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By NICK HARDER



Published: Sat, April 30, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



By NICK HARDER

ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER

With Mother's Day closing in and with more women doing home-improvement projects than ever before, it's time to think about what tools Mom could use.

Yes, that's right: tools. Your mom or your wife or your friend may need tools for keeping the home fires burning a lot more than their mothers did. This doesn't just have to be for Mother's Day, of course. Just like the guys, women also need the right tool to do the job correctly.

Don't think women want or need to keep up their homes? Here's what surveys by Home Depot and Sears have turned up about women and home improvement:

UEighty-five percent of women surveyed have been or expect to be solely responsible for a home at some point in their lives.

UFifty-three percent surveyed say they are responsible for basic household maintenance and repair either on their own or in conjunction with their spouse.

USeventy percent of women homeowners say they would like to know more about home maintenance and repair.

USeventy-five percent of women say they do more home projects themselves than they did five years ago.

UEighty percent say they are more confident in their home-improvement abilities than they were five years ago.

Remember when it was just men you'd see in a home center or hardware store? Not anymore. In fact, at some home centers, women make more of the purchase decisions than men.

Why the big change?

Maybe it's because more women feel free to do home-improvement projects themselves than their mothers did.

Or maybe it's because there are more single women homeowners -- either by divorce or choice -- than ever before. The many home-improvement and design shows on television also are driving interest.

Recognizing the vast new market, more manufacturers are turning out tools and tool kits aimed at women.

Companies such as Tomboy Tools and Barbara K are devoted to the niche, but mainstream toolmakers also are offering new models.

Generally, the tools are a bit smaller and lighter in weight than conventional tools. Grips are more ergonomically suited to a woman's hand. They're also occasionally coming in colors a woman might find more feminine.

Think before buying

If you're a woman who wants to buy home-improvement tools for yourself or if you're someone who wants to buy such tools for a woman -- be it for Mother's Day or any day -- here are a few things you may want to think about:

UBuy tools for yourself or others based on the type of work to be done. If you or that special someone does a lot of work with fasteners, for instance, a cordless drill or power screwdriver is a great tool.

UWhatever tools you buy should be based on how the job can be done better and easier with those tools. Don't just buy tools to buy tools; think of the type of work first and the type of tool second.

UBuy tools to fit the individual. There are a lot of strong women out there who could handle virtually any tool on the market, but that doesn't mean it's right to buy the most powerful tool. If the person has limited strength or if the job to be done doesn't require a great deal of strength, for example, you may want to buy a tool that's either much less powerful or moderate in power. Why buy a large and heavy 24-volt cordless drill or a small 9-volt model when you could get something in between, such as a 12- or 14-volt model?

UBy the same token, buy a tool for a woman that will be easier than other models to handle. Weight and power aside, such choices might include a T-handle drill, for instance, a model that has such a balance that it is much easier to hold than a pistol-grip drill and can be placed on its base standing on a surface rather than lying. Models that have to lie on their sides often cause splinters or busted nails when you pick them up.

If you think of the person and the type of work that person usually does, that will take you a long way in deciding which tool to buy.

You might want to check out these additional resources:

UHome Depot offers do-it-herself workshops to help women get up to speed on home improvement. To check out the latest schedule, go online to www.homedepotclinics.com.

UThe Tomboy Tools Web site offers home improvement tips for every room of the house. Go to www.tomboytools.com.

UThe Barbara K line of tools, featured recently in Time magazine, is available online at www.barbarak.com.

UThe DIY Women feature on www.diynetwork.com features home-improvement projects from a woman's perspective, including profiles of women in home improvement.




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