How to Put Together a Basic Tool Kit

If you've never been too handy but want to make sure you're ready to go in the event of a breakdown or repair in your home, use these tips to put together a basic tool kit. 

Basic tool kit

Even if you’re not super handy, you need to be ready to tackle basic repairs and breakdowns in your home. While some repairs might require specialized expertise, basic tools and the right YouTube videos can help you handle most simple repairs in your house or apartment. But what basic tools do you need in your home tool box?


For most household jobs, you don’t need a specialized hammer. A medium-weight claw hammer will do fine. And, while you can probably do without one, a rubber mallet will be useful for jobs like installing laminate flooring or closing paint cans.

Tape Measure

A 25-foot measuring tape will help you measure for new curtains or furniture, or even measure rooms for new flooring installations. Make sure you get one that’s big enough for the largest room in your home.

A Multi-Bit Screw and Nut Driver

If you don’t buy any other household tool, you should get a multi-bit screwdriver and nut driver. These should have all the bits and sizes you need for most common screws and small nuts. Buy a ratcheting model to make tightening nuts and screws easier.

A Large Level

A high-quality, sturdy level should last you the rest of your life, and it’s important to spend a little on this tool, as you want to make sure your level is accurate. A large torpedo level will help you hang shelves and towel bars, drill holes in a straight line, check the alignment of large pieces of furniture, hang pictures straight and more.

A Few Pairs of Pliers

One pair of pliers simply isn’t enough. You need heavy, grooved pliers for removing staples, carpet tacks, and nails, and needle-nosed pliers for delicate tasks. If you do any kind of crafting, you’ll want some wire-cutting pliers. It’s best to have a few sizes and shapes.

Wire Cutters

Large wire cutters can be used to cut electrical wiring, picture wire or hardware cloth. A wire cutter and stripper is best for dealing with electrical wiring, while a mini bolt cutter or cable cutter offers more robust bolt, wire and cable cutting capabilities but may be overkill for many household jobs.

A Vice Grip

A vice grip or channel lock is the perfect tool to have when you need an extra pair of hands. Vice grips look like pliers, but they have a locking mechanism that allows you to hold things in a slip-free, tight grip or even hands-free. 

Painter’s Tape

When you’re painting your walls, blue painter’s tape can mask off areas you don’t want to paint, but it has plenty of other uses, too. Use it to mark stud locations when hanging pictures, moulding, or shelves, or tape down runners of butcher paper to protect your hardwood floors when moving furniture. 

A Utility Knife with Extra Blades

Whether you’re tearing out old carpet, hanging wallpaper, breaking down cardboard boxes or doing a craft project, nothing beats a utility knife. Buy a knife and extra blades — you can usually pick up a large package of extra blades for a few dollars. Grab a knife with a retractable blade, or one with a snap-off blade for easy sharpening.

A Stud Finder

Whether you’re hanging a shelf, a heavy picture or a television, you need to be able to anchor them firmly into your wall studs. A stud finder will help you do that.


Plain, old lead pencils are handy for marking places where you need to drill a hole or hammer in a nail, recording measurements and so forth. If you need to write something down, you can use sticky notes or a small strip of blue painter’s tape to do it.

A Cordless Drill

If you buy one power tool for your home tool box, make it a cordless drill. You can use this tool with your screwdriver bits as a power screwdriver, or with your drill bits to create pilot holes. While you might be tempted to buy a corded version, a cordless drill gives you much greater flexibility, and it eliminates the need to buy an extension cord.

Some Glues, Solvents, Nails and Screws

Tools aren’t the only element of a good tool kit — you also need the right products. Grab a tube of super glue, some white Elmer’s glue, and a bottle of wood glue. These should cover most of your household glue needs. You should also stock your tool box with a tube of Goo Gone or a similar solvent for your goo-dissolving needs. A few assorted nails and screws, as well as a basic picture hanging hardware kit, will come in handy, too.

A Paint Key

You might not use a paint can key very often, but it sure comes in handy when you need to open a can of paint, varnish or stain. While you can use a flathead screwdriver for the same purpose, a paint key does the job more efficiently and without damaging your paint can lid.

A Putty Knife

If you ever need to repair damaged drywall with spackle or scrape up dropped bubblegum or spilled paint, you’ll need a putty knife. They come in various sizes, both in plastic and metal, although the metal ones are obviously more durable. 

Every homeowner needs a basic tool kit. With the right tools, you’ll be ready to tackle a wide range of small home repair jobs. And just remmeber if you don't want to bother with DIYing and you have an American Home Shield home warranty, you can simply make a service request using MyAccountIf have yet to invest in your home with a home warranty and want to leave the work to the professionals, click below to get a quote!

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If you’re already an AHS member, we’re here for you when you need us. You can request service in MyAccount 24/7.

AHS assumes no responsibility, and specifically disclaims all liability, for your use of any and all information contained herein.

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