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5 Must Have Tools For DIY

5 Must Have Tools For DIY

Multimeter

    Not all lifehacks happen in front of the computer. There are plenty that require a little sweat, and a few tools. You probably already have the absolute basics of tools: a hammer, a screwdriver — maybe even a cordless drill. These are the basic necessities for keeping an apartment in reasonable shape, let alone a house. If you’re serious about voiding a few warranties or upgrading your gadgets on your own, though, there are a few tools you really need in your toolbox.

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    You don’t have to have every tool in the world, of course. I used to know a plumber who swore that he only needed two tools for any job: duct tape, for anything that needs to stick together and isn’t, and WD-40, for anything that sticks together and shouldn’t. It’s probably worth going a little further afield than my friend the plumber, but if you aren’t planning to do an awful lot of any particular type of work, these five tools can get you through quite a few different projects.

    1. Soldering Iron

    Most people buy soldering irons for electronics work, although solder can be used to attach pretty much any two metal parts. Think of solder as a more selective version of duct tape. RadioShack has some pretty cheap irons, though there’s plenty of cursing around here whenever we have to solder something with our RadioShack special. I’m planning on upgrading to Jameco’s shortly —it’s a good investment. You’ll also want to keep some solder on hand: for small projects, a thin 60/40 (60% tin, 40% lead) with a rosin core, which will help your solder flow onto and attach to the metal you happen to be soldering, is ideal. Different solders are available for other types of projects.

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    2. Vise

    There will come a time when you need an extra hand to just hold something still while you work on it. Until the doctors come up with a way to graft on extra arms, a vise is a good solution. Every hardware store carries vises and a brand name isn’t going to be a big deal. But there are a wide variety of vises available. I recommend going with a workshop vise — something heavy enough that you won’t knock it off the table while you work. A workshop vise can also hold a drying project without any help from you, freeing up your hands for the next step. For $20, you can get a 4 ½ inch workshop vise, which should handle most of your home needs.

    3. Security Bit Set

    The Man attempts to keep us from making changes to a whole variety of things by using funny shaped screws. Companies like Nintendo are notorious for this sort of thing. In order to get inside game consoles and such, you’ll need a security bit set. You can get a 33 bit set for under five bucks, but if you’re willing to shell out a full $10, you can get a full 100 bits. And remember, if you have a good security bit set, you can take apart pay phones, vending machines and other items that I am just going to assume you will come by legally.

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    4. Multimeter

    You might think that you can skip the multimeter as long as you aren’t doing electronics work. After all, why else would you want to measure voltage, current and resistance? You’d be surprised, though, how many little household projects put you in contact with electronics, though. And who wants to check if an outlet is live by sticking their finger in it? You can get an absolutely basic multimeter at some dollar stores, though it’s worth springing for the RadioShack version — under $10 for a basic model —if you plan to use your new multimeter more than once. There are plenty of fancier multimeters that measure all sorts of things but they tend to be a bit more expensive.

    5. Dremel

    Dremel Rotary Tools come in an absolute plethora of shapes, sizes and prices. I like it for more delicate tasks, personally, saving things like cutting through walls for my electric drill. The Dremel MiniMite in particular suits my needs for little things like cutting cool shapes in my desktop’s case. Oddly enough, a lot of people seem to favor the MiniMite for cutting their dog’s nails as well — although I also know jewelers, woodworkers and electricians who adore their Dremels. You can pick up a Dremel MiniMite with several accessories at Amazon or other online vendors for $30, although there are a wide variety of sets available, with all sorts of bit accessories and higher price tags.

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    There are hundreds of other tools that I would love to own some day. But I’m not going to wait to finish my household hacks. These five tools will get me by in the meanwhile. At the end of putting together this shopping list, I’ve spent a total of $90. If I chose to go with slightly higher end models of the multimeter and the Dremel, I could still keep my total price at about $100. Not too bad for the wide variety of DIY projects this toolbox could take on, especially if you already have the basics and a stock of those ancillary items (like duct tape) that help projects go faster. Just writing this post has me thinking, though, about what tools I need for my next project — any recommendations?

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    Last Updated on July 17, 2019

    The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

    The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

    What happens in our heads when we set goals?

    Apparently a lot more than you’d think.

    Goal setting isn’t quite so simple as deciding on the things you’d like to accomplish and working towards them.

    According to the research of psychologists, neurologists, and other scientists, setting a goal invests ourselves into the target as if we’d already accomplished it. That is, by setting something as a goal, however small or large, however near or far in the future, a part of our brain believes that desired outcome is an essential part of who we are – setting up the conditions that drive us to work towards the goals to fulfill the brain’s self-image.

    Apparently, the brain cannot distinguish between things we want and things we have. Neurologically, then, our brains treat the failure to achieve our goal the same way as it treats the loss of a valued possession. And up until the moment, the goal is achieved, we have failed to achieve it, setting up a constant tension that the brain seeks to resolve.

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    Ideally, this tension is resolved by driving us towards accomplishment. In many cases, though, the brain simply responds to the loss, causing us to feel fear, anxiety, even anguish, depending on the value of the as-yet-unattained goal.

    Love, Loss, Dopamine, and Our Dreams

    The brains functions are carried out by a stew of chemicals called neurotransmitters. You’ve probably heard of serotonin, which plays a key role in our emotional life – most of the effective anti-depressant medications on the market are serotonin reuptake inhibitors, meaning they regulate serotonin levels in the brain leading to more stable moods.

    Somewhat less well-known is another neurotransmitter, dopamine. Among other things, dopamine acts as a motivator, creating a sensation of pleasure when the brain is stimulated by achievement. Dopamine is also involved in maintaining attention – some forms of ADHD are linked to irregular responses to dopamine.[1]

    So dopamine plays a key role in keeping us focused on our goals and motivating us to attain them, rewarding our attention and achievement by elevating our mood. That is, we feel good when we work towards our goals.

    Dopamine is related to wanting – to desire. The attainment of the object of our desire releases dopamine into our brains and we feel good. Conversely, the frustration of our desires starves us of dopamine, causing anxiety and fear.

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    One of the greatest desires is romantic love – the long-lasting, “till death do us part” kind. It’s no surprise, then, that romantic love is sustained, at least in part, through the constant flow of dopamine released in the presence – real or imagined – of our true love. Loss of romantic love cuts off that supply of dopamine, which is why it feels like you’re dying – your brain responds by triggering all sorts of anxiety-related responses.

    Herein lies obsession, as we go to ever-increasing lengths in search of that dopamine reward. Stalking specialists warn against any kind of contact with a stalker, positive or negative, because any response at all triggers that reward mechanism. If you let the phone ring 50 times and finally pick up on the 51st ring to tell your stalker off, your stalker gets his or her reward, and learns that all s/he has to do is wait for the phone to ring 51 times.

    Romantic love isn’t the only kind of desire that can create this kind of dopamine addiction, though – as Captain Ahab (from Moby Dick) knew well, any suitably important goal can become an obsession once the mind has established ownership.

    The Neurology of Ownership

    Ownership turns out to be about a lot more than just legal rights. When we own something, we invest a part of ourselves into it – it becomes an extension of ourselves.

    In a famous experiment at Cornell University, researchers gave students school logo coffee mugs, and then offered to trade them chocolate bars for the mugs. Very few were willing to make the trade, no matter how much they professed to like chocolate. Big deal, right? Maybe they just really liked those mugs![2]

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    But when they reversed the experiment, handing out chocolate and then offering to trade mugs for the candy, they found that now, few students were all that interested in the mugs. Apparently the key thing about the mugs or the chocolate wasn’t whether students valued whatever they had in their possession, but simply that they had it in their possession.

    This phenomenon is called the “endowment effect”. In a nutshell, the endowment effect occurs when we take ownership of an object (or idea, or person); in becoming “ours” it becomes integrated with our sense of identity, making us reluctant to part with it (losing it is seen as a loss, which triggers that dopamine shut-off I discussed above).

    Interestingly, researchers have found that the endowment effect doesn’t require actual ownership or even possession to come into play. In fact, it’s enough to have a reasonable expectation of future possession for us to start thinking of something as a part of us – as jilted lovers, gambling losers, and 7-year olds denied a toy at the store have all experienced.

    The Upshot for Goal-Setters

    So what does all this mean for would-be achievers?

    On one hand, it’s a warning against setting unreasonable goals. The bigger the potential for positive growth a goal has, the more anxiety and stress your brain is going to create around it’s non-achievement.

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    It also suggests that the common wisdom to limit your goals to a small number of reasonable, attainable objectives is good advice. The more goals you have, the more ends your brain thinks it “owns” and therefore the more grief and fear the absence of those ends is going to cause you.

    On a more positive note, the fact that the brain rewards our attentiveness by releasing dopamine means that our brain is working with us to direct us to achievement. Paying attention to your goals feels good, encouraging us to spend more time doing it. This may be why outcome visualization — a favorite technique of self-help gurus involving imagining yourself having completed your objectives — has such a poor track record in clinical studies. It effectively tricks our brain into rewarding us for achieving our goals even though we haven’t done it yet!

    But ultimately, our brain wants us to achieve our goals, so that it’s a sense of who we are that can be fulfilled. And that’s pretty good news!

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    Featured photo credit: Alexa Williams via unsplash.com

    Reference

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