How to Create a Basic Tool Set

Every home or apartment dweller, whether they own the property or not, will at one time need a tool for hanging a picture, putting together furniture, or making minor repairs. While many tool kits come pre-packaged, personalizing the list for your particular needs makes sense. There are several principles to putting together a basic tool set:

  • Include the tools that you will need most often. If you’re just beginning to decorate and will be hanging lots of pictures, a tack hammer may be extremely important. If you will be working with wood frequently, an electric sander may be a better choice than a sanding block.

  • For your basic tool set, include the tools that you may not need on a regular basis, but for which there is no substitute. For example, when you need an Allen wrench, you need it—there’s not a lot else you can do.

  • Include tools that fit your short range plans for any upcoming home repairs or improvements.

If it’s possible for you to borrow certain tools from a friend or rent them from a tool rental outlet, these are also factors to take into account. Another important consideration is the space you have in which to store and use the basic tool set.

construction worker While it is possible to purchase tools in large, prepackaged sets, purchasing them individually allows you more control of specifics, and an opportunity to test each tool to make sure it fits your hand and is an appropriate weight and size for your purposes.

Safety Equipment

Safety means preventing injury during work, but also protecting other items from damage while tools are being used, and cleaning up to prevent injury afterwards. While you might not initially think of a vacuum or drop cloth or tool organizer as “safety” items, they actually do function in this way. Some important safety items to add to your basic tool set include:

  • Work gloves
  • Goggles or Safety glasses
  • Mask (for working with anything dusty or toxic- choose the type according to the task)
  • Flashlight and hanging light
  • Heavy duty extension cord
  • Tool organizer: belt, toolbox, or tool bucket cover to keep tools at hand and well-organized.
  • Vacuum
  • Drop cloth: can catch paint, slivers, and dust on the floor; protect furniture; or provide a barrier to close off a room, when hung in the doorway.

Measuring and Cutting

A variety of tasks, such as breaking down moving boxes, installing shelf paper, making a measuring stick to chart children’s heights as they grow—involve nothing more than measuring and cutting. Here are some of the basic tools for this type of task:

  • Measuring tape (the kind that gives you both the measurement for the tape alone and for the tape plus the holder is handy)
  • Level (choose the size depending on the type of work you routinely do)
  • Utility knife
  • Straight edge (metal keeps its shape best)
  • Saw (a general purpose saw will allow you to cut both with and against the grain)
  • Scissors
  • Pencil and eraser

Attaching/Detaching Things

Putting things together and taking them apart are two of the tasks we often need tools to accomplish, from building a simple bookshelf to taking apart a packing crate. The cordless multi-tool set is worth considering as it can stand in place of a large number of other tools—screw drivers, drill, and ratchet set. Similarly, an adjustable wrench can take the place of a wrench set.

  • Claw hammer (13 oz. or 16 oz. recommended)
  • Rubber mallet
  • Screwdrivers: standard and Phillips, small and large
  • Reversible drill or Cordless multi-tool with bits and other attachments
  • Allen wrench
  • Wrench: either an adjustable wrench or a wrench set
  • Pliers
  • Needlenose pliers/wire cutters
  • Staple Gun
  • Caulk Gun
  • Clamps
  • Vise
  • Masking tape
  • Duct tape
  • Electrical tape
  • Glue, regular and wood glue
  • Epoxy
  • Picture hanging brackets
  • Nails, screws, and tacks in various lengths and sizes
  • Wall anchors
  • Wing nuts/bolts
  • Caulk

Changing the Look of Things and Clean Up

Fans of home improvement often rework and revise, exposing wood that’s been painted over, stenciling the baby’s room, or trying out a new color in the bathroom. These tools are handy to have in a basic tool set for this type of work, as well as other tasks.

  • Putty knife / Paint scraper
  • Chisel
  • Sanding block and sandpaper
  • Sponge
  • Clean rags
  • Bucket
  • Brushes/rollers/handle
  • Cotton swabs
  • Toothpicks

Written by Mary Elizabeth

Related Home Institute Articles

  • Types of Hammers
  • Quick Guide to Home Safety Tools
  • Types of Pliers
  • Introduction to Saws
  • Organizing a Garage
  • Introduction to Tool Racks