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Every home needs a basic toolkit to do simple jobs around the house (or flat). Think of all the DIY tasks a homeowner has to do such as painting and decorating, measuring windows for curtains or blinds, hanging pictures, putting up shelves, assembling flat-pack furniture and fixing your kid’s bike.
Without a basic toolkit, all of these things and more would be impossible. So, what DIY tools do you need for a basic toolkit? And what kind of tools do you need if you want to undertake more complicated projects? Let’s start with the basics.
One of the first tools most new homeowners buy is a screwdriver. You need them for so many things these days it’s essential you have some at home. A general all-purpose 3 or 5 piece set is the perfect starting point, but you can also buy specialist sets such as this one for working on laptops, smartphones and other electronic equipment.
You don’t need to spend a lot on a set of screwdrivers, but if you plan on using them every weekend, it’s worth spending more than the average person. Think about storage too. Some screwdriver sets come with a plastic carry case or rack, while others come in throwaway packaging.
The best hammer for the average homeowner is a mid-weight claw hammer. So that’s 16oz (which usually refers to the weight of the head). This type of hammer lets you do two things – knock-in nails with the flat side and pull out nails with the claw side. Claw hammers are perfect for working with wood and plasterboard.
When you’re buying a claw hammer, also consider the length of the handle. Shorter ones don’t have as much power as longer ones.
3) Retractable tape measure
Basic retractable tape measures cost less than a fiver and even heavy-duty ones don’t cost much more. If you’re in the process of improving your home you’ll need one of these for all sorts of tasks – measuring room dimensions for carpets, wallpaper or paint, planning which furniture to buy and measuring windows for new blinds or curtains.
If you’re into making things you already know the value of a retractable tape measure!
4) Adjustable wrench
If you don’t have a set of spanners, an adjustable wrench is the next best option. They’re used for tightening and loosening bolts, which are used in conjunction with nuts to hold stuff together when a screw or nail won’t do the job.
Typical examples include when working with metal such as attaching or removing bike wheels from a frame, putting together metal shelf racks or working on a car engine.
An adjustable wrench has a movable jaw section which is altered to fit the size of the bolt you want to work on. Once the jaw’s at the right size, you can tighten or loosen the bolt.
Cheap adjustable wrenches can be a little tricky to work with as the jaw grip can loosen and make the job harder. For this reason, it’s worth spending a fair amount on a strong tool with a good handle. Alternatively, buy a set of spanners.
5) Utility or Stanley knife
The main feature of a typical utility knife is the retractable blade. This lets you carry the knife around with you and safely store it away without fear of cutting yourself on the sharp blade. The original manufacturer of this type of knife was the company Stanley, hence why people often call this tool a Stanley knife.
Back in the day, the original Stanley knife was a simple tool made from metal with a sliding switch-like mechanism on top for retracting or using the blade. These days, you can still buy utility knives that follow the classic design, but you can also buy them with plastic and folding bodies.
A new utility knife will come packaged with at least one blade, and you can buy replacements when the original(s) have worn out.
Pliers are gripping tools that help you bend, twist, straighten and pull things that you can’t bend, twist, straighten or pull with your fingers. A pair of pliers has a metal gripping end and metal handles covered with rubber.
They also come in a variety of shapes and sizes. With the two most common being long-nose pliers and combination pliers. Ideally, you’ll have one of each type in your basic DIY toolkit.
It might be tempting to use your phone as a torch, but there’s always the chance you might drop and break it. For this reason, it’s worth investing in a torch so you don’t have to take the risk next time you’re working in a dark closet or trying to find something in a dimly lit shed or garage.
Something small with a powerful beam is all you need for a basic home toolkit. Torches running on LED bulbs tend to have a longer battery life than the rest.
8) Spirit level
Spirit levels help you check that a surface is perfectly horizontal or perfectly vertical. They come in a range of lengths to suit every task. You can get short ones for checking the level on the pictures and paintings you’re hanging or longer ones to check the level on a new patio or timber structu
9) Screws, nails and other hardware
Most people buy screws, nails and other hardware as they need them. The problem is, you can’t pop into your nearest DIY store and buy screws or nails in anything other than multipacks. So, you might only need a couple of nails for a job, which means there’ll be plenty left over for another time.
It’d be stupid to throw these things away so store them for future use. Same goes for screws and anything else you might buy for a project or that comes with something you’ve bought (nuts, bolts, allen keys, rawlplugs etc). Keep them all safe and well-organised and you’ll save money and time in the long run.
Storing your tools in a particular location helps protect them from damage and helps you quickly find what you’re looking for. If you store your tools in the garage and need to do some work in your house, you can pick up the toolbox knowing you have everything you need with you. There’s no need to keep running backwards and forwards for each bit of kit.
Look for a toolbox with a top lid divided into smaller compartments and a larger storage area underneath for some of the gear listed above.