My list of tools to venture into the world with:
- Screwdrivers (Phillips and Slotted)
- Tape Measure (12' to 16')
- Pliers (Lineman's, Long Nose, Tongue and Groove)
- Adjustable Wrench
- Claw Hammer
- Cordless Drill and bits
- Utility Knife
- Work Gloves
- Duct Tape
- 3-in-1 oil
- Tool Bag/Box
These are my go to tools that I use 90% of the time I am fixing anything. As a barely competent do-it-yourselfer, I am fixing things 5-10 times per year. I own a plethora of additional tools and do not hesitate to purchase something even knowing I will use it only once. I have a socket set, circular saw, impact driver, metric and SAE hex wrenches, torx screwdrivers, hack saw, cordless screwdriver, wire stripper, hole saws and multiple other items.
One will also accumulate a plethora of materials over time including screws, nails, bolts, nuts, zip ties, wire, sandpaper, scraps of wood, adhesives, etc.
Unless you are going into a trade, I would advise against the buy once cry once policy. Certainly tools are made to last a lifetime and be passed down generations. However, most folks will rarely wear out or break tools with proper light duty use. If you do happen to break something, take the opportunity to upgrade to Klein or your go to premium brand.
I would recommend purchasing in a brick and mortar retailer or at least handling several designs before selecting anything. Similar to a good kitchen knife, tools should have a good balance and feel and one size does not fit all.
- Screwdrivers (Phillips and Slotted) - $10
- Tape Measure (12' to 16') - $2
- Pliers (Lineman's, Long Nose, Tongue and Groove) - $17
- Adjustable Wrench - $5
- Claw Hammer - $5
- Cordless Drill and bits - $25
- Level - $3
- Utility Knife - $5
- Work Gloves - $5
- Duct Tape - $5
- 3-in-1 oil - $4
- Tool Bag/Box - $10
This can all be had for under $100 at Harbor Freight.
Professional grade tools can cost anywhere from 2X to 10X those prices, but if they are your livelihood, they are well worth the investment. Machinists and mechanics can similar go crazy with the variety and quality of tools they need.
- Screwdrivers (Phillips and Slotted) - I use these all the time and need a full variety of sizes. I prefer a rubberized handle.
- Tape Measure (12' to 16') - I use these all the time and recommend cheap ones because they disappear.
- Pliers (Lineman's, Long Nose, Tongue and Groove) - Less often used, but come in handy.
- Adjustable Wrench - A nice starting point until a person buys a set of wrenches.
- Claw Hammer - Find a nice weight and grip.
- Cordless Drill and bits - If you get more power tools, keep in mind that it is nice to have matching batteries; I do not know much about bits, but my set has lasted me decades and I have only broken one.
- Level - 6 to 9" bullet point
- Utility Knife - I prefer the folding models.
- Work Gloves - Personal preference
- Duct Tape - enough said and in retrospect, I would add electrical tape and masking tape to a tool bag
- 3-in-1 oil - or WD-40 or any penetrating oil
- Tool Bag/Box - I prefer a canvas bag to a metal or plastic box and consider weight and ease of transport. One could just as easily use a backpack or anything else. Some organization is a plus.
Next time I am going to a home improvement store, I will encourage my daughters to come along and start assembling a personal tool kit.
I would also add Plato Model 170 shears. I have several pairs and they are great for closely trimming cable ties and general work.