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Wedding Hammer

One of my favorite wedding presents was a beautiful leather-handled hammer. Yep. A hammer. The couple that gave it to us told the story of receiving a hammer for their wedding – and how over the years, that hammer had woven its way in and out of their life story: building doll houses, repairing roofs, laboring with sons and daughters to build a shed, hanging pictures, restoring toys and furnitue…

So, a beautiful, expensive, well-made hammer became their standard wedding present. I love it.  And we have all kinds of stories tied to our own hammer now.

At one point, though, I started to declutter our house. I found at least eleven hammers. None as beautiful and well-made as our wedding hammer, but serviceable and useful, nonetheless. Several were claw hammers, an upholstery tack hammer was among the lot, and a tack hammer or two made the pile.  Perhaps it was a bit excessive…

Before I carted the excess off to Habitat for Humanity, I decided to remove some barriers to home repair. I found that a quick fix took longer if I had to go to the garage.

So, I created a tool bag of things I frequently needed in alternate locations from our excess. I still had some to give away when I was done…

My tool bags have morphed over the years as we have moved house and mastered different types of repairs, but I still love the idea of duplicate tools IF it removes a barrier to getting stuff done. I’m all for reducing duplication if it’s just adding clutter or hoarding.

That said, don’t go out and buy duplicate tools for every room in the house.  However, if your efforts to simplify and declutter your home reveal a lot of duplicate tools:

  1. figure out what projects you do and where you do them
  2. find a container you already own and aren’t using and make it a “tool bag” suited for that project
  3. look for a nearby place to store it
  4. then get rid of the rest without guilt
  5. if you are still using the heel of a shoe for a hammer and a metal nail file for a screwdriver, save up to buy some tools. 🙂

Not everyone tackles the same projects I do, but the idea is to have a complete set of tools organized by project type. Sometimes there is duplication, but often the tools are unique for the project. It is ALWAYS nice to grab a basket, bag, box, or bin & jump in without having to round up tools. I store the tool “bag” in a location that makes sense for the place I’m likely to use it and for the frequency I will need it.  (Incidentally, I do this everywhere in our house, not just with tools.  This is a great way to organize a kitchen, bathroom, office, playroom, etc.  More on that in future weeks.)

Here are the tool sets we have and where/how I store them:

In-House Projects

This is a basic set of tools that any household could use – the other sets of tools we have are fairly specific, but if you are looking for a list of basic tools that will allow you to accomplish most household “first aid,” this is one such list.

  • Years ago I repurposed a small (12.5″ long x 8.5″ wide x 6″ tall) scrapbooking bag with handles.  It is perfect for tools needed for small jobs around the house.

In-House Tools in Scrapbooking Bag

  • I keep it in my hall linen closet with a cordless drill (& charger).  My husband installed an outlet in the closet for the drill and a rechargeable vacuum to plug in. [If you are going to add an outlet inside a closet, be sure to locate it where folded or hanging items will not block it.]
  • I set the bag on top of a ratcheting screw driver set that is in a case & has socket heads, driver heads, and a host of star, hex, and other shaped heads for unique projects. Incidentally, these fit in my drill as well.
  • Thescrapbooking bagcontains:
    • drill bits
    • scissors
    • three screw drivers – one two sizes of Phillips head and one average sized flat blade
    • my leather-handled hammer
    • a small container of various sizes of nails (I used a plastc hinged box that came with first aid supplies to hold these)
    • a small container of various sizes of screws and wall anchors (another first aid box)
    • a small container of picture hooks, cup hooks, and small brackets (another first aid box — I got these in the trial size area — and I labeled them on both ends so I can tell them apart & it doesn’t matter which way I slide them into the bag)
    • two mechanical pencils
    • one ball point pen
    • one Sharpie “Rub-a-Dub” Laundry Marker
    • a box cutter
    • safety glasses
    • a tape measure (at least 25′)
    • two adjustable wrenches (different sizes)
    • two pair pliers – ratcheting handles for an easy grip
    • one pair  needle nose pliers
    • wire ties (I keep these in order by standing a toilet paper tube in the bag)
    • teflon tape
    • small tube of silicone caulk
    • Lock-Tite Gel (super glue)
    • duck tape
    • masking tape
    • WD-40 pen
    • small, magnetic level
    • stud-finder (in case my husband is lost, lol)
    • small pad of paper
    • solar calculator
    • bandaids & antibiotic ointment (you know you are going to need one at some point… why stop what you are doing to round up a bandage?)
    • putty knife
    • mini razor-blade scraper with extra blades (these fit in my box cutter, too)
    • glue
    • a small flashlight


  • I have a closet where we keep touch up paint in the colors we have around the house. It also holds stain for furniture or woodwork in the house that we have stained.
  • In that closet I keep two baskets of supplies: one for paint and one for stain.
    • The paint basket is an old laundry basket. It holds:
      • a claw hammer
      • a flat blade screwdriver (for opening paint cans & removing switch plates from lights and outlets)
      • a Phillips head screw driver (for removing door knobs)
      • painters tape (wide & narrow)
      • roller covers (in various sizes & thicknesses)
      • roller handles (in sizes appropriate for the covers we use)
      • roller pans & liners
      • paintbrushes
      • Fast-and-Final spackle
      • a couple of putty knives
      • sand paper
      • a 13″ x 4″ aluminum paint shield
      • a 12″ wide roll of kraft paper
      • a roll of paper towels
      • nitrile gloves (with lots kids in the house, I often need to help someone quickly without time to wash paint off of my hands)
      • a small dishpan (in case I need to bring water to the site, or to set the paint can in while I work for stability & to contain spills)
      • and I just realized I should put my drop cloth in there – can’t imagine why that never occurred to me before!
    • The stain basket is smaller, it’s a plastic bin we used for shoes in seminary – I thinkit’s original purpose was a foot bath…?  Anyway, it holds:
      • sand paper in various grits needed for finishing wood
      • palm sander
      • wood glue
      • gorilla glue
      • rags cut from old t-shirts
      • steel wool
      • tack cloth
      • sponges and other lint-free stain application tools
      • paint brushes
      • chemical masks
      • flat blade screw driver (for opening cans of stain)
      • a claw hammer (for closing cans of stain)
      • a rubber gripper jar opener (for opening screw-on-lids on stains, oils, and cleaners)
      • nitrile gloves


  • I keep upholstery tools in a traditional tool box. Itis stored in a closet in the garage because I don’t use it very often. Nearby I keep a roll of rush fiber for repairing rush seats. This tool boxcontains:
    • staple gun and staples/brads in various sizes
    • Upholstery tacks
    • tack hammer
    • magnetic upholstery hammer
    • webbing tools
    • webbing
    • grommets
    • grommet tools
    • awl
    • upholstery needles
    • button covers & kit for covering them for furniture that has tufted upholstery)
    • cording

Plumbing Repairs

  • I do most of our plumbing repairs myself. I keep plumbing repair supplies in a small plastic bin. It stays in the garage closet because, thankfully, I don’t need it very often.  Itcontains:
    • plumbers putty
    • small caulk gun
    • latex (paintable) caulk
    • silicone caulk
    • caulk removal tools
    • mini razor-blade scraper with extra blades
    • teflon tape
    • various wrenches in sizes for our pipes & fittings
    • spare pipe fittings, hoses, brackets, and useable pieces left from past projects
    • flappers
    • wax rings
    • a dishpan for catching drips
    • a 25′ pipe snake
    • a flash light
    • a small measuring tape
    • a pad of paper and a pencil
    • a Sharpie “Rub-a-Dub” Laundry Marker (this particular permanent marker dries quickly, doesn’t “bleed” on fabrics, and doesn’t rub off when wet, frozen, defrosted, etc. I keep them almost everywhere!)
    • we keep plungers, paper towels, and rags in the kitchen and every bathroom, so I don’t need those in this basket

Electrical Repair

  • My husband does most of our electrical work & repairs. Since I am always finding great places foradditional lighting and outlets, he needs tools toaccomplish these projects. He keeps electrical supplies in a plastic bin like my plumbing supplies. It stays in the garage closet andcontains:
    • wire caps
    • volt-meter
    • current tester
    • wire in various sizes/for various purposes
    • a wire snake
    • old-work outlet boxes
    • outlets
    • outlet covers
    • light switches
    • light switch covers
    • flat blade screw drivers
    • phillips head screw drivers
    • small drywall saw
    • stud finder with electrical current & pipe detector
    • pliers
    • wire cutters
    • measuring tape
    • hole saw bits
    • light boxes
    • ceiling fan/light fixture support brace
    • sometimes spare parts from past projects that may be useful on future projects
    • and he has to grab the drill from the hall closet

Workshop Tools (woodworking/home repair)

  • We have shelves in the garage closet and a small workshop areain the basement of an outbuilding in our property. Depending upon how large the project, we may work in eitherlocation. In the garage closet we keep:
    • the Saws-All (it really does saw everything from iron railings to rolls of paper towels for cleaning wipes)
    • a subset of screw drivers, wrenches, sockets, Allen wrenches, etc.  in various sizes
    • a claw hammer
    • tape measure
    • hand saws
    • crow bars
    • corded drill
    • organizers for screws, nails, hooks, and fasteners of all types and sizes
    • portable compressor with parts
  • In the workshop we keep things like:
    • compound miter saw
    • table saw
    • circular saws
    • band saw
    • jig saw
    • drill press
    • drill bits
    • a huge selection of screw drivers, wrenches, clamps, blocks, sockets, Allen wrenches, etc.
    • a couple of tape measures
    • squares
    • levels
    • metal meter/yard sticks
    • tape measure
    • portable lights
    • extension cords
    • router, router table, router bits
    • saw horses
    • lumber
    • sanders
    • sand paper
    • pressure washer
    • work bench/cabinets
    • furniture in process of being made, repaired, or up-cycled
    • glues
    • dowels
    • brackets
    • metal plates for repairs
    • rags
    • we have a half-bath in the basement, so water is readily available
    • we don’t have a third hand drill, so we have to remember to take one if the project will require it.
    • this is pretty much where typical workshop tools live (and get used)

Garage Tools (car and lawn equipment maintenance and repair)

  • Car supplies also sit on the shelves in our garage closet. It is the closest location to the driveway where we are likely to do car or lawn equipment repairs.  Car supplies aren’t easily contained, but we do have a bin for wrenches and such. Additionally we store things like:
  • oil
  • oil filters
  • drip pan for changing oil
  • washer fluid
  • air filters
  • belts and hoses
  • repair manuals for our current vehicles
  • radios we’ve replaced in our vehicles that we might want to put back in before trading/selling/shooting the vehicle
  • brake fluid
  • brake pads
  • chemicals for cleaning the cars
  • car wash sponges & bucket
  • trash bags
  • paper towels
  • rags

Yard and garden tools live in a backyard shed.

So there you have it.

Specialized tool kits for all the projects we typically tackle created from excess tools lying around the house.  Since we had most of these tools anyway, I didn’t need to add storage space – I just organized it.  By doing so, I removed one barrier to getting a job done.  We were also able to get rid of a lot of tools we really didn’t need.  Now all we need is handy.