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Tools of the Trade-up 

Photos by Romney Photography

Maybe you're a seasoned handyman. Or maybe you learned everything you know from HGTV. Either way, when it comes to home improvement projects, having the right tools can make all the difference. Here are a few key pieces recommended by local contractor Jon Diechert.

Disc Sander -- In addition to removing layers of paint, this tool is great for shaving wood to go against uneven surfaces -- older homes are full of those -- or to fit against an irregular piece of wood that already exists. Use it in lieu of a coping saw. This model by Makita is $89.99 at Harry's Ace Hardware (3535 Magazine St., 896-1500; 333 N. Carrollton Ave., 896-1540; 4817 Gen. Meyer Ave., Algiers, 896-1520; 1521 Metairie Road, Metairie, 896-1550).
Reciprocating Saw -- Almost essential for cutting through a wall to install a door or window, this long-blade saw is also great for reaching into and under things to make cuts through metal or plastic pipes, lumber and even nails. Ask for a saw with a variable speed feature like this one from Skil, $69.99 at Harry's Ace Hardware (3535 Magazine St., 896-1500; 333 N. Carrollton Ave., 896-1540; 4817 Gen. Meyer Ave., Algiers, 896-1520; 1521 Metairie Road, Metairie, 896-1550).
Combination Square -- Compact, versatile and inexpensive, this sliding square on a metal ruler helps you make exact measurements and draw straight lines. It measures perfect 45- and 90-degree angles for quality carpentry work. Look for a model with a level vial like this one by Handy, $4.99 from Clement Hardware & Variety (6000 Magazine St., 899-0711).
Cordless Drill -- It's easy to see the advantages this portable power tool offers in the way of convenience and versatility for driving screws and drilling holes. To get the power you need, consider buying a model with at least 12 volts, bearing in mind that the higher the voltage, the heavier the drill. With two speeds and multiple attachments, this model by Handy is $60.89 from Clement Hardware & Variety (6000 Magazine St., 899-0711).
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