Use and Care of Your Handyman Tools

Here are some quick and easy tips for keeping common handyman tools organized and in good working order. 

Make them easier to spot by painting the handle of each with a bright, identifying color, such as red or yellow.  Not only will they stand out if you’ve gathered a group of them on the lawn or terrace while you tackle a particular project, it will also make it easier for neighbors who’ve borrowed them to remember where they came from


Contrary to what people think, sharp chisels, knives and planes are safer to use than dull ones.  Dull tools slip or gouge the work and require extra pressure, making them more hazardous to use.  Keep tools sharp by honing edges frequently on an oilstone.  Grind them only when the blades have been badly worn or nicked.


To preserve the edge on chisels, gouges and other sharp tools, build a small rack which holds them vertically with the tips or blades shoved into the top of a slab of synthetic sponge. The soft material will keep the blades from banging against each other, and also keeps the sharp blades covered so there is less danger of the handyman cutting himself.


When a screwdriver blade starts to wear, it tends to slip out of the screw slots easily. This makes it difficult to tighten screws securely and chews up the heads of tightly seated screws, which must be loosened. To prevent this, the blade tip should be dressed occasionally by stroking with a flat file to eliminate rounded edges and to make the end blunt once more. Maintain the original bevel of the side faces, and file across the tip at right angles to keep the blade end square.


When the claws on a claw hammer show signs of slipping every time a small-headed nail is pulled, try renewing the grip by filing the notch between them with a triangular file. Use a corner of the file to slightly deepen and sharpen the crevice between the claws. This improves the grip so it will “bite” the nail head more firmly.

Hammer handles sometimes work loose because the wood has dried excessively and then slight shrinkage occurs inside the metal socket. To swell the wood back up again and make it tight once more, soak the head end of the handle in a bucket of water for several hours. The handle can be kept from shrinking in the future by sealing the top end where it comes through the head with several coats of varnish or lacquer.


When pliers accumulate dirt in the serrated teeth on the inside of their jaws, they have a tendency to slip and require much greater pressure in order to hold. To correct this clean jaws out with solvent and a stiff wire brush, and re-sharpen individual teeth occasionally by dressing lightly with the edge of a three-cornered file.

Once your tools are in order, any work you need to do will be accomplished much more easily.