Friday, May 15, 2009

What are Your Favorite Power Tools for Women?

I like to do DIY jobs. I hate nagging Husband to do my projects – I think that’s mean (no nagging also helps preserve marital harmony.) I don’t believe in a Honey Do List. In my world it’s a Do It Yourself Honey! List.

One of my long term goals is to set up a little workshop in my garage. Operative word Lisa’s Workshop. Where I have a space to fix things or more accurately, an out of the way place to stick stuff that I need to fix or want to build until I find the time to get around to it. Just like my father and his father before me.

I’m in the market for tools. Unfortunately most tools made for women or a woman’s workshop are along these lines.


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The biggest problem I find with power tools that are designed for women is that that just plain suck.

Why is it that most tool companies think that all women want are tiny tools in pretty colors? Sure, those cutesy tools may sell but what the tool companies don’t realize is that when those itty bitty cheap pink tools eventually break, and they will, the woman is going to march into the store and replace them with a real grown up version of the tool in question – the type of tool the industry typically thinks of as a “guy” tool like this.

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This isn’t a super duper powerful hammer drill that will drill through concrete (unless that’s your need - then have a ball), but it’s more than adequate for the typical handy guy or handy gal who needs a good screw gun or to build something simple like a toy box for their kid. Think a mom (or awesome Aunt) could use that lavender “woman’s drill” to build a simple wooden toy box or turn a trash can into a compost bin? Me neither.

I wish tool companies had opportunities for women DIYers and bloggers to be consultants just like household and appliance companies do because I’d love to test and try out tools and tell them (and you my fabulous readers men and women alike) what really works and what doesn’t. *sigh* but a girl can dream…

Since that’s not reality, I’m going to spill my guts here. Hey tool companies listen up!

Here’s What Real Women Want in Power Tools:

Quality – I want a tool that will last. More often than not the cheaply made, lightweight women’s tools break too easily during routine tasks. That’s dangerous. I snapped the head off of a diminutive “girl” claw hammer when I tried to use the claw end to remove a nail from a wall and rehang a picture - a simple and straightforward task. The force of the hammerhead breaking knocked me on my butt. Fortunately for me, I wasn’t on a stepstool at the time because I could have been injured. I grabbed a grown up “boy” hammer from the toolbox and I was able to remove the nail without breaking the claw or snapping the head off of the hammer.

Weight – I’m 4’11 and I’d like to use a tool that’s physically light enough for me to handle without forsaking the power needed to do the job. Sure I’ll suck it up and heft a heavy tool if the jobs requires. I’ve done it. But if you can design a tool that allows me to work just as effectively as or more so than my current heavy tools not only will I buy it but I’ll shout about it from rooftops! I’ll also buy one for every guy I know.

Scale and Grip - Not every DIYer is a big burly dude with massive man hands. Husband is a lean long distance runner and is also on the short side. A tool that’s scaled for to a shorter person will work for both of us as long as you don’t skimp on the quality. Something that allows me to set the grip of the tool for my small hands but would also allow me to switch the grip so that a person like my Dad with his bigger guy hands could also use the same tool when we work on a project together would be awesome.

Better Ergonomics – This is what I think of when I say “tools made for women.” Tool companies I know you put a lot of research and development dollars into studying the body mechanics and how to redesign tools so that customers can use more efficiently. A good example of this are the hammers with the slightly curvy handle that allow you to drive a nail into a board better but without needing an extra “oomph” of power to drive a nail into a board. Typically those studies are being conducted and the resulting products are being aimed at older male DIYers who have more time to DIY during their retirement years but may not have the same physical strength as they once had during their younger years. Tool companies – these studies also apply to women! If you market to us we will buy these products! Or maybe the men in our lives will buy them for us (hint, hint.)

Color –In all honesty, if I see a pink tool for sale, I’m not going to buy it. Experience has taught me that pink tools are crap. Sorry toolmakers but you taught me that all you care about is making a woman’s tool pink and pretty not about quality or performance. By the way, my Husband and I share tools just like we share kitchen appliances. We have one refrigerator not a pink one for me and a blue one for him. That means I could care even less about tool color.

Tool companies, this is something the guys won’t tell you – as a women I get an extra boost of confidence and self-esteem when I complete even a minor job with a tool that looks like the real deal and not like I need to store it in Barbie’s dream house after I’m done using it. If you can design a tool that meets my performance needs, makes me feel confident when using it, and might even make the men in my life a bit little jealous because it looks like a kick ass tool that they’d want to own - mission accomplished – you’d have yourself a customer for life.


Real World Example: Tool Purchase Based on a Woman’s Needs

Recently, Husband and I needed to buy a mini sledge hammer to break up some concrete in our front flower beds. Here’s how our purchase stacked up to the needs and wants I have on my tool wish list.

Quality: We made our purchase at a home improvement store not a cheap closeout or discount store.

Weight: A four pound mini sledge (a little bigger than a traditional hammer) would do the job quite nicely. Husband could use the four pounder but it was a little too heavy for me. I could only comfortably use the two pound mini sledges on display.

Scale and Grip: We wanted a tool that both of us could use because chances were that we’d be switching on and off until the job was complete.

Ergonomics: We ended up buying a much more expensive three pound mini sledge hammer because the handle and grip were designed so that it was physically lighter to swing (so a small person like me could use it) but delivered the “whoomp!” of a 4-5 pound mini sledge hammer (something that a bigger person like Husband could use.)

Color: By the way the hammer was blue. Who cares? The tool worked and now it’s the color of the dirt in my yard.

That’s my wish list for women’s power tools. What are yours? What do you think about pink power tools? Love 'em? Hate 'em? What power tools would you recommend for women?


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