Just because you might not be interested in, or even particularly good at, doing your own home renovations doesn’t mean you don’t need some basic tools on hand to handle little jobs that might pop up around the house. You might need to hang a picture or a shelf, measure a room for a new piece of furniture or a new appliance, assemble a new piece of flat pack furniture or simply attach the feet to a new couch. These are the tools you definitely need to have on hand, just in case.
Set of Screwdrivers
Screwdrivers are useful for changing cabinet hardware, assembling flat pack furniture, disassembling and reassembling light fixures and electrical outlets, and many more small jobs around the house. You should buy a set of screwdrivers that includes both Phillips and flathead screwdrivers in a variety of sizes. Instead of buying a set of several screwdrivers, you can buy a multi-bit screwdriver so you only have one handle and a selection of bits that you can use in it.
Set of Wrenches
You might need a wrench to make repairs to plumbing or to work on small engines, bicycles, or even your car. Buy a set of adjustable wrenches in various sizes, with different handle lengths. You can use the short-handled wrenches to get into small spaces, and the long-handled wrenches when you need leverage to break loose a stubborn connection.
Set of Pliers
Pliers are useful for pulling up carpet, loosening nuts and bolts, working on machinery, and even repairing electronics and appliances. Make sure you have the following types of pliers in your toolbox:
- Needle-nose pliers
- Lineman pliers
- Tongue-and-groove pliers
- Adjustable slip joint pliers
These four different kinds of pliers should be all you need to tackle most tough gripping and pulling jobs.
If there’s one tool on this list to buy first, it’s a basic claw hammer. You’ll need a hammer to hang pictures and you might even need one to assemble flat pack furniture. A milled-face hammer is perfect for pounding in nails without slipping.
You’re going to need a tape measure to make sure your living room is big enough for that new couch you want, or figure out what size refrigerator you need to fit into the nook in your kitchen. Measuring your walls can help you figure out how much paint to buy. And if you ever want to do any renovation or repair jobs at home, you’re probably going to need to take measurements at some point in the process.
A circular saw might be something you wait to purchase until you need it for a specific project, but a handsaw can come in handy whenever you need to cut something around the house, be it a length of PVC pipe, a plank of wood, or a tree branch. The larger the saw’s teeth are, the rougher the cut, so choose finer-toothed blades for smoother, more finished cuts.
A level will help you hang pictures straight and if you ever put up any shelves – even small ones – you’ll need a level to hang those properly, too. While long levels are best for leveling larger objects, you can get by with a small level for hanging pictures and small shelves.
A set of hex keys (also known as Allen wrenches) will come in handy the next time you have to assemble a piece of furniture or a bicycle. You can buy sets of individual hex keys or you can buy a contraption that looks like a Swiss Army knife, but filled with various sizes of hex keys that fold out.
A utility knife with a blade that’s easy to retract belongs in every tool box, and so does a box of replacement blades, because they get dull fast and a sharper blade is safer. Grab a knife with a non-slip rubber grip, and look for a model that allows for toolless blade changes.
It’s always a good idea to keep a flashlight handy in case of emergencies. If you keep a flashlight in your toolbox, you’ll always know where you have one if the power goes out. A flashlight can also come in handy for investigating weird stuff that might be going on in the attic, the basement, the walls, or the crawl space.
When you’re working with tools, sawdust and debris can easily fly into your eyes. Invest in a good pair of safety goggles, and always replace them when needed.
If you only own one power tool, make it a cordless drill. Drills are good for installing anchor bolts and drilling pilot holes for screws. You can also use them to clean your shower.
Even if you’re not a handy person, you need to keep a few basic tools in your house. You’ll need them to perform small tasks as they come up, and keep your home in good working order.