Now, before you handyman types get all up in arms, I'm not suggesting that dollar store tools are going to meet everyone's standards. All I'm saying is that you can get some well made tools for a buck. Every home needs some tool basics, whether you're measuring a window for curtains or hanging pictures on the living room wall. My experience with dollar store tools has been favorable, the fundamental criteria being that any implement I buy must be solidly built. It may not be scientific, but I have rarely been disappointed with a purchase. Here are a few of the tools available and how prices compare for similar items at Home Depot. Please check prices at your local store.

1. 10" claw hammer. The $1 hammer is all metal with a rubber hand grip. The only 10" hammer I could find at Home Deport had a wooden handle and cost $3.98.

2. 16' measuring tape with a blade lock, quick rewind and a rubberized casing. Cost, $1. A similar 16" measuring tape at Home Depot cost $3.98.

3. 9 1/2" screw drivers. The $1 screw drivers have hard plastic handles with rubber grips. The hardware store sells similar screw drivers for $6.96 each.

4. Needle nose pliers. The dollar store has two or three different sizes of these for $1 each and they all have plastic-coated or rubberized handles. The Home Depot's pliers cost $6.99 for the 6 1/2" size.

5. Crescent wrench. Okay, maybe the Home Depot wrench has a bit more metal in it but $23.74 for a small wrench? For all I use a crescent wrench, I'll stick with my $1 ones.

6. Pliers. I could only find one make of regular pliers at the Home Depot and they were reasonably priced at $2. Still, you can get a good pair of pliers at the dollar store for only $1.

7. Cutting tool with break-off blades. Otherwise known as "box cutters," the cheapest ones I could find at Home Depot were made of plastic and cost $2.69. A similar one at the dollar store is only a buck.

8. 17-compartment organizer. This is the kind of plastic case you use for organizing wall anchors and various other small doo-dads. The one at Home depot costs $4.49 and - yup, you guessed it - I got mine for a buck.

9. Putty knife/paint scrapper. I saw two sizes of these at Dollarama for $1 each and they have rubberized handles. The ones at Home Depot range in price from $6.27 to $8.44.

10. 11 1/2" plastic tool box. I got mine at Dollarama a couple of years ago. It's the perfect size for the trunk of the car or for stashing in a closet so you always have a screwdriver or a pair of pliers on hand. I haven't seen any there of late but Buck or Two still sells them for $2 each. At Home Depot, a slightly larger 12 1/2" plastic tool box sells for $6.98.

Marlene Alexander is a freelance writer and dollar store diva. She writes about home decorating ideas using only items from the dollar store.


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