One of the things most people probably don’t know about me is that I have a fully stocked tool box & own my own set of power tools. And, get your mind out of the gutter–by power tools I mean things like cordless drills, sanders, staple guns (not the “other” kind of fun power tools, although I do have a few of those too but THAT is a completely different blog post!). I’m here to talk about the tools that you get at the Hardware store.
My tool collection is almost as impressive as my shoe collection.
I started collecting all of these things in university after I had a bit of an epiphany
(and no, it wasn’t that I woke up one day and decided I wanted to become Bob Villa
As a 20-something I moved apartments quite a few times. I was a student so, I bought a lot of semi-disposable furniture from places like Ikea. This meant that every time I moved there was always a lot of assembly/re-assembly of furniture. Whenever I’d need help with this kind of thing (or another household task: putting up blinds, shelves etc) my solution would just be to call whoever I was dating at the time (or another random male friend) to come and help me. Eventually I figured out why these guys were always SO eager to come over and help me put together my crappy furniture.
BECAUSE IT WOULD ALWAYS LEAD TO SEX.
This how my ex and I got together. He came over one day to help me put together my newly purchased bed frame. We ended up fooling around on the carpet of my apartment while the bed frame remained in its box, leaning against the wall. This was the first time something like this happened but not definitely not the last.
In my experience, TRIPS TO IKEA ALSO LEAD TO SEX. He drives you out there, you buy a bunch of stuff (“Yeah I’ll totally help you put it together!”), you bring it back to your apartment and then you end up sleeping together instead.
Obviously there is some kind of link between the act of building stuff, furniture & sexual tension.
I’m not complaining about the Sex–it was usually pretty good. The downside was that afterward he’d leave with a skip in his step and I’d STILL have an unpainted wall, a clogged drain, or furniture still in its boxes with nothing but the incomprehensible Scandinavian assembly instructions to keep me company.
(Back then, I decided that my ideal mate would be a guy who actually stuck around after he slept with me, and preferably could read Swedish. This is what you call “aiming low”)
It was after one of these incidents, while I was sitting on my bedroom floor surrounded by half opened Ikea boxes, leafing through the confusing directions, shaking my fist at the sky, thinking “HOW AM I SUPPOSED TO BUILD A BOOKCASE WITH AN ALLEN KEY AND FOUR WOODEN PEGS?!!”, I said to myself:
The next day I called my Mom for advice. I come from a family of very handy Women. My Mom is a home-improvement force to be reckoned with. This is a woman who re-floored our 4 story family home, by herself. I told my Mom that I wanted “to learn how to do things by myself”. She gave me a list of items that I would need to buy from the hardware store. I bought these things and my life changed.
I became obsessed with DIY home improvements. I conquered my fear of the Hardware Store. I bought an electric drill, hammers, nails, sandpaper. Floating shelves off of a concrete wall? NO PROBLEM! I put up shelving units, put together furniture, hung curtains, drilled, hammed, poly-filla’ed and even re-fashioned a bookshelf into a new improved bookshelf. I started to feel really empowered. On Sundays (my only day off from school & work) I’d watch the Home & Garden network for inspiration. Then, I would plan out my project for the day & head out to Canadian Tire. I even became accquianted with the Sunday “regulars”. Mind you, I lived near the Village so the people I met were mostly Lesbian couples, but I thought “Hey! I don’t need anyone else to do these things. I can be my own Lesbian couple of ONE”. The best part: my apartment looked great and I had done it all myself.
A few months later I was on the phone talking to a guy I was seeing. We had been on a few dates. I knew he wanted to sleep with me but we hadn’t yet because I had reservations about him. I’d just finished telling him that I’d purchased a new bedframe & mattress (bed frame #1 had finally bit the dust). You could hear the obvious excitement in his voice when he asked me “NEED HELP PUTTING IT TOGETHER?!”. I felt really vindicated when I told him,
“Don’t worry, I have it under control”
And you can too! Even if your home-handyman isn’t trying to get in your pants, buying some tools & learning how to use them is a great investment. This can be kind of an overwhelming shopping experience so,I’ve compiled a “Skinny Dip Guide” to navigating the hardware store:
First piece of advice: Ladies, don’t buy anything that looks like the tools on the left. Your toolbox shouldn’t look like it was made by Mattel. Yes, these pink tools are “sooo cute!” but most likely, you’re getting charged twice the price for something that is half as good. This just seems to be par for the course when you’re dealing with products “made for women” (anyone who has ever shaved their legs using a Men’s razor will back me on this). Go to the hardware store and get some quality, non-cute tools. And don’t buy the cheapest thing they have. If you need help, ask somebody (or ask me to go with you!). You’ll thank me later.
I’m by no means an expert on this, but here is a list of the basics that I think everyone should have:
1. Cordless Drill: If you’re going to be putting up shelving or art work, you’ll need this. Plus, they’re alot of fun to operate. You’ll see.
2. Screw Driver. Get one with interchangeable heads. You’re going to need different heads for different kinds of screws. The muli-head option saves money & space.
3. Hammer: I’m not sure what kind mine is nor am I an expert on hammers. Try and find one that is multi-purpose and has some weight to it.
4. A variety of screws, nails and wall plugs. I just like to keep these things on hand so if a project comes up, I don’t have to immediately run out and buy hardware. Wall plugs have been my savior. You’ll need these if you’re putting up any kind of shelving.
5. Epoxy. For those of you who aren’t familiar with Epoxy, its a glue—a very strong glue. You can use it for a variety of different things. I used it to permently bond my wall plugs into the wall when I was putting up floating shelves. That Fouis Vuitton bag you bought on Canal street that now has a broken clasp–Epoxy can fix that too.
6. Tape measure (retractable). You’ll need this. Buy one.
I also own a few wrenches, saws, pliers & a staple gun. But, to be honest I haven’t used these items as much as the ones listed above.
This wasn’t meant as some kind of “RAH RAH RAH NOW YOU WON’T NEED MEN” Rant. I’m just saying: learning how to do these things yourself feels really good. And, if it is sex you’re looking for, you can now invite that person over with the piece of mind that at least you have properly put together furniture to do it on. Hey, I’m just saying…!
Also, girls who build stuff are hot. When BF and first starting dating he came over to (yet again) help me assemble furniture (my apartment is more a question of what DIDN’T I buy at Ikea). He showed up tool box in hand, only to discover that I already had a fully stocked toolbox & then some. He admitted me later that he thought “this was awesome and a total turn on”.
So, I’m going to end this here before this starts sounding like something from the pages of Cosmo. If you have any home improvement questions, you can email me.
Are there any other handy women out there? Or women who aspire to be handy? Male readers, do you agree with BF’s comment?