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Frequently Asked Questions

  • What can I cut with a circular saw?

    With the proper blade, it can cut wood, metal, plastic, fiberglass, cement block, slate and brick.

    Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and safety of this information. Neither Westlake nor any contributor can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

  • Which is better: wood or fiberglass handles on hammers?

    Some people say the wood provides a better feel and absorbs shock. While wood is durable, fiberglass is stronger.

    Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and safety of this information. Neither Westlake nor any contributor can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

  • What type of drill do you recommend for do-it-yourself projects?

    Most consumers use a 3/8-inch model that reverses, has variable speed and has a keyless chuck. You should get one that draws at least 3.5 amps.

    Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and safety of this information. Neither Westlake nor any contributor can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

  • What type of blade should I use when I am cutting wood across the grain?

    A crosscut blade has a series of evenly spaced, medium-sized teeth that are bent alternately from the left to the right.

    Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and safety of this information. Neither Westlake nor any contributor can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

  • What are the quality differences between drop forged and cast metal hand tools?

    During construction, drop forging removes more air bubbles. This means there are fewer weak spots.

    Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and safety of this information. Neither Westlake nor any contributor can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

  • The staples I am using do not go far enough into the wood?

    Your stapler does not have enough power to drive the staple into the hard surface. If you can, use a shorter staple or you will have to use a more powerful tool.

    Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and safety of this information. Neither Westlake nor any contributor can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

  • How do I know if my level is accurate?

    To check it, place it on a level surface, then flip it over. Both readings should be identical.

    Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and safety of this information. Neither Westlake nor any contributor can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

  • I don't have enough room under my sink to get the faucet nut off.

    A basin wrench is a tool designed especially for that.

    Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and safety of this information. Neither Westlake nor any contributor can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

  • What type of blade is designed to cut along the wood grain?

    A rip blade also has teeth bent to the left and right, but its teeth are on the top of the blade, not on the inside. They like chisels that scoop out the wood as the saw moves along the grain.

    Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and safety of this information. Neither Westlake nor any contributor can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

  • Which is better, an electric or gas leaf blower?

    A gas blower provides mobility and is more powerful.

    Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and safety of this information. Neither Westlake nor any contributor can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

  • What weight hammer should I buy?

    Buy the heaviest hammer that you can control because the heavier the hammer, the easier it will be to drive nails. However, the heavier the hammer, the harder it is to hit nails on the head and the more quickly your arm muscles will become fatigued.

    Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and safety of this information. Neither Westlake nor any contributor can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

  • I am trying to decide which is better for me - a gas or electric chain saw.

    Gas chain saws can be used anywhere and are more powerful. Plus, they come in larger bar sizes. Electric chain saws must stay within the limits of an extension cord.

    Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and safety of this information. Neither Westlake nor any contributor can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

  • What size adjustable wrench should I buy for general use?

    When it comes to gripping, bigger is generally better. If you are going to get just one, I recommend a larger one: either 10-inch or 14-inch.

    Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and safety of this information. Neither Westlake nor any contributor can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

  • How do you recognize a quality circular saw?

    Look for amperage and types of bearings - top quality saws pull 12 or 13 amps and run on ball bearings. Lower-quality saws use roller or sleeve bearings and are rated about 9 or 10 amps. While plastic housings are not a sign of inferior quality, make sure the saw has extruded or cast metal base plates. Stamped metal plates can warp.

    Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and safety of this information. Neither Westlake nor any contributor can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

  • Is there a power tool that I can use to trim evergreens with?

    Yes, there are electric hedge trimmers. They come in different sizes. The larger units are more powerful, but do not buy a model that is too heavy for you to handle.

    Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and safety of this information. Neither Westlake nor any contributor can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

  • What is a saber saw?

    It's a portable jigsaw that can perform many tasks, such as cutting curves and holes. However, it can't handle heavy jobs. Some models have orbital blade action for a more aggressive cut. Another feature some people like is a blower that keeps the cutting line visible and sawdust free.

    Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and safety of this information. Neither Westlake nor any contributor can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

  • What drill bit should I use?

    The right drill bit is determined by the material you’re drilling and the size hole you need.

    • Wood: For smaller holes, standard wood bits work well. For larger holes in rough lumber, use paddle bits. For larger holes in finished wood, use forstner bits.
    • Soft Metals: For holes smaller than ½”, use titanium, cobalt or carbide bits. For holes larger than ½”, use a mill.
    • Steel: For small holes, use carbide or cobalt bits. For larger holes, you’ll need special equipment.
    • Concrete/Stone: Use a hammer drill and hammer drill bits if possible. You can also use masonry bits in a standard drill, but they work much slower than a hammer drill.
    • Glass/Ceramic/Tile: For holes up to ½”, use diamond-encrusted bits. For holes larger than ½”, you’ll need special equipment. We suggest taking those pieces to a glass shop.

    Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and safety of this information. Neither Westlake nor any contributor can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

    Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and safety of this information. Neither Westlake nor any contributor can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

  • How do I get a bolt out if the head has broken off?

    Use a bolt extractor kit. It has a self-tapping head that will insert into the bolt. You can then use a power drill to turn the bolt extractor and remove the bolt.

    Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and safety of this information. Neither Westlake nor any contributor can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

    Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and safety of this information. Neither Westlake nor any contributor can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

  • What is the best way to cut laminate flooring?

    • Use a table saw and fine-toothed, carbide-tipped blades.
    • Use a jigsaw with carbide-tipped blades for corner cuts.
    • Have extra blades available. Laminate is hard on blades and dulls them quickly.
    • After making your cutting mark, line it with blue painter’s tape to prevent the laminate from chipping off along the cut.
    • Rent a jamb saw if you’re cutting laminate for doorways. It will save you hours of cutting time.

      Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and safety of this information. Neither Westlake nor any contributor can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

      Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and safety of this information. Neither Westlake nor any contributor can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

    • What types of power sanders are there?

      The four most common are belt sanders, finish sanders, orbital sanders and random orbital sanders.

      Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and safety of this information. Neither Westlake nor any contributor can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

    • Do I need to buy both a crosscut and rip blade?

      For general use, you can, but a combination blade incorporates the features of both rip and crosscut blades.

      Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and safety of this information. Neither Westlake nor any contributor can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

    • What's an auger bit used for?

      It primarily used for cutting deep holes in all types of wood.

      Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Information in this document has been furnished by the North American Retail Hardware Association (NRHA) and associated contributors. Every effort has been made to ensure accuracy and safety. Neither NRHA, any contributor nor the retailer can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

      Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and safety of this information. Neither Westlake nor any contributor can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

    • What type of drill bit should I use for cutting a large hole for a new door lock?

      For larger holes, use a hole saw. It ranges in size from about 1' to 4' and has a pilot bit and a saw-toothed circular rim.

      Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and safety of this information. Neither Westlake nor any contributor can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

    • I'm drilling in some wood, where I will probably hit some hidden nails. What bit should I use?

      A spade bit is a good choice because it is are relatively inexpensive and you can resharpen it with a file.

      Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and safety of this information. Neither Westlake nor any contributor can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

    • What else should I consider when buying staples?

      The thickness of the material to be attached and the hardness of the wood.  In hardwood, a 1/4' penetration is sufficient, but softwood requires up to a 3/8' penetration.

      Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and safety of this information. Neither Westlake nor any contributor can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

    • I want to hide the nail head in some molding that I am installing.

      Use a nail set to sink the nail head into the molding. Then you can fill the hole with a spackling compound, sand it smooth and paint it.

      Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Information in this document has been furnished by the North American Retail Hardware Association (NRHA) and associated contributors. Every effort has been made to ensure accuracy and safety. Neither NRHA, any contributor nor the retailer can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

      Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and safety of this information. Neither Westlake nor any contributor can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

    • What are the advantages of a finish sander?

      Rather than orbiting, it moves the sandpaper back and forth and should be used where it is absolutely necessary that the sandpaper moves in a single direction. A finish sander often uses square sheets of sandpaper, which also makes it easier to get into corners.

      Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and safety of this information. Neither Westlake nor any contributor can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

    • How do you make miter cuts?

      • Using a pencil, mark a cut on your piece of wood.
      • Adjust the blade on your miter saw so that it lines up perfectly with your cut mark. (If you’re making square boxes or picture frames or if you’re cutting angles for crown molding, set your blade angle at precisely 45 degrees.)
      • Turn on your blade and start your cut with a few backstrokes of the saw to give it a good channel for your cut.
      • Make your cut with steady strokes by gently lowering the blade onto the wood.
      • When the saw approaches the bottom of the board your cutting, ease back on the force you’re using so that the blade lightly passes through the wood. This will prevent the wood from ripping or tearing.
      • Use a medium-grit sandpaper to sand the edges of your cut.

      Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and safety of this information. Neither Westlake nor any contributor can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

      Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and safety of this information. Neither Westlake nor any contributor can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

    • Do I need to worry about what size straight-slot screwdriver to buy?

      A screwdriver is most effective when the width of the head of the driver matches the width of the slot in the head of the screw. If you are going to buy just one of each, I recommend a number two Phillips head and a quarter-inch flat blade. However, I recommend that you get at least two sizes of each. In fact, you should really have a complete set of screwdrivers in your workshop to match the variety of jobs that occur around the house.

      Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and safety of this information. Neither Westlake nor any contributor can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

    • Can I drill a hole in concrete?

      Yes a high-speed masonry bit is used on concrete, concrete block, cinder block, brick and stone.

      Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and safety of this information. Neither Westlake nor any contributor can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

    • What factors are important when choosing a reciprocating saw?

      Generally, the higher the amp, the more cutting power. These saws range in size from about 4 amps to 11 amps. Other features include cordless options, orbital action that cuts more aggressively, adjustable shoe to change the depth of the cut and variable speeds.

      Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and safety of this information. Neither Westlake nor any contributor can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

    • How long a tape measure should I buy?

      A 12-foot-long tape is handy for most household work, but I recommend a 25-foot one because it can also be used for carpentry, plumbing and other major projects.

      Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and safety of this information. Neither Westlake nor any contributor can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

    • I need a hex key wrench, but I don't know the size.

      Since they are not expensive, an 18-piece all-purpose hex key wrench set is recommended.

      Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and safety of this information. Neither Westlake nor any contributor can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

    • What tool should I use to strip the plastic sheathing off wire?

      A combination tool has openings that fit different sizes of wire. When a wire is put into the correct one and pulled, it will remove the covering without damaging the wire.

      Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and safety of this information. Neither Westlake nor any contributor can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

    • How do I select the right screw for my project?

      The type of screw you use depends on the material(s) you’re screwing:

      • Use wood screws for wood-to-wood fastening.
      • Use lag screws for wood-to-metal fastening.
      • Use sheet metal screws to fasten two thin pieces of metal.
      • Use sheetrock screws to fasten drywall to studs.
      • Use stainless steel deck screws for deck construction. Galvanized screws are also acceptable, but are more susceptible to weather.

      Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and safety of this information. Neither Westlake nor any contributor can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

      Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and safety of this information. Neither Westlake nor any contributor can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

    • What is the best way to drill into glass and ceramic tile?

      Clay tiles are usually fairly soft and easy to drill through. Ceramic tiles, porcelain tiles and any glass tiles are harder to drill. These steps will make it easier and with less chance of ruining your material. Use only a diamond-encrusted carbide bit. A regular carbide bit should work on ceramic and porcelain, but the diamond-encrusted carbide is still recommended.

      For Uninstalled Tile

       

      • If you’re drilling through tile that isn’t already installed, use MDF board behind your tile for support while you drill.
      • Make a mark with a pen or pencil where you want to drill
      • Knead a ball of plumber’s putty, then roll it into one long piece. Wrap the long piece back on itself to create a ring around the mark.
      • Smooth the putty and adhere it to the tile to form a seal. Place several drops of air tool oil in the middle of the ring of plumber’s putty. It should fill to almost halfway up the putty.
      • Center your drill bit over the mark and begin slowly drilling. The oil in the putty should always touch the bit, keeping it lubricated. Press down firmly, but gently.
      • Once the bit has drilled through the harder top layer of clay, ceramic or porcelain, it should glide through the rest of the material with ease. (For glass, your resistance will remain the same throughout, but you shouldn’t have any problems with consistent pressure and constant lubrication.)

       

      For Installed Tile on a Vertical Surface

       

      • Put a 2”x2” piece of masking tape in an 'X' pattern over the area where you want to drill. The masking tape will prevent the drill bit from drifting or walking off the desired hole location.
      • Use a pencil or pen to mark the spot where you want to drill.
      • Using a center punch or awl, and hammer lightly tap the marked drill location to make a minor chip on the surface of the tile. Again, this will help to ensure the drill bit will not wander.

       

      Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and safety of this information. Neither Westlake nor any contributor can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

      Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and safety of this information. Neither Westlake nor any contributor can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

    • I'm looking to put together a basic hand tool set. What do I need?

      The tools needed for basic home maintenance should cost you less than $150 and include:

      • Tape measure
      • Handsaw
      • Hacksaw
      • Hammer
      • Screwdriver
      • Level
      • Utility knife
      • Pliers
      • Locking pliers
      • Adjustable wrench
      • Plunger
      • Tool box

      Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and safety of this information. Neither Westlake nor any contributor can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

    • I need to drill a 1-inch hole in a piece of wood. What bit do I need?

      For drilling medium-sized holes in wood, a spade bit is a good choice. Common sizes range from 1/4 inch to 1-1/2 inch. They can also be used on chipboards and floorboards.

      Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and safety of this information. Neither Westlake nor any contributor can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

    • What does the amp rating mean on power tools?

      Generally, more amps translate into more power for electric tools.

      Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and safety of this information. Neither Westlake nor any contributor can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

    • I have a screw that has broken off. How do I remove it?

      You’ll need a screw removal kit. These are essentially drill bits that have a special tip that screw into the broken screw head and then screw it out. Drill the screw remover into the screw and then slowly unscrew the screw counterclockwise.

      Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and safety of this information. Neither Westlake nor any contributor can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

      Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and safety of this information. Neither Westlake nor any contributor can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

    • What do the teeth-per-inch numbers mean on sawblades?

      The numbers indicate the number of points per inch on a saw blade.

      Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and safety of this information. Neither Westlake nor any contributor can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

    • What hammer do you recommend for general use around the house?

      A 16-ounce curved-claw hammer.

      Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and safety of this information. Neither Westlake nor any contributor can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

      Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and safety of this information. Neither Westlake nor any contributor can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

    • Do I need a special blade to cut plywood with my circular saw?

      Yes, a plywood blade has small teeth that provide a clean cut and reduce splintering.


      Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Information in this document has been furnished by the North American Retail Hardware Association (NRHA) and associated contributors. Every effort has been made to ensure accuracy and safety. Neither NRHA, any contributor nor the retailer can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

      Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and safety of this information. Neither Westlake nor any contributor can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

    • What is a worm drive circular saw?

      Unlike standard circular saws, these have the motor mounted parallel to the saw blade. In addition, they usually have a larger motor. These features make for more powerful, stronger tools that are preferred by pros looking for heavy-duty, long-term use.

      Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and safety of this information. Neither Westlake nor any contributor can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

    • Is there a small power saw that is good for lighter work?

      Yes, there are saws that are designed for trim work. However, they are also good for people who don't want to handle a large saw. They can be used to cut everything from lattice to a 2x4.

      Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and safety of this information. Neither Westlake nor any contributor can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

    • What’s the best hammer to use with a chisel?

      Use a small sledgehammer. A 2-pound sledgehammer is ideal. Don’t try to use a sledgehammer bigger than a 4-pound model.

      Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and safety of this information. Neither Westlake nor any contributor can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

      Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and safety of this information. Neither Westlake nor any contributor can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

    • I need to buy a chisel for a woodworking job. What size do you recommend?

      You can handle most of your needs with a 1/4 inch model and one larger one - either a 3/4 inch or 1 inch.

      Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and safety of this information. Neither Westlake nor any contributor can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

    • What’s the best way to cut a circle into wood?

      • For small holes that are less than 1 ½” inches in diameter, use a spade bit (also called a paddle bit) with your cordless drill. It has a distinct tip that anchors the bit into the center of the circle, then uses a wider diameter to drill out the size of circle you need.
      • For holes between 1”-8”, use a hole saw. These are literally metal circles that have a drill bit attached to the top and have sharp teeth around the bottom edge.
      • For large holes, use a jig. These attach to your saw. (When it’s attached to a saber saw, it becomes a “jigsaw.” But you can also attach jigs to routers or roto zips.) Then it attaches to the piece of wood and allows your saw to move around it in a circular pattern.

      Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and safety of this information. Neither Westlake nor any contributor can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

      Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and safety of this information. Neither Westlake nor any contributor can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

    • I want a hand tool to cut a rather intricate design in plywood.

      A coping saw is best for this job.

      Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and safety of this information. Neither Westlake nor any contributor can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

    • Isn't a belt sander the best choice for removing a lot of material?

      Yes, they work quickly, but I don't recommend them for do-it-yourselfers because you have to be very careful. One mistake can ruin the piece you are working on.

      Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and safety of this information. Neither Westlake nor any contributor can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

    • I want to cut some lightweight sheet metal. Which hacksaw blade should I use?

      Use a fine-cut blade. On heavier metals, such as steel pipe, a coarser-cut blade will be more efficient.

      Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and safety of this information. Neither Westlake nor any contributor can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

    • What do I need to cut a hole in my wall for a new electrical box?

      You want to use a keyhole saw.

      Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and safety of this information. Neither Westlake nor any contributor can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

    • What are other features that I should look for on a circular saw?

      How easy it is to see where the blade is cutting, is it easy to change the blade, will it cut bevels, can you use a vacuum attachment and can you attach a rib fence guide?

      Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and safety of this information. Neither Westlake nor any contributor can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

    • What's the best way to sand?

      • You can make regular sheets of sandpaper or emery paper last longer and work better by backing them with tape.
      • The tape gives each sandpaper sheet more body and helps to keep it from tearing or creasing while you are working. A few pieces of masking tape on the back of a regular sheet of sandpaper will increase the life of the paper two to three times.
      • Use regular sandpaper to smooth the sharp edges of cut glass, ceramic tile, porcelain, etc.
      • Wrap a piece of fine sandpaper around a scrap piece of wood. A short piece of 1x2 lumber makes an ideal block for sanding these types of cut materials.
      • Rub the sandpaper sheet along the edge of the glass evenly and smoothly.
      • As the cutting edge of the sandpaper is worn away, rotate the sheet of paper on the block to provide a new surface until the sheet is used up.
      • Sanding irregular and uneven surfaces can sometimes be a problem. Corners and grooves can be extremely difficult to reach with a flat piece of sandpaper.
      • For sanding irregular edges of table tops, chair legs, etc., use a deck of cards as the sanding block (see image).
      • The cards and sandpaper will adjust to the contour of the surface you are sanding. This makes a sanding block that is quite flexible, yet provides a firm base for holding the sandpaper against a curved surface.
      • Use old record covers to hold various grades of sandpaper (see image). They keep the sandpaper clean and orderly.
      • Old record covers also enable you to determine the grit of the paper quickly and easily, since the texture and grit show through the holes.

      Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Information in this document has been furnished by the North American Retail Hardware Association (NRHA) and associated contributors. Every effort has been made to ensure accuracy and safety. Neither NRHA, any contributor nor the retailer can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

      Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and safety of this information. Neither Westlake nor any contributor can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

    • What is the advantage of composite handles on an ax or maul?

      These cost a little more than wood-handled versions, but they are stronger. This can be particularly important if you have a tendency to overstrike, which can break a wood handle. In the past, wood handles were easier to replace, but new composite designs make these easy to fix as well. Some people say they prefer the feel of wood and that it creates less vibration.

      Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and safety of this information. Neither Westlake nor any contributor can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

    • What are the advantages of locking pliers?

      They can turn many parts that no other tool can, and they are especially suited for clamping onto small parts and gripping pipe fittings. You can also use them when a nut or bolt head strips. But be careful because you can deform some parts if you over-tighten them.

      Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and safety of this information. Neither Westlake nor any contributor can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

    • Why is there such a wide price range for claw hammers?

      The higher-priced hammers have sturdier handles and better steel in their heads. These hammers will perform better and last longer.

      Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and safety of this information. Neither Westlake nor any contributor can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

    • If I buy a cordless drill, what volt model should I buy?

      A 12-volt model will handle the needs of most d-i-yers. For bigger projects, a 14-volt or higher model is a good choice. For lighter duty, a 9.6-volt model should be sufficient. For extended use, you should get two battery packs.

      Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and safety of this information. Neither Westlake nor any contributor can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

    • How many Philips head screwdrivers do I need?

      With two sizes, you should be able to handle most screws.

      Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and safety of this information. Neither Westlake nor any contributor can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

      Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and safety of this information. Neither Westlake nor any contributor can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

    • What type of handsaw blade should I use to cut paneling?

      Use an 11-point blade - with a fine cut - so that the wood will not splinter when it is cut.

      Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Information in this document has been furnished by the North American Retail Hardware Association (NRHA) and associated contributors. Every effort has been made to ensure accuracy and safety. Neither NRHA, any contributor nor the retailer can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

      Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and safety of this information. Neither Westlake nor any contributor can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

    • I want to pound a chair leg back into place. What tool can provide the force without marring the surface?

      Wood or rubber mallets are a good choice.

      Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and safety of this information. Neither Westlake nor any contributor can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

    • Can hacksaws cut other materials besides metal?

      Yes, the fine teeth of a hacksaw can cut other materials too tough for wood saws, such as bricks.

      Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and safety of this information. Neither Westlake nor any contributor can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

    • What kind of blade should I buy for my circular saw? What tooth count is appropriate?

      Circular saw blades are identified by size and number of blade teeth, as well as what material they’re designed to cut. The more teeth on a blade, the smoother and slower that blade will cut.

      General woodwork benefits from a combination blade. These blades have large teeth that leave a rough cut and can be used to cross-cut or rip wood with the grain.

      For long cuts with the grain, use a ripping blade. (Do not use a ripping blade with plywood. Use a cross-cut blade or a hollow-ground plywood blade.)

      For some metals and most plastics, choose blades made of plastic or non-ferrous material.

      Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and safety of this information. Neither Westlake nor any contributor can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

      Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and safety of this information. Neither Westlake nor any contributor can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

    • I have accidentally gouged some wood with my random orbital sander.

      It's best to put the sander onto the surface before you start it. In addition, when using an orbital sander, don't press down too hard on the tool. Let it's weight do the work.

      Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and safety of this information. Neither Westlake nor any contributor can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

    • What’s the best hand tool to cut a design in plywood?

      A coping saw.

      Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and safety of this information. Neither Westlake nor any contributor can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

      Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and safety of this information. Neither Westlake nor any contributor can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

    • What type of level should I buy?

      A 9-inch torpedo level is good for hanging pictures and other small household tasks. A complete home toolbox should also include a 2-foot or longer carpenter's level for larger projects like checking walls, bookshelves and fence posts.

      Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and safety of this information. Neither Westlake nor any contributor can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

    • Does the number of points on a blade also apply to hacksaws?

      Yes, the higher the number of points, the finer the cut.

      Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and safety of this information. Neither Westlake nor any contributor can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

    • Do I need more than one Phillips head screwdriver?

      Two sizes will handle most screws.

      Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and safety of this information. Neither Westlake nor any contributor can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

    • How should I cut plastic pipe?

      Any fine-tooth saw will work, but make sure you remove any burrs.

      There are many plastic pipe and tubing cutters that would work.

      Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and safety of this information. Neither Westlake nor any contributor can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

    • What is the difference between an orbital sander and a random orbital sander?

      An orbital sander moves only in a circular motion while the random orbital sander also moves back and forth. As a result of the two separate motions, it leaves less of a swirl pattern on the wood.

      Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and safety of this information. Neither Westlake nor any contributor can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

    • I need a pair of pliers that I can use in tight quarters.

      Use a pair of needle-nose pliers, which are good for this task as well as gripping small items, precision work, cutting wire or bending wire to wrap a terminal. The jaws and cutting blades meet evenly. If you hold them up to the light, you should not be able to see any diagonal chinks of light coming though.

      Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and safety of this information. Neither Westlake nor any contributor can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

    • I want a hand saw for all-around use. What do you recommend?

      A 7- or 8-point crosscut would be a good choice.

      Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and safety of this information. Neither Westlake nor any contributor can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

    • What's the difference between a putty knife and a paint scraper?

      They both look the same. Scrapers are too stiff for the efficient application of compounds. Putty knives are too flexible for scraping.

      Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and safety of this information. Neither Westlake nor any contributor can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

    • What kind of saw do I need to cut a hole in my wall for a new electrical box?

      A keyhole saw.

      Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and safety of this information. Neither Westlake nor any contributor can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

    • I need to make an accurate cut with a circular saw, but it is difficult to keep straight.

      You can get more accurate cuts by using a guide or fence that helps you stay on the right path.

      Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and safety of this information. Neither Westlake nor any contributor can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

    • What all-around circular saw do you recommend?

      A 7' is the most popular size. It lets you cut to a depth of 2-?' and to cut through any standard 2x piece of lumber even when the blade is set to 45 degrees.

      Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and safety of this information. Neither Westlake nor any contributor can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

    • What's the difference between a rip hammer and a curved claw hammer?

      A hammer with a curved claw provides leverage for pulling nails. A rip (straight claw) hammer is often the choice of professionals because it is usually a slightly heftier tool that is used to rip apart wood that has been nailed together.

      Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and safety of this information. Neither Westlake nor any contributor can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

    • Are more teeth per inch better when buying a crosscut handsaw?

      Fewer teeth work more quickly but provide a coarser cut with rough edges. Saws with more teeth work more slowly but provide a finer cut.

      Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and safety of this information. Neither Westlake nor any contributor can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

    • What type of pliers should I buy for general use?

      Get a 10-inch set of adjustable pliers. They may look big, but they’ll handle many projects around the house.

      Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and safety of this information. Neither Westlake nor any contributor can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

      Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and safety of this information. Neither Westlake nor any contributor can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

    • What should I look for when buying a saber saw?

      Look to see if the mechanism for adjusting the base plate is sturdy. On less-expensive models' these are weak and will eventually wobble, making it difficult to cut accurately. Look for a model that draws 3 amps and has variable speed.

      Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and safety of this information. Neither Westlake nor any contributor can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

    • Do you have a good tool to cut chicken wire with?

      Yes, tin snips are a good choice for cutting many kinds of mesh wire.

      Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and safety of this information. Neither Westlake nor any contributor can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

    • Are staples interchangeable with different staplers?

      The right staples aren’t necessarily determined just by the manufacturer. More important than the brand of staples is the size. Check your stapler or staple gun to see what size staples you need. If you find those at your local Westlake and they’re made by a different manufacturer, they should still work fine.

      Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and safety of this information. Neither Westlake nor any contributor can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

      Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and safety of this information. Neither Westlake nor any contributor can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

    • What drill bits do you recommend for general use?

      For drilling smaller holes in a variety of materials, choose a high-speed steel twist bit. These can drill holes from about 1/16 inch to 1/2 inch in wood, soft metal and other materials.

      Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and safety of this information. Neither Westlake nor any contributor can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

    • Is there a tool for removing the outer sheathing on cables such as Romax?

      A utility knife will work, but an inexpensive cable ripper is designed for the task and will not damage the wires inside.

      Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and safety of this information. Neither Westlake nor any contributor can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

    • When buying a trimmer or edger, should I buy gas-powered or electric models?

      If you can reach every corner of your yard with a 150' extension cord, you should consider an electric model. They typically cost less, are quieter and require less maintenance. If you have a larger yard, then a gas-powered model may be better.

      Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and safety of this information. Neither Westlake nor any contributor can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

    • What's the advantage of a carbide-tipped circular saw blade?

      The cutting edges are made from extra-hard carbide steel that will last up to 20 times longer, and it is good for cutting materials of different hardnesses.

      Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and safety of this information. Neither Westlake nor any contributor can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

    • My saber saw blades seem to dull quickly.

      That's common, but make sure you are using the right blade for the material you are cutting - wood, tile or metal.

      Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and safety of this information. Neither Westlake nor any contributor can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

    • Can I use my circular saw to cut masonry?

      Use an abrasive wheel, which looks like a thin grinding wheel. It can also be used to cut fiberglass and light metal.

      Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and safety of this information. Neither Westlake nor any contributor can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

    • Are there tree-trimmers you can use from the ground?

      Yes, pole tree trimmers typically extend 12' to 20'. Shears with a pulley and rope can cut about a 1' diameter branch, and saws are used on branches up to about 6'. For these and larger branches, you may want to consider a chain saw.

      Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and safety of this information. Neither Westlake nor any contributor can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

    • Is there a wrench I can use that will not damage the brass, aluminum or other soft material?

      Yes, a strap wrench grips the pipe without teeth.

      Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Information in this document has been furnished by the North American Retail Hardware Association (NRHA) and associated contributors. Every effort has been made to ensure accuracy and safety. Neither NRHA, any contributor nor the retailer can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.


      Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and safety of this information. Neither Westlake nor any contributor can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

    • Do you have a tool for cutting lightweight metal sheeting?

      Yes, they are called metal cutting snips, and they come in a variety of sizes and designs.

      Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and safety of this information. Neither Westlake nor any contributor can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

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