My Toolbox

When starting out you will need to purchase some basic tools. Below is a list of the tools you’ll find in my workshop.

This multi-piece set shown below is a great place to start if you have a limited budget:

This will give you a wide variety of tools for a low cost. If you want a deal, try shopping for these sets around Father’s Day or Christmas. The set above was listed on for approximately $50 – $60.

Regardless if you are buying these items in a set or separate, these are the tools I recommend:

Homeowner essentials:

  1. Hammer
  2. Screwdrivers – Phillips head and a flat (straight or slotted) head. Try to buy a small and medium size of each.
  3. Allen (Hex) Wrenches in several sizes
  4. Adjustable Crescent Wrenches – I suggest buying at least two. One 6″ and one 10″
  5. Slip Joint Pliers (handy for overall gripping)
  6. Needle-nosed pliers
  7. Vice grips (Locking pliers)
  8. Tape Measure
  9. Level – 24″ is preferrable
  10. Utility knife (mat knife)
  11. Safety glasses
  12. 12″ Handsaw
  13. Stud Finder
  14. Flashlight
  15. Pry bar (must have a flat sharp side and the other side a notch for pulling nails.)
  16. Tool box or case to keep all of the above in
  17. My favorite DIY guide to my home: Home Depot’s Home Improvement 1-2-3 – the best $15 I ever spent!

Screwdriver bits:

Last but not least, the most indispensable tool I’ve ever owned:
Cordless Drill with screwdriver bits and a small set of drill bits

For Electrical DIY:

  1. Wiring instruction book or guide
  2. Wire Cutters/Strippers
  3. Electrical Current tester
    • You only need the simple tester with two probes and an indicator light to test if the power is on.

For the committed DIYer:

  1. Palm sander
  2. Carpenter’s square
  3. Staple gun
  4. Power Circular Saw
    • Be sure to hold one in the store and feel how the grip feels in your hand. This is especially important as a woman with a smaller hand size. (more on power tool shopping in another blog post – coming soon!)
  5. Jig Saw
  6. Saw Horses or Folding Work Bench
  7. Clamps – A Variety of Adjustable Clamps and Clips

I hope this list gives you some good information so you won’t feel overwhelmed when buying tools. Definitely ask a sales person for help or opinions. Don’t tell them you are new at this. Ask them for the tool they would purchase if they were buying one for their shop. You should aim to buy a quality tool (especially power tools) that will last your lifetime. A cheap tool will either break or not have the power to do the job you need it to do. However, you don’t need to buy top of the line or break the bank to get a good tool.

Savings Tip: Many of the big box home improvement stores will usually price match tools that are priced cheaper at a competitor if it is the same make and model, plus take 10% off the price. Be sure to bring the ad with you or they will need to call or look up the price online.

Also, the best time to shop for tools is right before Father’s Day. This is when tools are usually on sale. The second best time is right after Thanksgiving and before Christmas.

Home Depots price guarantee:
If any competitor tries, we’ll beat their price by 10%. Guaranteed.*
*If you find a current lower price on an identical, in-stock item from any retailer, we will match the price and beat it by 10%. Excludes special orders, bid pricing, volume discounts, open-box merchandise, labor and installation, sales tax, rebate and free offers, typographical errors and online purchases.

Lowe’s price guarantee:
Everyday Low Prices, Guaranteed
We guarantee our everyday competitive prices. If you find a verifiable lower everyday or advertised price on an identical stock item at any local retail competitor that has the item in stock, we’ll beat their price by 10% when you buy from us. Just bring us the competitor’s current ad or we’ll call to verify the item’s price that you have found. Cash (charge card) and carry purchases only. Competitor’s closeout, special order, discontinued, clearance, liquidation and damaged items are excluded from this offer. On percent-off sales, Lowe’s will match the competitor’s percent-off offer. Limited to reasonable quantities for homeowner and one-house order quantities for cash and carry contractors. Current in-store price, if lower, overrides Lowe’s advertised price. Price guarantee honored at all Lowe’s retail locations. Labor charges for product installation are excluded from our price guarantee offer in our stores with an Installed Sales Program. Visit store for complete details.

Sear’s price guarantee:
If you find a lower price on an identical branded item with the same features (in Home Electronics identical brand and model number) currently available for sale at another local competitor retail store, Sears will match that price plus, give you 10% of the difference. Just bring in the original advertisement to a sales associate at the time of, or within 14 days after, your purchase. More fine print…

Happy Shopping !I’ve put together a list of tool tutorials for your convenience. Learn how to use power tools in under 10 minutes!

Miter Saw Tutorial (with video)

Jig Saw Tutorial (with Video)

Pneumatic Finish Nailer Tutorial (with video)

Cordless Drill Tutorial (with video)

Table Saw Tutorial (with Video)

Dremel Trio Tutorial (with video)

Power Hand Sander Tutorial (with video)

Circular Saw Tutorial (with video)

Caulk Gun Tutorial (with video)

Band Saw Tutorial (with video)

Tomboy Tools Impact Driver

Irwin Universal Saw

Irwin Groove-Lock Pliers

Wagner Paint Sprayer



  1. For the love of all the DIYer’s out there please call a thing by it’s proper name. It is not known as a ‘flat head’ screwdriver (or bit) it is a “standard” screw driver.

    • Better yet, call it a ‘slot’ screwdriver. I agree, flathead is definitely wrong! But overall, this is quite a good tool list.

    • I’m part of the “flathead” crew too – never heard it called anything else ! @Sarah, love the plus and minus idea ! Have to show my son that trick !

    • Yup, they get called “flat head” over here in London, UK too. We also have the fun of the cross heads coming in both Philips and Posidrive forms which are very slightly different.

      I also recently got myself a “stubby” claw hammer, that’s great if you need to do any nailing in a confined area.

  2. Seriously? I just don’t get how people don’t just “live and let live”. If you want to call it something different, just get on YOUR OWN BLOG, and MAKE YOUR OWN LIST. ( I personally have never heard it called a “slot”.) I’m sure that it has different names in different parts of the country. (BTW…Pretty Handy Girl–Just found your blog through Pinterest, and I love it. Thanks for the information and keep up the good work!)

  3. I work in a motor pool and we only call them flat heads, Ive never once heard standard.

  4. Your list makes me feel pretty good about MY toolbox! I had thought it was kind of measly, but I’m only missing two of your essentials and have my eye on a few of the others. Palm sander was the most recent purchase… clearance at Home Depot for $20!

  5. To the rude nitpicker chics who commented, maybe it’s a regional thing but I do believe that where I come from flat head screwdriver is perfectly acceptable. As is just calling it a ‘regular’. As examples of each were also clearly shown, maybe we lesser than bright chics could still pick up what was being laid down. To the creator of the list..well done you! I grew up loving tools and using them and spending time watching and helping my dad and am still fairly handy. You and others have recently inspired me to start using my few skills and much improving them. Thank you!

    • Renee Woodcock says:

      Your’re correct–it is called a flat head screwdriver. As a matter of fact, I’ve never heard that called a “regular”
      screwdriver. I’m from the south & it is technically called a flat head screwdriver…

  6. And as I continued to read comments, I saw that I’m not the only one offended for you. And just for the record I’ve never heard of a FLATHEAD referred to as either of their ‘options’. Anyway thanks again. As YOU have your own blog, clearly you’ve received plenty of ignorant comments and just as clearly know how to take the high road much better than I. I can’t wait to get started on a project. though the first I have planned is actually not building related, but a tied rag rug, I’m still very much looking forward to diving into something soon. :)

  7. It’s a FLATHEAD! Never heard it called anything but and my brothers & sons are all carpenters and my father was a contractor. In all fairness, maybe Crystal grew up hearing it called a standard screwdriver but that does not excuse her rudeness about it. To each his own……
    Thanks for the list PHG. Have started collecting a few tools so that I can start making some of the awesome stuff I see on Pinterest. This helps. Luckily I have my flathead screwdriver already! :)

    • I’ve been in residential construction and remodeling for 32 years. I’ve heard all the names mentioned here for the screwdriver in question. They are all correct. What is important to take note of here is the fact that this is a GREAT article on an EXCELLENT site from an obviouslly very talented young lady. I am very impressed and will recommend.

  8. Great list. I don’t care what you call each tool(or screw) just so you know how to use each one safely. Make sure you have eye and hearing protection as well as a few masks when working in really dusty conditions. I may have missed it but include a Kreg Jig. It is a really useful tool.

  9. I work in a huge manufacturing site and the conversation between mechanics always goes something like this:

    “I’ll need a screwdriver.”
    “Philips or Flathead?”

    I almost wonder if it’s a regional thing.

    “Soda” “Pop” “Coke” …same thing.

    Ditto to Jake. Kreg Jigs is probably the best invention ever. Next to the Battery Operated Brad Nailer, instead of a pneumatic air gun :)

  10. So I came over after the lovely comment you left on my blog and loved what I saw, but the fact that you’re a ryobi girl – now I love you, I have been collecting them that INTERCHANGEABLE BATTERY IS THE BEST INVENTION EVER! I didn’t mean to do the cap lock but I’m leaving it because I do love ryobi :)

  11. I have lived for years with odds and ends of tools that I have picked up here and there. When doing a project or having help doing a project I was getting frustrated that I couldn’t find what I needed. So I decided it was time to buy a ‘decent’ set. I went to Harbor Freight Tools and they had a medium sized plastic, 4 drawer cabinet type tool box stocked with all types with several sizes of all of the basics and lots more. It was on sale for $35 from it’s normal $70. I’ve been very pleased with everything in the box and keep noticing things I didn’t realize was there – like wire strippers, electrical tester, etc. It’s kind of fun now having most anything I need all in one place! They aren’t ultra top quality tools, but they will replace anything if it breaks – lifetime guarantee, no documentation needed. You just take in the broken tool and they hand you a new one (that’s what I’ve been told – haven’t had to experience yet).

  12. Brittany, I admire your handiness, and your list is perfect for a DIY’er

    If I might add one thing: It is important to buy “FORGED steel” tools and not “cast steel”. I find forged steel tools tend to be American or German for the majority, and cast tend to be Chinese/Taiwanese, etc. though it is not always the rule.

    For normal use (replacing a electric socket cover, hanging a picture, etc) a cast steel tool may work ok. HOWEVER, when applying any heavy torque (hard turning motion) or pressure a cast steel tool can break!
    I have seen some terrible on the job accidents using simple hand tools like wrenches and screwdrivers because the tools were cast steel and could not hold up to the force being applied, breaking and injuring the user. If a forged tool fails it will bend and not break (no metal shards impaling you, getting in your eyes, etc).

    With that said, I prefer Sears Craftsman tools (make sure they are Craftsman and not Companion). I have yet to see any Craftsman made of cast steel, and even better it comes with a very simple lifetime warranty, if a hand tool (non electric) fails, bends, rusts, whatever, you can take it to the store and get a current replacement for free with no hassle. I dont work for Sears, I just love their policy. You pay a little more, but you get piece of mind.

    • Mark, thank you so much for this tip and I’ll keep my eyes open for tools that are forged steel.

      I am sorry to tell you that Craftsman no longer has that lifetime guarantee. And that goes along with their quality tools. I bought a set of Craftsman driver bits and the phillips head ones were stripped after only a few uses. I tried to bring them back to Sears and was told they don’t have that coverage on their tools anymore. This is a real shame. I will be steering clear of them from now on. I have found that IRWIN makes great tools that stand up to a lot of abuse. I’m not sure if they are “Forged Steel”, but I’ll have to find out.

      • Brittany:
        Perhaps you were unaware, but the company that gave Craftsman it’s legendary name no longer work for Sears. Some four years ago they moved to Home Depot and make the Rigid brand for them. By the way, Ryobi is the baby brother to Rigid, and their tools have improved in durability since the change-over.

      • Brittany-
        Your site is outstanding! One comment, however. The Craftsman warranty lives! For Craftsman, Craftsman Professional and Craftsman Industrial Hand Tools, Mechanic’s Tool Sets, Sockets/Ratchets and Drive Tools, Wrenches (Non-Torque), Auto/Specialty (Non-Electrical, Non-Hydraulic), the warranty states “If this hand tool ever fails to provide complete satisfaction it will be repaired or replaced free of charge”. Power tools are subject to a 90 day warranty. Apparently (and yours is not the only instance I’ve encountered), Sears employees don’t always get it right.

  13. David Letterman says:

    I’m glad to see 3 things in your list of must haves. Both Home Depot’s Improvement 1-2-3 (which I have not read nor used), Home Depot’s Wiring 1-2-3 (this one is VERY HELPFUL from ordinary switches to Ethernet cable lines going into the plastic end pieces (RJ45′s.) The third thing I saw that was remarkable was the Ryobi Cordless Drill. When I went to purchase a new cordless drill I was informed that although all of the companies had standard warranties on their products; (please check before purchasing!!!) Ryobi (at that time, 3 years ago) was the only manufacturer that guarantees their batteries for LIFE!! At that time a new battery costs around $100.00.

  14. Very thorough list, Brittany! My “go to’s” also include a rubber mallet (I even have one with a white rubber head that doesn’t leave marks), tin snips, a good file, decent chisel and a rubber strap wrap wrench. This last wrench, for me, is indispensable. I use it for everything from removing plumbing fixtures without leaving any marks to opening jars! Thanks always for getting so much information out there. What a tremendous public service you provide.

  15. WOW! Love the way you split the list into the different groups! and gave pics! Kudos on this post :) Grew up helping Dad and have took on a lot of different projects through the years, some out of necessity, some for the shear fun of it, some just because someone said a I couldn’t LOL. So I am familiar with a lot of these things, but still find this to bean excellent post!! Should help all those newbies, since you start from the basics and have a link to your toolbox at the top of your home page. Just LOVE it!!!! Found you on the home tour, will definitely be back!

  16. Pati Gulat says:

    Flathead here too ! Never heard it called anything else.

  17. I also have the ryobi drill and was so glad to see it in your toolbox. I like mine so much I bought one for my daughter in law (my daughter gave mine to me) and I notice my son uses it quite a bit at their house, not his big heavy 18 volt. I have the 12 volt because it is so lightweight, but it still has plenty of power for most jobs, and the batteries last a long time and charge quickly. I love the green color as well, so now I look for other tools the same color (tape measure, retractable knife) so that everyone knows they are mine, mine, mine, and they are easy to see. Invest in some good tools and don’t go for the cheesy pink toolboxes!


  1. [...] sure what you need?  There are plenty of lists from new home owners out there, like this one from  Armed with your toolkit, you’ll be prepared for all varieties of homeowner [...]

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