15 Essential Tools for Every Home Toolkit
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Whether you’re an expert handyman or a fledgling fixer-upper, here are 15 essential tools for every home toolkit to keep on hand for minor repairs and odd jobs around the home (and homestead!), plus how to use each one!
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When it comes to self-sufficiency, we tend to talk a lot about things like knowing how to grow, prepare and preserve food at home without having to always rely on the grocery store to provide for us. Or how to craft our own herbal medicine and take care of our families the all-natural way, without always having to rely on doctors and pharmacies. Or even how to DIY our own homemade cleaning products and cosmetics, or sew our own clothes, or knit or crochet, or cook over an open flame.
But what we rarely tend to talk about (at least on most homesteading blogs I’ve read), is how to do your own home maintenance, repairs and small building projects. And yet, whenever I’ve polled my readers about what skills they’d like to learn in order to become more self-sufficient, learning basic handyman skills is always on the list of answers I receive. And for good reason!
After all, if you’ve ever had to hire out a job around your house or homestead, you probably know how incredibly expensive overpriced it can be! Many relatively small jobs can easily cost thousands of dollars more than they would cost you to do them yourself. And while it’s worth it to hire a professional for bigger jobs that you don’t have the skills for, there are tons of small jobs and easy home maintenance work that even the most inexperienced DIYer can learn quickly and do at home for much less than it costs to call in an expert.
Plus, learning how to do home repairs and odd jobs yourself means you’ll have the skills you need to get things done without having to rely on someone else when hiring someone else just isn’t an option, no matter the reason. It’s an important step on the journey toward self-sufficiency, and I think it’s high time we start shining a spotlight on it right here on this blog.
Wouldn’t you agree?
So I’ve asked my husband, Ryan, a professional handyman, fixer and builder of all things around our homestead (including interior and exterior renovations, gardening projects, remodelling and converting our garage into a legal rental suite and even vehicle maintenance and repairs… Did I mention he’s also a licensed mechanic and I’m literally watching him work on my car out my office window right now? Because he is. And I am. And it’s a nice view:)
But, before you learn the skills, you’ll need the right tools!
So today we’re going over a list of 15 tools for every home toolkit that can be used to tackle a wide variety of projects and home repairs. These are tools that everyone should keep on hand, no matter your skill level or experience.
We made a video walking you through each tool and what to use it for, so if you’re more of a visual learner, be sure to check it out here:
Otherwise, here’s the list of tools you’ll need…
15 Essential Tools for Your Home Toolkit
There are three types of screwdrivers you’ll want to keep in your toolkit: Flathead, Phillips (cross) and Robertson (square). Screwdrivers are pretty self-explanatory, and are an essential tool to keep on hand for, swell, driving screws into things by hand and removing screws. Screwdrivers come in handy for so many projects, from mending a piece of furniture or attaching (or removing) a door hinge, removing the cover for a battery pack when something runs out of batteries. Different types of screws call for different screwdrivers though, so either stock up on all three listed above or make a small investment in a multi-bit screwdriver so you’re always prepared with the right one on hand.
Pliers are essential for grabbing things you can’t get a good grip on with your hand alone, or pinching things tight when you don’t have the strength or dexterity to do it with your hands. They’re also useful for pulling things out of other things (like pulling out a nail that’s stuck in the wall or a board, etc.)
Box Nose pliers are standard and good for most things, although you might want to consider adding some Needle Nose pliers for finer, more delicate projects where you’re working with smaller pieces (like wires).
A wrench comes in handy when you need to grip something really tight and twist (think nuts & bolts, fasteners, etc.) An adjustable wrench will allow you to grip things of various sizes without needing a whole set of wrenches for different jobs.
Another fairly self-explanatory tool; A good carpenter’s hammer is essential for hammering nails, demolishing a variety of things and prying things apart (especially removing nails from boards, walls, etc.)
#5. Pry Bar
A pry bar is essentially a simple lever, and a good “companion tool” to have with a hammer. Think of these two items as your mini demolition kit. Use the the hammer to wedge the pry bar between two items (like floorboards, base trim, siding, etc.) and pry them apart. Or wedge the pry bar underneath an item and use it to get leverage and lift the item up. For example, you might wedge a pry bar beneath a door you’re installing when you’re trying to lift it up just enough to match the hinges up with the cutouts in the doorframe.
#6. Staple Gun
A good staple gun is a really handy tool to keep on hand for a variety of needs, such as recovering furniture, reattaching upholstery, stapling greenhouse plastic, or hanging strings of lights, to name a few. Really, anytime you need to fasten something thin and light to wood, a staple gun is your best friend. Plus it’s much quicker than using a hammer and nails for similar tasks. But the best part is that, if you can use a desktop stapler, you can use a staple gun. No experience necessary!
#7. Safety Glasses
While these might not be considered a “tool” in the same sense as the other items on this list, safety glasses really are an important part of your toolkit, and are essential for any project where there might be a possibility of flying debris or of something shattering while you’re working on it. Because nobody wants their simple home DIY project to result in a hospital visit, especially if your goal is to become more self-sufficient. You want to be able to tackle home projects with confidence and stay safe during the process. Safety glasses will help you do just that:)
#8. Tape Measure
Another pretty obvious one; A tape measure is crucial for accurately measuring cuts for DIY building projects, as well as for every day projects like making sure a piece of furniture will fit in a space before you buy it, or move it, or try to wedge it down a too-tight hallway and into a bedroom only to find out it doesn’t fit, and then you end up with a couch on your back porch. Not that that’s ever happened to me or anything…
Carpenter’s pencils are useful for marking measurements when making cuts, or marking the wall when hanging shelves, pictures, etc. While you could technically use any old pencil, carpenter’s pencils are more rugged and durable and you don’t need to worry about keeping a pencil sharpener on you. All you need to sharpen them is a utility knife (which is another essential tool that we’ll get to in just a moment, so you’ll have what you need in your toolkit already:).
A level is great for making sure things like shelves and pictures are level when hanging them on the wall. It can also be used as a straight edge )like a ruler) when you need to draw a straight line, and can be used for marking small measurements as well. A two-foot level is a good size to keep on hand for most small projects.
#11. Stud Finder
A stud finder is a handheld sensor that can help you find the studs (wooden framework) in the wall. Just scan it along any wall and it will beep when it senses a stud behind the drywall. This is really helpful when mounting large, heavy things on the wall like shelving units and flat screen TVs since you need a stud to support the weight (drywall alone can crumble and cause large, heavy items to fall off the wall).
#12. Utility Knife
A utility knife is an essential tool in any home toolkit, as well as something to consider for both your vehicle and home emergency kits. As far as household projects go, utility knives are useful for cutting things like greenhouse plastic, ropes (for tying things up in the garden), fabric/upholstery, and pretty much anything else you can imagine needing a knife for. Using a utility knife for these purposes also spares your kitchen knives from unnecessary wear and tear.
#13. Hand Saw
A good hand saw is an essential tool to keep on hand for sawing through wood, drywall, branches and other similar items. A hacksaw is used primarily for sawing through metal (think metal plumbing pipes, rebar, bolts, rods, etc.) but can also be used to cut through plastic, like PVC piping. In a pinch, a hacksaw can also be used to cut through wood, although it’s best to keep both saws handy for different tasks so as not to ruin them.
An adjustable clamp is really helpful for holding items in place when fastening or gluing them together or when making a precise cut on two pieces of wood. Think of a clamp as a helping hand to hold two items in place for you while you do the work, or to keeping them held in place while glue is drying, etc. Clamps are also reversible, so they can be used to spread things apart as well as hold them together.
The only power tool on this list of 15 essential tools to keep on hand, a cordless drill (specifically an impact driver) can be used for drilling holes of various sizes and driving screws into (and out of) things much quicker than is possible with a handheld screwdriver. Our cordless drill gets used for so many home projects, from drilling a hole for the spigot in our homemade rain barrel to driving screws in a wide variety of home building and DIY projects, such as our 3-bin composter. But even though it’s a power tool, it’s still very simple to use (personally I’m better with a drill than a hammer and nail!) and is a relatively inexpensive tool compared to most power tools.
Of course, if you’re going to start a tool collection (and I think it’s obvious now that you should!), then you might also want a proper tool box/bag to store everything in. It’s nice to have for sure, however this isn’t necessarily an essential (hence why it didn’t make the list!) To store tools, you could use a crate, a 5-gallon bucket or even a drawer or cabinet to store your tools. It all depends on how much you’ll be using them and how far you’ll need to haul them.
There are obviously way more than 15 tools to consider keeping on hand, but the ones listed here ware enough to tackle most small household projects and repairs, and are a good foundation to build on.
I’d also love to know, what’s your skill and comfort level with using tools like these and doing minor home repairs and DIY projects yourself?
What specific types of projects and maintenance/repairs would you like to learn how to do? Let me know in the comments below and we might just make a video tutorial on it:)
Wishing you homemade, homegrown, homestead happiness 🙂
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What a great list! I think it’s really important to have these at home for emergency purposes. Instead of calling someone to fix something at your home, you can do it yourself with the help of these tools. Very practical. Thanks for sharing this!
Enjoyed the video. I am a do-it-yourselfer, retired electrician, backyard gardener and a hobby woodworker and wood turner. I have my own workshop with a multitude of hand tools and battery and electric power tools. The one item that I have found to have on hand besides all the tools Ryan mentioned is a couple sets of allen wrenches, both standard and metric, as so many household items especially furniture use them to hold things together and often the allen screws come loose and just need a little tightening. I think that the thought process of having Ryan do some how to videos will be a great addition to your site and you should go for it.
Yes! Great suggestion! I actually can’t believe we missed Allen Wrenches!
Thanks for sharing all the essential tools, it’s a very useful article. I really appreciate you sharing so much information.
You have a great site, I’ll keep coming back.
I was always comfortable with smaller repairs around the house, Luckily, my husband, who works commercial construction, is more than quite handy around the house! He’s also a whiz at small engine repair, so can do a little more than basic vehicle maintenance, He can also do some electrical work (his Dad was an IBEW member!). I can do simple things like rewiring a lamp, but replacing an outlet scares me LOL! Basic plumbing is an area I’d like to learn more about. I’ve helped replace faucets before. I’d specifically look forward to a tutorial on replacing the ‘guts’ of a toilet.
I will keep that in mind!