So, up until now you haven’t had much call to for bunch of tools (and you’re sticking to that story). But then things start happening. The bathroom faucet is dripping. The Mrs. decides it’s time to install new light fixtures. It’s the night before a birthday and you need to put a bike together. The cute divorcée next door needs a pair of big, strong hands. It’s time to be self-reliant. With just a handful of tools– and some elemental know-how that you can pick up from your dad or YouTube– believe it or not, you can personally handle most of the basic household projects that speed bump into your personal time. So, as you embark on this new journey of self-reliance, we’re here to share with you you the 12 simple-yet-powerful tools you need to have in your arsenal. No doubt, others will chime in with suggestions of their own because, well, that’s what tool guys do. The great thing about these tools is, they’re all affordable, so you can be all locked and loaded after one quick trip to Harbor freight. Here they are:
The hammer could be your favorite go-to tool. From driving in nails (or yanking them out), to starting screws and aligning holes, to full-scale demolition detail, the 16-ounce claw hammer packs just the right punch you need for the job. In fact, you’ll probably find yourself pulling it out for projects you don’t even need it for. You know, just in case. Instead of the “old school” wooden handle, we recommend you go with a fiberglass one: they absorb impact a heckuva lot better and they don’t crack or splinter. Also, when you go buy one, try a few different hammers out and feel the heft and balance in your hand. Like a bat or a bowling ball, if it feels good, it makes all the difference. Just watch out for passing patrons when you start swinging it in the store.
Contrary to popular belief, the slotted flathead screwdriver is not dead, not yet. Therefore, it’s inevitable that you’ll need both flathead and Phillips screwdrivers in your journeys. Start out with a basic set of both. Besides slotted screws, the flathead screwdriver is also excellent for lifting the lids off paint cans, scraping off old paint and epoxy, nudging things and emancipating personal items locked in briefcases with lost keys. The Phillips screwdriver has gained more popularity, though, because it’s designed to give a user more torque than is possible with a flathead screwdriver, so when possible, go with Phillips screws.
- Make sure the pilot hole is approximately the same size as the inside diameter of the screw threads.
- Make sure the screwdriver head fits the screw nicely.
- Put some weight into it when you’re turning the screw, so that it holds its place and isn’t tempted to slip its grip.
- Make sure the screwdriver is in line with the screw as you turn. Coming at it from an angle is a sure method of stripping.
This Pittsburgh Pro screwdriver set is an excellent starting point for your tool arsenal. As jobs come your way, you may need to acquire either a larger or smaller one, but these will tackle most household projects.
Whether you’re building a workbench, seeing if a big screen TV will fit on a wall, verifying the diameter of a pipe, or measuring a room, a trusty 25′ retractable tape measure is a must. In fact, since they’re so inexpensive, we’d go as far as to say buy four: one for the toolbox, one for upstairs, one for downstairs, and one for the car. I mean, who likes fetching a tape measure on the other side of the house? It also goes without saying, throw a pencil in the box as well. If you’re grabbing the tape measure, you’ll probably be grabbing one of those, too.
Of all the tools in your arsenal, besides your hammer, this baby will probably see the most action. Because one adjustable wrench can handle different sized nuts and bolts, it’s like having 50 wrenches in one. So you could literally be walking around the place, tightening your kid’s trike wheels, the BBQ’s frame, the microwave cart and the Gatling gun tripod without ever going back to the toolbox. When using an adjustable wrench, adjust the jaws to fit precisely over the nut, rocking the wrench slightly as you tighten, to help secure a firm fit. Also, for added strength, make sure the nut is positioned as deep as it will go into the throat of the adjustable wrench. As with the aforementioned screwdriver set, the crescent wrench set shown could take on most of whatever your honey-do list can throw at it. There may an occasion to get a bigger one along the way, but those kind of jobs are rare and far between.
If you’re dealing with a lot of nut-n-bolt action– usually on an engine or other machinery– then it’s time to put aside the crescent wrench and pull out the “big guns”– the socket set. Socket sets can exponentially speed up a project like an ordinary crescent wrench never could. They’re so convenient and effective, in fact, you’ll actually get giddy over the chance to pull it out. This is because of the ratchet that comes with it, a mechanism that eliminates the need to remove and refit the socket on every stroke. Also, because the tool will turn the bolt when swinging in one direction, but won’t pull it back when returning. A good basic household socket set with about a dozen or so sockets, a ratchet and an extension will prove almost always sufficient for household jobs, such as driving in lag bolts, tightening bolts or other occasional repairs, builds or tasks. Like all guys, you will love your ratchet, and will probably look for excuses to buy several. Which brings us to the Husband’s Litmus Test: If she says, “But, you already have a ratchet,” then you know, she doesn’t understand you.
Locking pliers are designed to provide maximum locking force and come in handy when you need an extra hand to work with. Then, when the job is done, a quick release disengages the tool for the next step. Extremely versatile, you can employ this multitasking tool as pliers, a pipe wrench, an adjustable wrench, wire cutters, a ratchet, or a clamp. The three shown here can take care of most stuff around the house and garage.
An valuable tool for electrical work, this little guy can be a lifesaver for projects that require you to cut, bend, re-position, grip or strip wire. They’re also used for crafts, jewelry making, computer repairs, bomb defusing and other functions . Because of their long and skinny shape, they’re particularly useful for getting into tight spots. You can also use them to pinch your bratty nephew.
Power tools are awesome, but most are unnecessary for the garden-variety shtuff around the house. That said, a cordless drill is a must-have component in your toolbox arsenal. It can be used for drilling holes into sheet rock and driving screws into a 2×4. So, if you’re “earthquake-proofing” furniture, installing towel bars or sawing holes in the back of your entertainment center, this is the go-to tool . When choosing a cordless drill, you want one with lots of power, which is measured by the amount of voltage in its battery. An 18v is a good size for home use, and make sure it’s got variable speeds for different jobs, and is reversible. The reversible feature will come in handy if you need to take some screws out when you realize the outhouse door needs to swing out, not in.
Now, let’s turn to Old School. A great misconception is the idea that you need an electric saw to make cuts. All you really need is a simple hand saw in your toolkit. You don’t have to run an extension cord, you don’t have to recharge a battery, and you can catch yourself alot faster if the cut’s going awry.The image of a wooden-grip hand saw has long been the iconic symbol of the DIY craftsman. A good general-purpose hand saw is the go-to tool for trimming branches or cutting lumber for a DIY project. It’s also the one tool you want to make sure you’ve got a good pair of work gloves to wear while using.
Whether you’re hanging pictures, putting up a curtain rod, or affixing shelves to a wall, a straight line is absolutely crucial. You don’t want to put a bunch of nails in the wall, only to step back and see your family portraits are all askew. To get the job done right the first time, you need a level. There are some hoity-toity laser levels out there, but you can’t beat the sweet satisfaction of getting that bubble in the middle. Of course, if you enjoy getting the stinkeye from certain cohabitants, go ahead and just keep doing it by eye. ‘Cause you’re so good at it. Seriously, get this tool, you’ll be happy you did. On the level.
This tool might not put out the sexy like other tools, but we bet it’ll never gather dust at the bottom of your toolbox. You’ll find the utility knife to be a stupendous sidekick with every project: Stripping wire, cutting rope, rubber hose or plastic strapping, snipping the sealed tips off epoxy tubes, scraping paint… you get the point. When nothing else in the arsenal can help, the utility knife steps up to the plate.
Well, duh. As time goes on, you’ll probably graduate to a tool cart, then a tool cabinet, and maybe even a wall of tool chests. In the meantime, the humble shlep-around toolbox is the perfect receptacle for carrying your basic tools to any household project. Keep it simple and solid, and it’ll never leave you, even when you need more storage.
No doubt, some of you think we overlooked some items you think are crucial to the ensemble. Duct tape. WD-40. The InSinkErator tool. Everyone’s needs could slightly deviate based on their home situations, but we’re standing by this list. So? Go thou, get thee tools and be useless no more.