Before You Head to the Hardware Store, Read ‘Tools’

Books Crosspost DIY Reviews

Spring is a great time for DIY, woodworking, and home improvement projects. We throw open the windows, get some fresh air, and get moving around the house. We fix things around the house, we build things, or we teach our kids about safety while we teach them about how to Get Things Done.

For much of this, we need tools. Many of us already have some tools, and perhaps were taught by a family member or friend how to use them and what they’re all called. But maybe we weren’t taught, and maybe we don’t know what they’re called. Maybe we know about hammers and screwdrivers and not much else.

A new book, Tools: The ultimate guide by Jeff Waldman, covers over 500 tools, what they are like, and what they are used for. It doesn’t go into methods or best practices, but it is fantastic reference book for learning about all the tools you see at the hardware store. Sometimes you need a hammer, but sometimes you need an angle grinder, you know? Or you know you need a clamp, but you’re not sure which kind of clamp would be best. Or you’re good at building sturdy furniture, but you want to learn how to give it that finished look.

Or maybe you already know all of these things, but want to give your kids a leg up, filling them with the knowledge and vocabulary so they know what questions to ask. Along with a good toolbox and set of beginner tools, Tools: The Ultimate Guide would be a great gift for your older child, teen, new graduate, or new homeowner. It would also make a great Mother’s Day or Father’s Day gift to your favorite tool-loving parent.

The front of the book goes over tool and DIY safety. Then the rest is divided into several main sections—Measure, Cut, Fasten, and Shape—and tools are listed alphabetically within those loose categories. The book is also filled with tool illustrations, making it fairly easy to visualize what you’re learning. I do think photos would be more effective than the illustrations, but the author wanted to leave most brand names out of it because so many of them are comparable in quality, and illustrations make that easier.

Make something. Fix something. Learn by doing.

Though this isn’t the most comprehensive book available, as the author states in his introduction, “this book will teach you what a hammer is, tell you which one to buy, and explain how it came into being.” It’s a great book to start with to learn more about tools and families of tools. It’ll help you sort through the vast amount of tool information and help you focus your search.

Each of the tool entries stands on its own, so you don’t need to read the book in order, but tool newbies may want to read it sequentially, since terms are explained the first time they show up. Many entries also include history, trivia, societal context, or a deeper dive into particular tools.

Some tools have a variety of types, such as wrenches, and the book goes into the tool in general, plus the sub-types (in this case, fixed wrenches, adjustable wrenches, socket wrenches, and torque wrenches), as well as other tools you might use along with the main tool.

Though most people are likely to find tools both familiar and new in this book, here are a few that are included: levels, contour gauges, squares, tape measures, knives, saws, drills, staple guns, come-alongs and chain hoists, pliers, lathes, planes, and sanders, among many others. And the index is detailed without being cluttered, making it easy to jump right to the tool you need.

Tools: The ultimate guide is a handy reference for those new or new-ish to tools and DIY projects. If you love learning about tools, or you just need to figure out what kinds of tools you’ll need for a project, this book would be a great place to start. Even tool experts will learn something new from the extra info the author packs in. It’d be a great gift for most anyone.

You can find Jeff Waldman on Instagram and YouTube.

Note: I received a sample for review purposes.

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