Friday, September 3, 2010

My Nemesis

The wobble that I inadvertently sent through my extension ladder while standing 20 feet above my concrete driveway, with a brush in one hand, wet rag in the other and half painted window trim in front, condensed two very clear thoughts front and center in my consciousness. The first was was a rapid calculation of the life insurance payout the family might be able to collect on my unfortunate demise. The second was that I'm no longer a particular sufferer of that common malaise of fatherhood: the continual battle to balance work and family life. No, my nemesis is much more specific, being the never-ending tussle between family and home maintenance.

It seems that the cruel hand of entropy is never far from me. A new coat of paint in the kids rooms, that the hot water in the spare bathroom runs AS WELL AS the cold, and the durability of the snap together faux-oak flooring downstairs, might all have been spectacular home improvement milestones, but unfortunately only seemed to result in the same event: the discovery of the next repairable item. I just can't win. The sun is too harsh, the wind too strong, the kids too boisterous, the rain too wet (ED: we get it). And while I can wield a power tool well enough to impress my kids, I'd have to be called proficient rather than handy. I still have duct tape holding a dripping bath faucet tight, 7 years after discovering that "fix". I need to go to a remedial class titled "1000 projects around the house: how to get them done rapidly without killing yourself and leaving plenty of time over to hang out with your family". It's not that I can't figure out how to get the jobs done, as the shiny kitchen faucet can attest, but it's the struggle with finding the time and balancing it against everything else going on. That and the exhaustion that results in tackling the big ones. The only daylight on the horizon is that within 3 years I will have two teenage boys who WILL be helping with the yard work. Even if I have to pay them.
At least having to deal with home repair/maintenance that we "need" (not my choice of words) brings one benefit: the necessity to purchase a new tool. This has got to be some kind of husband/dad golden rule. In honor of all things "dad-repair" I'm going to attempt to generate a list of indispensable tools dads should have. This could take some time. Please add the ones I miss, because there are whole fields of home maintenance I have no clue about, yet.  
Dad U
-keep hammering

Tool box with all the basic stuff
Cordless tool set: drill, circular saw, reciprocating saw
Caulking gun
Full range of drill bits, auger bits, splade bits
Pocketed work waist apron (unbelievably handy)
Spades and shovels
Post hole digger
Wheel barrow
Stud finder (Duh, thats you)
Band Saw
Miter saw
Tape measure
Step ladder, extension ladder be continued (+from comments)

Socket set, and a set of adaptors so they can be used with a cordless drill (very handy)
Quick-connect drill/screwdriver set for cordless drill
Putty knives
Crescent wrench (adjustable wrench)
Screwdriver with various bits in the handle 
Small flat screwdriver
Pipe wrench (aluminum is preferable b/c it is a whole lot lighter)
x-acto knife
Side cutters
Wire strippers
Pry bar(s)
Dremel tool and bits 
Table saw
Chalk line, speed square, pencils (duh), nail sets, utility knife, cat's paw (nail puller), bottle opener.
Various pliers
Various clamps
Zip ties and duct tape (insert Redneck jokes here)


  1. The exterior of my home is falling apart and the interior of my home is besieged by a 2yo. Such is the life a dad.

    And I'm pretty sure every dad has to have done this: Move stud finder around the air, then move it over self and then make a BEEP sound and say, "Honey! I found a huge stud!" And I'm sure every wife has shaken her head.

  2. Now, being a former industrial mechanic I have far more tools than I will ever need again, but some that I find indispensable around the house are:
    crescent wrench (adjustable wrench)
    screwdriver with various bits in the handle
    small flat screwdriver
    pipe wrench (aluminum is preferable b/c it is a whole lot lighter)
    x-acto knife
    side cutters
    wire strippers
    pry bar(s)
    dremel tool and bits (while not required, since getting one I've used it for a million little things and has made my life a whole lot easier in some departments)

    Those are the ones I could think of that I've used in the last week. I really need to get myself a reciprocating saw and an extension ladder.

  3. Yours is a pretty good list, and I think most people end up just accruing the tools as needed. I would probably advise most people to get a cordless drill/driver set and a corded (cordful?) circular and recip saw. The cordless saws just don't go for very long without needing to be recharged, from my experience. Maybe because mine are ten years old. The technology is probably a lot better now.

    Also, I would probably say get a table saw before getting a band saw. I've been a carpenter for twenty years and haven't used a band saw since shop class in junior high.

    Other things to put in your nail apron: chalk line, speed square, pencils (duh), nail sets, utility knife, cat's paw (nail puller), bottle opener.

  4. Yeah, thats my experience with cordless saws too. Perpetual frustrating recharging cycle with as many spare batteries as possible. I've used the bandsaw a lot, but then again, mostly for making kids toys. Check the links below. I really want a table saw.