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Whether you are a DIY warrior or simply want to be ready to tackle small repairs, a basic set of tools is a must-have for your home. You don't have to spend a fortune or build a workshop for storage, either. You can get by on the very basics at first and then add tools as you need them for projects over the years.
Build your basic toolbox
Many a toolbox starts with hand-me-down tools. That's because many basic tools were built to last, so it's more than fine if your tools have already been broken in. Whether you've been passed down tools from friends or family or are gearing up for a shopping trip, here are a dozen items to get your toolbox started:
- Hammer and nails. What's a toolbox without a hammer? A 12- to 14-ouncer will do you just fine. Nails, on the other hand, vary by project, so it's best to buy an assorted box of nails and brads.
- Screwdriver. Better make it two, as you should have a Phillips and a flathead (slotted) screwdriver. They come in different sizes, so it's a good idea to choose screwdrivers with removable heads so you can swap out sizes and types as needed. As with nails, screws also vary in size by project, so an assorted box will do.
- Adjustable wrench. A wrench is another clutch tool to keep around. Make it adjustable, and you'll probably only need one.
- Flat crowbar. This multi-use tool will come in handy to remove nails and pry off molding or other trim work.
- Level. Don't rely on eyesight alone when hanging wall decor. A level will ensure you keep everything nice and even.
- Measuring tape. Go for a 25-footer that locks for easy measuring.
- Duct tape. In a pinch, you can use it to patch up holes and other damage until a better solution is available.
- Heavy-duty glue. Like duct tape, this can come in handy when something snaps or breaks. For all its strength, though, it does tend to dry out quickly. Choose a brand that offers small, single-use dispensers rather than a larger tube.
- Sandpaper. Keep a few sheets handy to buff out any roughness on wood.
- Pliers. Whether you choose regular or needle-nose pliers, they are good for gripping, bending, and snipping. If you've got room in your toolbox, add three of them: a slip joint, a diagonal, and a long nose.
- Putty knife. Even if you're not needing it to actually spread putty, a putty knife is good whenever you need a scraper or a small blade to pry something open.
- Utility knife. This retractable blade (also known as a box cutter) is handy for slicing through materials like corrugated cardboard. When scissors don't do the trick, you'll be glad you have a utility knife. Be sure to keep a few extra blades on hand, too.
Optional: A toolbox makes for easy portability, but you can also reserve a shelf or drawer to keep your tools accessible.
DIY or call a pro?
After you've assembled your basic toolbox, you might be feeling pretty confident that you can tackle projects around the house. But even the most tricked-out toolbox is no match for industry experience. A word of caution: Do not attempt anything that is better off in the hands of a trained technician. As a rule, anything related to electricity requires an electrician. For anything else, when in doubt, call a pro.
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