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Whether you’re building a birdhouse or making repairs around your home, having the right tools for the job is crucial. Do-it-yourself (DIY) enthusiasts know how important it is to have a trusty tool kit, but new homeowners may have few tools at their disposal.
Our team has researched the best tools on the market to help homeowners prepare for virtually any scenario.
Top 30 Tools
The following tools meet a wide variety of household needs:
- Best Hammer: Irwin Tools General Purpose Hammer
- Best Tape Measure: Craftsman Self-Locking Tape Measure
- Best Jigsaw: Black and Decker Jigsaw
- Best Screwdriver: Klein Tools Multi-Bit Screwdriver
- Best Wrench Set: Workpro Ratcheting Combination Wrench Set
- Best Pliers: Irwin Tools Vise-Grip Pliers Set
- Best Stud Finder: Franklin Sensors Professional Stud Finder
- Best Impact Driver: Dewalt Max Impact Driver Kit
- Best Miter Saw: Metabo HPT 10-Inch Miter Saw
- Best Work Gloves: Ironclad General Utility Work Gloves
- Best Hatchet: Fiskars X7 Hatchet
- Best Multitool: Leatherman Wingman Multitool
- Best Headlamp: Energizer LED Headlamp Pro Two-Pack
- Best Pruning Shears: Vivosun 6.5-Inch Gardening Scissors
- Best Snow Thrower: Snow Joe Electric Walk-Behind Snow Blower
- Best Hand Saw: Craftsman 20-Inch Hand Saw
- Best Wire Cutter: Irwin Vise-Grip Wire Stripping Tool
- Best Sander: Skil Corded Multi-Function Detail Sander
- Best Extension Cord: Clear Power 50-Foot Outdoor Extension Cord
- Best Utility Knife: Workpro Premium Utility Knife
- Best Safety Glasses: 3M Anti-Fog Safety Glasses
- Best Laser Level: Bosch Green-Beam Laser Level and Tripod
- Best Tool Set: Cartman 39-Piece General Household Tool Set
- Best Shop Vac: Stanley 6-Gallon Wet/Dry Vacuum
- Best Multimeter: AstroAI Digital Multimeter
- Best Paint Sprayer: HomeRight Finish Max Paint Sprayer
- Best Ear Muffs: 3M Peltor Over-the-Head Ear Muffs
- Best Portable Power Station: Jackery Portable Power Station
- Best Leaf Blower: Ego Power+ Cordless Leaf Blower
- Best Putty Knife: Amazon Basics Nylon Handle Putty Knife
Best Hammer: Irwin Tools General Purpose Hammer
Best Tape Measure: Craftsman Self-Locking Tape Measure
Best Jigsaw: Black and Decker Jigsaw
Best Screwdriver: Klein Tools Multi-Bit Screwdriver
Best Wrench Set: Workpro Ratcheting Combination Wrench Set
Best Pliers: Irwin Tools Vise-Grip Pliers Set
Best Stud Finder: Franklin Sensors Professional Stud Finder
Best Impact Driver: Dewalt Max Impact Driver Kit
Best Miter Saw: Metabo HPT 10-Inch Miter Saw
Best Work Gloves: Ironclad General Utility Work Gloves
Best Hatchet: Fiskars X7 Hatchet
Best Multitool: Leatherman Wingman Multitool
Best Headlamp: Energizer LED Headlamp Pro Two-Pack
Best Pruning Shears: Vivosun 6.5-Inch Gardening Scissors
Best Snow Thrower: Snow Joe Electric Walk-Behind Snow Blower
Best Hand Saw: Craftsman 20-Inch Hand Saw
Best Wire Cutter: Irwin Vise-Grip Wire Stripping Tool
Best Sander: Skil Corded Multi-Function Detail Sander
Best Extension Cord: Clear Power 50-Foot Outdoor Extension Cord
Best Utility Knife: Workpro Premium Utility Knife
Best Safety Glasses: 3M Anti-Fog Safety Glasses
Best Laser Level: Bosch Green-Beam Laser Level and Tripod
Best Tool Set: Cartman 39-Piece General Household Tool Set
Best Shop Vac: Stanley 6-Gallon Wet/Dry Vacuum
Best Multimeter: AstroAI Digital Multimeter
Best Paint Sprayer: HomeRight Finish Max Paint Sprayer
Best Ear Muffs: 3M Peltor Over-the-Head Ear Muffs
Best Portable Power Station: Jackery Portable Power Station
Best Leaf Blower: Ego Power+ Cordless Leaf Blower
Best Putty Knife: Amazon Basics Nylon Handle Putty Knife
Buying Guide for Tools
Tools come in many different forms. Though a tool can be defined as nearly any instrument used to help accomplish a specific task, we’ll focus on what to look for when buying long-lasting tools for typical household use.
Check out any review from our team for more detailed buying information on a specific type of tool or product.
Many tools are designed to remove, fasten, manipulate, or even destroy objects. What you intend to achieve is the most important factor when selecting a tool. Here are some of the most common reasons to need hand tools, power tools, gardening tools, and other standard household tools.
Besides using a knife or scissors to open something, loosening and tightening screws, bolts, and an array of hardware that holds objects together is arguably the most common tool application. An adjustable wrench is a highly versatile option that works on various fittings. Power screwdrivers, impact drivers, or cordless drills are also very useful and usually include several drill bits.
Measuring and Locating
Tape measures are an essential part of a tool kit. It’s important to know the precise distance from one point to another, and you can’t always rely on a smartphone app to do this. Laser levels and stud finders also allow homeowners to measure distances and identify the best places to nail or screw into the wall to mount a television or piece of artwork correctly.
Cutting, Boring, and Woodworking
Woodworking calls for its own set of tools, but items such as saws can cut many different things.
Boring or drilling holes into objects—namely wood or your walls—is also fairly common. Again, a trusty power drill or impact driver is useful for this.
Standard power saws such as a miter saw, circular saw, or jigsaw are helpful for a variety of jobs.
Finally, we recommend having a good sander on hand for stripping or finishing.
Gardening and Landscaping
Not all tools are used inside the home. Tools can also help you maintain your yard and outdoor living space. The most commonly used gardening tools include trowels, hoses, hoes, and tillers or cultivators.
Light Electrical Work
Many electrical problems can be resolved by simply flipping a switch on your home’s breaker panel. However, light electrical work can involve stripping or splitting wires to rewire or repair an outlet.
You may also find yourself fixing a broken minor appliance such as a toaster or coffee maker. Due to the risk of electrocution, keep DIY electrical repairs to a minimum, and contact a professional electrician when in doubt. You can also buy a voltage tester or multimeter.
Other Home Improvement Projects
Even if everything in your home functions properly, you may want tools to complete home improvement projects, such as updating your bathroom with new fixtures or replacing outdated kitchen cabinets. A comprehensive toolset can help you accomplish these tasks. Standard multi-piece tool sets typically include the following items:
- Bit set (part of a power tool set)
- Long-nose or needle-nose pliers
- Screwdriver or screwdriver set
- Socket wrench
- Tape measure
- Utility knife or scissors
It’s important to protect yourself regardless of the project you are completing. Safety gear protects your hearing, vision, and breathing to preserve long-term health. These tools include earmuffs, earplugs, safety glasses, goggles, masks, and respirators. A thick pair of work gloves can also protect you, but it’s safer not to wear them in some instances.
Materials and Build Quality
High-quality tools last many years—sometimes even an entire lifetime. It’s worth paying more for a tool that can be found cheaper if it’s built to higher standards and uses better materials. Some tool manufacturers have a better reputation than others, and a higher price doesn’t necessarily equate to a better product. Do your research and read about other users’ experiences to get an idea of how long the tool will serve your needs.
Not all tools that require power are considered power tools. For instance, a laser level may use batteries or come with a charger to power up its battery. Consider the length of a tool’s battery life or whether it takes rechargeable versus disposable batteries. Some battery-powered tools have the option to work without power, such as an electric-assisted snow shovel.
The amount of stress or force you put on your tools affects how long they’ll last and how soon their performance will decrease. Heavy-duty, commercial-grade tools are meant to be used heavily. Lightweight and cheap tools may work for a few years if you use them gently and sparingly. A combination of both inexpensive and premium, high-quality tools is realistic for most people. The more often you use that tool, the better quality it should be.
The ability to work easily and comfortably often comes down to the weight of the tool(s) you’re using. DIYers frequently working on projects should have access to reliable but fairly lightweight tools to minimize the stress load on their bodies. Also, consider the tool’s ergonomic qualities so that it feels good and secure to handle.
Tool Safety Tips
Tools should make life more convenient and enjoyable. Though many ordinary household tools have a relatively low margin for injury, misuse can result in hurting yourself or worsening the issue. Here are several safety tips that apply to specific tools as well as most or all of the tools we’ve covered in this review.
- Regularly inspect any tools before you use them. A quick glance at the tool you intend to use should alert you of any issues. A malfunctioning tool could result in injury.
- Don’t carry hand tools up a ladder as you climb. The safest way to climb a ladder is using both of your hands and legs with full attention. Should you require tools while on the ladder, use a toolbelt or hoist them up to the top of the ladder with someone else’s help.
- Use safety gear. Not every situation calls for safety goggles or glasses, but it’s better to be safe than sorry. Wearing eye protection while operating power tools is nearly always required. We also strongly advise wearing ear muffs or hearing protection when operating power tools.
- Closely follow instructions. Even similar tools may be used differently if they’re different models or from different manufacturers. Read the manufacturer’s instructions before you start using your tool. You can often find the product manual online and read it before your new tool arrives.
- Always use the right tool for the job. Never use a tool for any reason other than its intended purpose. Not only could you hurt yourself or make the matter worse, but you could also break the tool—even a high-quality one.
- Know your limits. It’s great to be ambitious about your DIY projects, but certain jobs are best left to professionals, such as an electrician or a mechanic.
- Don’t wear loose clothing or jewelry when operating certain tools, especially power tools. You should tie back loose hair and tuck in clothing when you’re woodworking or using power tools such as a circular saw. Depending on your project, it’s also smart to wear pants, a long-sleeved shirt, and closed-toed shoes to protect any open skin.
- If applicable, work in a ventilated area or wear breathing protection. Woodworking, painting, or working with chemicals requires adequate ventilation and a mask or respirator. Open your garage door, crack a window, or simply work outside if you can.
- Don’t place tools with a sharp edge in your pocket. No matter which end of the tool is in your pocket, it’s safer to access the instrument from a toolbox, toolbelt, or another carrier. Have someone else carefully hand you the sharp tool if possible.
- Once you’re done, clean your tool and return it to its proper place. Cleaning and storing your tool helps it last longer. Plus, you’ll know exactly where it is the next time you need to use it.
Which company is the best in tools?
There are several trusted tool retailers on the market. The company that provides the best tools depends on what you’re using the tool for. Look for a tool brand with a long history that carries various products with four- and five-star ratings. Here’s a comprehensive but non-exhaustive list of some of the best tool brands online:
- Black and Decker
- Husky (A Home Depot brand)
- Kobalt (A Lowe’s brand)
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What are the best tools to have for first-time homeowners?
The best tools for first-time homeowners include a hammer, tape measure, utility knife, pair of pliers, and a standard screwdriver set or cordless drill. A multi-piece tool set usually includes these. We also recommend these essential tools:
- Extension cord(s)
- Flashlight or headlamp
- Leaf rake or leaf blower
- Putty knife
- Safety glasses and work gloves
- Stud finder
What is the best tool for gardening?
The best tools for gardening typically include a leaf rake, hoe, shovel, trowel or spade, watering can or garden hose, and shears or scissors. As gardening crosses over into landscaping, you might want to think about adding power tools such as a leaf blower, chainsaw, pressure washer, lawnmower, hedge trimmer, or even a snow blower to your arsenal.
What is the best tool for DIYers?
The best tool for avid DIYers is usually an adjustable wrench or a power drill. Other versatile tools that DIYers should have on hand include a hammer, multi-bit screwdriver, hand saw, and a utility knife or scissors.
What types of tools are recommended for woodworking?
Woodworking tools often consist of power saws that can be used for various applications. However, woodworking tools can also be quite specialized and intended only to manipulate or shape wooden materials. Here’s a brief list of some of the most commonly used woodworking tools we’ve reviewed:
- Brad nailer or framing nailer
- Hammer or mallet
- Moisture meter
- Tape measure
- Utility knife
- Various stains and finishes
What is the most useful tool?
The most useful tool is arguably a pair of adjustable pliers or an adjustable screwdriver. These tools are versatile and helpful in numerous everyday situations. There’s also an argument to be made for the knife, which may be one of the oldest tools in human history.
How We Selected the Top-Rated Tools
To provide our readers with the best tool recommendations possible, we rely on several key sources of information to help guide our selection process.
Initial Research: Our research process began by generating a long list of tools with a significant number of verified-buyer reviews and an average customer review rating of 4–5 stars. We looked at positive and negative reviews alike, focusing on information from both satisfied and critical buyers.
Expert Insights: Through our years of experience, we’ve learned that listening to what others have to say is key to building accurate, well-rounded articles. To complement our in-house expertise, our team looked at reviews and videos from trusted publications and independent testers, spoke with subject matter experts, and drew insights from reader contributions.
Final Product Selection: From there, we pared the list down further by comparing each product’s benefits and selecting the best-in-class options for a variety of buyers, budgets, and jobs.
Why You Can Trust Us
This Old House has empowered homeowners and DIYers for more than four decades with top-notch home improvement advice in the form of television programs, print media, and digital content.
Our team focuses on creating in-depth product and service review content. To date, we’ve published numerous tool reviews, from cordless drills and impact drivers to tape measures and laser levels.
Once we conclude our research, we craft a comprehensive, user-friendly article of recommended products and additional information to help our readers make the right purchase.
Questions or Comments?
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