Must-Have Tools for Every Skill Level

Tools in a garage.

Every home has its moments when things just aren't working right. Whether you live in a tiny rented apartment or own a grand suburban house, there are a few tools you ought to keep around just in case. For most people this means starting out with a basic tool kit and building gradually over the years as your needs and skills change, and as you can afford and effectively use the pricier items.

Tools Everybody Needs:




Screwdriver set

Tape measure

Pliers set

Duct tape

Invest in a heavy plastic toolbox and make a habit of storing all your tools there. This keeps you from running around in a frenzy when a faucet is spewing or something is falling apart. The first thing to put in your toolbox is a flashlight because you’ll soon realize nothing breaks unless it’s dark outside, and preferably cold and rainy.

Include a hammer, a set of screwdrivers, a tape measure, and a set of pliers. Be sure your screwdriver set includes a variety of sizes of both Phillips-head and flat-head screwdrivers. Select a set of pliers that includes both flat head and needle-nose pliers. Toss in some Duct tape, and you’ll be able to fix most ordinary household dilemmas.

Tools for the Beginner DIYer:

Utility knife

Putty knife

Hand saw

Adjustable wrench

If you do a little DIY, such as hanging pictures or shelves, painting or sealing, you’ll need to beef up this little toolbox. Add a utility knife and putty knife, along with a hand saw and an adjustable wrench. Now you can caulk the bathtub, spread tile grout, cut molding, and perform most basic plumbing repairs.

Tools for the Intermediate DIYer:

Multi-bit screwdriver

Bucket liner tool organizer

Power drill

Circular saw



Stud finder

Socket set


As your skills advance and you’re ready to try new things, invest in a multi-bit screwdriver. These have ratcheting handles to save on grunt work and double as nut drivers. Buy a bucket liner tool organizer, so you can carry all your tools neatly wherever you’re working. A drill, circular saw, level (four-foot is ideal), wheel barrow, stud finder, socket set, and multi-tool (including a screwdriver, knife, and pliers), and you can drastically improve your abilities around the house.

The drill and circular saw give you more DIY projects to take on, such as new baseboards or a mantle. The wheelbarrow is perfect for yard work, as well as hauling scraps from your other projects. Stud finders let you hang shelves with confidence, and the socket set is as useful for the car as in the home. The multi-tool frees you from running to the toolbox when you’re alternating between several different tools.

Tools for the Experienced DIYer:

Power nail gun

Miter saw

Table saw

Work drive saw

Laser level

Multi-function oscillating tool

Random orbit sander

Large tool chest on rollers

When you find you’re doing most of the repairs and renovations around the house without any help from a contractor, it’s time to invest in the rest of the tools you’ll need for those larger, trickier jobs. A power nail gun is great for tacking up crown molding neatly and easily. A miter saw, table saw, and worm drive saw give you many more options for cutting things to the perfect size. Upgrade to a laser level and a multi-function oscillating tool that tackles a variety of jobs. Add a random orbit sander and invest in a large, rolling tool chest for stowing all your new equipment.

With these tools, you can perform almost everything your home needs, with the exception of a few specialized tasks reserved for professionals like electricians and heating and air technicians. Always check with your local building inspector’s office to see if you need to get a permit for the larger projects you’re undertaking, especially if it involves adding an addition to the home.