The Best Tools for Every Homeowner’s Toolkit

Owning a home is a happy milestone. But once you’ve completed the purchase and moved in, you’re responsible for maintenance. You’ll no longer have a landlord to fix leaks, replace cracked tiles, or mend broken windows. That means you’ll have to pay for repairs and improvement.

That is, unless you DIY them. Having a few basic tools in the house can help you make some common repairs yourself.

Once you’ve completed the purchase and moved in to your home, you’re responsible for maintenance.
Once you’ve completed the purchase and moved in to your home, you’re responsible for maintenance.

Be Your Home’s Best Handyman

There is something to be said about knowing your own home the way a handyman would. It keeps you from having to call a repairperson every time something in your house malfunctions. Even better, it teaches you how to fix things before they fall into disrepair!

Being your own home’s handyman will save you serious money. On average, repair people will charge about $60 to $65 an hour, says HomeAdvisor.

To get you started, we’ve assembled a list of basic tools you should have around your home.

Your Tool Bag

The first thing you’ll need is a tool bag. You don’t need a metal toolbox at home. Fabric is lighter and more practical. Choose a bag with an open top so you can reach in and grab tools for quick repairs.

The 12-inch Dewalt DG5542 Tradesman’s Tool Bag is the best we’ve come across. The quality of the fabric and construction of the DG5542 makes this an excellent deal.  We like it better than other brand-name bags.

The DG5522 has nine pockets on the inside and 20 outside, perfect for tools you want to keep handy. You can fit the bigger tools, like a power drill or hammer, in the main compartment.

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Choose a bag with an open top so you can reach in and grab tools for quick repairs.
Choose a bag with an open top so you can reach in and grab tools for quick repairs.

Tape Measure

You’ll often need a tape measure around the house. The Komelon SL2825 Self-Lock Tape Measure is as good as they get. This foot power tape measure comes with a self-locking system that extends the blade smoothly. You can retract the blade with a push of a button.

The case is impact-resistant and rubberized. This prevents corrosion and protects the SL2825 against extreme weather conditions. The nylon coated blade is durable and does not bend or collapse when extended a good length.

The downside? The Komelon SL2825 measures only one side. The other side is a blank yellow. But that shouldn’t be too much of a problem in most repair and maintenance situations.

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You’ll often need a tape measure around the house.
You’ll often need a tape measure around the house.

Utility Knife

Utility knives don’t vary that much when it comes to what they do. Experts agree that it’s the replaceable blade that matters more. The Internet’s Best Premium Utility Knife is indeed the best we’ve tested.

This knife will cut through a range of materials. During testing, we cut through cardboard, fabric, polypropylene strapping, and vinyl flooring with ease with this knife. The blade can be adjusted to three different lengths and retracts to lock safely within metal frame.

We also liked that replacing the blade is simple. You need only to extend it all the way and press the red button. You then insert the new razor while pressing down on the same button until secure. The two-piece knife set available online includes a refill pouch containing 5 extra blades.

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 The Internet’s Best Premium Utility Knife is indeed the best we’ve tested.
The Internet’s Best Premium Utility Knife is indeed the best we’ve tested.

Screwdriver Set

A manual screwdriver is one of the most frequently used tools in any household. When buying one, the first thing to consider is quality. Here is where Craftsman’s 12-piece Screwdriver Set stands out.

The set offers the best quality for its price range. The manufacturers heat-treat the alloy-steel blades for strength and durability. They then coat the blades with a satin-nickel finish.

The comfort-optimized grip on each screwdriver ensures a good handle on high and low torque applications. We also like the traditional design and magnetizable tips.

But perhaps what we like most about this budget screwdriver set is the lifetime replacement warranty! Did you just damage a handle or break a tip? Go to a store that sells them. You’ll get a replacement fast.

The warranty currently includes Lowe’s and other retailers. You don’t even need proof of purchase! As our pick for the best budget screwdriver set, you can’t go wrong with Craftsman.

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The comfort-optimized grip on each screwdriver ensures a good handle on high and low torque applications.
The comfort-optimized grip on each Craftsman screwdriver ensures a good handle on high and low torque applications.

Precision Screwdrivers

If you need to change a toy’s batteries or swap out a thermostat, you need a precision screwdriver. The best one we tested happens to be among the least expensive: Best Choice 9-Piece Precision Screwdriver Set.

The nine pieces in this set include three Philips heads, three slotted heads, and three Torx Star heads. All these pieces are of high quality. Their performance will amaze you.

Rust is among the biggest problems for many screwdriver sets. The high-quality chrome vanadium steel of Best Choice precision screwdrivers allows them excellent protection against rust. The quality of the plating finish is better than others, as well.

The nine screwdrivers in the set all have a magnetized design that allows easy fastening. Each screwdriver also has a rubber grip and a swivel cap. This permits more power and elbow grease as you turn and dig in.

We tried a number of screwdriver-sets in the same category. We believe the Best Choice precision screwdriver set offers the finest value for your money.

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If you need to change a toy’s batteries or swap out a thermostat, you need a precision screwdriver.
If you need to change a toy’s batteries or swap out a thermostat, you need a precision screwdriver.

Adjustable Wrench Set

The adjustable wrench functions much like any other spanner or wrench. It will grip onto a fastener head – usually a nut or bolt. From there, it will you to tighten or loosen as required.

The difference with adjustable wrenches is that they’re designed to offer a flexible, moveable jaw. This enables you to set specific opening widths for fasteners of various sizes.

With the Craftsman 3-piece Adjustable Wrench Set, you can assemble furniture, fix leaks, and complete other quick household repairs. The set includes 6″, 8″ and 10″ wrenches to help you finish a variety of projects.

The wrenches are made of quality forged alloy steel. Their wide beam handles permit more comfort and control. The wrenches are also durable enough when you need torque, but light and balanced when you demand precision.

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With the Craftsman 3-piece Adjustable Wrench Set, you can assemble furniture, fix leaks, and complete other quick household repairs.
With the Craftsman 3-piece Adjustable Wrench Set, you can assemble furniture, fix leaks, and complete other quick household repairs.

A Set of Pliers

You’ll find yourself needing pliers around the house quite often. That’s why, when it comes to these tools, it pays to spend for a good set that’ll last forever. There are many suitable sets of pliers out there, but we favor the Workpro 7-piece Pliers Set.

The Workpro 7 provides you with pliers for just about all your maintenance needs. You’ll need the large tongue-and-groove pliers for large pipes, such as in plumbing. The groove joint pliers have multi-gear adjustment tongues that are excellent for loosening or tightening bolts of different sizes.

The two slip joints have precision machined jaws for a secure grip when working with different tools. They also have wire cutting shears that are a big help when fixing electrical appliances.

The rugged gripping edges on all seven of the Workpro pliers ensure a firm, comfortable grip. We liked the feel of each both in our hands and in our wallets. This set isn’t as expensive as others but you get as good a set of pliers as any, nevertheless.

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The Workpro 7 provides you with pliers for just about all your maintenance needs.
The Workpro 7 provides you with pliers for just about all your maintenance needs.

General Purpose Hammer

You probably already own one of these. Every household needs a basic claw hammer. One side of the hammerhead is flat and used for pounding. The other has a V-shaped notch that can extract nails from surfaces.

You want a durable claw hammer that can reduce the vibrations running from the hammer to your arm. We recommend the 16 oz Craftsman fiberglass hammer.

This hammer can help you tackle a variety of jobs around your home. You can use it for small indoor tasks or more serious DIY projects.

The hammer features a reinforced fiberglass handle wrapped in an over-mold grip for extra comfort. This excellent hammer also comes with a full lifetime warranty!

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Every household needs a basic claw hammer.
Every household needs a basic claw hammer.

Hex Key Set

A hex key is that small, L-shaped wrench you use to drive bolts and screws with hexagonal sockets. A favorite among furniture manufacturers, a hex key is often included in build-it-yourself furniture. You can also use it for basic plumbing repairs, such as when you unclog a garbage disposal unit.

This 30-piece Texton Hex Key Wrench Set comes with both SAE and metric sizes. The SAE set is slightly longer, making it easier to identify from which group a particular wrench came.

The SAE sizes are from 0.028″, through 1/16″ up to 3/8″. The metric sizes range from 0.7mm up to 10 mm. That should cover everything you’ll ever need.

The precisely sized, chamfered, straight ends of the wrenches ensure a snug fit. We found that they insert smoothly into fastener heads, which reduces wear.

The wrenches are housed in a hinged index case. The layout makes each wrench easy to find. Precision grinding ensures that each will fit sockets correctly.

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A hex key is that small, L-shaped wrench you use to drive bolts and screws with hexagonal sockets.
A hex key is that small, L-shaped wrench you use to drive bolts and screws with hexagonal sockets.

Cordless Drill

Whether you’re driving bolts to mount a flat-screen TV or tightening hinges, a battery-powered drill means less fuss. You’ll never need to find a nearby outlet or snake a cord under furniture.

The DeWalt DCD771C2 is a 20-volt cordless, lithium-ion compact drill kit that offers good torque and speed for the money. You’ll know this drill is made of durable and sturdy materials right from the start. It’s one of the lightest drills you’ll find at 3.6 lbs but it feels good and solid in your hands. 

The variable speed levels and powerful transmission this no-nonsense DeWalt’s drill excellent for most drilling jobs at home. The built-in work light above the trigger offers decent illumination, too.

The battery will last an entire deck-building project, including all the railing work. When completely charged, the unused battery should hold power for weeks, even more than a month!

Matt Jancer of WIRED notes that this drill commands a somewhat higher list price than others. He’s right. But you’ll find it offered at substantial discounts when on sale. That makes the drill a much more attractive bargain purchase.

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The DeWalt DCD771C2 is a 20-volt cordless, lithium-ion compact drill kit that offers good torque and speed for the money.
The DeWalt DCD771C2 is a 20-volt cordless, lithium-ion compact drill kit that offers good torque and speed for the money.

Level

You don’t want to hang your artwork, mirrors, or shelves at an angle, right? Sure, you can use a laser level to make sure everything is straight. For those on a budget, however, we recommend the Craftsman Torpedo 9-inch level.

Our favorite feature on this Craftsman level is the large horizontal vial that’s easy to read. The notch in which it sits allows for 270 degrees of viewing. The neon color of the fluid is visible even in near dark conditions.

Some reviewers have observed that the rubber ends on the level tend to loosen. They’re easy enough to push back in. You’ll probably lose this unnecessary feature in your tool bag over time. But that won’t affect the accuracy of the product in any way.

That said, we think the Craftsman will serve your household well for many years.

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Our favorite feature on this Craftsman level is the large horizontal vial that’s easy to read.
Our favorite feature on this Craftsman level is the large horizontal vial that’s easy to read.

Stud Finder

When you mount anything heavy to a wall, you should always mount it against the vertical structural pieces of wood behind the wall. These are called studs.

To mount a heavy frame or flat-screen TV against a stud, you’ll need to be able to find it, right? That’s what a stud finder does for you. Held against a wall, this tool will light up when it passes over a stud. That tells you where to drill.

You can set the Tavool 4 in 1 stud finder to detect wood, joists, metal, and beams. Stud mode allows you to find wooden beams and joists behind a drywall up to 1.2 inches thick.

The metal mode will detect rebar, pipes, copper and aluminum behind a wall up to 1.57 inches. Deep mode finds wood and metal up to 1.77 inches.

You won’t have to worry about getting fried like Wily E. Coyote every time you drill, too. In all modes, the Tavool will sound a warning for live electrical wires for optimum safety!

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You can set the Tavool 4 in 1 stud finder to detect wood, joists, metal, and beams.
You can set the Tavool 4 in 1 stud finder to detect wood, joists, metal, and beams.

Other Essentials

You’ll need a staple gun for common stapling needs such as retacking carpet, securing fabric, and installing insulation. You’ll also need a set of magnetized trays, too. These will keep little metal parts in one place when you’re working.

Duct tape will fix everything you can fix with tape. You can superglue everything else. To cut that tape, though, you’ll need a good pair of shears in your tool bag. Of course, it’s best to consider shears that can cut through wires, insultation, cloth, and plastic while you’re at it.

Finally, your tape measure and level are good and necessary, but keep a yardstick handy, too. You’ll need it when a tape measure won’t settle flat enough against a wall to trace a line.

Of course, not everybody has a knack for handling tools. If you are new to home repair and improvement tasks, it’s best to avoid heavy-duty sharp tools. This rule of thumb will help you keep your thumbs!

While a hand saw is useful, you need to handle it with expert caution. That said, it’s important to be extra careful when you use any hand tool.

The most common tool-related injury, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, is smashing one’s fingers with a hammer! Yeeoow!


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