For this week, I had a completely different post in mind and my wife completely changed my mind with the most wonderful surprise. You see, yesterday was my birthday! And aside from getting to spend the day with my amazing family AND getting my choice of any meal under the sun (I chose Ahi Poke), my wife surprised me with a new tool belt.
This isn’t just any old tool belt. It is an Occidental Leather 5191 Carpenter’s belt. For those of you who have no idea what I’m talking about, Occidental Leather is the Rolls-Royce of tool belts. Lifetime warranty, extraordinarily comfortable, practical and overall the finest craftsmanship and materials available. For $292, it better be!
Each item links (aff. link) to the specific brand of tool that I use everyday in case you want to get one yourself which I highly recommend. These are the best!
1. Stanley Classic 99 Utility Knife – It may sound basic, but this is the most important tool in my bag. I have gone throughout dozes of different styles and this old classic is by far the most rugged and easy to use utility knife on the market. The blade NEVER slips like on other razors and it is so simple to use. $4.48 on Amazon
2. Irwin 9-In-1 Driver – I’m always going between Phillips and flat head screws in an old house. Some are small like on window hardware, and others like door hinges are big. I gave up carrying 4 different screw drivers years ago and now just carry this one tool. It has a large and small head for Phillips, flat, and square drive screws all in one tool. Saves me time and money! $14.84 on Amazon
3. Duck-bill Vice Grips – We remove so many windows that I’m constantly pulling parting bead. Before I found these beauties, it took me forever to remove parting bead and it usually broke. Now with my duck-bills, I can remove parting bead twice as fast with half as much breakage (those may not be exact statistics, but whatever the numbers are they make life MUCH easier!) $15.26 on Amazon
4. Bostitch Cat’s Paw/Molding Bar – Again, there is no reason to carry two tools when you can have a combination tool like this one. Its sturdy steel construction means I can beat it senseless and it won’t wear out. It helps me remove delicate trim with one side and aggressively dig out nails with the other side. Kind of like a Dr. Jekyll & Mr Hyde tool. $13.55 on Amazon
5. Swanson Speed Square – The best tool I have for keeping things square. It’s small so it fits in my tool belt better than a framing square and I can use for so many tasks like marking perfectly straight lines for cutting studs, casing, molding, etc. or I also use it to square up old jambs that have wandered out of level/plumb. It also excels at lining items up so they are completely flush. Get a sturdy metal version and you’ll never have to replace it. $8.99 on Amazon
6. Nail Nippers – Old carpenters used the largest nails I have ever seen. Seriously, who today uses 16d nails to install window casings? If your house is old, you have a good chance of needing to pull a lot of big ole’ nails in your renovations. Get a solid pair of nail pullers/nippers. They can pull old nails out without marring the surface and they can even cut the thinner brad and finish nails that we use today. $19.86 on Amazon
7. Pro-Scraper – You will be scraping paint. Face the facts and join the club. With as much paint as you’re going to have to scrape, why not make it safer and cleaner by using a scraper that attaches to a Shop-Vac? The ProScraper come with a super sharp carbide blade and is ready to be attached to almost any Shop-Vac (you may need an adapter, which aren’t hard to find). You’ll leave almost no paint chips and cut your chances of lead poisoning way down. That’s worth the price alone!
8. Stanley Mini Hacksaw – There are bound to be screws that won’t move, nails that can’t be pried out, and various other reasons to have this handy little tool around. It fits in tight spaces, cuts through any kind of metal and has easily replaceable blades. You could cut through a whole house with this little guy. It would just take a really long time so leave that for the demolition experts. $7.72 on Amazon
That’s it! Those are my favorites, my absolutely essential tools. Yes, I left off the basics like my hammer and tape measure, but really did you need a silly restoration blogger to tell you you need to buy a hammer?
Founder & Senior Editor
I love old houses, working with my hands, and teaching others the excitment of doing it yourself! Everything is teachable if you only give it the chance.