15 tools you must have in your toolbox

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My motto has always been: Use the right tool for the right job. This is something I learned very early; my dad made sure I had a toolkit from the moment I started living on my own.

I’m grateful. It’s inconvenient (and sometimes expensive) to hire a handyman for a simple repair. Or be caught off guard when you discover a dining chair leg is wobbly just before guests are expected to arrive and you can’t call it to tighten it.

Even if you weren’t gifted a set of tongue-and-groove pliers — more on those later — with teal handles for your 18th birthday (thanks for that, Dad), it’s not too much. later to compile your own assortment of essential tools and supplies. Here’s what the experts suggest you need. Note that many items are multi-purpose, which can save you space and money.

Hammer. Hammers are the workhorses of any tool kit. You can use them to close off a can of paint, pull out a stray nail, or hammer that security alarm sign into your flower bed. Consider it a staple, says Chuck Khiel, senior vice president of Bethesda, Maryland. Fred home improvement. There are different types, including ball, sledge, and mallet, but the 16-ounce claw hammer, which has a slotted, curved head on one side, should handle most jobs and isn’t too heavy. to handle.

You don’t need a ton of equipment to clean your house. Here are the basics.

Tape measure. Look for one at least 25 feet long to measure just about anything indoors or outdoors. There should be fractions of an inch – down to 1/16 – labeled, so you can focus on measuring and not counting the marks, says Vineta Jackson, who writes about home improvement at the The handyman’s daughter.

Four-in-one screwdriver. Whether you need to tighten a loose hinge, assemble a toy, or change an item’s batteries, it’s the ultimate affordable tool, says Sean Walsh, general contractor and CEO of Walcraft Cabinets in Ohio. It comes with two double-sided bits, including two flat heads and two X-shaped Phillips heads. These can be swapped in and out of the screwdriver handle.

Set of pliers. A standard three-piece set includes slip-joint, needle-nose, and six-inch diagonal (or cutting) pliers. “They let you master anything,” says Kevin Busch, vice president of operations for Mr Handyman. Needle-nose pliers are particularly effective in small, tight spaces, and diagonal pliers are ideal if you need to cut wires.

Tongue and groove pliers. These adjustable pliers are ideal for tightening threaded connections, such as sink drains, and for turning handles or valves. “It’s my go-to for plumbing repairs: to stop water leaks, change a showerhead, or grab a stuck valve, so you can apply enough leverage to turn it off,” says Walsh.

Socket wrench set. A socket wrench does the same job as a conventional wrench, but more efficiently. Instead of buying dozens of wrenches, you can buy a single handle and removable sockets of different sizes. A socket wrench, with its ratcheting handle, allows you to turn a nut or bolt without repositioning the tool on the fastener – as you would need to do with a wrench – when there is not enough place to turn it in a complete circle. A set of about 25 sockets should suffice.

Levels. Jackson suggests adding two sizes of tiers to your tool kit. One should be six to eight inches long, and the other should be four feet long. “The shorter one is good for hanging pictures or shelves,” she says. “The longer should be sufficient for larger spans, such as side-by-side shelving, or if you have a project like outdoor pavers.”

Five-in-one painter’s tool. This inexpensive gadget can be the Swiss army knife of computer hardware. It looks like a putty knife, with its wide, flat blade, and it has a tip for digging, a square end opposite the tip, and a curved cutout. Use it as a can or bottle opener, scraper, paint roller cleaner, screwdriver and more. Khiel says it can even help peel off painted windows.

All purpose knife. “Please don’t use a steak knife to open the boxes,” Busch says. A utility knife with retractable, replaceable blades can cut thick materials including cardboard, rope, foam rubber, thick tape and more.

Cordless drill with interchangeable bits. The least intimidating of all power tools is the cordless drill. Prices start at around $35, and manufacturers usually produce them with long-lasting rechargeable batteries. Even if you have to pay a little more, get a full set of bits – drill, screwdriver, hex head, star head – to make it as versatile as possible. A good cordless drill lets you get the job done much more efficiently than by hand, says Busch.

Magnetic stud finder. A post is the wooden frame that supports your wall. When you’re going to hang something heavy, you want to make sure you’re nailing or drilling into wood, not just drywall, so it doesn’t fall. Electronic stud finders tend to give false readings, especially on textured walls, Jackson says. Instead, use a magnetic one (about $10), which you can move around the wall. Stud finders should stick to screws or nails in the wood frame.

Scotch tape. A universal adhesive, duct tape can seal boxes, corral cords, patch holes in a garden hose or spray faucet, repair a shower curtain and more. And it comes in a rainbow of colors.

WD-40. This blend of lubricants and anti-corrosion agents quiets noisy doors and hinges, lubricates locks, loosens stuck bolts or zippers, and even removes pencil marks and other stains from many surfaces.

Allen key set. If you’ve ever assembled an Ikea piece of furniture, you’ll be familiar with this little tool, also known as a hex key, used to turn bolts and socket screws, Jackson says. “I like mine on a ring, so you can easily find the one that’s right for you,” she says. Allen keys are useful for tightening assembled furniture, towel racks and more.

Something to put everything in. Whether it’s a five-gallon paint bucket, a sturdy duffel bag, or a toolbox with multiple shelves, store everything in one place, not all over the house. When you need a quick fix, you want something easy to carry, so you don’t have to rummage through drawers or scour cabinets.

Denver-based writer Laura Daily specializes in consumer advocacy and travel strategy. Find it on dailywriter.net.

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