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How to be your own handywoman

Kathryn Kates is an internationally known Canadian journalist, and CEO of Kathryn Kates Public Relations. She writes on travel, décor, lifestyle, fashion/beauty, food and entertainment. Kathryn brings years of showbiz experience to her w...

First tools & projects

When it comes to remodeling and improving your home, of course you don't have to rely on a man! Here are some tips to help you tackle home improvement projects on your own.

Woman with electric drill

A Woman and her power tools

Carpentry is not just for boys. The wood is cut, the holes are drilled, it's assembled... and she has built it! Nowadays, don't assume the power tools belong to him -- they very well could be hers.

Carpenter Jeremy Plant says he will gladly teach any woman with an interest in carpentry how to work with tools, and, in fact, encourages breaking gender stereotypes. Plant recommends women interested in working with tools do their research first by taking a course, going online or buying a how-to book.

>> Top 10 DIY construction books

Your toolbox

toolboxMany books will tell you exactly what tools are needed for your project. However, Plant suggests buying the following items to get you started:

  • A basic toolbox (a Keter 19" Plastic Tool Box shown here)
  • Multi-screw driver or a set of different-sized screwdrivers
  • Hammer – suited to your strength
  • Pry bar (aka crowbar)
  • Small wood saw
  • Hacksaw for cutting metal

>> More ideas to fill your toolbelt: 5 Best tools for women

Your first power tools

For more advanced carpentry, invest in a portable circular corded wood saw, and a jigsaw for slicing through metal. An extension cord allows you plenty of room in which to move around.

When selecting a drill, Plant prefers a corded electric drill to a battery-powered model, so you never have to worry about the battery dying mid-project. Plant also suggests buying good safety goggles and a surgical mask to protect you from flying wood fibers and pieces of metal.

"To get used to your tools, try building a little box before planning anything big," Plant says. But before applying blade to wood, Plant has a philosophy: "Measure three times -- cut once."

Small steps

Start projects in small steps. "If you are going to start a project, such as staining a floor, first try a patch in the closet to make sure you have the right color. Whenever possible, work in a ventilated area, cover vents and lay plastic to minimize the amount of cleanup," says the carpenter.

Simple maintenance could save you big bucks!

HammerIn the shower

Before picking up your power tools, when things around the house start looking shabby, get handy.

Professional handywoman Lisa Visser says, "Keep an eye on your house -- beginning with your shower or tub enclosure." She says if cracked grout or a missing tile isn't properly replaced, within six months, a contractor may have to replace the entire wall of tile.

>> Creative tile ideas for a bathroom

HammerWatch your power outlets

Visser notes that outlets that spark when you unplug appliances are a real danger. Your terminals may be touching the sides of the electrical box, and this could cause a fire.

>> How and why to replace an electrical outlet

HammerPlumbing 101

Leaking faucets waste water and cause corrosion. "You can change the washers so that major damage to the cylinders and taps can be averted," says Visser. "Also, a toilet that keeps running wastes a lot of water -- tens of gallons a month, so keep an eye on that."

>> Water conservation: Get the facts

HammerWeatherproofing

"Have you ever noticed a water mark on your living room ceiling? Repairing it at the get-go can avoid having to replace the entire ceiling down the line," Visser says. "When paint begins to crack around your inside or outside windows and doors; ensure proper sealing, caulking and painting so water doesn't penetrate."

>> 10 Simple ways to save energy in your home


More home improvement on SheKnows

Do it yourself!

>> Get DIY tips, tricks and techniques to make your home better than ever!

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