Your pipes sprung a leak. There’s a tool for that. Your kids’ bunk beds need assembling? There’s a tool for that. Accidentally nailed your family portrait lopsided? You guessed it. There are tools for that.
When it comes to owning a home, a well-stocked toolbox should always be a priority investment. Just like owning a fully-stocked medical kit, you never know when you’ll need the means necessary for an emergency situation. Check out any expert blog these days and they will agree — a good set of tools comes in handy for novice to expert-level jobs.
Stock Your (Tool) Box
Before busting down the doors of your favorite hardware store, it’s important to understand where you should splurge and what you can skimp on. Because, just like any life investments, it’s easy to spend a pretty penny.
Sure, a bobby pin, rubber band, bubble gum, birthday candle, paper clip and shoelace might be necessary staples of Macgyver’s toolkit. Throw in some duct tape and you have a minimalist tool kit for less than $15. And, although these could prove handy to clogging a burst pipe in a pinch (use your imagination), these items are better left as standard debris underneath the seats of your SUV.
Let’s first discuss how to build your collection without breaking the bank. The best way is to start with the basic tools you are guaranteed to need on a case-by-case basis (see section of listed items below). Look for holiday sales, especially Father’s Day. Visit garage sales and pawn shops for refurbished tools. You can even check out government auctions for TSA confiscated tools.
Remember: the key to building your collection is keeping it together in a single space. It’s not going to be very handy if you have an emergency and the proper tools are not on hand. Invest in a decent toolbox via the same methods listed above. If possible, designate an area in your garage for your storage. By stowing your tools in containers, you’ll keep unwanted pests from destroying your items.
Tools of the Trade
As mentioned earlier, a toolbox containing the essential tools shouldn’t be overlooked. Without further adieu, here is a list of necessary tools provided by the experts at Home Depot.
Hammers: What better way to kick off this list than with the father of all tools? Sure, these seem simple at best but there are proper hammering techniques to prevent shoddy results. Find a hammer that has a comfortable grip. This will come in handy for actual use—which requires a comfortable grip similar to that of a proper handshake. Since you’ll be using this for standard repairs/nail removal, invest in a model with a “rip” claw. This two-fold tool can drive nails from one end and pull out nails from wood or wall. Either way, make sure you are pairing the proper type to the type of work. Don’t use a wooden mallet to take down drywall (unless you enjoy a barrage of splinters and a barely dented wall). Speaking of which, never use a hammer with a chipped or cracked head.
Screwdrivers: Invest in a good-quality mixed set of these. And, no. We aren’t referring to your favorite orange juice/libation combo typically found on college game days and 12-hour flights. Sure, “flat head” Phillips sounds like a nickname for one of your favorite frat brothers. However, I can guarantee the literal version won’t leave you with random holes in your wall/structural damage. General rule of thumb? Make sure to only use these for situations that require screwing and unscrewing an actual screw. Meaning, don’t try to pry open a paint can lid or chisel wood. And, yes. You can use an electric screwdriver. Just make sure it doesn’t provide more torque and power than necessary, or you’ll end up with a stripped screw or damaged wall.
Pliers: Pliers are essential for gripping those pesky, tiny wires firmly in place. And, with enough applied gumption, they prove handy for pulling, pinching and bending certain metal into shapes. Just make sure to invest in a good set. These typically come with your standard combination, tailored around its handle and nose. That is, its handle (grip) will consist of insulation to protect against electric shock. In addition, the nose (head) of the pliers is where the clamping occurs. Some even containing a sharp blade for wire or thin metal cutting. Please keep in mind, when it comes to electrical projects, go with an expert. For light electrical tasks, you’ll need a wire stripper for additional help on such projects.
Wrenches: These essentials are great for tightening and loosening nuts, bolts, screws and pipes. With that said, you’ll need at the very least a few adjustable wrenches — one big and one small. These come with one fixed jaw and one adjustable for a wide variety usage of fastener sizes. These will cover an array of gaps compared to the nonadjustable wrench. Once you become more skilled with the art of tightening and fastening, consider expanding to a box, socket or pipe wrench.
Measuring Tape: These serve a purpose beyond entertainment for your kiddos. It may be satisfying to let them snap back – but don’t do that, because if the tab at the end breaks off, the tape is completely ruined. Use these for accurate measurements for mounting electronics or other significant wall accouterments. Choose an easy-locking, medium-length model.
Level: These are crucial for hanging pictures, mantels and other types of wall décor. The last thing you want is to step back and notice a crooked picture after adding a bunch of holes to your wall. While there are several types available, including a handy iPhone app, there’s still something satisfying about getting those low-tech models’ floating bubbles into place. Not to mention they are pretty affordable.
Flashlight: Despite living in the technical age of smartphones camera “flashlights”, don’t let these fancy gadgets outshine the importance of these trusty devices. A couple of batteries, and a click of a button, will serve beneficial for poking around your home at night after losing electricity. Meanwhile, your wall-charging-dependent smartphone continues to lose battery life.
Utility knife: Investing in a high-quality utility knife is essential for a variety of projects to cut and scrape. Plus, can you think of anything more satisfying than gliding a sharp blade across a heavily taped box?
Cordless drill plus bits: This is an essential piece in your toolbox. The cordless capability makes it easy to work quickly on projects both big and small. Don’t forget to invest in a few sets of high-quality metal, wood and universal bits. This covers both indoor and outdoor projects.
No Tooling Around
While it’s nice to own fancy gadgets such as a soldering iron or electric staple gun, it’s important to start with the basics. Later on, consider investing in upgraded tools once you’ve developed a refined skill-set.
And, always remember to practice safety first. Use goggles and protective gear when working with objects such as glass and wood. Also, dust masks are always a good idea, especially for those allergy sufferers.
The list above should grant you a running start to tackling those tasks around your home. If you have any additional tricks and tips, feel free to comment below!