Before undertaking a home improvement project, large or small, you want to have the right tools on hand. While purchasing tools isn’t at the top of many people’s to do lists, they will definitely come in handy when you take on a home improvement or DIY project.
Since there are so many different types of tools, knowing what to invest in can be overwhelming. As a contractor, these are the tools I recommend for two major reasons: they are most likely to show up on a list of “tools you need,” and they are versatile.
This is sort of a cheat, since this one “tool” actually contains many. But a multi-tool set is a great way to make sure you have everything from screwdrivers to Allen wrenches whenever you need them.
Workspaces and shops ideally include a mix of fixed overhead lighting and standing lights that can be moved as needed. And don’t underestimate headlamps! They’re a great way to illuminate a project hands-free without propping up a flashlight or spiking your electric bill. If a hardhat headlamp is excessive for the work you do, consider a smaller headlamp on a strap.
Drilling holes and driving screws are hallmarks of home improvement jobs. I prefer chucked drills because, unlike quick-release drills, they let you use bits of any size. There are two basic types of chucked drills: keyed and keyless. Keyed chucks require – you guessed it – a key for tightening the chuck to keep it in place. They can be annoying if you lose the key, but keyed chuck drills hold bits tighter than keyless.
A combination of fast, effective belt sanders and slow finishing sanders, the random orbital sander is great for patching drywall as well as refinishing cabinets, furniture or doors. In other words, you’ll likely need one at some point. The word “random” here is a reference to its variable rotation, which keeps you from oversanding any one surface spot.
Also known as a Sawzall, reciprocating saws are electric saws that make demolition projects easier. They cut through everything from pipes to wood (including pesky tree branches) to metal nails. If you’re in a tricky situation, like a ladder or a tight space, a reciprocating saw is more manageable than a circular saw.
Safety equipment isn’t listed but it’s the most essential tool you should have. Don’t start any project without the safety glasses, earplugs, a mask and other protective gear specific to the project. For reference, it’s sometimes referred to as person protective equipment (PPE).
These are tools you’ll use more than you expect. They are well worth the investment because you’ll use them over and over again.
Host, DIY Network’s Rescue Renovation, licensed contractor and 2009 Stud Finder winner. Kayleen also works extensively with Skills USA, a partnership of students, teachers and industry working together to develop a skilled workforce. Kayleen has done custom construction projects, including pergolas, decks and a house.