Every home should have a basic set of tools. From putting up shelving and pictures to replacing washers and fixing guttering, a basic tool-kit will allow you to tackle the majority of home repairs that may occur throughout the year. Tools can be expensive, and good tools don’t come cheap, but it’s worth spending the money as quality tools that are purchased early in life will be much more cost effective in the long run. A good quality tool will last a life time and a poor quality tool may only last for a few jobs before it needs replacing.
As with everything in life, having a good selection of tools at your disposal is important. Despite what you may think, you don’t need three different types of drill for basic home repair tasks, instead a dozen or so carefully selected tools will equip you for most eventualities. Here we take a look at the 12 items that should be bought to make up a basic and serviceable home tool kit. There will be times when you need to buy additional tools from outside of this list, and these should be bought as needed.
1 | Hammer
No home is complete without a hammer, and a claw hammer is advised for the basic tool box. Hammers come in many different options. A steel or fibreglass shaft with a smooth head is perfect for home use. Choose either a 16 or 13 ounce hammer, depending on what feels comfortable, with a claw to enable you to pull nails and aid in demolition.
2 | Tape Measure
A tape measure is an essential part of just about every DIY job. From finding the centre of a wall to hang a picture, to measuring floor area to calculate material requirements, a good tape is invaluable. A 16 foot tape is the shortest that I would recommend as measuring areas in the home can be tricky if your tape measure is too short. It’s fine to buy longer if you feel you need it. Reliable brands such as Stanley will last you for many years.
3 | Handsaw
For the majority of jobs around the home a circular saw is over-kill. A handsaw is a simple and elegant addition to any home tool box and is essential for any woodwork that you are carrying out. From fencing to putting up a stud wall, a decent hand saw will last you a number of years. The 12 inch Stanley FatMax is a reliable and fast working saw that will give you a good straight cut. Of course the more you use it the blunter the blade will become, meaning that you will need to replace it over time.
Photo: Noel Feans
4 | Screwdrivers
A good set of screwdrivers including 1/4 and 3/8 inch flat heads and No.1 and 2 Philips heads will cover most home jobs. Screwdrivers are great for anything that requires a screw (obviously). Flat-pack furniture, shelving, woodwork, plumbing, and electrical jobs all require a good screwdriver from time to time. Avoid battery screwdrivers. If you want a battery screwdriver you’re better off getting a drill with the appropriate attachment and heads.
5 | Adjustable Wrench
You could go down the route of buying individual wrenches, but a good quality adjustable wrench is all that you should need for a basic toolbox. A 10 inch or 12 inch adjustable wrench is a good starting point and will give you enough leverage to loosen stiff and stubborn nuts.
6 | WD-40
Never underestimate the usefulness of WD-40. A can of hydrocarbons and pure magic, WD-40 has many useful applications around the home. From stopping squeaks and creaks to loosening rusted or corroded nuts and bolts. If that wasn’t enough, WD-40 can also be used to clean the tools in your toolbox, meaning that WD-40 is an absolute must have item in any home.
7 | Pliers
There are many different types of pliers, but for a basic toolbox needle-nose pliers are the most appropriate. These are ideal for any electrical work that you may be undertaking, from rewiring a plug to connecting a light switch. Needle-nose pliers allow the user to work comfortable in small electrical boxes and can also cut wire.
8 | Rotary Drill (Mains Powered)
This is absolutely the only power tool you need to have for a home tool kit. One with a 13mm chuck will allow you to attach a variety of drill bits. Variable speed, reverse function and side grip are additional features that will also help you to get the most out of the tool. A corded drill will also be light to use then a bettery equivalent and won’t need charging, especially important if you don’t use it for a few months. You won’t have to incur additional costs either such as replacing the battery when it looses its ability to charge.
9 | Spirit level
A spirit level is essential if you are building, putting up shelving or levelling kitchen cabinets. Buying one with both a horizontal and vertical bubble tube will allow you to check if a surface is horizontal (level) of vertical (plumb). A standard carpenter’s or mason’s level is ideal for home use and one between 90cm and 120 cm will allow you to cover most occasions when a spirit level is required.
10 | Retractable Knife
A retractable or trimming knife is another essential bit of kit for any toolbox. These can be used for a huge number of different cutting and trimming tasks. From cutting cord and rope to trimming wood and plastics, a retractable knife is an exceptionally useful tool to have at your disposal.
Photo: Public Domain Photos
11 | Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
Yes I know it’s a boring one, but PPE is essential to provide you with a safe working environment. Safety glasses, gloves, ear defenders, steel toe-caps, dust masks, hard hats, etc. Some of these items may not be necessary to every one, but at the very least a good pair of gloves, safety glasses and ear defenders should be part of your toolbox.
Photo: S. Diddy
12 | Toolbox
Once you’ve got all the essential tools that you will need for the years to come, you will of course need somewhere to put them. A toolbox is not only a good place to store your kit, but can also save you time on a job as you will not waste time searching for various tools that are scattered around the house. Toolboxes come in various shapes and sizes. Metal, plastic and canvas are all available and personal preference and capacity should guide your purchase.
Photo: Robert S. Donovan
Alex is a new homeowner who has found Stanley and DeWalt Tools to be among the best available when buying tools direct from online retailers.