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TOOLS for those who know nothing of them


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lets start with hammers. its a basic enough tool that i am pretty sure all of you have. even if it is in the form of a meat mallet. lol


Different types of Hammers

A wide range of Hammers are available, varying in shape, size and weight. The different styles reflect different uses. Around the house, the average diy'er only really needs one or two type.


The shape of Hammer heads has not changed much over the years although some modern materials are now used in both the head and handle. Traditionally handle were made of wood fixed through a hole in the head; this allowed the handle to be easily replaced if required. Modern hammers use modern materials and the handles are often built into the head - often with a form of built-in shock absorber to make them easier to use.




Claw Hammer

The most popular hammer for general work, available with a wooden (often hickory), glass-fibre or steel handle; with or without rubber grip. The most popular weights are 455-680g (16 to 24oz). The claw is normally curved, and incorporates a 'V' cut-out to draw nails from timber. The claw can be used to lever up floorboards or where other places where a lever is required; care must be taken (especially with cheaper models) as the force applied can easily weaken the joint between the handle and the head.




Ball Pein

Normally used by engineer's, the pein in this case, is rounded and is usually used for shaping metal and closing rivets. Ball pein hammers are available from 55 - 1100 (4 oz up to 2 lb.), 110 - 165g (8oz 12oz) are the most suitable for general use. Handles are normally wood, usually Ash or Hickory.




Cross and Straight Pein

Again, mainly used for shaping metal, the pein can be at right angles to the handle or parallel with it. The most useful domestically is the cross pein, where the pein can be used for starting panel pins and tacks. Handles are normally wood, usually Ash.




Cross Pein Pin Hammer

A lighter version of the Cross and Straight Pein hammer, ideal for light joinery and cabinet work. Weight 55g (4oz).




Club Hammer

Sometimes called a Lump Hammer, it has a double faced head, and is useful for light demolition work, driving steel chisels and masonry nails. As debris is likely to fly, the wearing of safety glasses and working gloves is recommended. Weight 1135g (2 1/2 lb) being best suited to domestic work. Handles are normally wood, usually Hickory, or synthetic resin.




Sledge Hammer

Used for the heavier jobs, such as driving in stakes or to break up concrete, stone or masonry. For lighter jobs just the weight of the head may be used for blow's, but for heavier work, the hammer is swung like an axe. Wear suitable protective clothing, including safety glasses. Weights 7, 10 and 14 lb.




Joiner's Mallet

Used to drive chisels or to tap wood joints together, where a metal-faced hammer would cause damage or bruising. Note that the head is slightly tapered to ensure correct contact with the work. Both the handle and head are wood, usually Beech or Lignum Vitae.




Soft-faced Hammers

Various types are available, with hard and soft rubber, plastic or copper faces. Some come with a choice of faces which are interchangeable. Useful for striking materials such as chrome wing outs, where a steel face would cause damage. In some cases, can replace a mallet for cabinet work.




Special Hammers

From here on, there are specialist hammers developed to meet the needs of various trades. These include a Brick Hammer for striking a bolster or splitting bricks; Woodcarving Mallet, with rounded body; Veneer Hammer, for pressing and tapping veneers into place; Upholsterer's hammer for driving tacks and nails in confined spaces, and Sprig Hammer, used by picture frame makers.


Power Hammers

More often referred to as 'powered nailers', these take the hard work out of fitting nails, staples etc. They are ideal where a large number of nails need to be fitted, such as fixing floorboards. They range from light duty (for use when fixing edge mouldings, picture frames etc) to heavy duty nailers, used to fix floorboards and garden decking etc.






Advice for using hammers


Always use the right hammer for the job, it will make the job easier and avoid possible damage to the hammer/workpiece.


Never hit nails with the side of a check or a hammer head. The metal at these points is not hardened as the striking face and could be damaged.


When assembling delicate work, use a piece of scrap wood between the work piece and the head of the hammer. This will prevent damage to the workpiece.


Use a nail punch to sink nails into the timber, again this will prevent damage to the work piece. A nail punch has a flat end (or slightly, concave) to fit the nail head rather than the pointed end which other punches have.


Where the handle is held in the hammer head by steel wedges, check regularly to ensure the wedges are tight. Timber handle can shrink in dry conditions.


If a timber handle does start become loose, place the head in water overnight, the water will cause the handle to expand and tighten in the head.


If a hammer tends to slip off nails, roughen the face of the head using a medium abrasive paper.


Always wear safety glasses when driving masonry nails or breaking up concrete.



edited to add the link to where i got the info (oops!)



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Although power saws are now widely available, there is still a place for a range of handsaws in the tool kit of the do it yourself handywoman, the model-maker and professional carpenter. Sometimes the work site does not have electricity or a small job does not justify running an extension lead for the connection. At other times, the often better control of a handsaw makes its choice over a machine justified. The following describes some of the more common handsaws available to the do-it-yourself person.


General Saw terminology

Measuring teeth: The teeth on saws are classified by a number which represents the number of teeth points along 25.4mm (1 inch) of the cutting edge, including those at each end. The number is referred to as so many points, the point size is one greater than the teeth per inch (tpi). The teeth of ripsaws are relatively large, usually between four to seven points. The larger tenon saws, say 30 to 40cm (12 in to 16 in), usually have teeth of 12 to 14 points. Smaller saws for general bench work also may have 14 points, but the smaller saws intended purely for dovetailing may have teeth as fine as 22 or 24 points. Saws with fine teeth should be used only for fine work.


The set of the teeth: Most saws have their teeth "set"; that is, the teeth are bent outwards slightly in alternate directions so that they make a cut slightly wider than the saw blade thickness, this gives a clearance so that the main part of the blade is clear of the sides of the cut. The set should not be excessive, as it will only mean that wood is being removed unnecessarily, resulting in increased resistance in cutting and more sweat. To reduce the necessity for the amount of set, some handsaw blades are taper ground, (that is the blade is ground thinner behind the teeth), thus providing additional clearance with only a small degree of set required. Saws used for green wood (i.e. freshly cut timber) have increased set as the sawdust from green timber is inclined to cling to the blade


The front angle of the teeth: The front of the teeth on some saws are straight across at right angles to the blade, so they present the wood with a series of chisel-like edges, this tends to give a rough finish. Other saws have teeth bevel-filed at an angle instead of being at 90 deg., the idea being that the series of sharp corners severs the grain at each side, the waste wood between crumbling away as sawdust. The angle at which the teeth are bevelled vary from about 45 (for softwood) to 60 deg (for hardwood).


The pitch angle of the teeth: The pitch angle of the teeth to the nominal root line of the teeth, associated with this is the point angle - the combination of these two angles determine the slope of the back of the teeth. A large number of modern handsaws have hardened teeth to prolong their useful life; these saws are, to an extent, 'throwaway' tools as they cannot be easily sharpened when they become blunt.






This general term includes several types, such as the rip, crosscut, and the panel saw. They all look basically the same and their purpose is the cutting of timber from boards, and sometimes making larger joints.


Ripsaw: The ripsaw is intended to cut along the grain. The front of the teeth are generally at right angles to the blade and pitched at between 85 and 90 degrees to the blade. Some ripsaw have incremental teeth; this is where the teeth gradually becoming larger (lower point numbers) towards the handle. The theory being that the larger teeth come into operation at the strongest part of the stroke. Today the DIY person seldom uses the manual ripsaw as timber is available commercially in the widths required, or power circular saws are available. For the odd occasions when it is required to rip out timber, a cross- cut saw which, although not quite so satisfactory, is quite adequate.

Lengths are taken along the run of the teeth from one end to the other, and are generally from 60 to 70cm (24 to 28 in).


Crosscut saws: These differ from ripsaws in that the teeth are bevel-filed at an angle instead of being at 90 deg. Another way in which the crosscut saw teeth differ is that they are pitched so that the front of the tooth makes an angle of 75 to 80 deg. with the line of the teeth. Whatever the pitch, all teeth are pointed at 60 deg. The size of teeth varies from 6 to 12 points, and lengths of saw from 55 to 70cm (22-28 in).


Panel saw: This is simply a small version of the crosscut saw, from 45 to 60cm (18 to 24 in), and with smaller teeth of 10-12 points. It is used for cutting thin wood and for the larger joints. Its teeth are pitched and bevelled as in the crosscut saw.


A feature common to all handsaws is tension. Without it the saw blade would be a flabby thing with no natural stiffness. A tensioned saw remains stiff when waved sideways. Handsaws are available with either straight-back or skewback. The straight back tend to have rather stiffer blades, but there is little difference in their use.


Flooring saw. These tend not to be found in the tool kit of most do-it-yourself(diy) people as it is somewhat of a specialist saw being used only to cut across floorboards so that they can be lifted. The edge is curved, enabling a cut to be made across a board at the centre of a joist. When the blade has penetrated, the straight part comes into use, the end of the saw being narrow enough to enable it to enter a short cut.


Tenon saw. The technical name for saws that are stiffened along the back of the blade, is Back Saws although they are generally referred to as Tenon Saws.

The length of blade can range from 20cm (8 in) up to 40cm (16 in), or even longer for special work. Teeth of Tenon Saws are usually pitched at 75 deg., and small ones are bevel sharpened at about 60 deg. because they have to cut across the grain as well as with it. When, however, a tenon saw is to be used solely for cutting tenons the teeth may be straight across at right angles because it always cuts along the grain and is therefore similar to a ripsaw. As most people cannot keep a saw specifically for cutting tenons, the teeth are generally bevel-sharpen. For fine work it is called a dovetail saw and may have very fine teeth-22 to 24 points.

Larger Tenon Saws invariably have closed handles, smaller ones (dovetail saw) usually have a' fist grip' handle - middle size saws tend to have 'pistol grip' handles.


Many blades - one handle. These have a number of interchangeable blades of which the largest is usually a pruning blade, and the others a compass blade, and a keyhole blade. The purpose of the last is obvious by its name, and the compass saw is used to cut curves on flat sheet, the purpose of the pruning blade is again obvious by its name.


Padsaw. Also known as a keyhole saw. Although intended primarily for cutting the straight sides of a keyhole, it can be used for any internal cut, straight or curved. The blade is adjustable in its projection from the handle, the idea being to enable it to be given as little projection as is consistent with the required stroke. The saw necessarily relies upon the stiffness of the blade to prevent it from buckling, but buckling can easily happen because of the narrowness of the blade. The projection of the blade should always be kept to a minimum.


Bow saw. The Bow Saw is considered by many to be the most satisfactory saw for cutting shapes since the narrow blade negotiates curves easily, and is held in tension. Both the handle and knob (at the other end of the blade) can be turned so that a cut can be made more or less parallel to the required cut. Obviously the blade must be free of twist when in use. It is available with blade lengths of 25 to 40 cm (10 to 16 in). Generally both hands grips the one handle, hence the bulbous shape with narrow neck, but when thick wood has to be sawn it is helpful to have a person at each side, both sides of the wood having been marked. In this way it is much easier to keep the cut square to the sides of the timber.

The rivets holding the blade to the handle can be withdrawn so that the saw can be used for an internal cut, the blade being threaded through a hole drilled through the timber.


Coping saw. The Coping Saw is used for thinner wood and for fairly tight curves or shapes. By turning the handle the tension of the blade can be slackened or increased. The blade can be revolved through any angle convenient for sawing. Normally it cuts on the pull stroke, but there are occasions when it is better to reverse the blade so that it cuts on the push.


Log saw. The Log Saw is intended only for crosscutting logs, etc., and has a metal frame. The blade often has the lightning form of tooth shown and is fast cutting but leaves a ragged finish. This is unimportant for the purpose for which the saw is intended.


Two-man crosscut. This saw is intended for sawing through large logs, and various pattern teeth are used. Each tooth pattern is claimed to have its own particular advantages, however this is often up to personal preference. Holes in the ends of the blade enable the handles to be fitted. Lengths can be from about 120 to 240 cm (4 ft up to 8 ft).

Smaller versions of the saw used for the same purpose can be used by one person, but even these usually have rivet holes at the toe end of the blade so that a second handle can be fitted if necessary. These smaller saws tend to range from 90 to 110 cm (3 ft. to 4 ft. 6 in) long.




Hints on using Handsaws.

Use a Try Square or Sliding Bevel to mark the material for cutting.


Remember that you will lose about 1/8-inch of wood with the cut due to the width of the blade, so cut on the outside of the line.


Support both sides of the work on a bench or sawhorse.


Take time to get comfortable before you start sawing.


Make sure that the teeth of your saw are sharp. Dull teeth make more work and a less precise cut.


Line up your wrist, elbow and shoulder with the saw blade.


Start sawing with light, short strokes, supporting/guiding the blade with your thumb.


Apply slight pressure on the push strokes and relax on the pulls. (the saw cuts on the push stroke, not the pull stroke, you know, same with kitchen knives, cut away from you! not towards)


Saw with a steady, easy rhythm.


Keep in mind that the more acute the cutting angle, the faster and rougher the cut.


Hold the saw at a 90-degree angle for a quick, raw cut; 45 degrees for smooth cuts; and 15 to 20 degrees for very fine cuts.


The saw will not jump if you keep the blade at a slight/low angle to the wood.


For sawing strips of ply or board use a fine toothed saw. (for narrower materials, a minimum 2 teeth should be in contact with your material at all times)


The operation could be made easier by slightly lifting the free end.


To get a fine kerf (cut) with smooth edges on both sides of the material, place the object material on another board (help board) and let the saw cut down into the help board until you have cut off the waste.


If the saw tends to stick put a thin wooden wedge into the cut to stop the timber closing on the saw blade.


If the wood is wet or resinous rub candle or Bee's wax on the saw blade.


When cutting shoulders/joints, as in a tenon, cut first along the grain, then across it. This stops the waste pieces breaking away before the cuts are complete.







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Great info pixie...but I don't see one of the handsaws I have mentioned...


It's kinda crescent shaped...have you ever seen those? And what are they really used for? I just use mine to chop down my banana trees lol...

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i suggest having a few different saws. you know, i will have to do another section on metal saws. i could even do another section on metal hammers, you know there are at least 250 different kinds of hammers and probably as many different saws. there are screwdriver shapes you have not even dreamed of! lol


japanese saws are not the same as tenon saws, but there are similar ones. i think it is called a dozuki saw.


i do not know much about japanese saws, but i would like to learn more, so maybe i will spend an hour or so today researching it online.

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  • 2 weeks later...
Guest Guest

Most household would require at least 2...for wood, a crosscut handsaw and a hacksaw for other materials like plastics and metal....but a wide tooth hacksaw blade can cut through wood in a pinch but limited to the thickness of the saw opening....so if absolutely only one saw allowed it'll be a hacksaw

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Guest Guest

Thanks, Pixie and Caveman! So, I should get the 2 saws that my mom had when I was growing up! I'll likely get a wood-capable saw first, 'cause we still have to chop up the Christmas tree. I'll have to work on making up a reason to buy a metal-capable saw.


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  • 1 year later...

This is a great section. I need to learn more about tools and how to use them. So far I know only the basics and my tool box only has a hammer, a couple of screwdrivers ( phillips and flat head) and a pair of pliers. My brother has more tools, but somehow almost all of mine have developed feet and walked. I need to replenish my tools before I move so I can fix something when I need to.

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well, knowing the difference between a phillips and a flathead is a start! heh heh being in the states, you likely have never seen a roberts. (square) heh heh

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That's right, I had to get one of those once just to change my headlights on a car I had once.


I have a question. I bought one of those multi screwdrivers to get that one, but it was so cheap that it just wore down too quick. I do like those multi tools for convience to have in places that I wouldn't have many tools. Do they make good quality multi's like that. When I replace the junk that I have for tools right now, I want to replace them with good quality tools. I may not do much with them now, but I don't want junk when I need them. Besides, I know I really need to learn to be able to do more basic repairs myself. It is too expensive to hire someone all of the time and for some simple things, it would be easier to do it my self. I don't know if I would ever want to get into electrical work, but I have attepmted minor plumbing issues. (Have had to get help because I was too weak to get the pipe off when I needed to get something that was stuck in the trap. But I did change a washer myself.) I want to get a good tool box, but in my BOB a multi tool would be good to have. I might not be able to take a big tool box. But I want good quality, not junk


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Deb2of9; IMHO if you buy Sears Craftman tools, you will get good quality, AND most Craftman brand tools come with a replacement guarentee... .If you break in normal use.

Now Sears sells several other brands as well, so you will have to determine for yourself if the higher cost of C. vs. the lower cost of another brand, is your desire.

What ever tool/toolbox you get; the one trick to make your tools last AND last, is to wipe them off with a dry rag before you put them away.


Oh yeah, get an electric pencil and etch your name on your tools.

Good tools stay home that way grin And I do this also. I got a pint of an obnoxious color paint[yellow] and put a streak of it on my tools. Way easy, to see if hubby, brother, neighbor has borrowed yours. No problems establishing ownership.


I just gush...'oh, I've been looking for my widget..I wondered where that was...". All taken care of neat & tidy.


With the paint streak, you know it's yours immediatly..and more importantly..so do they.


Your plan to buy good tools, is sound.

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Plan to buy a many multi tools. I keep one in my kitchen, one in my main bathroom, one in my car, one in my BOB.

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  • 3 months later...
  • 3 months later...

Used florescent green to mark my tools and finally in desperation have gone to hot pink. Looks a bit funky but no one wants them in their tool box. Power tools get raised eyebrows but I can find them--even at night-lol, wc

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