Essential Toolbox Items that Every Man Should have at Home
You’ve probably had to wait for someone to fix something at home or put something in. Sometimes we do need a professional, but sometimes all we need are the right tools and a little bit of determination.
If you’re willing to roll up your sleeves and get your hands dirty, you can save a lot of money and time. You can do a lot of different jobs around the house. Manuals and YouTube videos can show you how to build things, but you will always need certain tools, no matter if you live in an apartment or a bigger house.
We’ve put together a list of the best tools you should have around the house to take care of everyday tasks.
STANLEY TAPE MEASURE
The Fatmax tape measure from Stanley is wider than most, so it is less likely to kink and break when stretched across a room. You should be able to extend it straight through the air without anything or anyone holding up the other end for a little over 4 meters before it falls off. The shortest tape measure I’d recommend is 16 feet (4.8 m) long, and 25 feet (7.6 m) is a good length for most homes.
From what I’ve seen, there isn’t much difference in how well cutters work. Much more important is the blade that can be changed. Still, the Milwaukee Fastback is the best knife I’ve ever used, and I’ve used a lot. You can change the blade without needing a screwdriver to take the knife apart. It also folds up and locks securely. You can open and close it with one hand, and the liner is strong enough to last for years. The built-in gut hook makes it easy to cut rope and plastic ties without opening the knife. It has helped me more than I thought it would.
ZIRCON STUD LOCATOR
If you want to hang something heavy on a wall, you should always hang it on the vertical frames behind the wall. This means you can’t see them, so you have to find them. If you hold and rub a stud finder against the wall, it will light up when it passes over a stud, telling you where to drill.
Builders sometimes put cables next to these bolts. To keep people from cutting through the cables, they cover them with metal shields. If a good stud finder, like this one from Zircon, finds a stud, it will let you know.
DEWALT CORDLESS DRILL
Most home projects only need 12 volts, but if you need to drill 1/2-inch holes in wall studs to mount a heavy bookshelf or sound system, you’ll need the extra torque of an 18V or 20V drill. Also, this 1/2-inch chuck can hold bits of any size.
DEWALT DRILL BIT SET
Before putting screws and bolts into a wall, you should drill a hole for all but the smallest jobs. The black oxide coating on these bits makes them less likely to stick, which speeds up drilling and keeps them from rusting. They can be used for many different things, like wood, metal, plastic, wallboard, and fiberglass.
HARBOR FREIGHT TOOL BAG
At home, you don’t need a metal toolbox. The fabric makes it lighter, and the open top makes it easy to reach in and grab something for a quick job. Some products from Harbor Freight are hit or miss, but this tool bag is the best I have found. It’s a great deal because the fabric and construction are good, and I like it more than the name brand bags. It has 22 pockets on the inside and outside, which are perfect for tools you want to be close at hand. The large main compartment can hold things like a drill or hammer.
When putting together furniture, you may need to pound on it, but if you hit it too hard with a regular hammer, it could break. Some jobs around the house need a rubber mallet to get the pieces to fit together without breaking the wood or plastic. A 16-ounce mallet isn’t too heavy, but it should be heavy enough to hold furniture and shelves in place without making most people feel too uncomfortable.
PLUMB CLAW HAMMER
This hammer is good for general home use because it has features like a soft head. It weighs between 16 and 20 ounces, which is just right for most jobs, and has a curved claw for pulling out nails. Straight nail pulling claws are more useful, but most people don’t need them.
BONDHUS L KEY SET
Yes, you can use the free, cheap stuff that furniture makers give you when you buy something with Allen screws (sorry, hex screws). But just like with screwdrivers, a good set of hex keys will make a difference.
When tightening something, I’ve broken cheap hex keys and then used Bondhus ones to finish the job easily. The wrenches in this set come in both metric and standard sizes. They don’t rust and can be used on any hex bolt you find. And believe me, whether you live in an apartment or own a house, you’ll be using a lot of hex screws in the future.
To work from home, you have to have a good level. Plus or minus 0.0005 inches, this level is accurate. Aluminum gives it more strength, and plastic covers the ends so you don’t scratch the walls when you use it. Purchase a 48-inch level. It is a standard size, and longer levels are more accurate than shorter ones.
CHANNEL LOCK SCREWDRIVER
When you use screwdrivers, it’s easier to tell the difference in quality. I have started many jobs with a cheap one, only to have it fall off the screw head or start stripping a hard screw. The job is easier when you have a better screwdriver, and the Channellock 6-in-1 is a good one. This combo screwdriver will work for most repairs and maintenance around the house, and it takes up much less space than a regular-sized set of screwdrivers.
WIHA PRECISION SCREWDRIVER KIT
From time to time, you’ll need a very small set of screwdrivers to fix things like glasses and electronics. Manufacturers often use small, soft screws that are easy to bend, so it’s important to have a good precision screwdriver.
I haven’t been happy with any of the combination precision screwdrivers I’ve used, so buy a whole set. They are small, so they won’t take up much room. You should use six of the seven things in this kit.
This is a nice-to-have, not a must-have. But while a multi-tool is good for everything, it isn’t good at anything in particular. For quick jobs, it’s often much easier to have a small tool in your pocket or on a shelf that you can grab. The Wingman is one of my favorite multi-tools that doesn’t cost much. She comes with 14 tools, and unlike a Swiss Army Knife, she has needle-nose pliers that are very useful and often needed.
TITAN MAGNETIC PLATE
When you need them, it’s easy to lose screws, nails, and bolts in the carpet. When you find them, it’s usually by accident with your feet in the middle of the night. A parts plate doesn’t need to be anything fancy—just it’s a steel bowl with magnets—but it will keep all your small metal parts in one place while you work. If you turn it over, they won’t move.
The point of home tool kits is to save space, so I recommend an adjustable wrench instead of a full set of wrenches. Eight inches is a good length because it has enough torque for big jobs but isn’t too big for small jobs.
CHANNELLOCK PLIERS SET
Some of the most-used tools will be tweezers, so it’s worth spending money on a good set that will last forever. People often say, “Shop once, cry once.” For bigger pipes, like plumbing, you need pliers with a large jaw. The ones that cut through anything will save your sanity if you have kids who get toys with those little plastic ties. Slip joint pliers and needle nose pliers are tools that can save the day.
In the last ten or twenty years, caulking guns have become more stylish. Who expected it? When you stopped tightening the wrench, sealant would shoot out everywhere, and you had to quickly unscrew the rod to stop it. But with this gun, you can let go of the trigger and the caulk won’t leak out. There is a hole in the handle that cuts the end of a new tube, and a tool that punctures the seal falls out of the barrel.
CAULK SEALANT SMOOTHER
The traditional way is to use the tip of the finger, but why “save up” and risk making it look bad? Most sealers are easy to see, so make sure to use this tool in a smooth, even way to give the sealer a good finish.
It’s the best one I’ve ever used. Depending on how wide you need it, you can take off the silicone head, turn it, and then put it back on. And since it’s made of silicone, the sticky caulk is easy to remove. At the other end is a scraper made of metal that works very well to get rid of old sealant.
Normal scissors can break or get stuck on certain jobs. When I needed to cut thick pads to put under rugs, I could only do it with these Wiss scissors. They are very useful when there isn’t enough room for wire cutters, and they can even cut through zip ties and wood shingles. They are made by Crescent, a company that has been making good tools for a very long time.
EMPIRE MEASURING STICK
If you need to do something exactly parallel or perpendicular to the ground, you should use a level. Tape measures are great and necessary, but you should also have a good yardstick in your tool kit. It is very helpful when you can’t draw a straight line with a tape measure because it doesn’t lay flat enough against the wall. This one from Empire uses standard measurements instead of metric ones. It probably won’t fit in your tool bag, but it’s thin enough to store in your closet (or just about anywhere).
WESTCOTT METAL RULER
Sometimes a yardstick is too big and hard to use, so you’ll need to get a foot-long ruler instead. You don’t have to spend a lot on a ruler, but some of the cheap ones can’t be used to draw straight lines on walls because their edges aren’t straight.
DEWALT DRILL BIT SET
This kit has 15 drill bits that are 1 inch long and 11 drill bits that are 2 inches long. Not just the usual Phillips and slotted bits, but also hex and Torx. If you need to use bolts instead of screws, the 1/4-inch and 5/16-inch sizes are common. For people with shaky hands, the magnetic locking sleeve on the screws makes it less likely that bits will fall out of the drill and get lost. In case you can’t do the math in your head, DeWalt counts the sleeve and case as parts 29 and 30, respectively.
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