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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 10 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, which is why I’m recommending this 39-piece kit from Apollo. It comes with a hammer, four small screwdrivers, multi-use knife, tape measure, scissors, 20-bit screwdriver, and a set of Allen wrenches. 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
Tools are only useful if you have something to use them on. Coceca’s nail kit comes with 200 nails in four sizes: 2.5mm, 2.4mm, 2mm, and 1.3mm, which can be used for most minor DIY projects, including furniture building. You should also get a set of screws, and some nuts and bolts to be prepared for even more home repairs. Use the nails to hang a frame, to stabilize furniture, reinforce loose boards around the house, and more.
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. BLACK+DECKER 20V MAX Cordless 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. Stud Finder Wall Scanner
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. It also has a metal scan mode to detect rebar, and an AC wire mode to detect electrical wiring. The stud finder will beep when it’s found something, and display the object on its LCD screen. It’s even able to detect whether you’re on the side or in the center of your stud, so you know exactly where to place your nail or screw.
10. MR.SIGA Toilet Plunger and Bowl Brush Combo
What’s a bathroom without a plunger? This set from MR.SIGA contains a 17-inch plunger and toilet brush with a plastic finish. It’s available in white and black to match the decor of your bathroom, and both tools are housed in a sleek-looking holder that makes them look more discrete.