№ 000E: Metric Kitchen Installation Tools

Before I can talk about the first very important topic (kitchen safety), there is one last getting-ready-to-get-started topic I need to cover—installation tools for the safety equipment.

For now, I’m only going to include the bare minimum things needed to install fire extinguishers. As I continue building the ultimate geek kitchen, I will occasionally update this post with the additional tools needed for each activity.

Screwdriver Set

The first thing we need is a decent set of screwdrivers. Because we’re going to use this to install new things, with new screws, I don’t need to worry about backwards compatibility, so I’m not even going to talk about slotted or Phillips screwdrivers.

The reasons why these old standbys need to be ditched are numerous, but the key ones are:

  • Slotted screwdrivers can’t be easily centered, leading to difficulty driving; they apply force at only two very sharp points—yes points, not lines—which damages the screws; and because of all of that they can’t be easily or safely used with power screwdrivers.
  • Phillips screwdrivers are a little better, in that they are self-centering and engage with 4 surfaces instead of 2. But they cam-out (slide out of the ramp-like construction of the socket) when you turn them, requiring you to push down on the screw with a lot of force at the same time you’re turning. This is not comfortable, and if you ease up on the force or the bit and screw aren’t a perfect match, the driver will slip and damage the screw, making it even more difficult to drive.

The only sane alternative is the Torx drive. Several things make this ideal. First, it’s got 6 points where the bit engages the screw, those 6 points exert a force on the screw nearly perpendicular the the path of rotation, and you can get nifty screwdrivers from Wiha that magically hold the screw to the tip of the driver like it was glued on.

Of all the Torx drivers on the market, there is only one set I recommend for a first-set. The Wiha 36290 6-Piece Torx MagicSpring Screwdriver Set, which have tiny little spring clips laser-welded to the tip, to eliminate the problem of screws falling off the driver (and into your face) when installing a smoke alarm. Torx because that’s the best way to stop stripping Philips screws.

Torpedo Level

Of course you need a level. You live in a house or apartment that was built by construction workers who generally don’t know how to read fractions on tape measures (this is why building in inches is 15% more expensive than building with millimeters, because measure twice cut once isn’t a sufficient ratio when vulgar fractions are involved). Even if you’re the Joe that was still playing when I marched on the field at Stanford, and live in an expensive San Francisco apartment building built of steel in the very modern year of 2009, you’re going to experience floors and walls that aren’t quite level with the horizon.

When you’re mounting the fire extinguisher bracket, smoke detectors, shelves, and shelves on the walls, you really want them to be level with reality, not the Santa Cruz Mystery Spot I remember from my youth.

So you need a bubble level. If you have one already, I’ll bet you an Arizona bridge that it’s got a ruler with inches and centimeters on it. So that’s going to go in your attic storage box, and you’re going to buy the Sola PH-22 Plastic Cast Torpedo Flooring Level. I’m basing this recommendation on The Sweet Home‘s testing, combined with my own experience using other levels.

Cool Toolbox

You need a good way to store these and future tools. By this point, you might notice that I’m very picky about the things I buy and recommend. I’ve owned and tried a bunch, and at the moment, the DEWALT DWST24082 24-Inch One Touch Box is the only one I like for everyday tools. (I use a Plano Big Awesome Box for my Amateur Radio toolkit, but that’s another post.)

Leave a Reply