By: Karl Wulf



When you own your home, things are going to break and, unless you want to spend your money on visits from a neighborhood handyman, you’re going to need to fix them yourself. Luckily, you don’t need an arsenal of tools to handle most home maintenance fixes. These few tools will cover most of your basic projects.

  1. Screwdriver Set: The simple beauty of screwdrivers makes them the ideal tools to tighten cabinet hardware, install light switches, and crack open the lids on metal paint cans. A basic set should include a couple of sizes of Robertson (Square Head), Phillips (Star Head), Slot Head (Flat Head).  It can also be helpful to have a stubby multibit screwdriver to get into tight spots.
  2. Tape Measure: Keep it on hand to measure anything from the wall area for a paint project to the thickness of lumber at the home center—where you'll learn that a 2x4 is not exactly 2 by 4 inches. 
  3. Tool Box: Keeping your collection of drivers, screws, and bolts in an easy-to-haul toolbox keeps things organized and handy. Look for a sutrdy cloth bag with a zipper, outside pockets and a shoulder strap.
  4. Hammer: A 16-ounce smooth-faced claw hammer with a fibreglass handle is easy to manage for driving nails into walls to hang pictures and knocking together ready-to-assemble furniture.  The curved claw is useful for pulling out the nails that inevitably get bent. 
  5. Duct Tape: For quick fixes around the house, this supersticky tape adheres to just about anything and has a thick, woven backing that is thicker than most rolls, yet easy rip to length. Use it to repair torn tarps, broken buckets, and just about everything except ducts.
  6. Flashlight: With a rechargeable worklight that you leave plugged in, you won't have to go looking for fresh batteries the next time the breaker trips or when you have work to do inside a dark sink cabinet.
  7. Set of Pliers: Use them to straighten bent power-cord plugs, replace old showerheads, slice wiring, and get a good grip on just about anything.   A basic set should include needle nose, channel lock and cutters.
  8. Utility Knife (aka box cutter): You'll be reaching for this tool again and again to open boxes, sharpen pencils, and shave wood. Spend a little more upfront for one with a comfortable rubber-covered handle and built-in blade storage. Then you're more likely to pop in a fresh blade rather than forcing a dull one, which isn't safe.
  9. Putty Knife:  Just the tool you need to spread a smidgen of spackling compound, reglaze a window, or scrape off paint or wallpaper. Purchase one with a flexible 2-inch-wide blade for general purpose repairs, if you need to repair a larger hole, you'll want to move up to bigger blade.
  10. Adjustable Wrench:You need one to tighten and assemble all manner of swing sets and appliances as well as plumbing fixtures. Find a set with a longer handle (for when you need extra leverage to free a stuck nut) and a shorter handle (for when space is tight).
Lastly, watch for sales and pick up a decent battery powered drill and a package of assorted drill bits and screwdriver bits.  You don't want to buy anything too cheap as it won't have enough power.  Try and stick to lighter weight and when possible, get the extra battery and a quick charge charger to save you stopping in the middle of your job to plug in.