Experts share the nuts and bolts (and the levels and screwdrivers) of a super-handy set.
Leatherman Surge Multitool
“Twenty-one tools in a neat little package. Just pop out a screwdriver to remove faceplates when painting walls or pliers to tighten bolts on furniture. It’s so convenient having wire cutters, scissors, and more in the palm of your hand, too.” –Kelly Carrell, SuperHandyman newspaper columnist
To buy: $100, amazon.com.
Stanley Instant Change Knife
“A utility knife makes it so much easier to cut rigid plastic packaging, cardboard boxes, and even carpet. Most have blades that are difficult to change, but not this one—just push the button to release the blade and insert a new one.” –Marie Leonard, author of Marie’s Home Improvement Guide
To buy: $9, amazon.com.
Hyde 5-in-1 Painter’s Tool
“Invest in this one item and you don’t need a small putty knife, a paint can opener, or paint scrapers, all of which take up precious tool-bag space. Not only does this angular tool cover those functions but it can also scrape away old caulk, loosen trim, and remove putty.” –Marie Leonard
To buy: $8, amazon.com.
Bostich 16-Ounce Smooth Straight-handle Hammer
“Pick a hammer that feels good in your hand and is easy to swing. For many people, a 16-ounce head is way more manageable than a 20-ounce one. This hammer has an oversize striking face for improved accuracy, plus a slip-resistant handle for a secure grip.” –Jason Kyser, resident pro at Pro.com
To buy: $22, amazon.com.
Bosch PS21 Drill with 12-Year Lithium-Ion Battery
“This cordless drill has a trigger that makes it easy to switch speeds, depending on what you’re drilling into—faster for wood shelves, slower for tougher pieces, like a metal storm door. The best part: Its battery stays charged for up to 18 months.” –Marie Leonard
To buy: $99, amazon.com.
Skil Cross-Line Laser Level
“About $30 less than long-distance levels (primarily used by contractors), this one is just right for basic household projects, like hanging pictures or shelves. It produces a stable line within five seconds. You can even mount it on a camera tripod instead of holding it.” –Jason Kyser
To buy: $90, amazon.com.
Klein Tools Heavy-Duty Multibit Screwdriver
“Instead of storing multiple screwdrivers, choose this one with six screw heads. Along with Klein’s high-leverage side-cutting pliers, this tool can handle every kind of household task, from assembling furniture to hanging window treatments.” –Lou Manfredini, host of HouseSmarts and Ace Hardware’s home expert
To buy: $16, homedepot.com.
Stanley Powerlock Measuring Tape
This is a basic one-inch-wide, 25-foot-long measuring tape, but I love its sturdy design. It extends to about six feet without bending, so you don’t need a helper holding the other end.” –Lou Manfredini
To buy: $10, amazon.com.
AWP HP Ballistic Nylon Tool Bag
In a typical tool box, the contents lie jumbled in a big pile. This easy-to-transport knapsack has 23 pockets to store handled tools upright and neatly.
To buy: $32, lowes.com.