It’s 8 p.m. and already pitch-black when you get back from the library on a Sunday night. You flip on the lights in your room and reach for the cord to lower your window blinds. THUNK. Either you tugged the stubborn thing a little too hard or, more likely, the college maintenance staff hasn’t replaced the blinds since 1970. Whatever the case, the blinds are laying at your feet, and the screws that held them in place are rolling across the floor.
In times like these, calling your boyfriend makes you look helpless, whining to Dad will only reinforce his belief that you can’t survive on your own, and waiting around for maintenance to arrive three days later is just not an option. So what do you do? Fix it yourself! Here are ten reasons why a toolkit is as much a girl’s best friend as her jewelry box:
1. IT’S AN INSTANT FIX
Rather than having every passerby stare into your first-floor dorm room, just have a screwdriver on hand. They come in several varieties, the two most common being flathead and Philip’s head. Instead of waiting for maintenance crews to make it to your dorm sometime in the next 72 hours, just match the appropriate screwdriver to the screws that fell out, align the holes in the bracket to the holes in your window frame and turn the screw to right to put the blinds back in. Just remember: “Righty tighty, lefty loosey.”
2. IT’S A MAN MAGNET
Try as you might to lure them with flirting and sexy outfits, guys tend to respond best to the unusual. When you volunteer the missing tools to help build his next beer pong table, you can bet he’ll take notice. And that guy friend who is always making fun of your inability to unscrew the cap to your soda? He’ll be floored when you tighten the loose door handle he’s been ignoring for months.
3. IT WILL MAKE YOUR ROOM THE ENVY OF THE ENTIRE CAMPUS
Say goodbye to that awful blue sticky tack that stains the walls and gets everywhere. Make your room look a little less “Animal House” and a bit more “Greek” by buying some picture frames to nail into the wall. The standard household tool kit comes with a set of small nails and fasteners that might include brackets for hanging picture frames.
And of course you can’t have guests over when your picture frames are crooked. Buy a tool kit with a level, and you’ll never again have to wonder if the frames are hanging straight.
4. IT MEANS SAYING GOODBYE TO END-OF-THE-YEAR FINES
Forget toothpaste and whiteout. Those holes in the walls from hanging pictures might rack up some hefty damage fines by the end of the year, but instead of wasting your money paying the college to pay a handyman, just spend a few dollars on a tube of caulk.
An easy-to-use sealant, this stuff is what the professionals use to cover the holes you left, and it takes about five seconds to dab on the hole and wipe off excess with a damp finger. If your walls are white, the RA will never know the difference.
5. IT MAKES THE WORDS “SOME ASSEMBLY REQUIRED” A CHALLENGE, NOT A CHORE
Ever realize that bookcase you bought for a little extra storage space came in a flat box? Chances are that you’ll need to do a little work to put it together – work that probably requires an Allen wrench or a screwdriver.
But don’t call Daddy just yet. Just sit down with the instructions and the appropriate tools, and you’ll have it together in no time. It’s nowhere near as tough as your last history test, and you’ll have the satisfaction of building it yourself. These instruction manuals are made for the average person…and don’t you think you’re at least as smart as the average person?
6. IT PROVIDES THAT EXTRA CONFIDENCE BOOST
If you grew up in a house where Dad would never dream of letting you touch the lawn mower or your big brother would swoop in for so much as changing a light bulb, living on your own can be scary. But when you at least try to do something on your own, that slight sense of accomplishment can give you the confidence boost you need. Even if you find out the problem needs professional attention, you’ve still learned from your attempt, and won’t be left flabbergasted the next time something minor goes awry.
7. IT KEEPS THE SIMPLE THINGS FROM BECOMING A HASSLE
What is a wrench good for, anyway? Whether it’s a stubborn dial that won’t turn or a part of the heater that has come loose, little things always make it worth keeping a wrench around. The inconveniences are typically minor, but they’ll only stay that way when you have the right hardware.
8. IT MIGHT JUST SAVE YOUR LIFE
When you’ve used the blow dryer so much that the cord is just as frayed as your split ends, it’s not just annoying – it’s dangerous. Goodness knows you can’t just go around with wet hair until you have time to find the perfect replacement, so just turn to your trusty tool kit.
Many kits will come with electrical tape, which can be used to wrap frayed or damaged wires for the time being – after the appliance has been unplugged, of course. It’s also great for taming the octopus of cords your computer, cell phone charger, desk lamp and television have created. Tape together cords that are almost never unplugged, like the lamp and television cords.
9. IT WILL BE USEFUL WHEN YOU LEAST EXPECT IT
Because you never know when your artsy professors will have their crazy whims, you should always be armed for academic battle. When a research paper is replaced by an assignment to build a scale model of the campus dining hall, you’ll already have your measuring tape in hand. And the box-cutter for the cardboard? You’ve got it covered.
10. TOOLS CAN BE PRETTY, TOO.
Fix-it jobs might typically go to a man, but buying a tool kit doesn’t have to make you look like one. Several varieties of starter tool sets come in pink, lavender, purple and even floral prints, like this girly one from Grip.
Why do something if you can’t look good doing it?
You bought the tool kit – now what?
For those without much handywoman experience, Her Campus takes you inside the basic tool kit to get you started with the tools that might be unfamiliar.
Anyone who has so much as watched a cartoon should know the basic purpose of this tool – hammering a nail. But the curved prongs on the back might not be so easy to figure out. First-time users, especially, might have a hard time picking exactly the right spot for the nail or hammering perpendicular to the surface—if you goof up and a nail needs to be removed, slide the head of the nail between the prongs and use the curved surface as a lever to yank it out.
Hammers come in different weights, from he-man heavy to light as air. When selecting your tool kit, take the hammer weight into consideration. Unless you plan on constructing railroad tracks in the near future, stick with the lighter variety.
Perfect for: hanging picture frames and wall ornaments.
You’ll find screws in almost everything, from your desk chair to the light switch cover, so when something comes loose, having a screwdriver on hand makes all the difference. These tools come in two main varieties – Philip’s head and flathead. A Philip’s head screwdriver has four divots surrounding the point, while a flathead screwdriver ends in a single straight line.
To cover all your bases, invest in a screwdriver with changeable bits. This sort of screwdriver allows the user to remove the head and either flip it upside down (on a double-ended bit) or change the bit altogether to fit a larger or smaller screw.
Perfect for: Tightening parts on almost anything, assembling new furniture and replacing laptop parts.
Used for securing nuts and bolts, the common wrench won’t typically get much use unless you plan to disassemble something large and metal. It is, however, handy to have around if an odd bolt comes loose or a dial refuses to turn. Since all nuts and bolts are different sizes, make sure to purchase an adjustable wrench, which will grip a range of sizes.
The Allen wrench is slightly less common but often required for furniture assembly. Sometimes one comes with the assembly kit, but when it doesn’t just look to your tool kit for an L-shaped piece of metal with a hexagonal end. Just slide one end into the appropriate slot and turn it like a crank to tighten or loosen the bolt.
Perfect for: Assembling furniture, turning stubborn dials and tightening loose bolts.
Both amazingly simple and wondrously useful, a level is typically a six-inch plastic rectangle with two tubes of water in it, one horizontal and one vertical. Each tube will have a “bubble” in the water and two lines exactly the length of the bubble. To determine if a surface is “level,” or completely parallel to the ground, place the level tool on top of the surface and adjust it until the bubble is perfectly centered between to two lines on each tube.
Perfect for: Hanging photo frames and wall ornaments.
Although they sometimes come with a basic tool kit, pliers won’t be the most useful tool for the average college student. They are most often used for cutting or bending cables and wires, so someone crafty might find creative uses for their pointed nose and metal teeth.
Perfect for: Crafts involving wires and snipping tags off new purchases when you can’t find the scissors