Every home needs a basic home toolkit, for repairs, maintenance, home improvements, or just hanging pictures. Good tools and the right tool for the job can keep a simple chore from turning into a nightmare. Once you have the basic kit you will want to add more tools as you tackle more and different projects. Some projects may need special tools. Always check the difficulty of the project, your skills and the cost of extra tools before you begin. 

  From the start  buy only good quality tools and replace inferior tools as you can. The average user doesn't need the best tools  but avoid cheap tools and complete toolkit sets. By toolkit sets I don’t mean sets of screwdrivers, pliers or wrenches from quality manufactures or brands. These type sets can save you money. I mean toolkit sets with screwdrivers, hammers, pliers and everything else in a cute box.

In general cheap tools don’t last and are often harder to use because they are not manufactured to the close tolerances of more expensive tools. Also, cheap tools built with inferior materials can fail damaging your project or even worse hurting you. If not indicated I don’t have any specific recommendations for brands.

Basic Tools

That said here is the list, basically in order of importance. 

  • Hammer 16 oz with straight or ripping claws
  • Screwdrivers 3 one with replaceable bits (Klein is very good). 2 larger screwdrivers one with a flat blade and one with a #2 Phillips head
  • Optional screwdrivers a push driver or battery-powered screwdriver and a smaller ratcheting screwdriver for tight spots
  • Safety glasses
  • Scrapper/ putty knife with a reasonably stiff 1” blade and a more flexible 4” blade
  • Pliers one pair of slip joint and one pair of long-nosed. Channellock and Vise-Grip both make good pliers
  • Optional Pliers one pair linesman pliers, one pair tongue and grove pliers (often called Channellocks) and one pair of locking pliers ( often called vise grips)
  • Tape measure 25’ in length with a 1” wide blade
  • Torpedo level
  • Combination square one with metal blade and body. Metal stays square longer than plastic.
  • Adjustable wrench get a larger size (10” or 12”), if you are only getting one
  • Awl those with wooden handles make applying pressure easier.
  • Hand saw I prefer aggressive tooth short blade saws or a general purpose pull cut saw (easier to use)
  • Duct tape
  • Assorted nuts, bolts and a variety of screws. Nails of different sizes.
  • Tool box, you can use a box, bucket, or a sturdy bag  to keep your to tools together and protected.
  • Small containers for the nuts and bolts (I use plastic containers my wife has replaced in the kitchen because of stains or cracks.)
  • Utility knife with a retractable or folding blade
  • Flashlight
  • Glue wood glue, gorilla glue, and crazy glue with a brush.


This should cover many repairs, odd jobs, and small improvements. Get the basics as soon as you can. Being unable to finish a job because you don’t have the proper tools is frustrating and certainly not a confidence builder. As you tackle a wider variety of jobs you will find you need more tools often for specific tasks. Maybe wire strippers or a multimeter for electrical work. Buy the best tools you can afford but use common sense. For the average joe spending $100 on a precisely tooled combination square or a set of fine wood chisels for over $100 doesn’t make sense.


Optional Tools

  • Open end wenches you may need both SAE for around the house and metric for vehicles.
  • A rubber headed mallet
  • Drill battery-powered or small corded drill
  • Assorted drill bits
  • A staple gun
  • Flat file
  • 1/2 or 3/4 inch chisel inexpensive chisels are ok.
Basic Tools