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Power tools empower home owners

Opinion: Arlene Jones

September 11th, 2017 4:28 PM

By Arlene Jones

Columnist

I've owned my home for 28 years now. I am nowhere close to paying it off, but it's mine (and the bank's) and that is the most important thing. One of the things I learned even before purchasing my home was that power tools are the best investment to save time and money. 

When my daughter was three, I bought her a kitchen set. I was thrilled to see that it came in three boxes: for the stove, refrigerator and sink. Then I learned the cruel lesson of just how hard it is to screw 100 tiny screws into metal pieces. By the time I finished, my hands were raw and my patience exhausted. So when the store ads came out the following Sunday and Sears had an electric drill on sale, I ran and bought it. I still have that heavy drill although I've supplemented it with a cordless one over the years. But when push comes to shove, that old drill can be the best solution.

Over the years, I have added to my tool collection. A circular saw, a miter saw and a table saw are some of my prized possessions. Each has its advantage and I've put all three to use at various times. What having those tools means is that home repairs I normally would have to pay a skilled tradesman to do, I can do.

Truthfully, there is very little I won't attempt. When my second-story addition was added and the contractor didn't want to spend time doing the finishing carpentry, I took on the challenge. It took me longer to accomplish than he and his crew would have taken, but I changed the molding in all the rooms to go along with everything from the masculine décor for my son's room to a more feminine embossed wood for my daughter's room. The hallway has a more neutral detail and for my bedroom, I used several different pieces of wood to make a more defined statement for my master bedroom.

I recently needed to have some work done on my garage. When I called my usually reasonable handyman, his price was probably fair but beyond what I could afford. I am on my third full-time job this year, and it is taking a moment to recover from my transitioning from job-to-job-to-job. So I decided to take on the task. Eight hours later, I was sore beyond belief. I discovered that some of the wood has rotted and cannot be saved. Thankfully I am skilled enough and brave enough to be up on a ladder with a circular saw cutting out the damaged wood and replacing it with new wood (pictures will come once I'm done). It is also good that I like doing this kind of stuff. 

I was about 80 percent done with what I could accomplish when a young man approached me. He asked if I needed help. Hell, I'm almost done for the day, I thought. Where was he six hours earlier when I had to get started alone because my son, who was supposed to help, had to work? 

I told the young man I was almost finished for the day and that it was kind of late to hire help. He then told me I shouldn't be doing that kind of work. An honest observation, but at the same time I had accomplished quite a bit on my own. So his comment, even if it was honestly true, pissed me off. It was sexist. I can do home repairs better than a lot of men. I thanked the young man politely for his offer and sent him on his way. The next couple of nails felt my wrath as I pounded them while silently cursing him for telling me I shouldn't be doing what I was already doing.

I hope to be completely done in the next week or two. I have to work so I can only accomplish so much after work. But in the meantime, I want to be an inspiration to women homeowners to at least own a power drill and try to do some things yourself. The reward is the joy of accomplishing repairs without having to pay someone else to do it. 

And for those who have the money to pay the handyman, well, at least we're keeping folks employed.