If one isn’t mechanically inclined or simply hasn’t been on his or her own long enough to have to repair anything, tools can seem as confusing as a chef’s utensils would be to someone who doesn’t cook. In truth, as a home cook does not need all the same trappings as a professional chef, neither does a home tool kit need to be anywhere near as vast as a professional one. With this guide, it should be easy to pick out a comprehensive kit that should work for most common home repair needs. Look for a full shopping list at the end.
The most important on the list, or at least the most commonly needed, will be the screwdrivers. These are generally sold both individually and in multi-packs, but for most people, 1 medium-sized Phillips head screwdriver, 1 medium-sized flat head and 1 mini-sized Phillips head should do the trick. For home use, the length will not be as important as the grips. Screws are often over-tightened and a good grip can make all the difference in whether or not that screw will come out or just get a stripped head. The grip should be comfortable, but not so soft that padding will just slide around when a lot of pressure is exerted instead of turning the screw. When in doubt, ask a hardware professional which handle should provide the maximum torque with the least pressure.
A hammer is a definite must-have. Again, size is not that important. Unless a serious home-improvement job is being tackled, like a deck, just get one that can be easily swung one-handed. One made entirely of metal is probably best, because wood shrinks over time and eventually the head may fly off a wooden handled hammer.
Adjustable pliers are multi-purpose and necessary for all kinds of things, such as plumbing repairs, nuts and bolts. The same is true of vice-grips and a small socket set. The only sizes of interest here are the sockets. Stick with a set in the medium range, just as for the screwdrivers. Small sets are fine, as long as the set includes a socket wrench and a ½ inch socket (preferably somewhere in the middle of the range).
For a wide range of reasons, a heavy-duty pair of scissors, electrical tape, duct tape and a lubricating agent such as WD40 or 3-in-1 Oil will come in quite handy. Particularly for small tasks such as picture-, plant- or shelf-hanging a tape measure, a variety of nails, screws and hooks, and a small level also will be necessary.
Finally, a pad of paper and a pencil might not sound like tools, but when the job calls for writing down measurements, not having to spend 15 minutes searching for something with or on which to write them down will seem like a minor miracle. That makes them essential…and completes the list.
Bear in mind that with tools, price usually does indicate quality. If “there in a pinch” is the only goal (or price is just a big issue), by all means, it is okay to go cheap. If durability is a concern, but price is less so, buy from a name brand like Snap-On or Matco. Craftsman would be somewhere in the middle of the road.
1 Phillips head screwdriver
1 Flat head screwdriver
1 Mini-sized Phillips head screwdriver
1 Metal hammer
1 Pair adjustable pliers
1 Pair of locking Vice-grips
1 Small socket set
1 Pair sturdy Scissors
1 Roll electrical tape
1 Roll Duct tape
1 Can of 3-in-1 Oil or WD40
1 Tape measure
1 Small level
1 Small box with an assortment of screws, nails, and hooks in varying sizes
1 Pad of paper & pencil