Essential DIY Tools For the New Year 

Tools are essential to maintaining a home and are key to successfully tackling any DIY projects. A well-stocked tool kit usually starts with a small investment on the part of a new or inexperienced homeowner and grows over time -- as new projects need to be completed and the homeowners’ skill level improves. There are many tool types and brands out there, everything from plumbing tools to painting tools, cordless tools to pocket tools. The decision as to which tools you want to spend your money on can be confusing. 

The bottom line is purchasing good, essential tools early on in your tenure as a homeowner is a smart investment that will pay off in the long run. Here’s what we suggest you need to start building your essential toolbox:

Toolbox: Whether you’re a weekend fixer, a do-it-yourself type, or a professional, it is important to have a good quality tool chest/tool box. The two most important features to consider before buying a tool box are sturdiness and an adequate capacity. Most toolboxes also come with compartments that can help you keep tools organized.

Adjustable Wrench: Also known as a “crescent wrench”, this is the most common type of wrench available at hardware stores. Since it can be adjusted to fit nuts and bolts of different sizes, it’s a versatile tool that is key to have in any DIYer toolbox. 

Chapstick: While one doesn’t think of tools when they hear the word “Chapstick”, the well-known lip balm can be a very useful in and around the house. From lubricating drawers tracks to keeping metal tools from rusting, check out these 10 things Chapstick can do – besides keep your lips hydrated.  

Claw Hammer: The hammer is the foundation of any toolbox. There are dozens of different types of hammers, but the most common is a claw hammer, which is used to drive and pull nails. This type of hammer is most commonly used for woodworking projects, as it is not suitable for heavy hammering on metal surfaces due to a brittle steel head.

Cordless Drill/Driver: Some experts state that the cordless drill will be the most important power tool a homeowner will ever buy. It’s the go-to tool for heavy screw driving and has a range of abilities. From taking on big DIY projects like building a deck or remodeling a kitchen, to smaller tasks, like installing fixtures or assembling furniture, it’s an investment worth the money. A cordless drill accepts a wide variety of round- and hex-shank drill bits and screw-driving bits, as well as hole saws, rotary sanders, wire-wheel brushes, and well as many other accessories. You’ll find cordless drill buying advice here

Locking Pliers: Manufactured in several different configurations and sizes, most locking pliers have serrated, straight jaws, and are found in lengths ranging from four to twelve inches. Multipurpose locking pliers can be used in place of pipe wrenches, adjustable wrenches, or even clamps. However, keep in mind that locking pliers should be used rarely, if at all, on nuts, bolt heads, pipes, or fittings that are to be reused -- as the pliers’ teeth can cause permanent damage.

Nail Set: Although small, this tool has an important job. It’s used to tap a nail in that last quarter inch without whacking the finished surface with your hammer (and causing damage to your woodwork.) While it looks a bit like a nail, this thicker tool has a rounded point on one side and a flat end at the other. It’s good for fixing a pesky “nail pop” -  that’s when an old nail rises from a stair tread or starts sticking out of woodwork. 

Safety Goggles: With any DIY project, it’s important to be safe. And that means protecting your eyes. Safety goggles (also known as safety glasses) are available in various styles and prices. Tip:  If you work with paint thinner or other solvents, look for a pair marked "chemical resistant" that have a PVC shroud. If you’re woodworking, look for a pair with a polyurethane foam lining that will keep out eye-irritating dust – perfect for when you’re sanding. Check out this full list of safety goggle options.

Screwdrivers: Ask any carpenter or DIYer what tools take up the most room in their toolbox, and the answer is probably “screwdrivers.” There are various types of screwdrivers and with names like flat, Phillips, Hex Key, Robertson and more, it’s easy to see why it’s not one size fits all when it comes to the screwdriver. It’s our advice that you have a variety in your arsenal to insert or remove any type of screw you may come across.

Stud Finder: This funny named tool is a handheld device used with wood buildings to detect framing studs located behind the final walling surface, usually drywall. Also known as a “stud detector” or “stud sensor,” there are many different types available, but most fall into two main categories: magnetic stud detectors and electric stud finders.

Wheelbarrow: During the fall and spring, you will appreciate the help of a wheelbarrow. Models with larger tubs hold more, but are also hard to maneuver when full. Tip: find a steel tub wheelbarrow that is best suited to hauling yard debris and one that can carry compost, soil, or bags of mulch with ease. Be sure to test it out in the store before you buy. 

As a homeowner, having a great set of basic tools is important so that you’re prepared for whatever mishaps may occur in and around your home. Another good planning tip for the future is to consider having a home warranty or home repair plan. Even the most experienced DIYer can get in over his/her head. And when that happens, essential tools aren’t going to help you fix a problem that requires a handyman or repair pro

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