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The house-proud home owner needs more than one toolkit to keep up with odd jobs around the house and yard. These are the basics you will need to have handy in tool kits ready for jobs in the home, workshop and garden.

Household Toolkit

Your household toolkit should be kept in an easily accessible spot in the kitchen or den. It’s handy for making quick repairs around the home, hanging curtains, fixing loose doors and so on.

    • Retractable tape measure: You will use this a lot, so get a strong, well made tape measure about 25 ft in length. Retractable makes it easy to wind up and store.
    • Screwdrivers: You will need both flathead (straight edge) and Phillips (cross head). You will have both types of screws in your home. Get them in the most common sizes around your home and an assortment of replacement screws as well.
    • Utility knife: A good strong metal one with a retractable blade.

  • Duct and masking tape: One large roll of each.
  • Hammer: Get a good quality claw hammer, you don’t want the head flying off while you are working and causing damage or injury. Add an assortment of nails.
  • Pliers: Handy for a number of small jobs, including holding nails in place while you hammer (saves your thumbs!) Get a blunt nosed pair and a needle nosed pair. One pair should have a cutter.
  • Optional extras: A cordless electric drill, all purpose glue and small saw or hacksaw. A stud finder is a handy thing to have if you are putting up shelves.
Workshop Toolkit

Your workshop toolkit will be better equipped than your household toolkit, so you can get started on projects to improve your home and garden. Consider hiring extra tools that you may not use on a regular basis to help you finish a job. Also consider the nature of your projects – if you work mainly with wood, a welder may be an occasional hire item. If you work mainly with metal, a welder will be a necessity.

  • Variable speed corded drill: Able to cope with bigger jobs than your household cordless, also used for sanding and grinding.
  • Saw: What type of saw you have depends on what you will be doing with it. If it’s just for odd jobs, a hand saw will do. If you cut timber or fire wood on a regular basis, consider a circular saw.
  • Spirit level: Let’s get this straight – you will need this! You can get a spirit level built into a T square, combining two handy items.
  • Adjustable wrenches: For removing and tightening bolts and gripping anything that needs to stay still.
  • Assorted screwdrivers – Phillips and flathead: These you will tend to gather as you go along, in a variety of sizes.
  • Nails and screws in assorted sizes.
  • Wire cutter: Scissors do not do a good job. Have the right tool.
  • A good quality claw hammer: Always keep one in your workshop because it’s guaranteed you won’t be able to find the one you keep in the house.
  • Metal files: For coarse and fine work.
  • Ladder or stepladder: Make sure it is sturdy and firm. Safety first!
  • Goggles and masks: Again, safety first.
  • Optional or hire extras: Electric sander, welder, generator for stand by power.

Gardening Toolkit

There are a few standard items that are essential for good gardening. You gardening toolkit need never be any bigger than this.

  • Shovel or spade: Usually the first thing to buy and use. `Test drive’ a shovel before you buy. Make sure you are comfortable with its weight and height. Buy a good quality shovel with a good metal scoop. Anything else just won’t last.
  • Hoe: Again, test it to make sure the handle isn’t too long, or that it isn’t too heavy to be comfortable.
  • Rake: Metal lasts longer although cheap plastic rakes do the job. Bamboo or wooden rakes generally fall apart quickly.
  • Small garden set: A hand trowel, fork and weeder for planting out, removing weeds and aerating the soil around a plant.
  • Garden snippers: For pruning small branches, rose bushes and dead heading spent flowers.
  • Watering can: For spot watering and when water use is restricted.

by Gail Kavanagh

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Healthy Hair: 4 Haircare Ingredients You Should Avoid

Beautiful hair starts with healthy haircare, but many commercial haircare products contain harsh ingredients that can damage your hair. Knowing which elements you should avoid will help you to make better decisions when buying your hair products. Here are four haircare ingredients you should avoid.


Sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) and sodium laureth sulfate (SLES) are detergents and surfactants commonly used in industrial cleaners, engine degreasers and other powerful cleaning products. SLS and SLES are also used as the base for many commercial shampoos, as they are cheap to produce, effective in removing grease, and contain foaming agents that create a rich lather.

Both SLS and SLES can irritate the scalp and cause skin reactions, including itching, flaking skin, redness, and soreness. SLS and SLES can also cause dry hair, and frequent use can lead to hair loss. Some researchers even claim that regular use of products containing SLS and SLES can contribute to the development of cancer.


Polyethylene glycol (PEG) is another ingredient commonly used in industrial cleaning products. PEG is also used in many shampoos, as it dissolves grease, oil, and dirt on hair and the scalp. However, this harsh chemical can make hair more brittle and prone to breakage.

PEG can also irritate the skin and cause it to become more sensitive to other chemicals. Irritation is likely if you have damaged or broken skin. There are many different types of PEG, each with a separate number (e.g., PEG-2), some of which are more irritating to skin than others.


Propylene glycol (PG) is an irritant found in many different haircare products, including hair dye, shampoo, conditioner, hair gel, and products designed to make hair look shiny and smooth.

Regular use of products containing PG can break down the proteins needed for healthy hair, damaging its structure. PG can also irritate the scalp and aggravate existing skin conditions such as eczema and psoriasis.


Isopropyl alcohol, also known as isopropanol or rubbing alcohol, is used in antifreeze as well as in a wide range of haircare products, including hairsprays, volumizers, hair gels, conditioners, and many other styling products. Isopropyl alcohol strips hair of moisture, leaving it more prone to breakage, and can even be toxic when inhaled. Inhalation of isopropyl alcohol can cause headaches, dizziness, nausea, and even depression in some people.

Sulfates, polyethylene glycol, propylene glycol, and isopropyl alcohol are common ingredients in haircare products, but they can dry out your hair, damage the hair follicle, and cause skin irritations. Look for alternatives to these harmful ingredients when buying haircare products, especially if you have sensitive skin, eczema, psoriasis or other skin problems.

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