50 Must-Have Tools for the DIY Homeowner
Building up your tool collection? (Pun intended!)
Wondering what you need to make yourself more effective as a DIYer?
Maybe you’ve gotten used to using that one multi-purpose tool, and it’s time to invest in something more specific to the task. The right tools for each task will help you tackle your projects more efficiently.
In this guide, we’ve curated 50 must-have tools for the DIY homeowner, covering:
- Hand tools
- Power tools
- Woodworking necessities
- Painting and finishing supplies
- Plumbing and electrical tools
- Safety gear
Take a look and see which ones you could add to your toolbox.
Hand tools are the foundation of any DIY homeowner’s toolbox, enabling you to perform basic tasks and tackle a wide range of projects. You’ll need them for measuring, cutting, fastening, and adjusting various materials.
Chances are, you have many of them already. Find out with this list:
- Tape measure: The cornerstone of every toolbox, a reliable tape measure will ensure your projects are accurate and precise. Opt for one that is durable and has a locking mechanism for convenience.
- Hammer: A solid hammer is indispensable for driving nails, removing them, or even for some light demolition work. A 16-ounce claw hammer is an excellent all-purpose choice.
- Screwdriver set: You’ll need both flathead and Phillips head screwdrivers in various sizes. Consider investing in a set with ergonomic handles for a comfortable grip.
- Adjustable wrench: This versatile tool allows you to tighten or loosen nuts and bolts of different sizes. Start with an 8-inch adjustable wrench.
- Pliers: Needle-nose, slip-joint, and tongue-and-groove pliers are some essential types to have for gripping, cutting, and bending wires, nails, and other materials.
- Utility knife: A reliable utility knife has so many uses—cutting through various materials, opening packages, and trimming edges. Choose one with a retractable blade for safety and easy storage.
- Level: A level helps ensure that your projects are perfectly horizontal or vertical. Opt for a 24-inch level with both bubble and digital readings for maximum utility.
- Combination square: A combination square allows you to measure and mark angles (45 and 90 degrees), check surface flatness, and measure the depth of grooves or the height of objects.
- Handsaw: A handsaw is a must-have for cutting through wood, plastic, and other materials. We recommend a 15-inch general-purpose handsaw.
- Stud finder: This tool helps you locate wall studs, which is crucial for hanging heavy objects securely. Electronic stud finders can detect not only studs but also electrical wiring and pipes.
Power tools significantly increase efficiency, speed, and ease of performing complex tasks. They enable precise cutting, drilling, and shaping of materials, often providing a level of accuracy and control that is difficult to achieve with hand tools alone.
They may require an initial investment, but they will be worth it as they allow you to tackle more ambitious projects and get professional results.
- Cordless drill: Drill holes and drive screws quickly and efficiently. Choose one with variable speed, torque settings, and a long-lasting battery.
- Circular saw: This powerful tool is perfect for making straight cuts in wood, plywood, and other materials. Opt for a model with a stable, adjustable base and a safety guard.
- Jigsaw: The jigsaw allows you to make curved cuts and intricate patterns. Look for one with variable speed settings, a comfortable grip, and easy blade-changing capabilities.
- Oscillating multi-tool: This versatile tool can cut, sand, grind, and scrape using interchangeable attachments. It’s perfect for tight spaces and detailed work.
- Random orbital sander: This sander produces a smooth, swirl-free finish on wood surfaces, making it perfect for refinishing furniture or preparing surfaces for painting.
- Power planer: A power planer is great for smoothing rough edges and leveling surfaces quickly. Choose one with adjustable depth control and a dust-collection system.
- Reciprocating saw: This heavy-duty tool is perfect for demolition work, cutting through wood, metal, and PVC pipes. You’ll want one with variable speed control and a comfortable grip.
- Router: A router is essential for creating decorative edges, grooves, and dados in wood. Look for one with variable speed settings and a plunge base for increased versatility.
- Angle grinder: This versatile tool can be used for cutting, grinding, and polishing various materials, including metal, masonry, and tile. Opt for a model with adjustable speed control and a safety guard.
- Air compressor: An air compressor powers pneumatic tools like nail guns and paint sprayers, making it a valuable addition to any DIY workshop—not to mention you can use it to add air to tires, too!
Carpentry and Woodworking Tools
Carpentry and woodworking tools are crucial for DIY homeowners who want to create custom furniture, or cabinetry, or undertake structural projects. We’ve covered them already, but here are some specifically for wood projects:
- Clamps: Clamps are essential for holding materials together securely while you work. Invest in a variety of types and sizes, including bar, C, and spring clamps.
- Wood glue: High-quality wood glue creates strong bonds in woodworking projects. Look for a waterproof and fast-drying formula for the best results.
- Miter saw: A miter saw is perfect for making precise angle cuts in wood, especially for trim work and framing. Choose a model with adjustable angles and a sliding feature for added versatility.
- Kreg jig: A Kreg jig is a fantastic tool for creating strong, hidden joints in woodworking projects.
- Moisture meter: Because moisture can greatly impact wood projects, a quality moisture meter will help ensure that your wood is at the proper moisture content before you begin.
Read our full list of Top 40 Woodworking Tools to find out what else you might need.
Painting and Finishing Supplies
Paint and finish can add polish and a professional look to your projects. Consider having the following items on hand:
- Paintbrushes: Buy a set of paintbrushes in various sizes and shapes for painting walls, trim, and furniture.
- Paint roller and tray: A paint roller and tray make applying paint to large surfaces quick and easy. Get one with an extension handle for added convenience.
- Drop cloths: Protect your floors and furniture from paint splatters with heavy-duty drop cloths made from canvas or plastic.
- Painter’s tape: Use painter’s tape to create sharp edges and protect surfaces you don’t want to paint.
- Sandpaper: Stock up on sandpaper in various grits for prepping surfaces before painting and for smoothing between coats.
- Putty knife: A flexible putty knife will allow you to fill holes, cracks, and seams with spackle or joint compound.
- Caulking gun: A caulking gun is necessary for applying caulk to seal gaps and create a professional finish.
- Paint scraper: A paint scraper helps remove old paint and other finishes before applying a fresh coat.
- Wire brush: Use a wire brush to clean and prepare surfaces before painting or refinishing.
Plumbing and Electrical Tools
Learning how to do your own plumbing and electrical work? These specialized tools will help, allowing you to save on professional services:
- Pipe wrench: This essential plumbing tool is used for gripping and turning pipes and other round objects.
- Plunger: A plunger is a must-have for clearing clogs in sinks, toilets, and drains.
- Drain snake: A drain snake is a flexible, auger-like tool that helps remove stubborn clogs from pipes.
- Pipe cutter: A pipe cutter allows for precise and clean cutting of metal and plastic pipes, making plumbing repairs and installations more efficient.
- Voltage tester: A voltage tester ensures that electrical circuits are safe to work on by detecting the presence of voltage.
- Wire stripper: Use this tool for removing insulation from electrical wires during repairs or installations.
- Soldering iron: A soldering iron is for joining electrical wires and components with solder, ensuring strong and reliable connections.
- Crimping tool: A crimping tool helps you attach connectors to electrical wires, especially when working with network cables or coaxial cables.
- Fish tape: Fish tape is essential for pulling wires through walls, ceilings, and conduits, making electrical installations and repairs easier. If you’re going to do more intense projects in this category, it will save you many headaches.
Safety and Protective Gear
Keeping yourself safe while working means using the right protective gear. Items like safety goggles, ear protection, and gloves can shield your body against potential hazards—flying debris, loud noises, and sharp objects.
Make sure you have the following for a responsible work environment:
- Safety goggles: Protect your eyes from debris and dust with a pair of durable safety goggles. Choose goggles with anti-fog lenses and a comfortable fit.
- Ear protection: Reduce noise-induced hearing damage by wearing earplugs or earmuffs when operating loud power tools.
- Dust mask/respirator: A dust mask or respirator will protect your lungs from harmful particles, especially when sanding, cutting, or working with hazardous materials.
- Work gloves: A sturdy pair of work gloves—with reinforced palms and fingertips for durability—will shield your hands from cuts, abrasions, and splinters.
- Non-slip work boots: Invest in a pair of comfortable, non-slip work boots to protect your feet and provide support during long projects.
- First aid kit: Accidents happen, so always keep a well-stocked first aid kit nearby. Keep it stocked with band-aids, antiseptic, gauze, and other essentials.
- Fire extinguisher: Have fire extinguishers accessible throughout your house and workshop, and check them regularly.
Equip Yourself for Your Next Project
Investing in the right tools as a DIYer will benefit you in so many ways in the long run, including money saved, an improved living space, and the satisfying feeling of doing something yourself.
With these 50 must-have tools, you’ll be well-equipped to tackle a wide range of projects, both big and small. Have other tools to add to our list? Let us know in the comments!
For another read, check out the Top 30 Construction Tools you might need.
Wagner Meters is a family-owned American business that aims to provide solutions in moisture measurement technology that will enhance the quality and value of each customer’s project. With an almost 60-year legacy of innovation, Wagner continues to be a resource for both individual craftsmen and high-performance commercial endeavors.
Last updated on June 26th, 2023