Whether you’re new to your home or have owned your home for several years, there are a number of tools you should have on hand. Sure, you could buy a tool kit with some or most of the tools included, but you would do better to select the tools individually and if money is an issue, buy each tool as needed. An entire tool collection can be had for under $250, good quality tools that should last you a lifetime.
1. Tool box or tool drawer. If you have a workbench in your home, most of the tools you need can fit in the tool drawer. But, consider this: if your home repair project requires multiple tools, wouldn’t you rather keep those tools in a box or carrying container? Multi-level boxes of sturdy plastic construction will run from about $20. For a long-lasting box, choose a metal portable chest that begins around $15 and come cost up to $60 when outfitted with multiple drawers.
2. Screwdriver set. A cordless screwdriver is a nice to have item, but you can do well with standard flat head and Philips screwdrivers. Choose quality tools with varying bit sizes and opt for professional grade screwdrivers that include shock resistant tool steel and metal caps. Settle for cheap screwdrivers and you’ll strip your screws and wear out your screwdriver faster.
3. Hammers. A steel-shaft hammer with a rubber grip will give you many years of dependable service. A rip claw hammer should suit your needs; a second curved claw hammer is useful for demolition projects.
4. Needle-nose plier set. If you do electrical work, then a pair of needle nose pliers can help you out in tight spaces. Choose short and long nose pliers or opt for a freestyle multi-tool that combines needle nose and regular pliers with wire cutters.
5. Wire cutter and stripper. An all-in-one wire cutter and stripper can help you quickly strip wires. If you opt for the freestyle multi-tool mentioned in the fourth item, your cutter and stripper are included.
6. Tape measure. How long of a tape measure should you buy? For most people, a 16-foot tape measure is sufficient. Opt for 25- or 30-foot tape measures if the rooms in your home are larger. Choose one with a blade of metal construction with a blade lock, perfect for taking measurements.
7. Pry bar. Choose a pry bar that is at least a foot long. This tool is especially useful for lifting doors off of hinges and for removing molding from walls.
8. Utility knife. One of the most useful and far reaching tools you can have is a utility knife. Choose a three-pack set with blades included. Perfect for cutting light and thin materials, the utility knife is an indispensable part of your tool box.
9. Electrical tester. You can easily pay more than $50 for the fanciest electrical tester, but even the basic $5 tester will tell you the same thing. Check electrical polarity and find out if there is adequate voltage in a wire. When the light flashes on, your outlet is fine. When the light fails to ignite, you may have an outlet problem.
10. Hand saw. Choose a 12-inch handsaw to handle those jobs where an electrical saw is overkill. For about $12 you can get a saw that gets the job done. Or, you can spend about $100 for the smallest and most basic circular saw.
11. Torpedo level. For $10 to $15, you can get a torpedo level that helps you as you install an appliance or seek to balance something such as a dryer. The little bubble located between the two lines tells you that your object is level.
12. Vise grips. The jack-of-all-tools is the vise grip, a tool that can be used to hold onto most anything tightly. Also known as locking pliers, vise grips are useful for removing a bolt including one that has been stripped.
There are a number of safety tools to consider too. You’ll want to own a pair of safety glasses to protect your eyes, work gloves to help you get a grip on what you’re doing and a particulate respirator face mask if you work around paint and drywall. Always choose the best quality tools when assembling your tool box — choose cheap tools and you’ll be replacing these every few years, costing you more money in the long run.
Jay Preston is Brand Manager at ToolHQ.com.au, leading online supplier of Tools in Australia.