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Whenever a woman calls the Rosie on the House show to ask for advice about her do-it-yourself projects, I’m glad to know she’s tackling the job herself.

My handywomen colleagues say so many of women feel less-than-handy around the house because:

  1. They lack of knowledge. They weren’t taught as kids how to fix things around the house, even though their brothers were. 
  2. They feel foolish when they ask for help with things they assume they already should know.
  3. They’re sometimes inhibited because they don’t know how to safely use power tools or because they think they’re too heavy.
  4. They’re just as happy to leave the handy work to the household’s handyman.

For those who fall into the first three groups, my advice is this: Give it a try. Here’s how to start:

  1. Read home-improvement books, especially those written by and for women. Learn the basics, like the difference between a Phillips-head and flathead screwdriver and how to locate a wood stud in a wall. Familiarize yourself with the terminology of home improvements so when you do ask for help, you’ll understand the advice you’re given.
  2. Hang out at the hardware store. Get to know the guys who work there; they know a lot about tools, home-improvement materials and how to do repairs, and they’re generally willing to share what they know.
  3. Start with small jobs. Bolster your confidence by weather-stripping your doors, caulking your bathtub or replacing a washer in a leaky faucet.
  4. Learn from your mistakes. Don’t think for a minute that your husband, your handyman or Rosie himself didn’t make a few of their own along the way. Once you forget to turn the water off before fixing your toilet, you’ll never make that mistake again!
  5. Use common sense. If something seems off, it probably is. A big tip—and this one might sound funny coming from a man: Read the directions—on packages and in owner’s manuals—before you start the job. You’ll be surprised how much you can figure out on your own once you know you’re on the right track. You probably won’t make a problem worse as long as you approach it in a logical and practical way.
  6. Try out your tools before you buy them, just as you would a new pair of shoes. Notice if the tool is comfortable to grip or if it feels too big or heavy. Shop for tools made specifically for a woman’s smaller hands.  Tomboy Tools, for one, has an eight-volt impact drill that weighs just more than 1.5 pounds.
  7. Gather some neighbors who also are novice DIYers and do some projects together. You can teach each other, encourage each other and stop each other from making mistakes.
  8. Call me. I take calls every Saturday morning while I’m doing the Rosie on the House radio show live on KTAR. You can describe your home-improvement challenge and get an explanation that will help you finish your job.
  • Sanderson Ford

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