Published October 31, 2012
For new homeowners, facing repairs can be a little intimidating. When you own a home, so many things can go wrong, and you need to be prepared for any situation. But for newcomers to the DIY scene, it can be a little confusing figuring out which tools they’ll need, and which will just end up being a waste of money.
Putting together a toolbox that will arm you to face most major DIY tasks is pretty simple, and doesn’t have to break the bank. So if you want to get started, here are the top tools every homeowner should have.
Whether you need to hang a picture or repair a fence, a hammer is an essential home tool. While there are a ton of different types of hammers out there, a simple 16 oz. claw hammer is perfect for most jobs, allowing you to put nails in, and when you make a mistake, remove them.
You don’t even need to be a consummate DIYer to get a ton of use out of a tape measure. You’ll be reaching this tool for all sorts of occasions, like when you need to make sure that new sofa you’ve had your eye on will fit in the living room or even through the front door. A 25-foot model should be plenty for most home owners.
You can get a full set of screwdrivers, like Craftsman’s 41 piece set, but a cheap model with swappable bits will also work just fine for the casual DIYer. You’ll also want to invest in a stubby screwdriver, because you’ll never know when you’re going to have to work in a tight space.
This one might seem like a bit of a luxury, but a stud finder can make the process of hanging shelves or a new flat-screen TV pretty foolproof. And many models, like the Zircon e50, come in at less than $20, a small price to pay to make sure the job is done right. For a few dollars more, you can get a model with a laser level, sparing you the embarrassment of crooked shelves.
Relatively rare a few years ago, hex keys have become indispensable in a post-Ikea world. Sure those unpronounceable furniture sets come packed with their own tools, but we all know what happens to them after you’re finished putting it all together: They get tossed in a junk drawer where they are lost forever. By investing in a proper set, you’ll always have the right tool for the job when you need it.
Working in tight corners and dark spaces is a lot easier when you have proper illumination. A flashlight is an essential tool that most homes already have, but for DIY jobs, you might want to invest in something like the Joby Gorillatorch. Its bendable, magnetic legs can clamp or stick to just about any surface, leaving your hands free to work.
Every home should have a step ladder at the very least, but, budget permitting, you should also consider investing in an extension ladder for the hard-to-reach jobs, such as exterior painting or cleaning the gutters.
Unfortunately, no one has yet invented a one-size-fits-all plier, so you’re going to have to invest in a few. Get yourself a pair of needle nose pliers for small items, slip joint pliers for when you need a tight grip, and groove joint pliers for bigger jobs, like plumbing repairs.
A hand-powered saw is a good place to start, and both a hacksaw and a wood saw will come in handy around the home for the occasional project. But if you find yourself getting a little more adventurous with your DIY projects, you might want to consider spending a little more money on both a reciprocating saw and a circular saw. These power tools will ensure that your corners are cut straight, and allow you to get the job done in a fraction of the time.
If you’re going to make one big-ticket purchase when you assemble your toolbox, it should probably be a high-quality cordless drill. Whether you need to assemble furniture, put a few holes in the wall, or loosen a tight bolt, a drill is the tool you’re going to use most around the home. A quality brand like Milwaukee or DeWalt can set you back around $100 or more, but it’s a price worth paying for a tool that will last you a long time.