New homeowners often forget that owning a house means there's no landlord to call to fix a problem. That's why you'll want to invest in this list of important homeowner hand tools everyone needs. Make sure as you buy these essential tools, you also make time to learn how to use them … before you really need them.
For women there are challenges finding tools that you can grip and lift comfortably. The reality is tools are made for the guys. Take time to fine these essential tools, ones you find comfortable to hold and lift (weight). Where I can offer advice on how to find tools that you can use comfortably, I'll let you know.
Hammers in Different Sizes
A hammer is one of the most frequently used tools, making it #1 on any basic tools list . You may not use it often but when you do, you want to get the job done without hurting yourself or something in your house. That's why I prefer a smaller, lighter hammer that's easier to control … or a mallet with it's rubber head.
It's also helpful to keep a few hammers around the house. The one I use most, a shorter 8 oz one I keep in a kitchen junk drawer. Bigger hammers live in the garage which is why I like this set of three hammers, so the handle always feels the same.
You Can't Have Too Many Tape Measures
Are you laughing? Tape measures seem to have legs That's why it's best to have several so you can find one when you need it … and they make great stocking stuffers. My favorite is a tiny 6 ft tape measure I carry everywhere because there's always something to measure.
Every basic tools list includes a tape measure but might not mention it should be 25 feet to measure anything around your home. So I found a collection of four tape measures from 12 to 33 inches. You can use a smaller one when that's all you need and make sure you can easily read the measurements down to a 1/16th of an inch.
You Need 2 Types of Screwdrivers
There are many different screwdrivers but only two or three you need to worry about. The heads come in various sizes to fit the screws they're used with. You can buy a single screwdriver with bits stored in the handle, called a 4-in-1 screwdriver. My preference is several screwdrivers so I can keep some in the kitchen and the rest with other essential tools, in the garage.
- Flat head screwdrivers – have a single flat blade designed to fit into a screw with a straight slot across the top (also known as a slotted screwdriver).
- Phillips screwdrivers – have a head with pointed edges in the shape of a cross. This shape fits into the cross-shaped slots of Phillips screws.
- Hex screwdrivers (optional) – have a hexagonal (six-sided) head. Often used to assemble furniture, this type of screwdriver typically comes with the furniture.
Homeowners Need 4 Types of Pliers
Each plier serves a different purpose. You'll be glad you have these essential tools for the many projects you'll have to handle around the house.
- Slip joint pliers – are used to hold or bend flat or round stock, crimp sheet metal, loop a wire, cut soft wire nails, loosen or tighten a nut and more.
- Needle nose pliers – are good for reaching into tight spots where regular pliers can't get the job done. They're also used by crafters working with small objects.
- Diagonal (or cutter) pliers – are used for cutting or skinning wires, cutting and removing pins, nails and other fasteners.
- Tongue-and-groove pliers – are good for tightening threaded fittings, such as sink drains and turning handles or valves. Think of this as your plumbing tool that you'll need to stop a water leak or change a shower head.
Socket Wrench Set
A socket wrench set can accomplish the same tasks as a conventional wrench, and every basic tools list includes one of them. The socket wrench set is more efficient than buying and storing dozens of wrenches. You can buy a single ratcheting handle with removable sockets in different sizes.
A socket wrench is also easier to use than a wrench, with the ratcheting handle versus having to reposition a wrench when you can't maneuver it 360 degrees. When buying your wrench set, you need a combination of standard and metric size sockets plus a carrying case to keep 20 plus sockets organized (I keep a smaller set in my car).
Levels, One Big & One Small
You'll want at least two levels. A small torpedo level (less than 10 inches) that's good for hanging pictures. A four foot level is helpful for bigger projects like hanging side-by-side shelves, remodeling projects or an outdoor patio.
Everyone's Favorite, 9-in-1 Painter's Tool
Once known as the 5-in1 painter's tool, they keep adding more tasks you can use this tool for. The painting uses include 1. squeezing excess paint off rollers; 2. can opener for paint cans; 3. hammer to tap down paint can cover; 4. paint scraper; 5. corner gouging; and 6. spreading putty, spackle or bondo.
Other uses include 7. nail prying; 8. surface protection; 9. light chiseling and 10. prying materials apart. Here's a great video if you want to see this tool in action.
Utility Knife (or Several in Key Spots)
With all the boxes I get from Amazon, my utility knife gets used more than my scissors. It's also safer than a kitchen knife with a retractable blade that can cut through all sorts of thick materials like cardboard, rope, foam rubber and more.
Magnetic Stud Finder
You need a stud finder when hanging heaving items on a wall. You basically have two choices for stud finders. The older magnetic one is inexpensive and more reliable for textured walls. New electronic stud finders pinpoint the entire stud, not just the nails in the stud. The electronic devices are also adding functions like a bubble level and/or laser that shines a straight line for aligning wall hangings.
Allen Wrench Key Set
Allen wrenches (also called hex keys) are used to assemble furniture like the pieces we buy at IKEA and more. The choices are a folding knife-like, folding enclosure or loose. You'll also need 2 sets – one standard and the other metric.
Something to Hold Your Tools
Once you've collect everything on your basic tools list, there's one more essential tool. My favorite storage tool is a five-gallon paint bucket plus an apron with lots of pockets to hold many tools outside the bucket. It makes it easy to keep your tools organized and has room inside for materials like nails, screws, glue, sandpaper and more.
As your collection of tools and supplies grows, you might need a toolbox with multiple shelves. Keeping everything in one place, means you can quickly grab the tools and materials you need for any project.
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