How To Build Your First Tool Kit

tools on peg boardUh-oh: You come home to discover a leak in your kitchen sink drainpipe. It just needs some tightening—but do you have the right tool for the job?

Whether you’re moving into an apartment or buying your first house, you’ll inevitably have to deal with challenges like this, as well as basic tasks like hanging a shelf or putting up curtains. Many of them you’ll be able to tackle on your own…if you have the necessary tools.

By assembling a small personal tool kit, you’ll be ready to take on a surprisingly large number of DIY home repairs: no super, no parents, no problem. Even better, you can get everything you need easily and affordably. Plus, it’s an opportunity to learn everyday maintenance techniques and make your house (or apartment) into a home.

“For me, it’s all about self-reliance,” says Beth Allen, founder of HIP Chicks and a DIY expert, TV contributor, interior designer and licensed contractor. “And nothing is more debilitating than having something broken in your home.”

What to include in a home tool box:

  • Hammers
  • Ratcheting screwdriver set
  • Needle-nose pliers
  • Adjustable wrench
  • Stud finder
  • Bubble level
  • Painter’s tape
  • Safety glasses
  • Bungee cords
  • Sandpaper
  • Picture-hanging hooks
  • Small flashlight
  • Tape measure
  • Cordless drill
  • Oscillating multitool

The Basics

Every tool kit should begin with the same simple, essential tools. Allen recommends starting with a pair of hammers: a 16-ounce one for heavier projects and a 10- or 12-ounce one for lighter jobs.

Next comes the screwdriver. Rather than cluttering up your toolbox with a bunch of them, Allen suggests purchasing a ratcheting screwdriver set, which comes with interchangeable heads of different sizes and shapes.

Also, needle-nose pliers are a must, as is an adjustable wrench (the key to fixing that leaky pipe).

What About Accessories?

Beyond these four classic tools, you’ll want a stud finder, which will locate the place in the wall strong enough to support the weight of pictures (or whatever you’re going to hang), and a bubble level, which tells you those pictures are hanging straight. Smartphone apps can tackle both these tasks, and Allen has been impressed with how well they work.

Allen also recommends painter’s tape, safety glasses, bungee cords, sandpaper, picture-hanging hooks and a small flashlight. “A tape measure is imperative as well,” says Allen. “But not a junky tape measure from the dollar store—because if you buy one good one, it’ll last.”

Turn on the Power

The phrase “power tools” may conjure up images of heavy industry, but a few easy-to-use electric gadgets can save time and headaches.

“My favorite tool for people to own is a cordless drill,” says Allen. Whether you’re drilling holes to hang curtains or using the screwdriver attachment to assemble furniture, a lightweight, 18-volt drill turns difficult jobs into just a few minutes’ work.

If you’re tackling more advanced projects (trimming a door casing, cleaning grout or cutting short lengths of wood), consider investing in an oscillating multitool: a handheld gadget with interchangeable heads that’s perfect for a range of applications.

So get to it! By equipping yourself with the proper tools and knowledge for basic DIY tasks and repairs, you’ll gain a lifelong skill set—and a newfound sense of self-confidence.

What’s even easier than hanging a shelf? Calling the GEICO Insurance Agency for a free quote on homeowners insurance or renters insurance today.

Read More: Once you’ve got your tool box in order, check out 4 Pro Secrets For DIY House Painting.

By Sam Rosenthal

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