Essential Tools for Every Homeowner's Toolbox

Kristy Esch
Written by Kristy Esch
Updated August 6, 2015
A Diy Tool Tray containing hammers, screwdrivers, pliers, level, spanners and screws
Jonathan Kitchen/ The Image Bank via Getty Images

Hammer out your home to-do list — from hanging a picture to replacing a toilet paper holder — with these essential tools that should be in everyone's toolbox.

Get quotes from up to 3 pros!
Enter a zip below and get matched to top-rated pros near you.
essential tools for a toolbox and DIY handyman projects

Can't see the graphic? Here's the text-only version:

Essentials for every toolbox

When I moved several states away, my dad gave me something every woman should own: A toolbox full of tools. When it came to using my new tools, I was screwed. But with a few short lessons, I gained the confidence I needed to hammer out a home to-do list.

Whether you plan to hang a shelf, replace the toilet paper holder or add new decorative handles to your kitchen cabinets, here’s a list of tools and tasks you might use them on:

Utility knifeUse: Slices and dicesCommon projects: Cutting painters tape stuck to the wall, opening moving boxes, cutting carpet to fit

Carpenter’s pencilUse: Marks nearly any surface, including wood, concrete and stoneCommon projects: Identifying studs, writing measurements, hanging artwork

Locking pliersUse: Loosens nuts and boltsCommon projects: Removing a toilet, installing a bed frame, changing a faucet

RELATED: Bathroom Remodeling and Maintenance Tools

Retractable measuring tape (16 feet)Use: Measures distance or lengthCommon projects: Hanging a curtain rod, creating a garden bed, sizing a room for furniture

Stud finderUse: Locates wood and metal framing studs behind wallsCommon projects: Hanging a towel bar, installing a ceiling hook, mounting a TV

Small storage containerUse: Keeps nails, screws, nuts and bolts in orderCommon projects: Allows you to stay organized when building a deck, installing a smoke detector, replacing outlet covers

Screwdrivers (slot head or flat head and Phillips head)Use: Turns screws to drive them into, or remove them from, a surfaceCommon projects: Replacing cabinet hardware, changing locks on doors, opening a can of paint

SandpaperUse: Smooths surfacesCommon projects: Sanding a wooden cabinet before refinishing, cleaning and sharpening scissors, cleaning tile grout

Spackling pasteUse: Fixes holes in wallsCommon projects: Patching and repairing small holes in drywall, plaster walls, and sometimes wood

Spackle knifeUse: Spreads puttyCommon projects: Filling old nail or screw holes, scraping paint in tight areas, patching a dent in the wall

Super glueUse: Adheres objects togetherCommon projects: Fixing a broken lantern, reinstalling a broken coffee pot handle, making minor car repairs

LevelUse: Straightens and alignsCommon projects: Hanging a shelf, installing a countertop, arranging artwork

Finish hammerUse: Pounds or pulls nails, breaks through hard surfacesCommon projects: Hanging a picture, removing tile, repairing a staircase railing

Tape (electrical, duct, painter’s)Use: Secures items in placeCommon projects: Taping together wires, packing boxes, creating straight lines when painting

And the one thing dad forgot…Safety gogglesUse: Protects your eyesCommon project: Wear while weed-whacking, sanding or cutting wood, working with power tools or sharp objects

RELATED: From Santa's Workshop to Yours: Gifts for DIYers

Editor's note: This is an updated version of an article originally published on July 10, 2014.

Need professional help with your project?
Get quotes from top-rated pros.