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Beaker
Gift ideas for new homeowner

I'm trying to pick out a gift for my boyfriend's birthday. He recently bought a new house, so I'd like to be able to get him something related. Unfortunately, all this DIY stuff is new to me, so I'm still a little lost when it comes to picking out something useful!

I've been leaning towards either a new power tool (he currently has a drill, jigsaw, and detail sander, but has been eyeing belt sanders) or something related to storing/organizing the tools he already has. I've looked at tool chests, which has left me feeling a little overwhelmed. I'm aiming to spend $200-300, and I feel like I'd need to go beyond that for a decent set (the sets I was looking at ranged from $390-450). I also wonder he has enough tools to make something like that useful.

I'd love any suggestions about home improvement-related products that have been really useful (or those that have been on your own wish list for awhile)! Would a tool box be more suitable than a tool chest? How useful are belt sanders (we've been doing a lot of painting and cabinet refinishing, though I wonder if a belt sander is overkill for some of that)?

Thanks in advance for any suggestions!

Nestor
Re: Gift ideas for new homeowner

No, don't buy a belt sander. A belt sander is really a wood working tool, and you don't really need it much for DIY work. I renovated a 21 unit apartment block over the past 25 years, and I did perfectly well without a belt sander for the first 15 years. I only bought one when I started replacing the kitchen counter tops in the building. I kinda doubt your boyfriend will be at that point for a good few years yet.

Here are some ideas for tools that he will undoubtedly need and use much more often:

1. A multifuntional ladder. One that can be used straight, or as a step ladder, or as a platform he can stand on.

2. A powerful shop-style wet/dry vaccuum cleaner, because it's so versatile. You can use it to remove stains from carpets or recover jewelry dropped down bathroom and kitchen sink drains. Shop around and try to get one for which you can purchase a reusable polyester cloth filter rather than have to keep buying pleated paper filters all the time.

3. A filing cabinet. Each and every time he buys something for his house, he'll get installation instructions, or an owner's manual or a Use & Care Guide or a Warranty. He's going to need a place to put all this stuff or it'll end up in the garbage, and then he won't have it when he needs it. He should also have a computer by which he can keep records and notes. For example, the first time I replaced the main bearing on one of my Maytag washing machines, I made detailed notes of the procedure, which made it much easier to replace that same bearing on the other two Maytag washing machines in my building. You need a computer to make and keep those kinds of records, and edit them easily.

3. A digital multimeter. About the only scales a DIYer really needs is the voltage (to check if there is voltage, and if it's 24, 120 or 240 volts) and resistance (to check for continuity). A meter with a clamp on ammeter is nice, but it's not often that one has to actually measure the current flow through a cable. If you can, get a meter that can be set to sound an audible tone when there's continuity, or when the measured voltage is 120 VAC.

4. A heat gun. This is basically a hair dryer on steroids. I highly recommend the Milwaukee Model 8978 because it's light enough to be held all day long without getting sore wrists, and it has a 12 position electronic temperature control rather than a Hi-Lo-Off switch. Most good quality professional grade heat guns will have an electronic temperature control.

5. A soldering torch. Truth is, the biggest hurdle for newbie DIY'ers to overcome is to learn to solder. You get your best results with a torch that mixes the fuel and air in a tube BEFORE igniting that mixture. That makes the torch work exactly like a bunsen burner so that you achieve very much higher flame temperatures, which both makes soldering easier and reduces the probability of leaks.

6. An electronic stud finder. Zircon is probably the biggest name here. I know they used to make good products, but I've heard a lot of negativity about the stuff they're producing now.

Really, it's not a good idea to buy power tools because WHICH tools he's gonna need depend entirely on which projects he tackles, and that's unpredictable. If he owns a jig saw and a drill, that'll be enough for the first coupla years. He can always take lumber to the home center or lumber yard for cutting.

dj1
Re: Gift ideas for new homeowner

The best gift when you are not sure what to give, is a big store gift card.

With a gift card, your b/f will choose what he wants or needs, and he will not be rushed.

Technically, gift cards are as good as cash, except that they have no cash value (you can't redeem them for cash, only for merchandise). Just don't lose them.

Nestor
Re: Gift ideas for new homeowner

Be real careful and read the fine print if you're buying a gift card.

Here in Canada, the CBC Fifth Estate (similar to your CBS "60 Minutes") did a documentary on scams perpetrated by stores issuing gift cards:

1. Did you know that some gift cards have expiry dates, and if you don't use the gift card before the expiry date it becomes worthless.

2. Also, the value of some gift cards are "UP TO" it's denomination. So, if you buy something worth $150 using a $200 gift card that's subject to that condition, you lose the $50 change that would be owing if you'd paid cash.

3. In the event the store issuing the gift card goes bankrupt or is bought out by another company, your rights as the card owner are up in the air. In the event of bankruptcy, you become a creditor of the bankrupt business, and you stand in line with all the other creditors to share in whatever value is left in the defunct business after all the other higher priority creditors have recieved their money back, specifically unpaid employees and secured creditors. Also, some stores are "franchises", meaning that each store in a chain is privately owned. In that situation, one store won't necessarily honour a gift card purchased at another store. So, never buy a gift card and give it to someone living far away from you.

Certainly, read the fine print on any gift card before purchasing it. They're a great gift idea, but because they're not cash, the rules of cash purchases don't apply, and you buy the gift card subject to the conditions the store sells it under, and those can be very different from cash purchases.

Beaker
Re: Gift ideas for new homeowner

Thank you so much for all the helpful suggestions. (I'm bookmarking this page for future gift ideas as well!) I went back to Home Depot today and one of the employees I know and trust recommended this set:

*Update: Apparently I don't have link-posting capabilities yet. It's a Husky 26 inch 10 drawer tool chest, which is listed for $299 on the website. Model # 2705CHCATHD Internet # 202493598

It's currently on sale at Home Depot for $179. He took it out of the box so I could take a better look, and it seemed to be well made for the price (of course, I'm no expert on this sort of thing). Has anyone had any experience with Husky tool chests? The reviews seem to be good, and I think anything professional grade is probably more than what he would need, since he's not using this stuff every day.

Nestor
Re: Gift ideas for new homeowner

Here you go, Beaker:

You might be better off playing it safe and buying something other than a DIY-related gift. I'm thinking more along the lines of something every home owner needs, like a lawn mower, a hose and sprinkler and half a dozen plastic flamingos, outdoor lawn furniture, an outdoor gas grille, maybe a laundry wash tub for his basement or a microwave oven.

Beaker
Re: Gift ideas for new homeowner

Thanks for posting the pic and for the additional ideas, Nestor! I'm definitely open to basic homeowner needs, though we have (at least one) of most of the items you suggested. Except for the flamingos anyway, and I don't think my boyfriend is much of a flamingo guy. (Maybe a garden gnome?) I'm thinking I'll hang on to the gift receipt for anything I get though!

torcor
Re: Gift ideas for new homeowner
dj1 wrote:

The best gift when you are not sure what to give, is a big store gift card.

With a gift card, your b/f will choose what he wants or needs, and he will not be rushed.

Technically, gift cards are as good as cash, except that they have no cash value (you can't redeem them for cash, only for merchandise). Just don't lose them.

Agreed! You might also throw in some coupons. You can buy "10% off" coupons for Lowe's and Home Depot on eBay.

Normanite
Re: Gift ideas for new homeowner

How about a good half mask respirator. If it is an old house it would be worth while to order him a high quality respirator.

kolbywhite28
Re: Gift ideas for new homeowner

How about a nice reclining massage sofa. It'll be relaxing to seat on it after all the tiring and stressful day of moving in and arranging the house right? ;)

Fencepost
Re: Gift ideas for new homeowner

A portable air compresssor, either the style with a "pancake" tank or two "sausage" tanks. Don't get an oil-free compressor; they are not as durable as oil-lubricated compressors. Don't get a tankless air compressor either; they are only suitable for inflating tires. You'll also need a hose with quick-disconnects, and the two most basic tools: a tire chuck and a blow nozzle.

Besides inflating tires, an air compressor is useful for blowing dust out of nooks and crannies and off of woodworking projects. It also provides a power source for any number of air tools, particularly nailguns and stapleguns which your b/f will find extremely useful in his DIY projects.

Most small compressors don't provide enough air for spray painting, although for small jobs you might get away with it.

You should be able to find a small, oil-lubed air compressor for just under $200. Look for one that has at least a 3 gallon tank.

The horsepower rating is meaningless. More important than horsepower is the CFM rating: more is better. Different manufacturers will measure this at different pressures, and as pressure rises CFM drops. So one that reports 4.2 CFM at 40 PSI might only deliver 2.1 at 90 PSI (or something like that). Here's a page with more information than you want to know: http://www.truetex.com/aircompressors.htm

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