"I am a woman; hear me roar," is the old expression. Maybe the modern woman should change that up a bit. Perhaps, "I am a woman, hear my drill!". We’re in the 21st century now, so women and men should be able to participate equally in virtually any hobby, including pallet crafts. Why then, are there still so few female contributors? We can't compete if we don't have the right tools. The fact is, Size Does Matter From A Woman's Perspective. Don't panic! I'll explain...
We see on the television that there are more female hosts on various rehab, construction, and DIY shows. At first, they talked about the interior design, but more and more they’re in the thick of things; running all the tools like the men. But is it really equal yet? I don’t think that we’ve roared loud enough, ladies!
My Tool Journey - Size Does Matter From Woman's Perspective:
I got into the hobby of woodworking because of need. My wants exceeded my bank account, and common sense prevailed over impulse-shopping. I simply wanted a nice, durable, wooden chaise lounge, but wasn’t willing to spend the ridiculous amount of money on it. Since I’ve only had a rudimentary amount of woodworking experience – mostly fixing things around the first home we bought – I wasn’t about to go to the specialty wood store and buy some mahogany or teak, or some of that awesome purple heartwood.
My husband came up with a good idea; why not try it out of pallets? If you like it, you can always get “real” wood later. Two years later, and 31 submissions into this (and counting – there are three more active in my backyard right now, haha), and I’m still going strong… but I’ve had to make several adjustments along the way.
Here’s been my woman’s approach vs. a man’s approach learning curve - Women Need Different, Properly-Sized Tools!
1. All tools are NOT made equal. My father, who was a machinist/mechanic/master of fix-it-yourself, always taught me that you’re better off buying a better-quality tool once, than buying the cheapest stuff multiple times. You’ll get frustrated, your projects will take longer, and you may get injured. Plus, they’re just . . . cheesy. They don’t feel right in the hands. They’re hard to control. And yes, I’ve gotten hurt.
Just this week, I was using an angle-grinder to try to smooth out a sweeping curve on a pallet board, and the cheap, discount grinder we had belched out black smoke and bits of innards all over me as the main bearing disintegrated. UGH! Right in the middle of a project! Not to mention I had a few 2nd-degree burns from the hot metal fragments! We went out and bought a good-quality, higher amperage Milwaukee angle grinder and WHAT A DIFFERENCE!
Don’t cheap out. You don’t have to buy the most expensive, top-of-the-line product, but ladies, our mad skills at shopping pay off here. Do your research and buy wisely.
2. Why are most of the brands sized for big, callused man-hands? Seriously, this has got to stop. Statistically, we aren’t created equal. Now before you have a meltdown and blast the admins, just think strictly anatomical factoids: Men average about 10% larger; about 20-30% more upper body strength, and that makes a big difference on tool needs. The sad part is that my women’s gloves are a size LARGE. I drive a very large, very powerful motorcycle. I’m not a petite woman by any stretch of the imagination.
Now I’m going to do a cardinal sin and give you my opinion – pro or con – on some of the major brands. I'm not being paid or compensated in any way, nor am I angry with one particular company. I know they build to the largest market, which is men, but the only way that changes is if we women get involved and voice our opinion with our purchases!
My husband is a big Ryobi fan. He has a drill, an impact driver, an older drill that he’s dropped, and the case is cracked (can you guess who got that one?), a cordless circular saw, flashlight, weed-whackers, reciprocating saws etc., until you feel like you’re walking into some kind of testosterone-driven man-shrine to Ryobi. Fine. The tools all work. HOWEVER, they’re all heavy, bulky, and HUGE. By huge, I mean that the batteries are taller/thicker/wider and heavier. The grips are big and uncomfortable. They're HEAVY. UGH!
The other huge problem I have with some of the Ryobi products - particularly on the circular saw, is the safety button. I have to use two hands to start the saw up. I find that the safety button is so far from the power button, and awkwardly place that I can't reach with one hand. I then have to push the safety guard out of the way before I can do the cut. YIKES! Oh, and I can’t forget the countless blisters I’ve incurred after a long weekend working with oversized, uncomfortable tools.
The other detractor is Ryobi’s huge, bulky man-batteries! My husband’s larger hand-span means that it’s easy for him to release the batteries – one hand is holding the drill, and the other pinches around the big, boxy battery and pushes in the two release buttons on either side. Out pops the battery. Me? HA! I have to lay the tool onto its side, then use both hands; one on each side as I simultaneously push like I’m popping the world’s largest blue zit. POP goes the battery. Sorry, Ryobi.
When Size Does Matter From A Woman's Perspective - what do you do about it?
I finally got fed up, went to the Big Orange Box and walked down the aisle of tools. I must’ve looked like some kind of tool pervert as I caressed and fondled every brand. Ryobi? Um…no. Been there; done that. Skipped past them after a cursory look for new lines/models. I did like that they came out with a smaller line of batteries (but they run out too quickly – frustrating).
I tried Milwaukee. Hmm. Okay, but not quite right, and definitely not budget-friendly. I tried Dewalt. Not horrible, but it didn’t seem like enough of an improvement. My brother-in-law, who does commercial construction swears by Makita. However, he gets the big man-sized batteries too and that would make my wrist ache on a long project (like when we installed a billion squillion fence boards with four screws each around our ¼ acre property).
So, like Goldilocks, I walked down the aisle, stroking, squeezing, and making all the guys in their construction garb feel very uncomfortable around me. I tried Black & Decker (too cheap; too many broken display models for my taste), Ridgid (waaaay too expensive and not enough difference), and Bosch (not enough options/accessories locally).
I finally came back to Makita. Their regular line was very comparable to the Ryobi line in weight, power, testosterone factor, etc., but then I looked down on the bottom shelf. I swear, a sunbeam came through the skylight and illuminated it. A different, lighter-weight line! Makita XLS! (I think it's been upgraded to a newer model now).
I excitedly picked up the box and then spent way too much time trying to find a staff member for some assistance (it is the Big Orange Box and customer service is nil), so the only way I knew I’d get immediate assistance is to . . . OPEN THE BOX! Oh, I heard angels singing! More sunbeams! I’m pretty sure a unicorn went prancing by too!
The battery was a slimmer profile. It had ONE button to release it from the drill/impact driver on the front – you pinch it and just slide it forward! YAY! It was EASY TO WORK with one hand. The grip was a little bit smaller. Was there a little compromise in power? Sure – but I’m not a commercial construction worker. I’m working with pallets, after all! And . . . it was BUDGET-FRIENDLY! Yup – a rainbow shot out of the backside of that unicorn now. I’m sure of it.
It was a combo box; a drill and an impact driver along with a single charger and I STILL love it. In fact, I’m loathe to share it with my husband, who’s jealous of some of the features. I’ve used the set almost daily on about 27 of those 31 projects, and the original batteries are still going strong. When my husband hurt his arm recently, can you guess which tools he reached for? Did I have an evil grin? I’ll let you all guess. :D
Size Does Matter From A Woman's Perspective - other categories:
3. Women need the right-hand tools, too! Hammers come in different WEIGHTS & LENGTHS too. Yes, there are a dozen-plus styles, and I’m not going into that. Let’s talk ordinary, generic claw hammers. They can be light for hobby-crafting, such as doing inlay, or they can be 20-oz. They can be longer or shorter. The claws can be well-defined, straighter or curved more. The grips are definitely in a variety of sizes. There is the quality of them to consider.
Here’s where my mother’s advice was better than my dad’s. My dad would've suggested having several specialty hammers. My mother had to work very hard as a single mom. She never had a lot of money. She’s had ONE hammer since I can remember. It’s all metal – all one piece – not a separate hammer head on a wood or fiberglass handle, so it won’t break and go flying off to either attack your toes or your forehead. She’s had it at least 45 years, and it’s still going strong. The grip coating is less squishy than I remember as a kid, but it’s been slowly formed to a woman’s hand, so it works fine. It’s that “just-right” weight. You can swing it all day long, like when my mother and I built horse corrals, and although your shoulder was fatigued, it was nothing compared to using a hammer that’s too heavy.
Think about it, ladies. If you go bowling, would you get the heaviest ball? Of course not. The men in your family may want to show off, but we get a solid, middle-of-the-road weight that gets the job done without pulling our shoulders out of the socket.
I have different crowbars/prybars than my husband, and trust me, working with pallets, I have to do things differently. My husband will just grab a huge prybar, hook the nails and just force them out, grinning as his middle-aged-man-muscles weakly bulge with the effort and his forehead gleams with sweat. WHY?!? I get my smaller, flat prybar, hook the claw portion under the nail, pull out my trusty hammer and give it a few whacks. Ta-Daa! Out pops the nail.
I have BETTER QUALITY dikes/cutters, too. My husband – and yes I love him despite how this reads – is brutal on tools. He’ll use the wrong tool for something because he wants just to rush through it and finish. He’s damaged countless dikes by using them to grip/pry nails. Then they’re no good for actual wire cutting! Plus, he buys cheap crap because he knows he'll misuse them. I have some Craftsman dikes/cutters, as well as some Husky-brand cutters that are still relatively cheap but work pretty well.
I have a pair of REAL Vice-Grip pliers that I can adjust, lock on, and then because of the large size, I can easily pry the nail out. These are GREAT when the head of the nail sort of folds when you’re trying to pry them. The husband’s locking pliers are the cheap version, and I’ve gotten several blood blisters when trying to lock them and they just pinch! OUCH!
II bought a set of sockets, wrenches, screwdrivers, and other tools (I also do maintenance on my vehicles), and they’re better suited for MY hands. I spent a little extra money on some tools I know I’d need – such as a VERY GOOD ratchet, and found the Snap-On brand. I love them! I can't afford full sets because they’re VERY expensive, but it was ONE tool, and I liked the smooth finish and shaped handle. I can clean them easily, and the grip is smaller and smooth. I can use them more easily; they don't slip from my grip. I like that they don't have squared-off edges. I bought standard, run-of-the-mill Craftsman, but that’s fine.
I prefer pull saws. I can handle them better, compared to the traditional push-style saws. It's easier for me to grip the handle with two hands and pull it through the wood. The blade binds up a LOT less for me.
My new reality is that we have duplicates of many tools. That’s OK! Trust me! If you’re using tools that make the job difficult, consider searching for a different size/weight that suits YOU! You have to invest a bit of time – and unfortunately a little money – to find those perfect tools but the payout will be tremendous.
And to the tool manufacturers – if you market a line for women, do NOT make it pink. Do NOT make it weaker. Make it just as functional, but a little easier for us to hold. Not a lot to ask for, I think. So, my title of Size Does Matter From A Woman's Perspective is accurate - at least for me.
- CPO Milwaukee
- Ryobi Tools
- Makita Tools
- Bosch Tools
- Arrow Fastener
- Black & Decker
- Home Depot
So if you're curious, check out some of my other projects I've posted up. I'm no pro, but I can say that I'm getting a little better at this. Plus, I'm adding better tools. I just recently acquired a DeWalt 3-blade planer and a Porter Cable Planer/Jointer. <3 both! They're really speeding up my projects.