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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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    The Gentle Art of Saying No

    The Gentle Art of Saying No

    No!

    It’s a simple fact that you can never be productive if you take on too many commitments — you simply spread yourself too thin and will not be able to get anything done, at least not well or on time.

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    But requests for your time are coming in all the time — through phone, email, IM or in person. To stay productive, and minimize stress, you have to learn the Gentle Art of Saying No — an art that many people have problems with.

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    What’s so hard about saying no? Well, to start with, it can hurt, anger or disappoint the person you’re saying “no” to, and that’s not usually a fun task. Second, if you hope to work with that person in the future, you’ll want to continue to have a good relationship with that person, and saying “no” in the wrong way can jeopardize that.

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    But it doesn’t have to be difficult or hard on your relationship. Here are the Top 10 tips for learning the Gentle Art of Saying No:

    1. Value your time. Know your commitments, and how valuable your precious time is. Then, when someone asks you to dedicate some of your time to a new commitment, you’ll know that you simply cannot do it. And tell them that: “I just can’t right now … my plate is overloaded as it is.”
    2. Know your priorities. Even if you do have some extra time (which for many of us is rare), is this new commitment really the way you want to spend that time? For myself, I know that more commitments means less time with my wife and kids, who are more important to me than anything.
    3. Practice saying no. Practice makes perfect. Saying “no” as often as you can is a great way to get better at it and more comfortable with saying the word. And sometimes, repeating the word is the only way to get a message through to extremely persistent people. When they keep insisting, just keep saying no. Eventually, they’ll get the message.
    4. Don’t apologize. A common way to start out is “I’m sorry but …” as people think that it sounds more polite. While politeness is important, apologizing just makes it sound weaker. You need to be firm, and unapologetic about guarding your time.
    5. Stop being nice. Again, it’s important to be polite, but being nice by saying yes all the time only hurts you. When you make it easy for people to grab your time (or money), they will continue to do it. But if you erect a wall, they will look for easier targets. Show them that your time is well guarded by being firm and turning down as many requests (that are not on your top priority list) as possible.
    6. Say no to your boss. Sometimes we feel that we have to say yes to our boss — they’re our boss, right? And if we say “no” then we look like we can’t handle the work — at least, that’s the common reasoning. But in fact, it’s the opposite — explain to your boss that by taking on too many commitments, you are weakening your productivity and jeopardizing your existing commitments. If your boss insists that you take on the project, go over your project or task list and ask him/her to re-prioritize, explaining that there’s only so much you can take on at one time.
    7. Pre-empting. It’s often much easier to pre-empt requests than to say “no” to them after the request has been made. If you know that requests are likely to be made, perhaps in a meeting, just say to everyone as soon as you come into the meeting, “Look guys, just to let you know, my week is booked full with some urgent projects and I won’t be able to take on any new requests.”
    8. Get back to you. Instead of providing an answer then and there, it’s often better to tell the person you’ll give their request some thought and get back to them. This will allow you to give it some consideration, and check your commitments and priorities. Then, if you can’t take on the request, simply tell them: “After giving this some thought, and checking my commitments, I won’t be able to accommodate the request at this time.” At least you gave it some consideration.
    9. Maybe later. If this is an option that you’d like to keep open, instead of just shutting the door on the person, it’s often better to just say, “This sounds like an interesting opportunity, but I just don’t have the time at the moment. Perhaps you could check back with me in [give a time frame].” Next time, when they check back with you, you might have some free time on your hands.
    10. It’s not you, it’s me. This classic dating rejection can work in other situations. Don’t be insincere about it, though. Often the person or project is a good one, but it’s just not right for you, at least not at this time. Simply say so — you can compliment the idea, the project, the person, the organization … but say that it’s not the right fit, or it’s not what you’re looking for at this time. Only say this if it’s true — people can sense insincerity.

    Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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