If like me you have an obsession with tools you probably have everything you need to make a success of it. For many who have gone on this French adventure will more than likely be a virgin to renovations and as such will need to collect a new and exciting toolbox.
There are many specialist tools that can make this exercise easier but here I will concentrate on tools that can be used in other areas of your new project in France. Diy Tools are probably all you will need to get the job done but more professional tools will make your job easier.
Basic Tool Shopping list
A good Pencil:
Yes, obviously it may be but being able to mark the shutters and walls where ironmongery needs to be installed is a very important first step. Different marking devices for different substrates is a must and why make life difficult when we do not need to for the sake of such cheap items.
Marking shutters if trimming is required is best done with a 2B pencil in the form of a square carpenters pencil such as the Blue Rexel or if not available to you a typical Staedtler design. The purpose of the square pencil is that when you put it down it stays put and not roll of an inclined surface also square pencils have a more substantial lead, more ‘lead in the pencil’ is always better, right?
for Marking Masonry: a box of kiddies chalk will do nicely but engineering chalk is harder so lasts longer. Chalk is hard to beat when marking Masonries such as brick or stone and trying to mark it using a pencil is not the best idea!
Basic manual screwdrivers are a must even if you have a battery screwdriver. A No2 pozidrive is a common size and is ideal when fitting the internal closures but a medium flat end screwdriver can also be of use in some instances.
Do not confuse the Pozidrive with the older Philips style screwdriver head as they are incompatible with each other. Ill-fitting screwdrivers are prone to damage the screw removing the zinc plating and promoting corrosion.
How else will you measure that shutter? A good but not ridiculously expensive tape measure is an asset which is not just great for measuring the current project.
Looking forward to future projects but there are some simple things to watch out for. ‘Do Not Buy’ the biggest tape you can find! Remember some of your shutters will be up on the first floor.
You will find tapes over 5m a pig to manage and put in a pocket without being self-conscious of that appendage! I find a 5m tape to be the ideal compromise but a 3m may suffice but remember a 3m tape will need some stiffness to extend over 1.5m.
When that tape gets damaged such as a kink in the band because you stood on it or thought it was a good idea to use it to tie on the lumber from the Brico onto the car roof! Replace it as it will hamper your measuring thus making the experience far from pleasant.
The tape does require some maintenance, for instance, lubricate and check the hook. Because the Push-pull error allowance normally of 2mm and pulling out the tape and wiping the measure with a little liquid wax helps prevent sticking and rusting. If it is sticky you could have an inaccurate measurement.
Have you ever wondered how your tape had kinks in the first 500mm from the hook? Well if you have allowed the spring coil to violently power the tape back into its case then the metal band will flip back on itself. This will cause the last few centimetres bending and creasing the mylar coated metal rendering your nice new measuring aide useless and destined for the bin!
Yes, you do need a spirit level as it is an invaluable tool to not just to allow visually aesthetic installation of your ‘volets battants’. Correct use of the spirit level will also improve the functioning of your newly installed shutters.
Spirit levels come in different breeds for multiple tasks and choosing the right tool will provide you with a good outcome. Don’t be tempted with budget Chinese offerings and choose a respected brand such as Stabila or Stanley.
Some Brico own brands are ok for most DIY uses but if it feels cheap it will certainly be rubbish. We live in a throwaway world but this I false economy and you should choose products that will serve you for years to come.
A ‘level’ with magnets built-in really help when fitting the shutter pins (gonds) as it will stick to the gonds when aligning them so they are ‘helping hands’.
Even if you have ordered your self measured bespoke shutters via www.wallybois.com . You may still find some trimming is required so a saw capable of cutting the timber is a must-have addition to your toolbox.
You could just use a handsaw which will certainly do the job but a decent brand such as Stanely or Sandvik is a must and choosing a saw with useable TPI is a must (teeth per inch). The more teeth the finer the cut which is common on fine cutting saws which may be useful cross-cutting(cutting across the grain) and will have 10 or more teeth per inch.
A fine cutting dovetail saw will have 15tpi and way to fine for shutters but a saw of 4-6 TPI is designed for ripping timber so you will want to consider something with a TPI in the middle so it will be considered general purpose.
A simple saw made by Bahco would be the 244 with its 7TPI is a reasonable offering and ok for ripping the Volet Lame boards along the grain but also cutting across the grain. If you are scared of the idea of any physical activity then you may want to consider using a powered saw.
The jigsaw is capable of cutting our shutters to width or length but unless you have incredible control there will be some need to plane the edge smooth.
We as pros would use a circular saw (Skilsaw) with an appropriate blade. A circular saw with a blade with a circumference of around 160mm and a tooth count of 30 for this size is ok.
There are many brands of the circular saw but stay away from DIY store brands as they don’t last. I have owned many a saw and the most common issue is gearbox failure. Good brands are Makita, Dewalt or Hitachi or if you have bottomless pockets buy a Festool as they are the Rolls Royce of circular saws.
A straight edge is an ideal complement to the Circular Saw because you use it to guide your saw along the cut line and it will give you a straight and smooth cut. In Brico’s you will find a suitable straight edge in the plastering isle. In France you will find a simple box section straight edge commonly used for plastering, these are cheap and effective.
If you have a length of timber it will work fine as long as it is straight. Please note some hybrid circular saws have been developed as plunge saws and are very good told for trimming shutters or any panel cutting.
a metal cutting saw to cut the internal latch bar which is basically a tube of steel that will need cutting to length. A good choice is a 300mm hacksaw a great one is the Facom but there reasonable budget options but the difference is very noticeable.
What is a tool kit without the hammer and you probably already have one but if not add it to your toolbox shopping list? A standard 16 oz claw hammer will suffice but it is better to hold it as you need to feel it in the hand.
an adjustable spanner will work fine but individual spanners are always nicer to use and cheap. A small socket set and a 1/4″ adapter for use with a battery drill are ideal when you want to quickly whizz up those nuts.
Torx Drill Bit:
If you have chosen to use shutter screws you will need a Torx bit to fit the head but these screws will give a very neat finish but you will still need at least one bolt for security.
Some kind of bench is good whether a board on a couple of folding trestles or a propriety brand such as the ‘Black & Decker Workmate’ just to have something flat that you can move to your work location is a godsend!
Standard steps with a wide footprint that is stable when used outside is a must unless your really tall! Other access equipment such as an access tower or ladder whichever is safest for your situation. Take time to set up access equipment so it is stable and safe remember you are responsible for your own safety.
Yes, you will need a Masonry Drill and these come in two main types. Percussion and SDS, forget basic percussion drills as these have little ability to drill into stone so an SDS drill is the way to go. The key difference is the Drillbit itself with it’s grooved mounting that provides the impact. There are many tool brands but if you stick with Bosch, Makita, Dewalt or Hitachi you will be fine and own a tool that will be in your kit for years.
Ok, you have bought your drill but it did not come with any drill bits so you will need Tungsten Carbide Tipped bits and in a variety of sizes. For the purpose of drilling stone and brick, you will need a variety of sizes but this will depend on your chosen method of fixing the shutter pins to your walls.
A good range of SDS drill bit sizes would be standard length 5.5mm(red rawl plug) 7mm (brown rawl plug) 14mm(chemical fix slots) 16mm (expansion bolts) but other sizes and long lengths for other DIY tasks on your French renovation.
This well-established tool is one of the most useful tools in any DIY arsenal. A great tool when backed with an array of drill bits and screwdriver bits. Now if you are considering the purchase of this superb addition to your toolkit you will be wise to consider your likely use.
If like me you will make good use of a battery drill you can justify the cost but if you are only going to use it once in a blue moon then good batteries are the key. Unlike some tools that wear faster with use, batteries need to be discharged and recharged this process is known as ‘cycles’.
I will say it again that store brands generally suffer from poor battery life especially in the terms of ‘Shelf Life’. Lion batteries are a must and Ni cads should be avoided as well as second-hand offerings.
I use Hitachi’s like the batteries seem to last and if bought from Screwfix are a good price. Other brands I would be happy to recommend is Makita and Dewalt. Avoid bagged copies of low-cost versions as they are not usually made to the same standards.
One battery is never going to be enough and depending on the charge time and battery capacity dictates whether you need 2 or three batteries. Drill power is normally shown as voltage and for most people needing a battery drill the 18 Volt version will be ideal for the most task.
Charge time of 30min or 60min is useful but longer charge times will be inhibiting so choosing a battery drill package with at least two batteries and a fast charger. The torque of a good 18-volt battery drill is very high and you will need a screwdriver set and bits that can handle the power.
Great that you now own a range of electric tools to help you achieve your DIY goals and have made wise choices on which brand to choose. If unlike me you have a wallet that can cope then great go for Festool and show off to your friends.
Frankly, you can’t go too wrong with Makita a reputable brand which has earned its place in the market for that exact reason. Be careful with store brands or obscure Chinese manufacturers as many suffer from a myriad of failures and repair is often not cost effective even if you can find the part!
Health and safety:
should always your first consideration and PPE (personal protection equipment) must be on that shopping list. A pair of safety glasses, dust mask and gloves should always be to hand so it is a good idea to buy PPE that is comfortable and that you will be happy to wear.
The items laid out above are quite generic tools with many other uses and when you find yourself able to fit your shutters with ease you will feel inspired to tackle new projects.
If you have no tools at present because you are new to the idea of DIY it is obvious you will need to invest in some tools. Tools are a life investment providing you with the ability to make improvements or additions to your home and projects.
Who we are at Wallybois?
Wallybois Shutter and Door manufacturing workshops are based in The Nouvelle Aquitaine.
Why Do I Write these?
We write these articles for fun and hope you find them of interest. This topic is a large one so I will be updating this topic on a regular basis so please return to keep a check on things.
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About Us, I Suppose You Might Be Interested?
We have lived and worked here in the Limousin Nouvelle Aquitaine since 2010, building window shutters and external doors. Our Volet manufacturing business is based at our home property as a ‘Cottage Industry’. We are a small business operating partly off the grid and try our best to practice our woodworking ethically.
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