Home > Mom's Life > Managing Your Home > Home Improvements > Must-Have Tools for Homeowners

Must-Have Tools for Homeowners

Must-Have Tools

You can't get by without some basic hand and power tools.

Hand Tools

Hand tools are still the starting point for home improvement work. If you keep these tools in the tool bucket, you should be able to complete an improvement without incessant tool-fetchit trips:

  • Claw hammer
  • 38" reversible, variable-speed, cordless drill
  • Assortment of drill bits and screwdriver bits, in small bag
  • Assorted screwdrivers
  • Locking and needle-nose pliers
  • Nailset
  • Pencils
  • Compass (a.k.a. divider, used for scribing)
  • Torpedo level
  • Utility knife
  • Hand plane
  • Wood chisel
  • Margin trowel
  • Magnetic stud finder
  • Wire stripper-cutter
  • Circuit tester
  • Tape measure
  • Small square
  • A small container of screws and nails

These obscure tools are fiendishly handy for home improvements.

  • Needle-nose locking pliers replace wire cutters, pliers, and locking pliers.
  • A small aluminum or plastic square guides a circular saw for a 90° cut. It's also handy for marking right angles and other angles.
  • A torpedo level can level or plumb electric boxes, shelves, pictures, and cabinets.
  • A sanding block grabs the sandpaper far better than a block of wood.
  • A mason's margin trowel is perfect for drywall and plaster work. I use mine to scrape paint and other crud, glaze windows, mix mortar, pry off molding, and protect walls from a prybar.
  • This rigid, hexagonal prybar disassembles stuff neatly because the flat tongue slips under the wood. And when you hammer it, it doesn't spring back.

Electric Drill: Your first power tool should be a 38", variable-speed, reversing drill. A drill makes holes in wood, metal, even tile, but it's equally useful for driving screws. Don't assume you need a battery drill; they are handy, but heavier and more expensive.

Clamps: Clamps may seem humdrum and optional, but it ain't so, Jo (or Joe). You need clamps almost any time you're gluing. They are also handy for holding pieces while nailing or screwing, and for stabilizing wood while sawing, drilling, sanding, or routing.

Jigsaw: Jigsaws are made to cut curves, but they will cut straight with a sharp blade. I use mine for cutting wood and drywall.


Should-Have Tools

This large category of second-echelon tools is growing every year, as toolmakers probe our desires and whet our appetite for their unending inventions. Still, a few of these tools will make your work faster and more satisfying.

Power Miter Box: A power miter box makes accurate crosscuts and miter (angled) cuts. For more money, miter boxes also cut bevels or wider boards. If you plan to cut molding, pay a bit more for accuracy.

Circular Saw: A circular saw makes crosscuts or rip cuts, and is especially handy for cutting plywood. A square clamped to the plywood improves accuracy with a circular saw.

Orbital Sander: Orbital sanders make fast work of finishing wood. Not only are they less likely to gouge than a belt sander, they're also cheaper and lighter.

Find out how to set up your workshop.

Excerpted from The Complete Idiot's Guide to Simple Home Improvements © 2004 by David J. Tenenbaum. All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. Used by arrangement with Alpha Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

To order this book visit Amazon's web site or call 1-800-253-6476.


8 Epic Emoji-Themed Crafts, Activities & Recipes
Check out the best emoji crafts, activities, and recipes! They're perfect for an emoji-themed birthday party or anytime you need DIY (and screen-free!) summer activities for kids, tweens, and teens.

Find Today's Newest & Best Children's Books
Looking for newly released books for your child? Try our Book Finder tool to search for new books by age, type, and theme!

10 Free Summer Learning Worksheets
Print these free printables for preschoolers and kindergarteners to help your child's mind stay sharp until September!

Ready for Kindergarten?
Try our award-winning Kindergarten Readiness app! This easy-to-use checklist comes with games and activities to help your child build essential skills for kindergarten. Download the Kindergarten Readiness app today!

stay connected

Sign up for our free email newsletters and receive the latest advice and information on all things parenting.

Enter your email address to sign up or manage your account.

Facebook icon Facebook icon Follow Us on Pinterest

editor’s picks