A List of Hand Tools

Below is a list of hand tools you should have whether you’re buying or renting. Twelve tools for basic use in nearly every remodeling job or project you’ll ever encounter at home. The list of hand tools here will give you all the tools to tackle basic repairs and light remodeling projects.

Power tools and special hand tools can be rented from rental stores or inside most big box retailers. If you’re doing a large tile project, for instance, you could buy a tile saw for less than $100

(cheaper than renting for several days) and put it on CraigsList after you’re done.

Just remember: Rent only when you HAVE to! In other words, as in the example above, go as far as you can with whole tiles and then rent the saw for only the time you NEED. Try not to have any rental tool sitting around.

Of course this list of hand tools could be many times larger, but start your collection here. They’re listed by importance, but get them all as you never know what will pop up.


Claw Hammer• CLAW HAMMER: $7 – $24 A 16 oz with a steel or fiberglass handle and non-slip grip is best. Look for built in shock absorption, heat treated metal, smooth face head (not waffle head) and rubber grip.

Locking Pliers• LOCKING PLIERS: $12 – $29 Known by the name Vice Grip Pliers, these tools will be your “little helper” many times over! Adjustable tightening aperture allows these wrenches to lock on to nuts, bolts, pipes and all kinds of things. It’s amazing the amount of pressure these can exact.

Screwdriver Set• SCREWDRIVER SET: $10 – $50 – Possibly the most important in your list of hand tools. A half dozen or so slot (flat head) and Philips (star point) is essential. And, using the right screwdriver for the job is important as well. BTW – You can get promotionalpaint can openers for FREE at most places that sellpaint, ie: don’t use screwdrivers for that. Look for: Heat-treated, corrosive resistant, guaranteed forever, rubber handle, comfort grip, nickel-chrome plated.

Utility Knife• UTILITY KNIFE: $5 – $20 Lots of different styles, shapes and sizes! Look for lifetime warranty, easy replacement of blades with blade storage in tool. Also, hold and handle a few to see how they feel in your hand. You’ll be cutting things with a razor blade, so its wize to get one you can hold securly.

Tape Measure• TAPE MEASURE: $9 – $30 As the old saying goes;“Measure twice, cut once”! This is loosely called a tool, but who cares? You need a good one. Look for stud markings (16″, 19.2″, 32″) in red for easy locating, positive blade lock, heat treated spring andat least a 25 foot range.

Hand Saw• HAND SAW: $5 – $22 These are designed for use on wood and can become damaged if cutting other materials. Get at least a 15″ blade, wooden or fiber/rubber handle (“comfort grip” is best, especially if you plan on cutting a lot) and heavy duty.

Hack Saw• HACKSAW: $5 – $20 This is the tool for cutting everything but wood. A “fixed frame hacksaw” has a metal frame which holds a removable blade (get a 10″ saw). Look for easy blade changing, sturdy, 24 tooth blade and buy one with FREE blades included.

Pipe Wrench• 14″ PIPE WRENCH: $10 – $30 Combined with your locking pliers, this tool is what you’ll need for most plumbing jobs—PVC or metal. Look for high strength steel, jaw opening up to 2″+ and a guarantee.

Torpedo Level• 9″ TORPEDO LEVEL: $4 – $25 This is a small, multi-purpose bubble level you’ll use for everything from making sure a countertop or table is level to straightening the artwork around the house. Some even come with a battery charged laser to level all the way across a room.

Needle Nose Pliers• 7″ NEEDLE NOSE PLIERS: $5 – $25 For more delicate work, mostly in regard to electrical work, these are among the most abused of all tools in the entire list of hand tools. These are for holding small wires and things to solder, twisting SMALL metal wire and jobs like that. Look for drop-forged, heat hardened, corrosion resistant and ergonomic handles.

Wire Cutter/Stripper• 8″ WIRE CUTTER/STRIPPER: $10 – $25 For electrical work, this is really the tool you need if you reconfigure your entertainment system, work on electric yard tools or any job requiring the stripping of speaker wires, F connectors, ring type terminals or electrical wiring. Look for comfort grip handles, durable blades and different sized crimping nests.

Electrical Tester• ELECTRICAL TESTER: $3 – $30 This little tool is the one you need to make sure the juice is turned off and to see if an outlet, switch or appliance is live. Important info if you’re planning to stick your hand in and touch electric wires! Look for one that lights up on voltages between 80 and 500 volts (called VAC – volts measured in alternating current).

That’s it. Start here. The total outlay for the entire list of hand tools is around $81 – $275 depending on how feature rich and comfortable you want them. A small price to pay for having the right tool around when you need it. They’ll pay for themselves if one of them replaces a call to a repairman!

And, check The Home Depot online. Click Guaranteed Low Prices…Now Even Lower. Save with great deals only at home depot.com Free shipping on many items and fast turnaround.

Below is the only power tool you need to round out your basic, must haves, absolutely needed, no-home-should-be-without-’em tool collection.

POWER DRILL: $40 – $200+ Okay, not on your list of hand tools, but corded or battery powered, one cannot survive the tests of modern life without a drill. A 3/8″ drill with at least a 6 amp motor (corded) or 18VDC (cordless) with screw-driving bit storage, keyless chuck, variable speeds and reversible.

It’ll be like having a tangible bit of homeowner’s insurance. When something goes wrong or goes out, you-tube it and see how to deal with the problem, then see if you might need to rent a power tool or not. Most of the time you won’t. At any rate, you’ll be more enthusiastic about repairs and small remodeling projects knowing you have the tools!

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Updated: October 27, 2013 — 4:22 pm

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