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When Finn and I first moved in together, I’m pretty sure we didn’t own any tools. Well, maybe one of those mini screwdrivers that we kept in our junk drawer but that was about it! But now that we’re on our second home, we’ve amassed quite the tool collection. It didn’t happen overnight. Instead, as we would tackle a DIY project, we would find ourselves researching new tools and adding them to our toolbox.
Over the years, I’ve gotten so many questions about the best tools for homeowners and I’m embarrassed that I haven’t tackled this subject on the blog before. How could I neglect such an important topic? Luckily, that all changes today! Finn and I have a two-part tool series we’re sharing with you guys. Today, we’ll dive into the best tools for homeowners to have on hand. These are the basics that EVERYONE should have in their house. Even if you’re a renter, I think you should own a majority of these tools (I mean, what else do you do when the faucet is leaking at midnight and your landlord is not around? You grab that wrench!).
Next week, we’ll take things up a notch and talk about power tools! We’ve eased into the world of power tools over the years, slowly adding to our collection. We’ll dive into which ones we think you should invest in, when you should rent vs. buy tools, and the best DIY projects for each one.
I’m hopeful that you’ll walk away from this series with a lot more DIY swagger and the confidence to take on a few projects in 2020. I mean, that’s why we’re all here, right?!
The Best Tools for Homeowners – Video
Finn and I had an absolute blast shooting a video explaining the best tools for homeowners. We spread out all the tools on the table, turned the cameras on, and just started talking. We really didn’t even plan it out and it turned out super cute.
You can view the video below or over on our Youtube channel here.
My Favorite Parts
- :05 We definitely did the M.C. Hammer dance for quite a long time here…
- :18 I got way too much enjoyment doing a little stop motion action with the tools.
- 1:30 Todd or Henry Phillips?!?
- 1:50 Hmmm, not sure you should use it to open a can of soup.
- 5:35 Those boxes aren’t going to open themselves!
- 6:05 This is not a drill!
- 7:30 So sweet.
Essential Tools for Every Home
Now, let’s sum up everything we discussed in the video so you can easily read and reference this list.
- Tape Measure
- Flathead Screwdriver
- Phillips Screwdriver
- Adjustable Wrench
- Utility Knife
- Safety Gear
- Torpedo Level
- Stud Finder
- Drill & Drill Bit Set
Even if you don’t consider yourself to be handy, whatsoever, you need to have a nice tape measure. I mean, how else do you figure out what size rug to buy for your room? Or how tall your new boots are? Everyone needs a tape measure and you might as well get a good one. We recommend one that is at least 25 feet in length, retracts, and has an auto-lock feature. We actually have a few of these because pretty much every DIY project calls for a tape measure and we like to have plenty on hand. I even keep a mini tape measure in my purse when out and about, shopping.
Bottom line, buy a nice tape measure and you’ll use it for years to come!
There are two main kinds of screwdrivers – flatheads and Phillips head. The flathead has, well, a flat head (it’s also called a slotted screwdriver). This screwdriver isn’t used quite as often as the Phillips head, but you’ll need it for some furniture assembly, installing outlet covers, and more.
The Phillips screwdriver is named after the man who invented it, Henry F. Phillips (truth: I had to look that up, but I’m so happy to finally have that knowledge!). This one has a “+” sign on the end of it and is used for most projects. You’ll need one if you’re installing wall anchors, putting together furniture, tightening a doorknob, and more.
It might not seem like a “tool”, but it’s certainly a homeowner essential. When the power goes out, you need a flashlight on hand to head to the breaker box and get things back up and running. Or at the very least, a flashlight is good for making shadow puppets on the walls and telling ghost stories. Just get one, okay? And make sure it has new batteries!
Growing up, my mom had this little toolkit called the “Do It Herself Toolkit.” Back then, I thought it was really cool and loved looking at the tools inside. Now, I’m actually pretty offended by the product. Everything in it is lightweight and miniature, assuming that women can’t handle larger tools. Harrumph. Inside her “DIH” toolkit, she had this little tiny hammer that almost looked like a toy one.
Don’t buy a hammer like that. Buy a real hammer. A sturdy and heavy hammer. A quality hammer can make all the difference when it comes time to pound a nail into a wall. I recommend going with a medium-sized hammer (16 oz. is good) with a rip claw (that’s the pokey part on the back) and a grippy handle. This is a great one that would work well for any household.
You’ll need a wrench for just about any plumbing project, so everyone should always have one on hand (what if you need to turn off the water quickly?!). We suggest opting for a medium-sized adjustable one that can work for a wide variety of projects. With this one, you can adjust the size to fit around various nuts and bolts.
Hardware & Box
It’s crazy when I realize the number of nails, screws, and anchors we’ve accumulated over the years. Pretty much anytime we would go to the store we would pick up another box of them because back at home they were all a hot mess. When we moved into our new house, we finally got all of our hardware organized in this big hardware box. Now we have just about every sized nail/screw/anchor on hand and we’re not running to the store five times before we start a project.
If you’re just starting out, I would suggest buying a sample hardware box like this one. It has everything you need in a wide variety of sizes and will come in handy when hanging pictures, shelves, hooks, etc. around your house.
We had a janky utility knife for years that was actually kind of scary to use. The blade was rusted and falling apart and I’m pretty sure we would need a tetanus shot if we cut ourselves with that thing. Now we have this utility knife and it’s great! Even if you just use it to cut open your shipping boxes, you need a utility knife in your toolbox!
Pliers are used for gripping. There are a few kinds you might use, depending on the project, but we suggest having needle-nose pliers, slip-joint pliers, and channel-lock pliers on hand. Needle-nose are good for bending wires and smaller items. Slip-joint pliers and channel-lock pliers have curved jaws and pointed teeth and are used for lots of small home maintenance tasks around the house. You can also just pick up this plier set and you’ll be good to go.
We couldn’t make a tool list without touching on the importance of safety. We always have safety glasses, work gloves, and face masks on hand for our DIY projects. Even if you’re doing something small around the house, wearing glasses and gloves will keep your eyes and hands safer.
Man, I can’t even tell you the number of levels we’ve gone through. We have small, medium, and large levels, but you can just start with a small torpedo level for everyday homeowner tasks. The reason we’ve purchased so many levels is because I always use one for tiling (to make sure the tile is straight as I add it to the wall). I inevitably get thinset on it and when it dries, it makes the level, well…not level! Even if you’re just hanging picture frames on the wall, you’ll need a small torpedo level, so add it to your toolbox.
If you hang anything on your wall, you should whip out your stud finder. They’re not the cheapest item on the list, but they certainly come in handy. Whenever I go to hang anything, I check to see if I can hit a stud. If not, I use anchors so it’s nice and secure. I’ve tried some of the knocking techniques on the wall, however, nothing does the job like a good stud finder.
Drill & Drill Bit Set
I know, I know…a power tool?! Isn’t that scary? Nope. This definitely tops my list of best tools for homeowners because it’s useful for just about any project. I know many of you might be intimidated at the thought of using a drill, but with a little bit of practice, the power drill can be your new best friend. I love this kit because it comes with a tool bag, charger, battery, and the drill itself. A drill is nothing without bits, so make sure you get a kit of those too! We actually did a video a few years back explaining the basics of a drill and how to use it if you want to give it a watch!
Obviously, you need somewhere to store all of these goodies and there are so many awesome toolboxes out there. We have one like this and it’s great because it holds a lot and still stays organized. Find one that you can grow into, but doesn’t take up too much precious real estate in your home.
Is your House Stocked?
Now, do you have all of these tools on hand? As we mentioned, even if you’re not interested in DIY’ing projects, it’s still necessary to have these tools in your home for maintenance and in case of emergency. Slowly accumulate quality tools and you’ll have quite the arsenal in no time!Casey