Stable Toolbox: The Right Tools for Projects Around the Barn

Fix-it projects around the barn are a breeze when you have the right tool for the job.

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Handling Projects Around the Barn
Photo by Daniel Johnson

In this article, you will learn: what tools you should have for projects around the barn, what types of projects that tool is best for, how to make DIY projects easier, and what types of projects around the barn are easy to tackle.

Does any of this stable talk sound familiar?

“Barney broke his bucket hook off the wall.”

“The wheelbarrow handle is loose!”

“The ATV won’t start.”

“They chewed that fence post in half!”

There’s no doubt about it: Horses can be somewhat destructive when it comes to things like stalls, bucket hangers, gates, feeders, troughs, fence posts, and so on.

Projects Around the Barn

Not to mention all of the barn equipment like UTVs, mowers, tractors, trailers, carts, wheelbarrows, et cetera, all of which see heavy use and require repairs or maintenance over time.

Happily, you can stay on top of all of this. With the right tools for the job, there are many simple tasks and repairs that an average stable owner can accomplish on their own.

With the right tools for the job, there are many simple tasks and repairs that an average stable owner can accomplish on their own.

What do you need in your stable toolbox? Here are a few of our top suggestions.

Cordless Drill

“Wait,” you’re thinking, “I don’t see why I would have much use for drilling holes around the barn.” But a modern lithium-ion cordless drill is a versatile tool that does far more that drill holes—it doubles as a fast and powerful electric screwdriver.

Using screws for fastening is usually much easier than using a hammer and nails, and with the fairly reasonable cost of even high-quality drills, you should really consider adding one to your barn toolbox.

Battery power in the range of 18 volts should be enough for most of the jobs you’ll tackle. When combined with a good selection of bit types and sizes, cordless drills make quick work of any fastening job: bucket hooks, hay racks, stall latches, fence insulators, and many other stable needs.

For bits, get some Phillips head, square, and Torx, and then stock up on exterior grade screws in a few different lengths.

Now you’ll be ready the next time something breaks.

Hammer

If a cordless drill is often helpful for fastening, do you still need a hammer in the toolbox? Absolutely.

Besides its obvious first intended use as a nail driver, a standard claw hammer (distinguished by its two rounded claws on the back) is also useful for tapping objects into place or for removing old nails, staples, and other fasteners.

Monkey Wrench for Projects Around the Barn
In addition to a wrench set, have a monkey wrench on hand to turn any size bolt in a jiffy. Photo by Daniel Johnson

Socket/Wrench Set

You may not be a professional mechanic, but that doesn’t mean you can’t make use of a basic socket set around the barn. This will come in handy for maintenance
to machines like ATVs and UTVs (think oil changes), as well as simple repairs to farm tools, such as tightening up a loose bolt on the wheelbarrow or adjusting the hinge of that sagging gate.

This needn’t be a super-expensive purchase. Choose a solid set that includes the socket wrench, a few adapters, and a basic selection of socket sizes. If you can get one that includes both metric (millimeters) and standard (inches) sockets, so much the better—you’d be surprised how often the need for a metric socket arises. Also look for a special spark plug socket that will allow you to easily remove and replaced old plugs on a small engine.

If you’d really like to be prepared, throw in a half-dozen small wrenches of various sizes, along with an adjustable (monkey) wrench to fill in any missing sizes.

Locking Pliers

You might already own a pair of basic pliers, and they’re useful to have around for projects around the barn. But for your barn toolbox, you might go one step further and include a pair of locking pliers.

These robust tools feature jaws that are adjustable to different widths and can snap firmly in place with a very tight grip. They can be very helpful for grasping stuck or rusty bolts, old screws or nails, and other small objects that are otherwise challenging to work with. Be careful using locking pliers, however, as they’re so strong you can actually damage the object you’re trying to grip.

Circular Saw
You may not be tackling a lot of carpentry projects, but a circular saw is versatile for simple cuts. Photo by Daniel Johnson

Circular Saw

Your stable certainly isn’t a construction zone, and if there is any major carpentry work to be done, you likely turn to someone knowledgeable. That said, there is one power saw worth having on hand around the barn: a circular saw.

These saws are versatile and can perform a wide variety of wood cutting tasks, including crosscuts (across the grain of the wood) and rip cuts (parallel to the grain). For the most power, you can choose a corded version, but there are also smaller battery-powered circular saws available.

Short Tape Measure

For simple repairs around the farm, a short 16-foot tape measure might be all you need, plus it will be lighter and less bulky than a standard 25-foot type.

Tire Inflator
Trailers, wheelbarrows and UTVs all have tires that can go flat. Having a tire inflator handy saves a trip to the gas station air machine. Photo by Daniel Johnson

Tire Inflator

A tire inflator is not something you typically think of when it comes to tools, but they’re almost essential around a barn. Keeping a small, portable electric inflator on a shelf in the barn will make life easier the next time an ATV or wheelbarrow tire is flat.

A Helper

Be sure to ask for an extra pair of hands when you need them for projects around the barn and get advice on a task if you’re unsure of how to proceed. Take care, and don’t use a tool until you understand how it works and how to perform the task safely.

Safety Gear

With all of this talk about tools for the barn, let’s not forget to talk about the safety gear that goes along with them. A pair of safety glasses is always smart when doing any kind of construction, demolition or carpentry task. Likewise, ear plugs or muffs are essential to protect your hearing when working with loud tools, and a dust mask will be beneficial if you do any sawing.

 

This article on tools for DIY projects around the barn originally appeared in the September 2019 issue of Horse Illustrated magazine. Click here to subscribe!

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