By MIKE MCCORD
DIYers with a few projects under their belts know a trusty set of basic tools is crucial. But it may not be in your budget to purchase every tool you think you’ll ever need all at once. Investing in a few quality items up front will get you started off right. Here’s our checklist of non-powered tools and accessories you can easily transport in a regular tool box.
A good, sturdy toolbox: It seems self-explanatory, but quite often folks come into the store for a toolbox and choose one that’s too flimsy, too small, or both. Even if you aren’t buying the most expensive high-end tools, you’ll still want to have a box that can handle the weight. Materials such as thick plastic or rigid steel will do the job. Consider the organization factor for all the little bits of hardware you’ll undoubtedly accumulate. Find a box with a tray and plenty of compartments to keep the nails, screws, nuts, and bolts orderly and not floating around inside. Lastly, buy a toolbox that seems too big for what you have − you’ll fill it up eventually!
Screwdrivers: If you did opt for a smaller toolbox, buy a screwdriver with interchangeable tips. Otherwise, buy a set of slotted and Phillips head screwdrivers in various sizes.
Claw hammer: This is your typical hammer and one of the most versatile tools you’ll own. It will not only drive nails, but also lever them out when they need to be removed. Find one with a cushioned rubber-grip handle.
Adjustable wrench: This adaptable tool has jaws that adjust to fit nuts and bolts of many sizes. Higher quality wrenches have jaws that are less likely to slip and damage your fasteners. These come in handy under the car hood too.
Pliers: You’ll want to get the two most basic types. Needle-nose pliers give you gripping strength and dexterity when grabbling and pulling nails and other hardware. Groove-joint pliers have wide-opening jaws that are useful for plumbing projects.
Utility knife: Also known as a box cutter. This sharp knife comes in handy quite often when you need precision cuts with wire or tubing, or general use. Get a sturdy one with a retractable blade and extra replacement blades.
Tape measure: This unassuming item is essential for providing accurate measurements for multiple jobs. Choose a 25-foot tape that’s retractable, lockable, and at least one inch wide so it won’t collapse when extended.
Mini level: This smaller version fits nicely into your toolbox, and it provides horizontal and vertical guide lines when positioning fixtures and hardware, hanging photo frames or determining if a wall is plumb.
Putty knife: This little helper is great for removing old wallpaper or loose paint. And with patching compound, it makes quick work of those countless spackling jobs that pop up.
Flashlight: When working in tight, dark areas a basic LED flashlight is a necessity. Some are magnetic and others tilt to shine a bright light just where you need it. If you need to go hands-free, headlamps are perfect.
Hardware: Fill up all those little compartments inside your toolbox with a selection of general purpose nails and screws. Save room for picture hanging hardware, nuts and bolts, and things like screw anchors and wire nuts.
Rolls of tape: Teflon plumber’s tape is lightweight tape that is used to thread connections and prevent leaks. Electrical tape is an insulating tape used in various wiring tasks.
Safety items: At a minimum, you’ll want to include dust masks, safety glasses and protective work gloves. Simple DIY jobs aren’t usually dangerous, but it’s wise to take precautions. Leave the complicated stuff to the pros.
Visit your local Do it Best store or doitbest.com for thousands of the best home improvement products, including tools and accessories essential for creating the perfect DIYer’s toolbox!
MIKE MCCORD is the owner of McCord’s Do it Best Lumber & Hardware in Logansport and is a member-owner of Do it Best Corp., a Fort Wayne-based cooperative of thousands of hardware stores, home centers and lumberyards throughout the U.S. and around the world.
(This article is for informational purposes only. Electric Consumer and Do it Best assume no liability for the accuracy or completeness of its content, or for injuries, property damage, or the outcome of any project.)