Saturday, August 30, 2008

Glossary of Tools

In response to some comments and questions (mostly from Jane) about the Do It Herself projects I've already featured, I am starting a Tool Glossary. This will be a pretty long list. Eventually. For now I will start with some of the tools I used in my last project, the pegboard in the boys' room. I have other tools listed below that I will add pictures and explanations to in the future. If you have a question about any tool please e-mail me and I will address it, even if I have to get some help!

In doing some research, I found a very valuable & comprehensive resource and will link to it often below. I also found other tool glossaries at HGTV and Be Jane, which is a really great Do It Herself site that I will be posting about more in the future. Neither of those have pretty pictures, though!

Drill, Cordless

Drills like this use "bits", which are small metal pieces that attach to the end. You can use different sized drill bits and screwdriver bits that effectively turn your drill into an electric screwdriver. The important drill aspects for women are weight & the feel of the drill in your hand. If it's too heavy you'll have problems holding it up for projects above your head. You need to have plenty of power, but if you will just be doing little projects around the home that isn't as important and you can get a lighter model. I think you need at least 12 V though. Drills with two, interchangeable, rechargeable batteries are nice. Home Depot has a great selection.


For when hand torque is needed. I love my 4-in-1 screwdriver. It has both Phillips (star or cross) and flathead (slotted) bits, each in two sizes.

Stud Finder

When you need to secure something heavy to your walls, you should screw it to a stud. But since you can't see them, use a stud finder. You press the button, run it across the wall, and it beeps and lights up when you hit the edge of a stud (2x4 piece of wood under the drywall - studs make up the frame of your house).

Note: This tool will not find studs of the male variety. Sorry to all the single Do It Herself-ers out there. And any married ones who just like to look.

Screw, Wood has a great explanation here. I am quoting from them.
"In the United States, a wood screw is sized by its length, gauge, head style (for example, flat head), type of drive (for example, slotted or Phillips) and increasingly by style of screw. A few decades ago there was one basic style; today any hardware store has alternatives, typically with sharper threads and uniform body diameters."

Most wood screws have a Phillips head, and a smooth shaft under the head, with sprial threads on the rest of the shaft. And a pointed end, of course. The are perfect for attached two pieces of wood together, or attaching something to your wall on a stud. My pictures show a flat head, but you can buy a round head (often called metal screws) or an oval head. The following illustration, from again, shows the different types of head and how they measure length. The flat screws end up flush with your surface (hopefully) but the round head sticks out. I think that's why they are called metal screws. If you attaching metal to wood, obviously the screw head can't eat down into the metal, but sits on top - so better to use a round head.
When you use a wood screw, you generally drill a pilot hole first, which is larger than the diameter of the shaft, but smaller than the diameter of the threads, so the threads can still cut into the sides of the wood.


Bolts have threads too, but a flat end. The come in many varieties, with different shaft diameters and head sizes. You attach two pieces of metal/wood/plastic together by putting a bolt through holes in both pieces, then attach a washer and nut on the backside of the bolt.

My pictures show two differently sizes bolts, one with a slotted head and one with a phillips head.


A round, flat piece of metal that goes over a bolt, right in front of the nut. You would put the bolt through whatever material, then add a washer and nut on the backside. See Washer, Lock, Bolt, and Nut.

Washer, Lock

Just like a regular washer, but lock washers are really good at keeping the nut in place, rather than loosening and falling off.


Screws onto the end of a bolt to attach two pieces of wood/metal/plastic.

Allen Wrench
Circular Saw
Miter Box & Hand Saw
Nails - finishing, roofing. For everything you ever wanted to know about nails, check out this article at
Pliers, Needle Nose
Rubber Mallet
Staple Gun
Utility Knife
Wrench, Socket
Wrench, Pipe
Wrench, Locking
Wrench, Adjustable (Monkey)


Jane @ What About Mom? said...

Unfortunately, I don't really want to KNOW how to use these tools. I just want you to come over to my house and SHOW me how they work. :)