30 Hardware Helpers for Crafters

August 22, 2012Allison Murray

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Not so long ago I was one of those crafters who tried to make something work like it was the tool I needed. I wasn’t comfortable going into the hardware store and I didn’t know how to ask for what it was I needed. Imagine every time you needed to unscrew something you had to go and run to your change purse for a dime.

Then I bought a house and guess what? Stuff has to be done. Stuff that requires things from, you guessed it, the hardware store. I got really comfortable really quick.

Nowadays I love hardware stores and their new fixtures, millions of paint colors, pretty new rugs, the list goes on and on. But the main event at these stores are the tools, hence the name hardware store. If you’re a crafter, every couple of projects you’re going to find yourself in need of a specific tool. If you, your significant other, family member or roommate have tools you’re all set.

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But what about those of us out there who don’t have a well stocked toolbox in the garage to run to? Well, this post is for you, my friend! I’ve gone through all of my tools that I use in crafting and made a list to share. This is my list of the 30 pieces helpful hardware for crafters complete with pics of each!

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1. Wire cutters – These bad boys are much stronger than the ones for jewelry making. You can use these to cut heavy items like those really thick wire drying hangers, chicken wire, tomato cages, you name it.

2. Utility knife – Makes great use when your x-acto knife isn’t cutting it. Rather than making half a million passes with your x-acto knife, bust out your utility knife and get it done in 2 or 3.

3. Pocket knife – For a long time I was really afraid of pocket knives and I’m not sure why. They are especially convenient in mold making, when working with alginate and when you want to roughly cut fabric. To close, press on the half moon shape on the back of the handle – this will release the blade so that you can fold it in. Just be sure not to fold in on your finger!

4. Mini hack saw – If you’re ever planning on doing anything with dowels, decorative wood trim, etc. a little hack saw is going to be incredible handy.  A big saw really isn’t necessary. This little guy takes up very little room as opposed to a big old every day saw. Which reminds me of this…

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5. Disposable sandpaper block – These little babies come in really handy. The edges are slanted making it much easier to get into cracks, nooks and crannies when you’re working with wood. No more wadding up and folding sandpaper to fit!

6. Sandpaper block – If you aren’t planning on ever getting a power sander, this is an awesome route to go. You flap open these slits on either side and place a strip of sandpaper in each, covering the bottom of the block in the process. They have some weight so it makes sanding large flat surfaces much, much easier.

7. Good old sandpaper – You know what this is but did you know that the finer grit is better for finishing (e.g. smoothing over dried wood putty) and the heavier is great to score up wood (e.g. just prior to painting)? It’s always smart to have multiple grades on hand for whatever your project throws at you.

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8. Hammer – It seems ridiculous but I went a long, long time without a hammer. Even if there’s one out in your garage, I’d really recommend getting one that works well for you. Mine is smaller and weighs less than most. It’s easier for me to use without jacking my fingers up. It’s also weighted on the bottom to make up for the lack of my upper arm strength. My dad calls this my ‘sissy hammer’.

9. Picture hanging kit – These things prove invaluable time and time again. Who wants to get home with new pictures for the wall, only to realize they have nothing to hang it with? Plus, when making your own art to hang, you’ll always have what you need to get the project from easel to wall in no time flat. Lastly, the wire that comes in them is super handy. Just as an example, because it is windy here in Oklahoma, I use it to tether my seasonal wreaths to the metal of my security door.

10. Rubber mallet – You don’t need a fancy one and you don’t need a big one. I have the smallest one they sell at supply stores. They come in handy when you need to flatten something and I use it instead of a hammer when closing up paint cans. If you use a mallet instead of a hammer, you don’t ruin the rim on the edge of the can and keep it from ever sealing properly again.

11. Mini level – If you’ve not seen one of these before, it’s a level. There are three tubes inside to help you level things vertically, horizontally or diagonally. The tubes contain a liquid with a big bubble. When the bubble is even between the two marks you have gotten your work level. They sell big ones but as a crafter, I’ve never needed anything bigger than this six inch jobbie.

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12. Wood filler – If you have ever or will ever work on wood furniture, this is a must. Use it to fill in gouges, holes you name it on chairs, tables and the like. A little goes a long way so be sure to tightly close after each use or it will dry out. To use, smear on and let dry. Go over with fine sandpaper to even the surface out. You won’t even know that it isn’t the original wood in perfect order!

13. Paint key – They used to give these away for free but I haven’t seen paint counters doing that in a long, long time. This little baby has only one purpose. You guessed it, to open paint cans. It has a curved end that prevents you from damaging the can’s lid and preventing an airtight seal like you do when using a flat screwdriver. They cost less than a dollar and for the paint youl save it is well worth it.

14. Cheapie foam brushes – You can buy these anywhere really, but I have found the best deals on packages at hardware stores. Great for use with Mod Podge, printing with freezer paper and when smearing on a single color of paint.

15. Bristled brushes – You should always have a cheapie and a good quality bristled brush. The cheapie is great for brushing away junk when working on messy projects, which always makes me feel like an exotic archaeologist! The fine bristled is great for when you’re applying paint to furniture. The better the brush, the less likely you are to have ugly brush strokes.

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16. Plastic clothes-pins – These things are so great. Hang up pictures to dry, attach things to a line to spray paint, you name it. I have found that plastic works better for me than the wood because they aren’t as porous. Get some and put them in your craft room and I promise you’ll find a hundred and one ways to use them.

17. Wire brush – If you want to distress something like leather or denim, a wire brush is key to getting amazing results quickly. You may not use this tool much, but when you do it will be worth the small amount that it cost.

18. Clamps – These suckers are especially handy when gluing two things together. If you’re like me and tend to want to stick something to something else that doesn’t naturally fit well together, clamps will make sure you get it done. You can also use them to keep things together when drilling or keeping something still on your work surface.

19. Safety goggles – Ugly, ugly, ugly. But if you want to keep your eyesight it’s a good idea to have a pair when working with acid like glass etch, electric sanders, etc. They’re uncomfortable, but so is a hole in your eyeball.

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20. Needle nose pliers – Great for manipulating metal wires and they have an area in the deepest part for cutting fine to medium strength wire, too. If you want to make jewelry only occasionally, more often than not you can use a pair of needle nose plier to do it instead of buying an expensive jewelry tool. They come in handy so many ways on so many days.

21. Allen wrench – When working with furniture that isn’t real wood, an allen wrench comes in handy. If you ever put together bookshelves, a TV stand, etc. from a big box store that you have to put together, you’ll use an allen wrench to do it. You can buy a kit at the hardware store of varying sizes, or just hang on to one when you get it with furniture.

22. Staple gun – These are imperative if you’re planning on reupholstering chairs and you can use them to attach fabric to most anything. I also use mine to put up Christmas lights perfectly straight because I am OCD. When buying a staple gun, get a good one. I had a cheap one that flew apart and something or another hit me in the face. Probably a totally unlikely incident to happen again but better safe than sorry, I say.

23. Extra staples – This is something I can never remember to buy and wind up travelling an hour and a half to town and back to buy when I need them. Always try to have a good stash on hand. It will save you some aggravation mid-project.

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24. Masking tape – I’m sure you know what masking tape is and how it works. It’s a good idea to keep multiple rolls in multiple sizes. If you’re using to tape off a painter’s canvas, apply the tape first to something linty like a sweater. It will prevent the tape from sticking to the canvas too well.

25. Duct tape – This is great because it’s considerably more permanent that masking tape and it’s very pliable. If you’ve ever seen something like this, you can attest to its resilience. It’s great when working with cardboard.

26. Super glue – Honestly I get my super glue from the dollar store. Four tubes for a buck! If you want something to stick forever (besides the lid – that’s a bonus!) use super glue. Just be very careful. Getting one finger stuck to the next is not only a pain in the neck, it can also be a doctor’s visit! Fingernail polish remover is a good way to take care of any accidents made with this crazy glue because the acetone is a good solvent. Take that tip and stuff it in your jar!

27. Wood glue – Okay, so it isn’t wood glue in the picture. When setting up my tools I noticed that I am out of wood glue and I faked it. So sue me. Wood glue is really great when you’re revamping old furniture. If wood splits, you can use wood glue and clamps (#18 in this list) to restore it back to almost like new. It’s also handy when working with decorative wood trim for projects like bird houses and the like.

28. Screwdriver Multi Tool – I failed to include this one with like tools so here it is with adhesives… If you have never had a screwdriver multi-tool you must get one. You will love it and protect it like your young. It looks like a standard screwdriver, but pop open the bottom and you’ll find extra fittings for just about every kind of screw out there. Mine is only a 5 piece, but they sell sets with many more if you’re so inclined. Buy one just for your craft tools and you can forget running to the garage for a screwdriver, and back out again when you realize you got the wrong kind. You can thank me for this one later…

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29. Storage containers – At hardware stores they sell plain white plastic containers for cheap. They are sturdier than the ones you tend to find in the jewelry section of hobby stores because these babies are meant to hold some serious weight. Grab a couple and all of your bits and bobs can be perfectly organized.

30. Tackle box – I don’t go fishing. When I do I burn like heck and I wind up screaming and throwing my arms around at a wasp or imaginary baddie. BUT, I do have a tackle box. Full of beads. It is so great to grab your box of beads and make a necklace. Rather than pulling out what you think you’ll need, you have it all at hand making it really easy to change your mind or be creative on the fly. Get it? On the fly… Ha! I’m a dork.

Comments (4)

  • Farshid

    June 9, 2013 at 9:34 AM

    Hi Allison. Thanks for this page about the name of tools. I just got a job which is so technical job and full of using tools in last 2 – 3 days which I have start my new job I have a lot of problem with the name of tools. Now by reading this page I got some idea however I need to learn more about the tools. Thanks again

  • Allison Murray

    June 10, 2013 at 3:59 AM

    Good luck with the new job!!

  • Annette

    July 7, 2013 at 10:38 AM

    Another good tip is to have to hand is a good pair of eyebrow tweezers!! Not to use as there intended But to pull splinters out and to hold extremely small items !!! like gems!! to place where you want them..

  • Allison Murray

    July 7, 2013 at 10:34 PM

    What a good idea, Annette!

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