Advertising
Advertising

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.

    Advertising

    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.

    Advertising

    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.

    Advertising

    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.

    Advertising

    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?

    More by this author

    50 Businesses You Can Start In Your Spare Time 8 Replacements for Google Notebook 5 Sites Where You Can Sell Your Photos 7 Tools to Find Someone Online 19 Entrepreneurship Websites Worth Checking Out

    Trending in Featured

    1 Becoming Self-Taught (The How-To Guide) 2 5 Steps To Move Out Of Stagnancy In Life 3 The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work) 4 How to Master the Art of Prioritization 5 40 Top Productivity Apps for iPhone (2020 Updated)

    Read Next

    Advertising
    Advertising
    Advertising

    Last Updated on January 21, 2020

    Becoming Self-Taught (The How-To Guide)

    Becoming Self-Taught (The How-To Guide)

    Most of the skills I use to make a living are skills I’ve learned on my own: Web design, desktop publishing, marketing, personal productivity skills, even teaching! And most of what I know about science, politics, computers, art, guitar-playing, world history, writing, and a dozen other topics, I’ve picked up outside of any formal education.

    This is not to toot my own horn at all; if you stop to think about it, much of what you know how to do you’ve picked up on your own. But we rarely think about the process of becoming self-taught. This is too bad, because often, we shy away from things we don’t know how to do without stopping to think about how we might learn it — in many cases, fairly easily.

    The way you approach the world around you dictates to a great degree whether you will find learning something new easy or hard.

    The Keys to Learning Anything Easily

    Learning comes easily to people who have developed:

    Curiosity

    Being curious means you look forward to learning new things and are troubled by gaps in your understanding of the world. New words and ideas are received as challenges and the work of understanding them is embraced.

    People who lack curiosity see learning new things as a chore — or worse, as beyond their capacities.

    Patience

    Depending on the complexity of a topic, learning something new can take a long time. And it’s bound to be frustrating as you grapple with new terminologies, new models, and apparently irrelevant information.

    When you are learning something by yourself, there is nobody to control the flow of information, to make sure you move from basic knowledge to intermediate and finally advanced concepts.

    Advertising

    Patience with your topic, and more importantly with yourself is crucial — there’s no field of knowledge that someone in the world hasn’t managed to learn, starting from exactly where you are.

    A Feeling for Connectedness

    This is the hardest talent to cultivate, and is where most people flounder when approaching a new topic.

    A new body of knowledge is always easiest to learn if you can figure out the way it connects to what you already know. For years, I struggled with calculus in college until one day, my chemistry professor demonstrated how to do half-life calculations using integrals. From then on, calculus came much easier, because I had made a connection between a concept I understood well (the chemistry of half-lifes) and a field I had always struggled in (higher maths).

    The more you look for and pay attention to the connections between different fields, the more readily your mind will be able to latch onto new concepts.

    How to Self-Taught Effectively

    With a learning attitude in place, working your way into a new topic is simply a matter of research, practice, networking, and scheduling:

    1. Research

    Of course, the most important step in learning something new is actually finding out stuff about it. I tend to go through three distinct phases when I’m teaching myself a new topic:

    Learning the Basics

    Start as all things start today: Google it! Somehow people managed to learn before Google ( I learned HTML when Altavista was the best we got!) but nowadays a well-formed search on Google will get you a wealth of information on any topic in seconds.

    Advertising

    Surfing Wikipedia articles is a great way to get a basic grounding in a new field, too — and usually the Wikipedia entry for your search term will be on the first page of your Google search.

    What I look for is basic information and then the work of experts — blogs by researchers in a field, forums about a topic, organizational websites, magazines. I subscribe to a bunch of RSS feeds to keep up with new material as it’s posted, I print out articles to read in-depth later, and I look for the names of top authors or top books in the field.

    Hitting the Books

    Once I have a good outline of a field of knowledge, I hit the library. I look up the key names and titles I came across online, and then scan the shelves around those titles for other books that look interesting.

    Then, I go to the children’s section of the library and look up the same call numbers — a good overview for teens is probably going to be clearer, more concise, and more geared towards learning than many adult books.

    Long-Term Reference

    While I’m reading my stack of books from the library, I start keeping my eyes out for books I will want to give a permanent place on my shelves. I check online and brick-and-mortar bookstores, but also search thrift stores, used bookstores, library book sales, garage sales, wherever I happen to find myself in the presence of books.

    My goal is a collection of reference manuals and top books that I will come back to either to answer thorny questions or to refresh my knowledge as I put new skills into practice. And to do this cheaply and quickly.

    Advertising

    2. Practice

    Putting new knowledges into practice helps us develop better understandings now and remember more later. Although a lot of books offer exercises and self-tests, I prefer to jump right in and build something: a website, an essay, a desk, whatever.

    A great way to put any new body of knowledge into action is to start a blog on it — put it out there for the world to see and comment on.

    Just don’t lock your learning up in your head where nobody ever sees how much you know about something, and you never see how much you still don’t know.

    Check out this guide for useful techniques to help you practice efficiently: The Beginner’s Guide to Deliberate Practice

    3. Network

    One of the most powerful sources of knowledge and understanding in my life have been the social networks I have become embedded in over the years — the websites I write on, the LISTSERV I belong to, the people I talk with and present alongside at conferences, my colleagues in the department where I studied and the department where I now teach, and so on.

    These networks are crucial to extending my knowledge in areas I am already involved, and for referring me to contacts in areas where I have no prior experience. Joining an email list, emailing someone working in the field, asking colleagues for recommendations, all are useful ways of getting a foothold in a new field.

    Networking also allows you to test your newly-acquired knowledge against others’ understandings, giving you a chance to grow and further develop.

    Here find out How to Network So You’ll Get Way Ahead in Your Professional Life.

    Advertising

    4. Schedule

    For anything more complex than a simple overview, it pays to schedule time to commit to learning. Having the books on the shelf, the top websites bookmarked, and a string of contacts does no good if you don’t give yourself time to focus on reading, digesting, and implementing your knowledge.

    Give yourself a deadline, even if there is no externally imposed time limit, and work out a schedule to reach that deadline.

    Final Thoughts

    In a sense, even formal education is a form of self-guided learning — in the end, a teacher can only suggest and encourage a path to learning, at best cutting out some of the work of finding reliable sources to learn from.

    If you’re already working, or have a range of interests beside the purely academic, formal instruction may be too inconvenient or too expensive to undertake. That doesn’t mean you have to set aside the possibility of learning, though; history is full of self-taught successes.

    At its best, even a formal education is meant to prepare you for a life of self-guided learning; with the power of the Internet and the mass media at our disposal, there’s really no reason not to follow your muse wherever it may lead.

    More About Self-Learning

    Featured photo credit: Priscilla Du Preez via unsplash.com

    Read Next