Q&A / 

Hand Tool Storage and DIY Laminate Floor Installation

 tool cabinet

This tool cabinet should have been bought 30 years ago! (C) Copyright 2019 Tim Carter

Hand Tool Storage

QUESTION #1: Tim, I lost it this past weekend. After I cooled down, I realized I had no one to blame but myself. I spent two hours looking for a hand tool I know that was somewhere in my garage, basement or shed. I finally found it in my truck. Anyway, I’ve got a mound of tools that are covering my workbench. Everything is scattered. If you’ve ever struggled with hand tool organization, how in the world did you solve the problem? How do you store your hand tools? Andy P., Scranton, PA

I’ve got no problem baring my soul. I used to have the same problem as Andy just had. Perhaps your tools are in a giant heap on your workbench or plopped into a bucket or two. Allow me to share with you how I finally stopped going on adventures trying to find my own hand tools.

While I was still a full-time builder I had the most wonderful truck. It had a pickup-truck cab but a utility body sat on the chassis. Truck utility bodies have large rectangular cabinets on each side of the body that make use of the void space otherwise wasted by the normal pickup truck bed body.

Plumbers, heavy construction crews, and electric utility companies are but a few who love utility bodies. The cabinets contain shelves and I had all my hand tools organized so I could find them blindfolded. But I realize you’ll probably never have a truck with this handy setup.

About twenty years ago, I was at the National Hardware Show and I saw the most innovative pegboard. It was made from metal and it had unique clips of every size, shape, and design to hold any imaginable hand tool. The metal panels and clips could be had in different colors and everything was powder coated for durability.

I got some of this and covered one wall in my garage with it. Within a few hours, I had my most-needed hand tools up in plain sight. Fortunately, I was already in the habit of returning the tool to its holder after using it. If you don’t do this religiously, you’ll still have blood pressure and anger-management problems.

The metal pegboard couldn’t hold all my tools and I still had some confusion. Believe it or not, it took many more years until I finally solved all my hand tool woes. Just last year, I took possession of a rolling double-decker tool cabinet that has twenty-one storage drawers and storage compartments.

Auto mechanics have used these cabinets for years and now I know why. They are so very handy and well designed. The height and width of the drawers match exactly the size of the most common hand tools. If you put the right tools in the right drawers, there’s virtually no wasted space.

I took the time to set up my cabinet so the most-used hand tools are in the drawers that are the easiest to access. I urge you to shop around and give the metal pegboard and rolling tool cabinets a serious look. You’ll never ever regret having both.

DIY Laminate Floor Installation

QUESTION #2: Timbo, I need your sage advice. I’ve decided to install some interlocking laminate floor in a small getaway room for myself. I’ve never attempted a project like this but I’m quite good at following instructions. Have you installed laminate flooring and what can you share so I’m sitting sipping tea in my new room as soon as possible? Evelyn W., Mt. Desert, Maine

I’m honored when anyone asks for help so they can do a job they’ve never tried before. There’s something magical about standing back looking at a completed job and reflecting how you did it with your hands and intellect! I still do that to this day and my wife just shakes her head watching me stare at my work.

It’s important to realize that reading and following instructions are the most important things to do when installing a laminate floor. A friend of mine and her boyfriend installed some in a small house one weekend in a rush.

They thought they knew how to do it. A month later she called me begging for help. She wanted to know how to get rid of the clicking sound the floor made as they walked across it. They had installed the laminate on an uneven floor. I lightly scolded her, told her how to fix it and she’s never called me again.

Laminate floors need to be installed on flat surfaces with no humps or dips. Flat doesn’t mean level, although a flat level floor would be best! Maintain the spacing the instructions call out when you put the new floor next to the current baseboard. Laminate needs room to expand. Don’t skip the foam underlayment many laminates require. This simple product is there for a reason.

Remember that when you cut a piece to end a row, there’s a good chance the cutoff piece can be used to start the next row. This means there’s very little waste. I can’t wait for you to send me a photo of you relaxing in a chair sitting on your new floor! I love the oak laminate floor in my man cave!

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