Essential Tools on the Farm

During the summer, my days are filled with mowing the lawn, working in the garden, and doing all the other chores a farm requires. But while doing those chores, I often see where something is needed that will benefit us in some way.

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However, it is just too hot and too busy to start building. Instead, I keep a notebook where I jot down my ideas. In the evenings, The Country Boy and I will talk about each project – supplies needed and the approximate cost. Those that stay on the list are scheduled throughout the fall months.

For most of us, building something yourself not only saves money, but you can also be certain that you have top quality. We recently built a cage for our chickens to use during the transition from brooder to coop.

If we bought one ready-made, it would have cost a fortune, and from what we could tell, was basically cheap wood that was stapled together. Instead, we built our own for $300, and I can almost guarantee it will last a lifetime.

In any supply list, you need to add more than just boards, nails and chicken wire. You also have to consider the tools that will be needed. Most projects just need some basic hand and power tools. On rare occasion, we need something else.

Are you getting your fall project list together? Make sure you have these basic tools on hand.

Hand Tools

When I bought my first house, my dad bought me a filled tool box for a house-warming gift. It was probably my favorite gift, and I still have it today. I have added a few things as I went along, but I just can’t function without it.

If you want to purchase each tool separately, then that works. If you are looking for something ready-made, then check this Tool Box out – it has everything you might need to get started:

• Hammer – we have several sizes and types. The most common is a claw hammer, but a rubber mallet and ball peen style are also great to have

• Screwdrivers – Flat head and Phillips head. A flat head is just what it implies, and you need to have at least three, from small to large. A Phillips head has a cross piece on the end.

• Pliers – these come in handy for all types of projects. Keep a pair of needle nose, slip joint, water pump and locking. With these four, you can cover most of your needs

• Wrench – the five basic wrenches you need in your tool box are open end and/or combination; spanner, socket and allen. All wrenches come in either standard or metric measurements, so be sure to check your project to see what size you need

• Measuring Tape – for most projects, you need at least a 25′ retractable metal measuring tape. Don’t forget – you always measure twice, cut once!

• Level – lopsided projects usually don’t last long or function well. Keep a quality level on hand that can keep things from rolling off a shelf.

Power Tools

Power tools make any project go faster. Most times, you need them completed as soon as possible, so you can move on to the next one. Power tools are more expensive, but are well worth the price. If you can’t afford them all at once (and who can?), then prioritize them and purchase one at a time. Or, ask Santa – he may just feel generous this year!

Circular saw – The idea of hand sawing all the lumber we use to build projects around here makes my arm hurt. So we use a Circular saw. Projects get done in about one-tenth of the time. The Country Boy uses a standard blade for most of the work, but also keeps a veneer blade handy, just in case.

A circular saw is basically for cutting boards.  The Country Boy also uses a jigsaw or reciprocating saw for other projects, but there is a difference. Tool Powers has a great article on all the different saws and how to use them.

Cordless drill – use this tool to drill pilot holes so the wood doesn’t split, and then changed to a screwdriver bit. Not sure if this is really necessary? Take a moment to really think about it…trying to screw 100 screws in by hand vs one and a half seconds with an electric drill.  A cordless drill has a battery.  Be sure to purchase an extra battery.  This prevents you from having to waste time while waiting for it to charge on bigger projects.

Nail Gun – Yes. This is mandatory at this farm. With all my projects? I have blisters just thinking about swinging a hand hammer. These do require an air compressor to use. I know I have linked this to a Craftsman from Amazon, but consider this before you buy:  some nail guns are for roofing, some for finishing, some are adaptable to staples, some aren’t.

First determine how you are going to use it.  If you need to use it for multiple type projects, you may want to think about investing in a more versatile nail gun.  These can cost quite a bit, especially considering the cost of the air compressor that is required to use it.

Staple Gun – These are almost indispensable when building something needing chicken wire. Use it to staple one end, then slowly spread the remaining wire and staple as you go. HOWEVER – the notes on nail guns also apply to this.  You want to check the size staples you can use – and will also need an air compressor to use one.

*Note:  many of the electric tools now come in battery-operated forms.  Our ‘electric’ drill is actually battery powered.  This is great, as it means you don’t have to worry about a cord getting in the way.  The downside is that you have to keep charging the battery.  It may be helpful to purchase an extra charger so you don’t have to wait for the battery to charge.

There are an unlimited number of hand and power tools on the market. All of them are designed for a purpose, some more specialized than others. When we are working on a project, we find that these are the tools we use the most. They save time and wear and tear on our hands and muscles.

One of the few specialty tools we have is a Plasma cutter. For ours, you need to have welding equipment as well in order to use it – primarily acetylene tanks and a welding helmet. We use this for cutting tin and metal. It does save time, but know and understand how to use one before you buy it. I don’t use it. I leave that job up to the Country Boy!

The Art of Homemaking Manual

One last thought: When you purchase tools, go ahead; spend the money needed to buy quality.  Cheap ones may work for a bit, but they do break and you have to keep replacing them.  The Country Boy and I buy name brands that have proven themselves over time: Craftsman, Bosch, DeWalt, and Black & Decker, to name a few.  Yes, they may be more costly up front, but in the long run they are less expensive than continuous replacement.

Are you getting your fall project list together? Before you go any further, check your tool supply. Make sure you have everything you need, plus a few power tools to make it quicker and easier. You will be much happier with the finished project, plus you get bragging rights in the bargain!

For another type of essential Tools to have on the farm, check out Tools of the Trade!

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Julie Murphree is a blogger, newspaper columnist, and speaker on all things ‘Living a Simple Life on the Farm’. She is the author of \\\'The Farm Wife – Living a Simple Life on the Farm. She and her husband have 60 acres in NW Louisiana where they actively work on living as sustainable as possible.

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