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If you do any projects at home, then you know how crucial tools are. Whether it’s something specialized or general, having the right tool for the job is a must. Here, you’ll find some must-have tools for every DIYer from drills to screwdrivers and more.

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What are some essential tools for any DIY project?

Well, all of them. Ok, seriously, every toolkit should have at least the following: drill, impact, flashlight, socket set, screwdriver set, and wrench set. Brand, style, and size of these tools are really up to you, but we’ll list some of our favorite and recommended models below.

Must-have DIY power tools

Milwaukee and Ryobi take center stage

My personal favorite is Milwaukee, as that’s the brand I went with for my tools. Milwaukee has a plethora of compatible tools, but you have to be careful what version of batteries you buy. There are two different subsections to shop: M12 and M18. The M12 tools are based on Milwaukee’s 12V system and are great for routine tasks. I have the 5-tool Milwaukee M12 kit that includes a drill/driver, impact, HackZall, light, and 3/8th-inch ratchet. It includes just about every tool that I could need in my apartment or when working on my car, but the M12 kits are designed for lighter tasks like around-the-house projects.

The M18 system is for those who need a bit more oomph out of their tools. M18 is based on Milwaukee’s 18V battery system for a more powerful output. These are designed for those who have larger tasks, like building basements, decks, rooms, and the like. Depending on which route your projects take you will determine which battery system you use.

Another great brand to check out is Ryobi. I’ve used Ryobi tools for many years before investing in Milwaukee, and they’ve never let me down. Ryobi also has 12V and 18V systems, though generally people only pick up Ryobi’s larger battery pack. The ONE+ battery system, as Ryobi calls it, is compatible with many more tools than even Milwaukee is. You’ll find tools such as blowers, chainsaws, weed eaters, and more compatible with the same battery pack that powers your drill/driver or impact. If you’re looking for the ultimate all-in-one battery system, Ryobi should be your go-to.

Must-have power tools every DIYer should own

Drill/driver

When it comes to picking out the tools that you keep in your bag, the basics are pretty simple. I generally start my kits with a drill/driver. This is the most used drill by many as it is the tried-and-true design that most are familiar with. It’s perfect for putting holes in the wall or driving a screw when building an end table.

Impact driver

Next is an impact driver. This is my personal favorite, as it makes driving screws or drilling holes extremely easy. It’s designed quite a bit different from the above drill/driver, however. You’ll need a ¼-inch bit (normally) that laches into the impact driver’s receiver. There’s no chuck here, so the impact will keep driving until your finger comes off the trigger. This requires a bit more skill to use, but once mastered; it’ll be a favorite for you, too.

Circular saw/HackZall/Sawzall

These are somewhat interchangeable but also have their functions. In the end, each product here cuts something with ease. The circular saw is excellent for cutting more extended pieces of wood or framing when doing something like building a deck. The HackZall and Sawzall are great because of the interchangeable blades that allow you to cut through different materials at the same time easily.

In the end, if you can only pick one, I’d start with the HackZall or Sawzall. With these tools, you’ll be able to cut 2×4’s, drywall, sheet metal, and more with ease.

Plug-in offers high reliability with one major drawback

While we just took a look at some tremendous battery-powered companies to shop, there’s something to be said about plug-in alternatives. A few years ago, I was helping my parents tear out some decking in their back yard. We had over 2,500 square feet of rotten deck to remove from their newly-purchased house, and we began by using my father’s Ryobi ONE+ 18V circular saw. Well, shortly after beginning, we picked up a plug-in model similar to this one. Cordless tools are excellent for shorter tasks, or when you have many batteries on hand. But, if you’re doing a larger project that requires more power than an 18V battery can deliver, then plug-in is the only way to go.

Brand matters here, but not nearly as much as the when shopping for battery-powered tools. Generally, stick with some of the larger companies like Milwaukee, Ryobi, DeWALT, or BLACK+DECKER. Another option is to buy Harbor Freight if you’re looking for the absolute best deal (and we don’t happen to have a sale on the particular tool you need).

Must-have DIY Hand tools

Tool brands matter

Brand is everything here. Depending on what brand you shop for hand tools offers you quite a few different options, along with benefits. If you shop for Kobalt or Craftsman and live near a Lowe’s, then you’ll be able to take advantage of their lifetime warranty easily. That’s right; Lowe’s offers a lifetime guarantee on Kobalt and Craftsman tools. I’ve taken advantage of this many times if a tool has broken mid-job. Just walk into any Lowe’s and hand them the broken tool, and the associate will come back with a new one, free of charge.

Now, Lowe’s doesn’t do this on all Kobalt and Craftsman tools. You’ll need to check each tool before you buy if this is the reason you’re shopping for those tools. But, generally speaking, almost all hand tools from both brands will be covered by that warranty.

If you find yourself near a Home Depot, check out Husky tools. Husky carries a very similar warranty to both Kobalt and Craftsman when you purchase from Home Depot. However, I generally lean toward Kobalt or Craftsman personally as I feel they’re made slightly better than Husky. In the end, however, you can easily swap any broken tool if something happens, which should give you some great peace of mind.

You can always opt for lower-cost brands, but do keep in mind that your tools will likely break sooner with those budget-focused companies. Plus, if something does break, you’ll generally not be able to walk into your local hardware store to get it exchanged.

Now, it’s time to look at some must-have tools for your toolkit.

Ratchets are a must

Keeping a set of ratchets (or sockets) handy is crucial for many tasks. I recently hung a TV in my new apartment and used a ratchet to put the lags into the stud. A good ratchet kit will give you multiple sizes both in SAE and metric offerings, allowing you always to have the right one for the job. This can easily be achieved by picking up a multi-piece mechanics kit, which also includes other tools you’ll find in this list.

You can never have enough screwdrivers

This is the truth. It doesn’t matter how many screwdrivers you have; you can never have enough. Screws are a finicky bunch. Sometimes you need a PH0 (tiny Philips), and other times you need a PH2 (normal-sized Philips). While you can use a PH2 with a PH0 screw, or use a PH1 on both, nothing works as well as using the right tool for the job. You can’t get the same torque on a screw if you’re not using the right bit.

If you’re looking for a great all-in-one item, then this multitool screwdriver offers you several bits in one easy-to-use screwdriver.

Wrenches are handy, too

In tighter spaces, you might not be able to fit a ratchet-like we recommend above. In those instances, a wrench is the right tool for the job. Many mechanics kits will offer a selection of screwdrivers, wrenches, and ratchets in one easy-to-carry package. A proper equipment will include a variety of SAE and metric sizes, just like the ratchets above. Wrenches and ratchets are interchangeable. Retches are great for when room permits, as they’re quite a bit larger, but offer more comfortable driving of bolts. Wrenches are quite a bit smaller and more compact but can prove a bit more challenging to use in the end.

However, new wrenches are starting to add ratcheting tips to the ends. This allows you to use a wrench similarly to a ratchet, though you still won’t get the same amount of torque on the wrench as a ratchet. Either way, it’s a great option to keep both in your tool bag.

Bits, storage, and other accessories

Accessories are just as essential as the tools themselves, especially when it comes to drill bits. Some bits are explicitly designed to be used with impact drivers, and others aren’t compatible with impacts at all.

Drill bit collections

The first up is drill bits. I use Kobalt bits because of the lifetime warranty they come with. All of my bits are rated for impact use and are ready to go with either of my Milwaukee drills. You also can’t go wrong with DeWALT FlexTorq bits, either.

Regardless, you’ll want a few different bits for different uses. If walking into your local Lowe’s or Home Depot to swap out bits doesn’t matter much to you, then we’d recommend grabbing the DEWALT 80-piece Drill/Driver Set from Amazon. DeWALT is one of the best brands for tools, and you’re getting a fantastic product here. Plus, it has everything you’ll need to get started with drill bits, offering impact-ready offerings, drill and paddle bits, and more.

Tool storage is necessary, too

Keeping everything organized and tidy in your garage or house is ultra important. It’s how you make sure that tools are always ready to be used, preventing you from getting frustrated when it comes time to work on a project. Tool bags come in all shapes and sizes, so really it just depends on what works best for you. For some it might be smaller bags, others it could be large chests that sit in a garage. This is a personal preference.

Finishing up

There are so many different tools out there that you can easily spend thousands of dollars outfitting your collection. But, if you are looking to finish up without spending a fortune, be sure that your took kit also has a set of Allen keys in it. These hex-head screws are becoming more frequent in different furniture, so keeping them on hand is always a must.

Also, no tool kit is complete without a good tape measure, level, or square. So, if you’re looking to fill out your tool setup, be sure to pick some up and keep them in your bag.

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About the Author

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