building a home toolkit

Pink handled home maintenance tools.

You really can handle many minor repairs and home-improvement projects around your home all by yourself - and you don't need a garage full of supercharged tools to get the job done right. 

What could be more rewarding than doing it yourself?

With the right tools, you can make many common repairs around your home - even if you've never taken a shop class in your life. A basic toolkit is all you'll need. 

Here are the essential tools to include in your kit.

Toolkit Basics

You'll need a standard claw hammer, an adjustable wrench, a tape measure, several sizes of screwdrivers (both standard and Phillips head); a cordless drill and set of bits; and standard slip-joint, needle-nose, and wire-cutting pliers.

You'll also want to include a hacksaw for cutting metals and plastics; a medium-size pair of tongue-and-groove pliers; a pair of locking pliers; a general-purpose wood saw; a putty knife; a utility knife; square, a small level; a utility light, and several long, heavy-duty extension cords.

Also include a dependable flashlight, a battery-operated stud finder, and a plunger for minor plumbing fixes.

Your essential tools will come in handy for such routine repairs as stopping leaks at the base of a faucet (with your adjustable wrench) or for hanging shelves or pictures (with your hammer, drill, stud finder, tape measure, and level). 

Needle-nose pliers are just the thing for reaching into tight spaces, twisting small wires, and holding small metal parts and nails in place for screwing or hammering. 

Other Toolkit Items

Other useful tools for occasional projects:

  • an electric saber saw
  • a set of socket wrenches
  • a circular saw
  • an electric palm or orbital sander
  • an assortment of paintbrushes
  • a staple gun

Finally, stock an assortment of nuts, bolts, screws, and metal washers; rubber washers for leaky faucets; duct tape; several sizes of nails or tacks; fine sandpaper; lubricating oil for door hinges; and a versatile glue.

Keep Tools Accessible and Together

Getting everything together in a toolkit is the first step toward simplifying home maintenance.

  • For on-the-move repairs, stash essentials in a wide-mouthed carpenter's bag explicitly designed for toting tools
  • Store extra screws and bolts in jars where they're easy to see. Secure lids to undersides of shelves so you can open jars with one hand
  • Keep your workshop neat by mounting tools on a pegboard and drawing outlines of items to show where they go
  • Short on space? Keep essential tools in a roll-up canvas bag. It's easy to stash in a hall closet or kitchen drawer, where it's always ready for quick fixes that are needed around the house.

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