There are toolkits available at just about every major hardware store. But do they actually carry all the household tools you need? Or are they full of junk? There are a few tools out there that I think every household tool set needs. Here’s what I think you need to create your very own custom household tool kit.
To start off you want carrying case. Whether it be cloth bag or a hard case made of wood, plastic, or metal. Having one location where all your tools are is extremely important. What good is a tool if you can’t find it? Something simple like this Craftsman Soft Tool Bag or this Stanley Tool Box
will do fine. I’d recommend either of the two. One feature I like is they both close so if you’re moving your tools around and drop your bag, your tools don’t spill all over the floor. Having a small tool box or bag also increases portability which is also important.
Next item I recommend is a multi-tool screwdriver. Not a leatherman style or pocket multi-tool but a dedicated screwdriver. This Screwdriver and Nut Driver 11-in-1 Multi-Tool by Klein Tools is great. You basically have 11 screwdrivers in one which saves you a lot of money. Hand tools like this screwdriver set can get expensive if you buy individual screwdrivers instead. Buying a multi-tool screwdriver really saves you a whole lot of money.
Tape measures come in a few formats. Digital tape measure, a self-retracting tape measure, and a flexible tape measure. I’d recommend avoiding digital tape measures for starting out. They’re awesome but for doing handyman work around the house, they can limit you. Plus they can get expensive. I own one and rarely use it. This Stanley Powerlock Tape Measure can take care of most of your needs. The only downside to this Stanley is you can’t measure the diameter of round objects easily. A flexible tape measure is better for measuring cylinders or arches.
Pliers are next on my list of must-haves. There are a bunch of different styles but there are a few I think everyone should own. First is a pair of channel locks. Channellock Model 430 These Channellocks are not too big and not too small. If you ever come across a stubborn valve, pipe, or bolt that just won’t budge, these are perfect.
Next, you’ll need a Stanley Adjustable Wrench.An adjustable wrench again saves you money because you don’t need to buy individual wrenches.
I think these Irwin Vise-Grips are a bonus tool. They’re almost like the multi-tool of the pliers’ world. They can be used in a bunch of different ways. I would say if you can’t afford these right away, you can skip purchasing them but would highly recommend owning a pair.
This Stanley 3 Piece Pliers package is great. The pliers are very affordable and you get everything you need on our pliers kit. There’s a right tool for the job and having the right set of pliers can save you some headaches.
Hammers come in all shapes and sizes just like everything else. A basic framing hammer like this Stalwart Natural Hardwood Claw Hammer is all you’ll need to begin. You don’t need a sledgehammer or anything crazy like that. A rubber mallet can be a useful tool as well but for a basic toolbox, this is all you’ll need.
There are two saws I’d recommend purchasing. A hacksaw and a drywall saw. This Stanley Mini-HackSaw is lightweight and portable keeping the heft of your bag down. And this Stanley Jab Saw will cut through any drywall you need it to. Even thin wood!
If you plan on cutting thick pieces of wood like 2×4 or even wood for wall shelves, I’d recommend this
Stanley Hand Saw
Since I’m on the topic of cutting tools, another item to have is a box cutter. A simple box cutter like this Stanley Retractable Utility Knife is all you need.
Next on the list is a level. Although any level will do, I’d recommend this Empire Magnetic Aluminum Torpedo Level.Empire makes high-quality levels that are made in the USA. You can also use your phone as a level. There are plenty of level apps out there that work great but if you’re working around dust or if your phone’s battery is low, it’s always nice to have a dedicated level tool.
A stud finder is essential. If you plan on installing bathroom cabinets, kitchen cabinets, wall shelves, floating shelves, you name it, you’ll need a stud finder to identify where studs are located. This Zircon StudSensor e50-FFP Edge Finding Stud Finder is probably the best affordable stud finder out here. This model also has the live AC wire detection which is awesome! Your chances of screwing into a live electrical wire are narrowed with this feature.
Speaking of live wires, you’ll also want a non-contact voltage tester. Even if you don’t plan on doing any electrical work, a non-contact voltage tester can save your life. I’d recommend the Klein Tools Non-Contact Voltage Tester If you ever run across some abandoned wires and aren’t sure if they’re energized, this tester will let you know. Never assume a wire is de-energized. Always double check.
A nail puller, crowbar, or pry bar, whatever you call it, is also an important tool to have. This Stanley Wonderbar Pry Bar is the perfect size to fit in your toolbox. It is versatile and stronger than it looks. For being as thin as it is, it is incredibly strong.
And last few items to round off the kit would be your PPE. That’s your personal protective equipment such as gloves, safety glasses, hearing protection, and dust masks. Depending on what I’m doing, I’ll either wear nitrile gloves or cloth gloves. These CLC Custom Leathercraft are great. They’re comfortable, durable, and have touch-sensitive fingertips so can still use a touchscreen. No need to take off your gloves to answer a phone call.
These Diamond Gloves Black Advance Nitrile are thicker than standard nitrile gloves giving you extra protection. When mixing paint, epoxies, or any type of glue, these gloves are great. They keep you from getting messy and from getting any sort of chemical burns. Not everyone can use latex gloves so these are a great solution to that as well.
Safety Glasses Buy one box and you’re good for a year. You can lose a pair once a month and still be alright. Always great to have a spare just in case you misplace a pair or have a helper.
There are two types of hearing protection. Ear muffs and ear plugs. I personally like earplugs over ear muffs but the muffs provide more protection. Also, not all types of earplugs are reusable. When using earplugs you have to insert the plug into the ear canal and if you have sensitive ears it can cause issues. I wouldn’t recommend them if you’re prone to ear infections. Foxnovo 10 Pairs of Soft Silicone Corded Ear Plugs I prefer the triple flange style ear plugs. The silicone can be washed so this particular model is reusable. 3M Peltor Optime 98 Over the Head Earmuff 3M makes great products and although I don’t own this particular model, I’m sure these work great. These 3M Particulate N95 Respirator with Valve are awesome. The respirator valve on the mask help keep your face cool and also helps prevent your safety glasses from fogging up.
All the tools listed above are just hand tools. Stay tuned for a future post on essential power tools to own. Owning an electric power drill is just the start.
Do you think I missed something? Is there another hand tool you think is must have item? Or do you think my list is too long? Leave me a comment and let me know what you think.