The numbers on the blade that fall on 16-inch centers are highlighted on some brands. This can save time when building walls, floors and ceilings where the framing members are 16 inches on center.

Wood chisels

A properly honed, high-carbon-steel wood-chisel can turn the average do-it-yourselfer into a regular Michelangelo. With a good quality chisel, a great deal of cutting can be done without the help of a hammer or mallet. But beware. The differences between good and not-so-good are subtle. It is difficult to differentiate between one kind of steel and another when a chisel is new. In the store, one brand will feel as sharp as another, and the finish from tool to tool looks pretty much the same regardless of quality. So, what’s the difference? The harder the steel, the longer the chisel stays sharp and the more easily it cuts. And chisels made of high carbon steel also sharpen to a finer edge. With chisels, you need to find out who has the best reputation in your area. One thing is for sure, when purchasing high quality chisels, they are definitely expensive.

Power tools

Differences are still subtle, but there is a way to see which is more powerful. On the side of every electrical device is a tag that shows how much amperage the tool draws. Let’s say you are comparing three different quarter-inch electric drills. One drill uses up to two AMPS, one uses zero to three AMPS (this would be a variable speed drill that maxes at three amps) and another uses five AMPS. Chances are the five-AMP tool will give you the best bang for your buck. You may never need all five AMPS, but there is less strain on the motor, and you can count on it lasting longer than the others if you are drilling anything denser than balsa wood.


Not all squares are alike. It used to be that one of the most basic gizmos in a woodworker’s tool box was the adjustable tri-square. It still can be a nice tool, but several moving parts sometimes make it a real pain in the tool-pouch. The blade of an adjustable tri-square looks nice when new, but if left outside will rust and make the measurements impossible to read. Also sliding the blade through the base will become difficult. We recommend that you look into a one-piece tri-square. They are usually made of aluminum and are light. The numbers on some are painted in bright colors on a dark background making reading them easy on the eyes. The nicer ones have degree markings that facilitate marking angles. Rain doesn’t seem to bother the one-piece version and a fall to concrete from your roof will cause little or no damage to it.

And that’s all there is to it! For more home improvement tips and information, visit our web site at or call our listener hot line 24/7 at 1-800-737-2474 (ext 59).


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