Everyone needs a few home tools around the house. In all likelihood, though, most people probably don’t need one of those handy dandy “homeowner tool kits” that seem to be designed more to sell dubious hardware than to provide you with the right tool for the job. So, what do you need?
My favorite general-purpose hammer is a 16 oz. claw hammer. I have three at the moment. At the store, take a few swings with the ones that appeal to you, and pick the one that feels best in your hand. It should have a wood or fiberglass handle to reduce the shock to your hand.
This is where a small investment can yield a good return. Turning a lot of screws or nuts can be tiring and tedious. A cordless screwdriver with an assortment of bits can help you get the job done faster and easier. If it swivels to a pistol grip, you can add a set of drill bits. OK, get a 3/16″ flat, a 1/4″ flat and a #2 Phillips too, just so you won’t have to get the cordless out for everything.
Unless you’re headed into a framing project right away, get a speed square or a combination square. Each has its advantages, but the speed square is the one I reach for most often because it doubles as a saw guide. Read the guide book — a good square is an invaluable aid to calculations.
I like the handsaws I inherited from my father and I still maintain and use them. In reality, though, the one I pull out most often to tackle a repair is my circular saw – particularly if the project involves plywood, 2X lumber or a recalcitrant door.
Well, yes, a folding rule with an extension is more accurate for inside measurements. The next time I have to do some work that is critical in that dimension I’ll dig mine out. In the meantime, my trusty 25’ tape does everything I need.
Just get a 2’ level. One that’ll read level and plumb. Check it at the store to see that it gives you the same reading in each direction on each edge.
My favorites are adjustable pliers – not slip-joint pliers but the ones with a series of grooves that allow them to grip a range of nuts while the jaws stay parallel. I have several, including one pair that is just 6 1/2 inches long and is the handiest thing since beer in a can.
I actually prefer a deceptively similar tool that is made for scraping up softened paint. The blade is stiffer and has a beveled edge. Sometimes it’s called a “scraper” and sometimes it’s called a “stiff putty knife.” Here’s a good example from Hyde(R) Tools.
Get adjustable ones. They have a captive screw that moves one jaw by engaging a notched edge. I’m partial to the standard, Crescent wrenches from Cooper Tools. I particularly like the new ones with jaws that open wider.