Using tools correctly
Making the most of your enthusiasm and determination to complete a DIY project is a lot easier and gives better results if you know how to use your tools correctly.
Obviously, there are many ways of doing things and experienced DIYers will have their favourites, but if you’re not too sure but want to have a go, here are some tips to get you started.
Pencil – getting hold of a specific carpenter’s pencil is a good idea for any project. Because they are more of an oblong shape rather than round, they won’t roll out of reach when you put them down and you can make a thicker or thinner mark as required, they’re easy to grab and comfortable to hold.
When you’re ready to mark your wood, instead of a marking the measurements with a dot or dash, mark them with a V – it’s easier to see and you can focus on the apex from any direction. Be aware of how thick your line is and be consistent about which side of the line you will cut as it could make up to 2mm difference.
Hammer – to prevent wood from splitting when you’re using a hammer, first drill a small pilot hole in the wood then gently tap the end of the nail to blunt it – and if you’re feeling really fancy you could even rub the nail with beeswax.
Screwdriver – again, to use a screwdriver properly, drill a pilot hole, insert the screw and then apply gentle initial pressure in slow turns. Do exactly the same but the opposite way around when you’re unscrewing
Drill – here, slow rotation to begin with is key. Then, gently increase the pressure and speed until the bit has…bitten… and found its way. If you’re using the drill to tighten or loosen screws, use the drill in the same way as a screwdriver
Pliers – these use leverage to grip, remove or manipulate round objects that don’t have flat sides such as pipes, rods or wires.
Wrench – like pliers these are used to provide grip and leverage to turn objects. They tend to be easier to use than pliers because you can adjust the profile size. You can use another wrench on the other side but be careful not to over-tighten.
Saw – choose the right blade for the job and always use a saw on a stable surface while supporting the wood at one end allowing the cut end to fall away. When you’ve drawn your line, cut down its outside edge so you can still see it afterwards – you’ll be less likely to veer off. If you’re sawing veneer, put it face down for a smooth finish because the blade rotates upward and finally…saw in line with your shoulder – don’t stand behind!
Finally – the good advice that’s as old as the hills…measure twice, cut once!