DIY Tools Everyone Should Have

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Whether your next DIY plans involve a simple repair, a hardware upgrade, or a full scale construction project, you'll need the right tools to put your skills to work.

Just like a first-aid kit has the basic items to take care of minor scrapes and scratches, your DIY tool kit should be equipped with the essentials.

Open Ended Wrenches

adjustable wrenches

A set of wrenches, or a few adjustable models, will come in handy for a wide range of jobs involving bolts—from plumbing work to heavy carpentry.

Allen Wrenches

Allen wrench set

These hexagonal wrenches are often used to assemble commercial furniture pieces that arrive in separate pieces.

Drywall and Putty Knives

drywall knife applying putty

Also referred to as taping or joint knives when working with drywall, these tools come in varying shapes and sizes and have multiple uses as scrapers, including removing or applying adhesive materials and thin coverings like wallpaper.

Hammers

assorted hammers

There are quite a few hammer types. For your basic kit, a claw hammer, club hammer, and a rubber mallet are good for starters.

Nail Punch

nail gun with nails

This handy tool allows you to hammer a nail head further into a piece of wood than a hammer can, and it expedites repetitive projects like installing roofing shingles.

Pliers

assorted pliers

Pliers come in many shapes and sizes. The two most common are the needle nose and adjustable styles, also known as slip-joint pliers.

Pipe Wrench

pipe wrench

These heavy duty adjustable wrenches are used when working with threaded pipes and pipe fittings.

Hand Saws

hands using a hand saw

The most basic hand saws can handle a piece of wood with a little effort. To cut harder surfaces like some plastics and metals, you'll need something sturdier like a hacksaw.

Power Saws

circular saw cutting boards

Especially for large scale carpentry projects, circular and table saws can save you major time and energy by helping you cut large elements like sheets of plywood or thick beams. Power cutters with finer blades like jigsaws can also help you achieve greater control, facilitating finer work.

Set of Screwdrivers

assorted screwdrivers

Like hammers, wrenches, and pliers, there are different types and sizes of screwdrivers. The two most common are referred to as flat head and Phillips. The flat head is a single flat bar that fits into a single slot. The Phillips head fits into screws that have two slots in a cross design.

Caulk Gun

hands with gloves applying caulk to a wooden wall with a caulking gun

Caulking applicators are crucial for filling cracks and gaps, such as those around a bathtub, shower, or window. You can fill them with sealant substances—usually either latex or silicone—to prevent water and air from sneaking through tricky spots to cause damage.

Utility Knife/Box Cutter

utility knife

From opening packaging to cutting thin construction elements, you'll want an easy way to slice precisely.

Wire Cutters

wire cutters trimming the plastic off a wire

Used to cut a variety of materials such as steel, brass, aluminum, and copper, some of these tools have holes of varying size to strip the ends of different kinds of wire for electrical projects.

Level

level

These classic implements help you keep things even, flat, and clean by measuring the angles of surfaces—relative to the center of the nearest available planet.

Scratch Awl

scratch awl on white background

Awls can make marks into surfaces as a guide for cutting, and also feature in some finer leather and wood work.

Power Drill

man holding cordless drill

Designed primarily to drive screws through assorted materials, handheld drills can be fitted with myriad tips for different purposes, from boring holes to buffing surfaces.

Socket Set

socket set

Sockets are designed to fit fasteners of different sizes for tightening or loosening.

Extension Cord

extension cord on a wheel storage holder

Heavy-duty extension cords extend the range of your electric tools. They're usually a must.

Nails and Screws

assorted nails and screws in a fastener toolbox

These fasteners are the basic building blocks of most DIY projects.

Shovels

shovel moving dirt

Sharp pointed shovels are useful for digging holes. Flat edges can be more helpful for moving large amounts of dirt quickly.

Step Ladder

step ladder

From changing bulbs to fixing moulding and trim, you'll find many reasons to invest in a little elevation.

Stud Finder

hand using stud finder on wall

Available as an electric or magnetic tool, these nifty devices can locate studs and beams behind drywall so you know where to mount heavy elements.

Tape Measure

tape measure on wood

The standard tool for measuring distances, measuring tapes are available in flexible cloth, foldable wood, or retractable metal models.

Yardstick/Ruler

hands marking a line on wood using a ruler

Along with tape measure, a 36-inch yardstick and a 12-inch ruler come in handy when measurements are needed, especially when you want to mark a line for cutting.

With every new project, your skill set will advance. Once you have a sense of the basics and you're ready to move on to some more complex projects, you'll probably want to scale up your arsenal to include some heavier tools.