To fix small problems around your house or to tackle a DIY home improvement project, you need the right tools. Fortunately, you don’t need to collect dozens of tools to get most small jobs done. A carefully-selected set of the most common hand and power tools with suffice. Though you won’t need to spend thousands of dollars, take the opportunity to purchase quality equipment. Cheap tools don’t work as well and don’t last as long; you save hassle and money in the long run with good quality tools. Research brands and talk to home improvement or hardware store professionals to determine where your money will be best spent.
The tools you’ll need fall into two broad categories: hand tools and power tools. Power tools require electricity to operate and cost much more than hand tools, but you won’t need as many power tools as you’ll need hand tools.
Let’s start with the hand tools:
Claw Hammers-Compare wood and fiberglass-handled hammers to see which you like better. Fiberglass weighs less. Choose a hammer with an excellent grip.
Screwdrivers-At least one flat head and one Philips head. However, because screws come in all shapes and sizes, you’ll probably enjoy the convenience of a set of screwdrivers. Using the correct size screwdriver makes the job easier and greatly lowers the risk of damaging the screw. Some sets come with screwdrivers with less-common heads—like hex and torx—but you probably don’t need these right away.
Pliers-Buy regular pliers and a set of needle-nose pliers. Look for pliers with an integrated cutting edge. Needle-nose pliers are useable in spaces too tight for regular pliers. Both types allow you to gain a tight hold on objects.
Tape measure-If you only buy one, choose one with a length of at least 25 feet. If you buy a second, choose a smaller length.
Level-One classic “bubble” level should do. You may prefer using a laser level for some tasks, such as hanging pictures.
Utility knife-These knives come in handy even for non-construction tasks. Look for one with a retractable blade.
Wrench-With a wrench, you’ll be able to tighten and loosen bolts and nuts. You’ll probably want more than one, though an adjustable crescent wrench will cover most of your needs in this category. Also consider a socket wrench set. Socket wrenches are versatile and less likely to slip than regular, open wrenches.
Crow bar-Not essential, but a mini crow bar will often come in handy for pulling apart materials without damaging surfaces.
There is one essential and some very useful power tools for the do-it-yourselfer:
Drill- Cordless or corded, a power drill will be used again and again. The most expensive models may be overkill; there are good cordless drills at most price points. Power drills also double as power screwdrivers.
Sander-Power sanders come in a few different forms, though you’ll probably find the random-orbital type the most useful right away. While not essential equipment, power sanders cut sanding time and effort down dramatically—so if you anticipate the need, invest in one.
Saw-Consider purchasing a circular saw and a jig saw if you think you’ll be sawing a lot. Otherwise, a hand saw and hack saw will probably suffice for basic, infrequent cutting.
For hand tools, be sure to compare the cost of assembling your own set of individual tools with the cost of purchasing a tool kit. You usually save money by going with a kit. Kits also typically include a tool box or case—an essential as your collection grows. While you won’t be able to complete a full home remodeling with your new set of basic, quality tools, you will be well-equipped to handle most small chores that need attention.