Essential Tools for DIY Projects
A smaller wrench will come in handy when loosening small nuts in hard-to-reach places. The larger model will tackle most nuts and other fasteners.
To buy: Crescent two-piece adjustable wrench set, 6-inch and 10-inch, $20.*
*All items throughout are available at homedepot.com unless otherwise noted.
These hexagonally shaped bars (a.k.a. Allen keys or hex keys) usually come in a set and are used to assemble furniture (thank you, Ikea) and some toys.
To buy: Klein Tools 12-piece hex-key set, $19.50.
A must-have for minor plumbing jobs, leaks, washing the family dog―you name it.
To buy: Rubbermaid 10-quart round bucket, $7.
Use this cordless drill to make (good) holes―for example, when you have to hang a heavy picture or make a small opening in the back of a TV cabinet to run a cord through. This model features a built-in bubble level and a magnetic tray to secure loose screws while you’re working.
To buy: Ryobi 12-volt drill, $49.
Have one handy to light up dark corners in a cabinet or under the hood of your car.
To buy: Mag-lite four-cell D aluminum flashlight, $20.
This tool-box workhorse isn’t just for banging in nails; it’s also good for other little tasks that require a good whack, like putting new heel tips on your favorite pumps. Use the clawed end to remove old or damaged nails.
To buy: Workforce claw hammer, $6, Home Depot and hardware stores.
A super-size sponge is ideal for wiping down a surface after sanding or drilling, and it’s handy for washing Fido.
To buy: QEP extra-large scrubbing sponge, $3.
A disposable mask will keep you from breathing in dust when you sand or drill.
To buy: Kimberly Clark N95 Sanding Mask, $5, Home Depot and hardware stores.
Equip yourself with paintbrushes of various sizes, small to large, so you can touch up flaws on walls or furniture. These brushes can be used for interior and exterior projects and work with all types of paint.
To buy: Purdy 3-Pack Brush Set, $20.
Use it for a multitude of purposes―from keeping moldings clean as you paint a wall to preventing your pliers' teeth from scratching your pipes.
To buy: Scotch-Blue Painter’s Masking Tape for Faux & Decorative Surfaces, 1-inch width, $5.50.
This model includes two Phillips-head bits, two slotted bits, and two nut bits, all of which swap out easily.
To buy: Husky 6-in-1 Screwdriver, $6.
Just as the name implies, this tool fits around pipes for plumbing fixes.
To buy: General Tools 10-inch Hawk one-hand ratcheting pipe wrench, $20.50.
Pliers are a great all-around fix-it tool. They grab on to almost anything and can unscrew, bend, or manipulate in many different ways. Use this model in place of a sometimes unwieldy pipe wrench to loosen and tighten the tiny nuts on shut-off valves.
To buy: Irwin 10-inch Quick Adjusting Groovelock Pliers, $15.
Grab long-nose (or needle-nose) pliers when you’re doing electrical work. This pair is also useful for holding nails when you start hammering.
To buy: Crescent 9-Inch Pro Series Long-Nose Pliers, $15.
This wonder tool can spread joint compound, clean rollers, remove and spread putty, slather Spackle, and remove caulking around tubs and showers.
To buy: Hyde Tools 10-in-1 Painter’s Tool, $8.
Keep your eyes protected from wood and metal shavings and toxic solvents.
To buy: AO Safety general-purpose safety glasses, $6.
Gauge the degree of roughness by your project: Fine grit is ideal for finishing or smoothing a surface; coarse grit is for removing material.
To buy: Sandpaper in various grits is available at Home Depot and hardware stores.
You’ll need a sharp pair to cut everything and anything from plastic packaging to thick tulip stems.
To buy: Klein Tools Broad Blade Utility Shear, $28.
Screws and Nails
If you lose a screw or bend a nail, you’ll have a replacement ready to go.
To buy: Pick up an assortment of both at Home Depot or a hardware store.
Choose a retractable model of 20 to 25 feet, which is long enough to do most tasks.
To buy: Stanley 25-foot Maxsteel Tape Measure, $15, Home Depot and hardware stores.
This easy-to-maneuver tool makes straight, sharp cuts. It comes with 10 replacement blades.
To buy: Husky Autoblade Utility Knife, $10.
If you’ve ever jammed, hammered, or pricked your fingers, you know why sturdy gloves are important.
To buy: Youngstown Glove Company General Utility Plus Performance Glove, $22, amazon.com.
Don’t toss out that used toothbrush! It will be useful for cleaning crevices and applying products, like grout sealant, to small areas.
Save a few old T-shirts for putting on―or wiping off―various liquids, gels, and powders.