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Home repairs never seem to come at a good time, but it’s costly and time-consuming to call someone or find a repair person every time you need to set up a piece of furniture, unclog a drain, or change a few lightbulbs. Thankfully, the internet is full of free resources that show you how to fix most problems step by step if you have the right tools.
Keeping a few handy tools in your closet can make the difference between fixing a problem on your own with little or no upfront cost, or waiting “one to two business days.” Better yet, these same tools can be used for DIY projects you might want to tackle to improve your home.
You can’t bank on manufacturers sending all the tools you need to assemble their shelving unit or book case; take matters into your own hands with the 11 tools below.
1. A Toolkit With the Essentials
It’s hard to imagine tackling any DIY project without a toolkit. Most small projects or repairs only require basic tools, but I’m still going to recommend this 148-pice tool set from Cartman. It contains six wrenches, a hammer, a pair of needle-nose pliers, three screwdrivers, one knife, a tape measure, and a wide assortment of ratchets and bits.
You may not use all of these tools regularly but if you’re facing a minor emergency, or realize the project you’re working on requires a slightly more obscure size of screwdriver, you’ll be happy to have it on hand.
Each tool has a rubberized grip that makes it easy to hold, and the toolbox they come in is molded to keep everything in place.
2. A 9-Inch Magnetic Level
If you’re building a shelf, hanging a picture frame, or want to fix a wobbly table, you’re going to need a level. This one from Savage has four vials, which measures how level an object is at 0, 30, 45, and 90 degrees. If it’s level, the small bubble inside each vial will land between the two black lines.
If it’s off, it’ll show whether or not the right or left side is off, which will let you know what to adjust. This level is also magnetic, which makes it a great choice if you want to level a larger appliance like a washing machine or oven.
3. An Assorted Nail Kit
Qualihome’s Household Repair and Hanging Kit is a complement to the toolkit we recommended earlier. It contains nails and screws in various sizes, plus push pins, cup hooks, wall anchors, and picture hangers. If you need a nail or screw to quickly reinforce a small shelf, hang a picture, these are the tools you’ll need.
4. A Folding Step Ladder
Standing on your toes while holding a hammer is dangerous at best, which is why you should use a step ladder instead. This four-step model from Delxo is 52 inches tall when opened, and can hold a load of up to 300 pounds. Each step is lined with a rubber lining to prevent you from slipping, and a safety lock prevents it from closing when you’re using the ladder.
This ladder is a good choice for people who want to work on a ceiling project, like installing a fan, or fixing an overhead light fixture. Take it outdoors to clean the gutters, trim branches or hang lights around the house.
If you want a more compact ladder for fixing low shelving, or hanging framed pictures, Delxo’s two-step ladder may be a better fit.
5. A Roll Of Duct Tape
Using duct tape to fix any problem that comes up has become a meme, but it’s really worth keeping a roll of it in your home. This maximum strength option from Duck can be used for all sorts of DIY repairs.
The company says its rubber-based adhesive makes it suitable for use on wood, plastic, and glass, and that it’s durable enough to be used for bonding, sealing, waterproofing, and hanging plastic sheeting. It may not be the right tool for every job, but it’s hard to argue with that level of versatility.
6. Gorilla Super Glue
Gorilla’s Super Glue has been a key component in my tool kit for several years, and I wouldn’t want to be without it. Gorilla says the glue bonds together in 10 seconds, and can be used to bond plastic, wood, metal, ceramic materials, rubber, leather, or paper. In my experience all of these claims are correct.
I’ve used the glue to help repair a splintered shelf, and hang a paper towel roll to the underside of a kitchen cabinet. In both cases (and many more), this glue has held firm. It is a little annoying to get off your hands, though, so I recommend wearing a pair of Latex gloves when using it.
7. A Cordless Power Drill
If you can only get one power tool, make it this cordless power drill by BLACK + DECKER. It has 20 volts of power, a reversible 3/8 inch Philips head and slotted (flat head) bit. It all weighs under three and a half pounds. I bought this drill last year, and it’s been essential in helping me quickly build furniture, and wall mount a TV.
Yes, you can use a standard screwdriver for many projects, but if you’re trying to screw something into a beam or stud, you’ll need more power. My favorite feature is this drill’s built-in LED light, which shines when you use it to help you perform repairs in darker areas like the inside of a closet.
8. A Sink Snake
A clogged drain can lead to flooding, or permanent damage to your pipes, which is why I always recommend having a sink snake on hand. The handheld device comes with two pieces: a rotating handle, and a 18 inch “wand.” Attach the wand to the handle, stick it down into your drain, and wait until you hit the obstruction.
Once you’ve got it, rotate the handle to break it up, pull the wand back up, and discard it. A clogged drain sounds like a complicated plumber-only project (and it might be if it’s really bad), but this single-use tool will work a lot of the time.
9. A Stud Finder
If you’re going to hang up a picture or floating shelf, you need a stud finder. The small device uses magnets to detect where studs are behind your walls, so you don’t make unnecessary holes in them trying to find one. More importantly, using a stud finder will prevent you from accidentally hitting a pipe behind your wall, which would necessitate a significant home repair.
This stud finder from Vivreal can detect wooden or metal studs in walls up to one and a half inches thick. Its “deep” mode can find metal studs that are even further in your walls. You’ll hear a beep when you hit a stud, and get visual confirmation on its tiny LCD screen. This stud finder can also detect other objects, like pipes, and live wire, which you want to avoid hitting at all costs to avoid bigger problems or harm.
If you want to hang a shelf, picture, or even a flat screen TV, a stud finder is an essential tool.
10. A Plunger
Sometimes the most important tools are the simplest ones: A plunger is an essential tool to have at your disposal in the bathroom. This set from Mr. Clean comes with a large plunger to remove clogs, and a toilet brush. Both have rubber grips, which makes them easier to hold, and come in a discrete caddy with a non-slip base.
11. A Drywall Repair Patch Kit
If you’ve put a small hole in your wall, you can easily cover it up using the tools in Fowong’s Patch Kit. This set includes one roll of repair tape, a jar of repair putty, a jar of spackling tape, three smoothing tools, and a piece of sand paper. Using these tools you can fill, cover, and smooth over a hole in your wall to make it look new without a lot of time and effort.