Every home needs a little TLC from time to time. Whether you’re a professional real estate flipper renovating Chicago houses for sale, a Texas ranch-hand being paid to make some repairs on the ol’ homestead, or just an average family man sick of paying someone else to do the same work you could easily do yourself, here are some basic items every DIY handyman needs to have in his toolbox.

Safety equipment

The first and most important gear you need is safety equipment. Even the simplest home improvement projects can be dangerous. Protect your hands from cuts, cold, and electric shock with a good pair of heavy-duty, rubber-coated work gloves. Protect your eyes from splinters, sparks, and flying debris with a pair of sturdy and securely fastened safety goggles. Protect your lungs from breathing in harmful particles with a pack of inexpensive, disposable dust masks.

Level & tape measure

An all-too-common mistake amateur handymen make is to think they can get away with “eyeballing” their measurements. The first time you lose an entire day’s worth of work because of one crooked line or a too-short cut of wood, you’ll realize just how important it is to not rely on guesswork. Having a level and a tape measure on hand at all times can go a long way to saving you time, money, and more than a few headaches.

Hammer & nails

Stop! Hammer time! The workhorse of every toolbox, a handyman is nothing without his trusty hammer. The most common and versatile variant is a long but lightweight 16-ounce hammer with a smooth head and a curved claw, as useful for removing nails as it is for driving them in. And speaking of nails, different projects require different kinds, from tiny finishing nails meant to go unseen to imposing masonry nails designed to punch through concrete. Thus, it’s a good idea to have a wide assortment available at any given time.

Multi-bit screwdriver

Like nails, there are many types and sizes of screws, with each one requiring a different type and size of screwdrivers. From small to medium to large. From Phillips to flathead. You used to have to buy a full set of screwdrivers for each. Nowadays, multi-bit screwdrivers are becoming as popular as they are convenient. With its interchangeable assortment of heads, a good multi-bit screwdriver offers the range of an entire set in just one single tool.

Adjustable wrench

Much like a multi-bit screwdriver, one adjustable wrench is worth a whole toolbox full of individually sized wrenches. With just a few short flicks, you can change the size of the wrench to fit whatever nuts or bolts you need to tighten or loosen. Whether you’re fixing a leaky faucet or putting together a swing set, there’s hardly a home improvement project under the sun that doesn’t require at least some wrench work.

Utility knife & handsaw

One of the most useful items in any toolbox, a retractable utility knife is ideal for opening boxes, trimming wallpaper, shaving wood, and marking notches. Its big brother the handsaw, meanwhile, is essential for more involved home improvement jobs that involve cutting lengths of lumber or molding. Less intimidating for DIY handymen than an electric saw (and far less expensive), a handsaw is quick, convenient, and easy to control. Whether saws or knives, though, improper handling of blades big or small can be hazardous. So be careful!


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