After much thought, and drawing upon my years of experience both in using tools and writing about the tool industry, I put together the perfect bare bones tool kit for beginners and DIYers.
I know what many of you are thinking – “this kit is missing a [other tool type],” and you might be right. Please let me know your suggestions for add-ons or substitutes in the comments section!
Remember, this is a starting point, and I think it’s a very good one.
Thank you to Home Depot for sponsoring this DIY Tool Kit content series! I picked up everything I needed locally, except for the Husky flashlight which I already had available.
Tape Measure: Stanley Powerlock 25′
Everyone needs a tape measure. While you might have a ruler laying around, chances are it’s just 12″ long. This Stanley Powerlock 25′ tape measure is a personal favorite of mine.
Stanley Powerlock tape measures are reasonably durable and have high-contrast markings. Sure, you won’t get the longest possible standout or reach, but I’m okay with that.
This is a time-tested and highly popular design, and one that I’ve never had any issues with.
Home Depot occasionally has very compelling promos where you can get a Dewalt or Milwaukee-branded tape measure for as low as $10. Those tape measures are usually also very good for the money.
Utility Knife: Stanley Hi-Viz
For some reason, a lot of people don’t like utility knives. They might say “I don’t need a box cutter,” but there are a lot of times when you might.
There are so very many different utility knives you can choose from. For less frequent use, or rather less frequent blade changes, this Stanley Hi-Viz model is still a great choice.
Yes, you need a screwdriver (or I’m told coins can work) to change the blade, but the design is simple and reliable. Plus, the high-visibility fluorescent green paint helps to make the knife easily identifiable and reachable in a tool drawer or box.
There are other models to suit different preferences, such as if you want a folding utility knife, faster blade changes, or more ergonomic grip.
I like this one.
Multi-Bit Screwdriver: Husky 6-in-1
I don’t like to upgrade tools. Even if I’m shopping based on budget, I try to get something that I can still use later even if I upgrade. That way, I don’t replace tools, I complement them.
This Husky 6-in-1 multi-bit screwdriver has a solid design. I think it would have served me well as my first and only multi-bit screwdriver, and today it would still serve me well as part of a portable tool kit or even in the kitchen drawer.
It has a comfortable handle and typical 4-piece design with two double-ended screwdriver bits and the shaft having nutdriver sockets at each.
Pliers: Husky 10″ Adjustable
The most difficult selection for this kit has been to pick a single pair of pliers. Is just one pair of pliers enough? Maybe not, but I think this is a good place to start.
A lot of times, you need pliers – any pliers – for a non-slip grip and more leverage. These will do that, and they are east to adjust.
I really like the pushbutton adjustment mechanism and v-groove jaws on these pliers.
Again, this ties in with my “add to and complement” philosophy. With entry-priced pliers and sets, you sometimes get tools that compromise too much with respect to quality. These don’t do that – they’re solidly built and if they’re as durable as other Husky pliers I’ve used over the years, they should be very long-lasting as well.
I should remind you – Husky has a Lifetime Warranty with no questions asked and no receipt needed hand tools warranty. You can find full warranty policy details at this PDF.
Hammer: Stanley or Anvil 10oz
Hear me out on this one – this is the perfect hammer for users who don’t know they need a hammer, or who don’t yet know what they would use one for.
My local Home Depot stores all have Stanley or Anvil wood-handled hammers for just $6. This is the perfect size for hanging pictures or driving in smaller sized nails.
Even if a user upgrades to something larger for driving in bigger nails, or a rip claw hammer for demo work and other non-nail-driving tasks, a light 10oz hammer will still come in handy for smaller tasks.
If you’re unsure about whether the hammer is future-proof, a 16oz claw hammer might be a safer bet.
Flashlight: Husky 2AA LED – Virtually Unbreakable
I have grown to really like Husky’s LED flashlights over the years. They’re bright, durable, and I have found them to be quite reliable.
This model – and others like it – do justice to Husky’s claims of being “virtually unbreakable.” It’s drop-tested to 30 feet and waterproof up to 1 meter.
Husky has upgraded the specs over the years, with the current 2AA model rated at 120 max lumens.
They have other versions too, depending on the size and brightness specs you’re looking for. I think the 2AA is a good place to start – it’s large enough where you could find it easily, but also small enough for easy carrying or storage.
Which Tools Would You Pick?
A lot of people move out to their first real apartment or home and aren’t sure what basic tools they might need, at least not until a task comes along that they’re empty-handed and unprepared to tackle.
I sought to put together a tool kit that offers a good balance between functionality, quality, and value, and I believe I have done that here.
My goal was to recommend a bare bones DIYer tool kit that anyone and everyone could use. How would you build such a kit differently?
OR, would you simply go for a “one and done” assortment, such as this Stanley 65pc home tool kit?