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    Toolbelt Tips | Spring 2004 Out Here Magazine

    Take it from someone who knows: these are 5 tools you shouldn't do without

    wood rasp
    miniature tube cutter
    drill bits with a combination of heads
    telescopic magnet
    brass plumb bob
     
    Five tools (from left), wood rasp, miniature tube cutter, drill bits with a combination of heads, telescopic magnet, and brass plumb bob.
    Out Here

    By Noble Sprayberry

    Photography by Jeff Frazier

    Tim Carter knows tools. Twenty years of building and remodeling taught him just what to keep in his tool belt, and when to use it.

    He is a master carpenter, a master plumber, and a master roof cutter, and in 1993, Remodeling magazine selected him one of the nation's top 50 remodelers.

    Putting the experience to work, Carter, of Amberley Village, Ohio, offers advice through a syndicated column and his website: www.askthebuilder.com.

    When it comes to tools, he's willing to share his tool-belt essentials. He recommends these five:

    WOOD RASP

    "If you know what a fingernail file is, it's the same concept," Carter says.

    He prefers a rasp that's about an inch wide and 7 inches or 8 inches long. A rasp has cutting teeth on both sides — one flat and the other slightly convex.

    "It allows me to rapidly shape wood for things like removing splinters or putting a rounded edge on a piece of toe strip," also called baseboard molding, he says. A rasp often is faster than a miter saw and safer than a razor knife.

    MINIATURE TUBE CUTTER

    Plumbing jobs in crawl spaces offer many challenges, including slicing through pipes butting up against floor joists.

    Carter suggests using a miniature tube cutter. The cutter, often big enough for three-quarter-inch tubing, is about one-and-a-quarter inches square and three-quarters of an inch thick.

    Once attached to a pipe, rotating the device around the pipe makes the cut, Carter says.

    DRILL BITS WITH A COMBINATION OF HEADS

    Counter sinking a screw (putting it flush with a piece of wood) usually takes two steps with a drill, Carter says. One drill bit creates a hole and a bit with a Phillips head drives in a screw, and it requires time to change bits.

    Instead, look for sets of drill bits made from particularly strong steel and featuring both fluted edges and a Phillips head. These bits drill the hole and secure the screws, eliminating the need to change bits, he says.

    TELESCOPIC MAGNET

    For anyone who's ever dropped a screw into an appliance's innards or stood on a ladder and dropped a nail, there's a solution.

    Carter carries a telescopic magnet, a tool with a small magnet attached to a metal arm that telescopes from 6 inches to 30 inches. "I'm shocked at how rarely I see people use those things," he says.

    BRASS PLUMB BOB

    Some of the oldest tools are also best. Carter often uses a traditional brass plumb bob for jobs such as marking vertical lines on a wall when hanging wallpaper.

    "Even the best levels can have a margin for error," Carter says, "but a plumb bob gives absolute precision."

    By hanging a weighted brass plumb bob from a string, gravity helps mark a straight line. Notes Carter: "I wouldn't be caught without it."

    Noble Sprayberry is a freelance journalist based in Dallas.

     

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