Eighth Day of Flat Broke Christmas: Tools

21 Nov

Do-it-yourself home repair isn't just for boys.

On the eighth day of Christmas, Flat Broke Blog gave to me: Tools!

Sit down and count how many times something in your home, car, workplace, hen-house — whatever — has broken. Don’t forget to count how many times you wanted to mount a new picture on the wall.

You don’t need to be Bob Vila to need some basic tools. Sure, you won’t need as many as Bob Vila, but you can’t call for or wait on a handyman or handywoman every time you need to assemble or repair something. Besides, that stuff costs money. Tools are yet another important investment.

Just as a side note: Ladies need tools, too. Don’t reserve tool gifts for men. I was talking with friends online about how I was probably one of the very few women who owned a pair of Channellocks. One of my female childhood friends responded by saying she was desperately looking for a hammer one day and wound up having to use her two-year-old son’s toy hammer.

Sure, you can buy someone a 10,000-piece tool kit that will repair anything from a picture frame to a broken dam. But the rest of us don’t have the money for that. Here are some basic tools anyone can find handy.

Editor’s note: While the author is not Bob Vila, either, she is a fourth-generation garage brat. She knows her way around machine shops.



Like hanging up pictures? Want to hang up a new coat rack (which you can also find relatively cheap in some places)? You’ll need one of these, and a box of nails. For basic at-home use, just get some short, narrow nails. You may want to get slightly heavier ones for hanging up larger items like framed posters or full-length mirrors. The greater the nail’s size, the greater risk of heavy damage to your walls. You don’t need giant roofing nails to hang up your NASCAR poster.

A basic hammer will probably set you back a few bucks, at most. As long as you’re not buying ones with fancy rubber grips or big-time name brands, hammers are totally dirt cheap. Smaller home-use nails are majorly cheap, too.

Flathead screwdriver


Basically a flathead screwdriver is just a screwdriver that’s flat at the end. That’s all. This is one of the two types of screwdrivers used most often. These are designed to fit what are called “slotted screws”, which is basically a screw with a small slot across the top. If you see what is in the picture below, that screw will need a flathead screwdriver.


Phillips Head screwdriver


The difference between a Phillips Head and flathead screwdriver is the blade (tip). While the flathead has a single blade, the Phillips Head has two blades in the shape of a cross. This is other type of screwdriver I have seen used most often.

Phillips head screws are also called “crossheads” because of their indentions’ shapes. They look like this image below.


For more information about the wonderful world of screws and screwdrivers, check out this link. It uses relatively simple terms most of you should be able to understand.

Sure, there’s a myriad of different types of screws, screwdrivers, sizes, etc. But you can keep it basic and not have to get a screwdriver set that rivals Tim Taylor’s. Stick with one flathead, one Phillips head. Those handle the screws people will encounter in their homes much more often than others.

These screwdrivers and the screws that go with them are generally dirt cheap — probably less than $10 for each piece. Just keep it basic because the prime name brands can cost significantly more. For basic users, get a screwdriver that isn’t huge, but isn’t one of those tiny ones jewelers use. There are off-brand basic screwdriver sets out there that aren’t very expensive either.

Slip-joint pliers (commonly known as Channellocks)


These pliers are commonly referred to as Channellocks because of the popular brand name. These are pliers for which the pivot point or fulcrum can be adjusted to increase or decrease the size of their jaws. In other words, you can make an easy adjustment for these things to grip just about anything.

My pair of Channellocks were purchased when my dad and I had to loosen up an impossible truck battery terminal while in a pinch. Since then, I’ve found that these things — which have a death-grip-and-a-half — are amazing to have in your home. I have used them to pull stoppers stuck under the water’s weight out of the kitchen sink. I’ve opened pop bottles that were thought to be permanently sealed.

These babies can be used to grip, pry or twist on/off just about anything. Yes, they’re a little more expensive than the other tools. While the others will probably set you back a few bucks at most, Channellocks will be just under $20 in most places if you buy an off brand. That’s about how much I paid for mine, anyway.

Keeping track:

One name draw and price limit

Two wads of cash

Three people asking me what I’d like

Four gas cards

Five personal assistants

Six warm, cozy things

Seven cheap, fun board games

Eight tools…

Coming tomorrow: The ninth day of Flat Broke Christmas!


One Response to “Eighth Day of Flat Broke Christmas: Tools”

  1. Newlywed & Unemployed December 9, 2009 at 10:47 pm #

    And all this stuff is available at discount stores like Big Lots! or dollar stores and the like. There’s no need to blow the budget on tools.

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