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Miscellaneous Hand Tools

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Nail sets are used to countersink nails. Nail holes can then be filled with putty, plastic wood or other filling materials for a smooth surface.

Nail sets are sized by 32nds of an inch and range from 1/32" to 5/32". It's important that the correct size set be used for each size nail to prevent enlarging of a small nail hole by too large a set. The pointed end of the nail set should be cupped or hollowed out to avoid splitting the nail head. Self-centering nail sets are available.

The American National Standards Institute (ANSI), New York City, has published safety standards on nail sets and their use. Copies are available through ANSI's sales department (1430 Broadway, 10018).


Punches are used with ball-peen hammers to remove pins, align holes and mark locations of holes to be drilled. They are available in a wide range of sizes in both high-carbon and alloy steels. They are similar to nail sets in appearance, but do not have a cupped or hollowed end.

Hand punches are considered general purpose tools for driving out pins and bushings and lining up bolt and rivet holes. They have a relatively blunt taper, with the size of the punch being marked by the diameter of the flat point.

Pin and center punches are similar to hand punches and are used for the same purposes. They differ only in the shape of their points. Safety goggles must be worn when these are used.

Automatic center punches are held in one hand and not struck by a hammer. They have a spring actuated internal drive that pushes the attached punch point into the material to be center punched. These punches are available in different sizes and with replaceable screw-on points.

Never strike punches with a nail hammer-always use a ball-peen hammer with face diameter at least 3/8" greater than the struck surface or a light sledge.


Electrically operated glue guns consist of a heating element, nozzle and glue chamber. Glue or caulking sticks are put in the chamber where they are melted by heat and released through the nozzle. Cordless models are available.

The adhesive cures by cooling. The bond can be broken by subjecting the adhesive to heat again.

Some models require the operator to maintain pressure on the glue stick with his or her thumb. Others are self-feeding. The trigger mechanism on some models closes the nozzle to prevent dripping.

There are a variety of glues available-both with gun and in replacement packages-including heavy-duty type for wood joints, etc., requiring about 60-second drying time; and lightweight for paper, etc., with shorter drying time.

Caulking/sealer sticks provide waterproof protection for cracks, joints, etc.


Rivets can be used in place of screws, nails and other fasteners in many applications. Rivet tools use "blind" rivets, so called because they can be set from one side without "bucking" at the back.

They are usually purchased in sets containing one or two interchangeable nosepieces which set 1/8" steel or aluminum rivets or 3/16" aluminum rivets. Sets with fixed nosepieces are capable of setting only 1/8" steel or aluminum rivets.

Many rivet tools feature self storage of the extra nosepieces. Other features include sliding latches to lock handles closed for storage, spring-opening handles to make constant usage easy and epoxy finishes to protect the tool.

The rivet is selected in accordance with work thickness and strength requirements of job. A hole is drilled through the two pieces to be joined. The rivet is inserted in hole with mandrel pointing out. Head of the rivet tool is placed on mandrel until head of tool is flush with flange of the rivet. Handle is pumped until rivet is drawn into place and mandrel breaks-leaving neat, clean and strong fastening job.


Awls are used to make screw starting holes when lightly tapped by hand, with hammer or soft-face mallet. Awls are also used for scribing along a straight edge to produce a sawing or layout line on wood or soft metal.


There are four types of hand stapling machines: desk stapler, pliers-type hand stapler, staple gun and hammer tacker.

Desk staplers and pliers-type staplers are both anvil-in-base units. The pliers-type machines are used in heavy-duty work, although lightweight units are on the market.

Unlike anvil-in-base staplers, staple guns shoot staples with a one-hand lever operation. They are good for jobs requiring material to be held with one hand and fastened with the other.

Guns of several weights are available and used for lining closets, installing insulation, tacking ceiling tile, fastening roofing paper, etc.

Specially designed guns are made for fastening low-voltage wire. Other guns fasten wire and cable. Some guns shoot flared staples without an external anvil, to staple insulation around pipes and ducts.

Staple guns are useful for jobs such as attaching new window-shade material to an old spring roller, recovering furniture, installing new webbing on chairs, making a garden trellis, attaching weather-stripping and tacking chicken wire to a fence stake.

A staple gun can be fitted with a variety of staple sizes and attachments for specialized applications.

Electric staple guns are also available. They have the same uses as the hand-operated guns but the staples are ejected electrically with the pull of a trigger. These will accommodate a variety of staple sizes and take the work out of long stapling projects. Some guns are built with a flush front and extended nose for accurate staple placement into hard-to-reach areas.

Automatic hammer tackers look like a hammer, with the stapling mechanism in the head and the staples stored in the handle. The unit is used like a hammer and automatically drives a staple with each blow. Quality features include shatterproof handles, retractable striking edges and magnetized striking portions.

Similar to a stapler is a nail gun which drives and countersinks nails into paneling, carpeting, molding and insulation with a single stroke. It looks like a heavy-duty stapler but will not scratch, mar or dent work surfaces. Nails are 11/32" in length and come in wood-tone colors to match paneling, etc. The nail gun usually comes packaged with a supply of nails and complete instructions for the do-it-yourselfer.

Remember that while there is a wide variety of staple types and sizes, each staple gun will accept only a certain range of sizes and styles.

In choosing the proper staple leg length for the job, consider two things-the thickness of the material to be stapled and its hardness. Staple-leg lengths range from 3/16" to 9/16". In hardwood, 3/16" to 1/4" penetration is sufficient. Softwood requires up to 3/8" penetration. However, if the staple stands away from the work, it is too long for the gun being used.


Dies are used to thread the outside of a rod or pipe to screw it into a threaded hole. They are available in two types-solid and adjustable with either round or hex heads.

Dies with hex heads are used with wrenches or sockets instead of die stocks for close, hard-to-reach jobs and for repairing bruised or damaged threads.

Taps are used to make threads inside materials (inside diameter) which are to receive bolts or threaded pipes. They can also be used to renew worn or stripped threads.

Taps come in three basic styles: taper, plug and bottoming. Tapered taps cut full threads at the entrance and gradually less thread toward the bottom. Plug taps cut full threads to within three or four turns of the bottom. Bottoming taps cut full threads to the bottom of the hole.

Quality dies and taps offer close tolerances, are made of the finest high-carbon tool steel, are carefully heat treated and will cut clean, accurate threads.

Tap and die size is indicated by two numbers. The first number represents the diameter of the screw or bolt; the second number is the number of threads per inch. For example: a ¼-20 tap or die will cut 20 threads per inch, 1/4" in outside diameter.

An 8-32 tap or die will cut 32 threads per inch with an outside diameter of a No. 8 machine screw.

A variety of metric tap and die sizes are available, particularly useful to those who work on automobiles and motorcycles. Sizes are expressed in millimeters and decimals. For example: 10 mm x 2.50 tap or die will cut 2-1/2 threads per millimeter with an outside diameter of 10 mm.

In order to figure tap-drill sizes using conventional drills with metric taps, subtract the pitch in millimeters from the outside diameter in millimeters. The result is the correct tap-drill size in millimeters. Multiplying that figure by .0394 gives the correct figure in decimal inches and the nearest drill size can be selected.

10 mm x 1.00 tap would require a 9-mm tap drill. Multiply 9 mm by .0394 and the result is .3546 in decimal inches. The closest tap drill would be a 5/16" drill. Convert the outside diameter from millimeters to inches if a clearance hole must be drilled. This is done by multiplying 10 mm by .0394 and following the same procedure.

Taps and dies are stamped with two or three letters indicating thread series. Special tools needed to work with dies and taps include die stocks and tap and reamer wrenches.

Die stocks are adjustable tools that hold and turn dies. They are made with two handles so cutting can be done evenly and smoothly.

Tap and reamer wrenches are similar to die stocks. They are adjusted by twisting one of the wrench handles to change the opening of the jaws. Jaws on these tools must be hardened to prevent mutilation when using hardened taps.

Tap wrenches feature adjustable chucks and come with sliding T-handles.

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Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Information in this document has been furnished by the North American Retail Hardware Association (NRHA) and associated contributors. Every effort has been made to ensure accuracy and safety. Neither NRHA, any contributor nor the retailer can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

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