There’s the old saying: “No project is too big or small!” Well, actually, some projects are too small, and for garden-variety DIY fixes, you’ll need some basic tools — the essentials that every homeowner or renter should have on hand. Whether you’re assembling a bed frame, hanging a picture or measuring your child’s growth spurt, here’s a list of the 10 must-haves for your home or apartment.
Seriously, this is the mother of all tools. It needs no introduction. Not only can it put nails in your bedroom wall to hang that mirror, but it also comes in handy in the kitchen when you need to crush garlic cloves or peppercorns.
Keep a tight ship.
All things get loose over time: kitchen chairs, toilets, end tables, patio tables, driveway basketball hoops — you name it. For anything bolt related, combination pliers are your best friend. Tip: The advantage of pliers over an adjustable wrench is accessibility. Pliers are known to go where wrenches can’t.
A helping hand.
Ever try to assemble something and wish you had another person to hold one end? Or glue a picture frame but don’t feel like holding it in place for two hours while the adhesive dries? Vise grips have endless uses, the most common of which is probably removing stripped screws.
Get to the point.
Okay, so you’re probably not an electrician and may not use this tool every day, but guaranteed, there will come a time where you need to snip something or thread a wire through a hard-to-navigate passage. Here’s a tip: Remember needle-nose pliers the next time the string disappears into your sweatpants or hoodie.
As the world turns.
Right up there with the hammer, the screwdriver is so essential you might want to have a spare. (Smaller than the hammer, the screwdriver tends to mysteriously disappear.) You don’t need an elaborate tradesperson’s set, but be sure to have the basics: a Philips head and a flathead, one normal size and a small one for things like eyeglasses or children’s toys.
You may think that old school ruler can handle the task…until you have to measure a circumference or something long, like your front walk. Or anything, really. Not only does a tape measure make measuring easier, but it also reminds you that exact measurements matter.
Make the cut.
The beauty of a utility knife is that it cuts through a lot of soft materials. Sharper than scissors with the precision of an X-ACTO®, the utility knife is the go-to tool for cutting fabrics, plastics, aluminum and vinyl tiles — basically, anything that doesn’t make a thud when you drop it. But the most common use for a utility knife has nothing at all to do with cutting. Ever accidentally paint a window frame shut? Utility knife to the rescue!
More power to you.
The one battery-powered tool on the list. A decent power drill, along with some standard drill bits and screw heads, will make your life infinitely easier when it comes to the most common household chores. Turning a screw by hand is painless, but wait until that build-it-yourself bed frame arrives. Give your wrist a break, and cut your assembly time in half.
Get it straight.
You think your eyes are impeccable, and you’re absolutely certain that flat-screen TV mount is straight. Why wouldn’t it be? You measured it from the floor. You measured it from the ceiling. Only after you hang it and see that it’s slightly off kilter do you realize your floor is slightly pitched. Place a level atop any appliance and make sure your house is standing up straight.
Hold it together.
Last on the list are the nuts and bolts, the stuff that holds your home together. Keep on hand a good selection of various tapes — from lightweight (electrical) to heavy (duct tape and plumber’s tape). Duct tape is a savior for temporary fixes, such as securing an A/C cover or patching up PVC pipe. And a box of nails and screws is always essential to have as backup.
The information in this article is intended to provide guidance on the proper maintenance and care of systems and appliances in the home. Not all of the topics mentioned are covered by our home warranty or maintenance plans. Please review your home warranty contract carefully to understand your coverage.