Do you know the difference between a hammer and a mallet, a reciprocating saw and a miter saw or a framing nailer and a finish nailer? Do you know when to use a trowel versus a putty knife or grout float? Any idea what a chalk line does? If you know the answers to all of these questions, you might have what it takes to ace this quiz on handyman equipment!
Let's face it -- some people are just not designed to sit in a cubicle from 9 to 5 staring at a computer screen. If being trapped in an office all day sounds like your worst nightmare, consider whether a career in the trades might be a better fit. While you can always go to trade school or find an apprentice program, you can also strike out on your own, taking advantage of your natural skills to pursue a career as a handyman.
Wondering where to find customers? Start with friends and neighbors, who might need a hand installing a new hardwood floor, renovating a kitchen, repairing a pesky electrical outlet, or patching up some damaged siding. As you complete jobs and show off your skills, ask your customers to pass on your contact info to anyone in their social circle who needs your services. Over time, you can build a real career like this, learning new skills as you go.
Of course, it's hard to succeed as a handyman if you don't have any tools. You can start with the basics, investing in better quality or more specialized equipment and hand tools as your business grows. Do you think you know the tools a handyman uses to make a living? Take our quiz to find out!
A drill is the ultimate tool for any handyman, and can be used on everything from swapping out an interior door to building a brand new deck. While classic corded drills get the job done, cordless versions prevent you from having to search for an outlet or stretch out an extension cord -- just make sure to bring a backup battery!
While screwdrivers and drills do pretty much the same job, there are plenty of tasks where you need the precision and control that only a non-power tool can provide. A smart handyman picks up a screwdriver set, which comes with a single shaft that accepts a variety of bits, allowing him or her to perform a wide variety of jobs with a single tool.
A tape measure belongs in the utility belt of every handyman. Not only does it allow you to see whether something will fit within an area -- like measuring for a refrigerator before lugging it across the kitchen -- but it's a critical tool for measuring lumber, tile and other materials to find the desired length before making cuts.
A good handyman takes the time to try different hammers to find one that feels right with each swing. This must-have tool is used to remove nails, demo walls or floors, and to install everything from roof shingles to new shelving.
Not all jobs that handymen are hired to do will be inside the house. Some, such as building a fence, planting flower bulbs or installing a flagpole or sign, are outdoor jobs. All of these jobs are made easier with a post hole digger, which makes quick work of tough ground when it's time to dig a hole.
Did you know that power tools operate at 110 decibels or more, and that noise levels over 85 decibels can damage your ears over time? Reduce your risk of long-term hearing loss by popping in a pair of ear plugs every time you hit the start button on your tools.
Unless you're the size of an NBA player, you'll need a ladder for many typical handyman jobs. Smaller ladders allow you to perform tasks like hanging cabinets or painting a ceiling, while larger one are necessary if you want to work on a roof or repair siding high up on the walls of a house.
A circular saw serves as one of the most versatile cutting tools for any handyman. This power tool allows you to cut wooden studs when framing a house, build cabinets or furniture, construct a wooden fence, or trim lengths of siding when finishing the exterior of a home.
A handyman who leaves a pile of sawdust behind after he or she is done is a handyman who won't be getting much repeat business. Keep customers happy by cleaning up after yourself with a good shop vac. This tool also allows you to expand your services, such as cleaning up a flooded basement or helping to clean and restore a space after a minor fire.
Unlike circular or table saws, reciprocating saws use a push and pull motion. Small and compact, they are the perfect tool for chopping through a wooden or metal stud, demoing a door frame or cutting a PVC pipe. Corded versions are more powerful, while cordless models can be used anywhere, no electrical outlet required.
A simple paint brush can be used on so many money-making projects. Even those without an artistic eye can use this tool to paint walls and ceilings, refinish furniture or cabinets, or varnish and seal wood decks, patios and furniture.
If you screw a shelf or a TV to the drywall, the weight of the object will eventually cause it to come crashing down. Instead, fasten it directly to the wooden studs that make up the wall structure. To find them, use a stud finder, which beeps when passed over the studs -- and no, it's definitely not a good idea to keep passing it over yourself to prove your studliness!
Many calls to a handyman are simple requests to fix a clogged toilet, tub or sink. A plunger and a bit of drain cleaner is usually enough to get the job done and remove any blockages. When that doesn't work, you might also need to invest in a plumbing snake to really clear the drain.
No matter how good your handyman skills are, if you don't take the time to make things straight and level, customers probably won't be too happy with your work. A level uses a simple air bubble to tell you if the countertops, switch plates, shelves or other items you're installing are square and straight or whether they need some adjusting.
A standard table saw can only make cuts at a 90-degree angle to the table, while a miter saw has a blade that can be tilted to make angled cuts. This makes a miter saw perfect for cutting things like crown molding and trim, which must be angled properly so the ends match up. This tool is also useful for making furniture and cabinets.
A utility knife is the multi-use tool of the handyman field. Not only is it ideal for cutting open boxes, but it's also perfect for scoring lines on tile or drywall before making a cut. This handy gadget can also be used to cut through old caulk or dried layers of paint when you're trying to do maintenance or repairs.
Wrenches belong in every handyman's toolbox. Designed to install or remove nuts and bolts, they can help you install a new toilet or sink, but are also useful for things like tightening deck fasteners or even installing certain appliances.
When you're repairing a customer's damaged drywall, you can't exactly keep asking your client to hand you the next tool. Instead, keep tools close and at the ready with a tool belt. Strapped around the waist, this piece of equipment keeps you organized and allows you to work quickly and efficiently.
Many handymen are called in to fix basic electrical issues, like a receptacle or light switch that is no longer working. An electrical tester is a simple tool that can help you complete these types of projects by telling you if a circuit is live, helping you spot faults, and trace issues with wiring and equipment.
A ratchet set includes a single ratcheting handle with a series of attachments to fit different sizes of nuts and bolts. This tool is ideal for working on anything that uses bolts instead of screws, which can include anything from plumbing fixtures to furniture.
A shovel is a must-have tool for handymen who plan to do any exterior work. This tool is perfect for carting anything from dirt to gravel to mulch. It's also ideal for digging a garden, installing a fence or patio, or even for installing footings or a foundation.
Expand your handyman services by offering basic outdoor maintenance tasks. With a pair of quality loppers, you can prune shrubs and bushes, or remove hanging or dangerous tree branches before they fall.
An angle grinder is a small yet powerful tool. Equipped with a round blade, it can cut through metal studs or bolts, as well as many types of stone. When using this tool, you must wear your safety glasses to avoid serious eye damage from flying debris or broken blades.
Most handymen find themselves performing basic electrical tasks, which means you need tools for handling wire. Wire cutters, or diagonal pliers, are perfect for trimming wire to the correct length. As a bonus, they are also useful for cutting nails or trimming wire mesh.
A chalk line is a roll of string coated in powdered chalk. By stretching it across a floor or wall and snapping it so that it bounces back, you can create a perfect line to guide your work. This tool is ideal for ensuring proper installation of flooring, tile and wallpaper.
Framing nailers make quick work of framing, using an air compressor for extra power and speed at shooting nails into wood. This tool is built for rough work, like framing a wall, and not for finish carpentry or flooring.
Painting a room is an easy and cheap way to completely change the way it looks. While you can certainly sit there with a paint brush and paint it stroke by stroke, it's much quicker to use a roller, which distributes paint more efficiently than a brush over large areas.
Many ready-to-assemble furniture items require the use of Allen wrenches when putting them together. Also known as hex keys because of their six-sided design, these tools are often needed for carpentry and basic handyman services.
The right sander can transform wood from rough and rugged to smooth and beautiful. It can remove layers of unwanted paint and stain, allowing you to refinish to a satiny sheen. You'll need hand sanders for small projects, like cabinets and furniture, plus floor sanders for refinishing hardwood flooring.
If you want to expand your handyman services beyond basic carpentry, pick up a trowel or two. This pointed blade is used in masonry and concrete work, and can be used when building a brick retaining wall or smoothing out a freshly poured concrete patio or walkway.
Sometimes you'll have to work in areas where your fingers just won't fit -- think deep within a wall cavity or within the confines of an electrical junction box. When this happens, needle-nose pliers are the perfect tool for grabbing onto tiny wires or fasteners so you can complete the job with ease.
A crow or pry bar is a heavy metal bar that you'll find yourself using often as a handyman. It sometimes takes a tool with this kind of strength to pull out a stubborn nail, remove glued-on paneling or lift a decades-old linoleum floor.
You can't exactly cut sheet metal with a pair of scissors, so you'll need tin snips for many common handyman tasks. This tool is perfect for trimming new metal flashing when repairing a leaky chimney, or cutting sheet metal straps to install new HVAC ducts.
A nice squeeze from a caulk gun can fix a surprising number of home improvement issues. It helps to seal around showers, sinks, bathtubs and other plumbing fixtures, but can also be used to eliminate air gaps around doors or windows. Offer this as one of your services, reminding your clients that sealing these cracks with caulk will help cut their energy bills.
A putty knife is an ideal tool for applying joint compound onto freshly hung drywall. The knife is used to spread the compound thin so that it can be sanded after it dries, resulting in smooth, level joints that blend in with the surrounding surface.
Hardwood floors can totally transform a home, so if you can install them properly, you're sure to find plenty of clients. To make this job go smoothly, invest in a flooring nailer. Used in combination with a mallet, it relies on air pressure to shoot nails at exactly the right angle and depth.
Grout is a liquid mix of sand, cement and water that dries into a cement-like material. It's used between tiles to fill the gaps and create smooth and attractive walls, floors and countertops. To distribute the grout and force it between the tiles, you'll need a tool known as a grout float.
Metal wire comes wrapped in insulation, but this insulation must be removed before you can join two wires together. Sure, you could try to scrape it off with a utility knife and risk nicking the wire -- or your hand -- or you can simply cut the insulation off using a pair of wire strippers to accomplish the job safely and quickly.
A mallet looks like a hammer, but the head of the tool is much softer so it won't damage material as it strikes. It's often used with a flooring nailer when installing hardwood, but is also useful for nudging tiles or engineering floor planks into place.
Do you need to open up a wall or tear down some old cabinets? Were you hired to remove an ugly avocado green bathtub from the '70s? A sledgehammer will bust right through these and other objects, making quick work of demo or remolding work.