You don’t have to be a DIY wizard to handle household emergencies. Keeping a few hand tools around and knowing how to use them will help you feel prepared for most problems. For everything from leaking pipes to squeaky doors, a small, properly packed toolbox or bag is all that you need to take care of your own home. Put together your own homeowner hand tool starter kit with this list to get tools that are better quality than what you’ll find in most preassembled sets.
Measuring tape is a good start, but it’s not the only measuring tool that deserves a place in the homeowner’s kit. A simple yardstick or 3-foot-long straight edge is an invaluable tool for quick measurements and lining up edges. Add a speed square to your box to quickly measure angles or cut accurate edges for projects like replacing a door trim or repairing a deck.
Personal Protection Equipment (PPE)
Everyone should have a comfortable set of safety glasses, construction-rated earplugs, and basic dust masks as part of a homeowner hand tool starter kit. If you use power tools like saws and sanders, upgrade to safety goggles, over-the-ear protection, and an NSF-rated respirator. Home repairs and projects are fun, but they shouldn’t put your health at risk. Don’t let lead paint exposure or irritating dust keep you from embracing your DIY side.
A Multipurpose Hammer
For new homeowners who shop at a Do It Best hardware store, the sheer selection of specialty hammers can be overwhelming. Stick to the general-use and multipurpose claw hammers and find one light enough to comfortably swing a few times. It takes a full strike to drive a nail properly into a board, so you don’t want the lightest hammer available unless that’s all you find comfortable. Most people stick with the 1-pound/16-ounce model for basic chores, but you may also want to add a heavier hammer for tasks like deck building and roof repair.
A single screwdriver with interchangeable tips is good to have in a utility drawer. For the toolbox, add a set of screwdrivers in various sizes and driver styles. Slotted screws feature a single straight slot, while Phillips heads have an X-shaped design. A good kit will include various sizes for both and may also feature some Allen wrenches and hex head adapters. Make sure the #1, #2, and #3 sizes are represented in the screwdriver lineup; these account for the majority of fasteners found throughout the home and your appliances.
A Pile of Pliers
You don’t need a literal pile, but you should pack at least three different types of pliers into a basic homeowner’s tool kit. Start with a needle nose plier at least 6 to 8 inches long. The pointed tip is great for grabbing small items and fishing out fine wires. You should then pick up at least one set of groove joint pliers with a length of 10 inches or greater. This larger set gives you a good grip on round objects like pipes without crushing them. Finally, decide on some locking pliers. A set of small to large pliers is best, but an 8-inch model is versatile. These pliers adjust to get a grip on something and then lock in place, giving you leverage and freeing your hands up for other tasks. You can also repurpose them as small vise-grips for holding together materials as they dry or seal.
One 12-inch adjustable wrench should cover most common household tasks. It’ll turn pipes, tighten fittings, and even help you bang on stubborn materials that need a little pressure. Make sure to pick a high-quality wrench; they’re easier to adjust and much stronger against torquing forces that fracture lesser models.
With all these tools in an easy-to-grab bag or box, no household emergency will catch you unprepared again. For maximum preparedness, though, consider tossing in disposable rags, gloves, and other handy cleanup tools. Plumbing leaks and appliance failures often cause some big messes.
You can find everything you need to complete your homeowner hand tool starter kit here at Do It Best.