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Home · February 3, 2015

The 10 Essential Tools You Need to Start an All-Purpose Toolbox

Tape Measurer

Many common shelving and assembly projects require precise measurements. The tape measurer ensures that everything fits and sits exactly how it should.

Utility Knife

You probably know this tool as a box opener. Of course it works for that, but it also cuts thin wood and plastic, old caulking, or vinyl flooringthe list goes on. Use it to cut or trim any light item that needs to be sliced perfectly.

Framing Hammer

Get a hammer thats light and feels good in your hand, yet packs a punch. You'll primarily use this to sink nails into your walls to hang framed photos. (Though thats not why its called a framing hammer; it got its name from the crews that used to assemble building framework.)


Your hammering hand can't offer the same precision of a drill. Furthermore, a drill can cleanly remove the screws it first installs. Use a drill for lighter jobslike making a corn hole setbut also to hang heavier artwork. (Don't forget the anchors!)

Needle-Nose Pliers

This tool provides a masterful grip, perfect for extracting something stubborn like a nail. Buy a pair that has a sticky rubber handlewhich increases your gripping and pulling poweras well as side cutters to snip wires or cables.

Groove-Joint Pliers

Sometimes you need a bigger tool for the job at hand. These large pliers provide serious grip for anything that needs holding or turning, like a sink drain or shower head. Just make sure you turn off the water first.

Adjustable Wrench

A wrench is used for tightening and loosening nuts and bolts. Buy an adjustable one so that it can handle multiple jobs.

Socket Set

When a wrench won't do the trickwe won't blame your muscles, a socket will help clamp down and remove stubborn nuts and bolts. But don't forego the wrenchboth tools offer unique mobility for a range of needs.


Use your level to make sure your frames and shelves hang straight. A magnetic level makes the job easier by eliminating human error from shaky hands.


We saved one of the most obvious tools for last: A good screwdriver will prove useful on numerous household tasks, like removing the battery from the smoke alarm or tightening a wobbly doorknob. Buy a set that has a variety of shapes and sizes, or at least get a reversible one that offers both Phillips and flathead options.

Michael Beck