10 household tools every family needs

What basic tools should every household have? This guide will help you fill your toolbox with everything you need to perform most common household repairs.

Does walking into a hardware store seem intimidating because you never know what you might need around the house? This list of must-have tools will keep you prepared for almost any household task or emergency. The whole package also makes an ideal graduation or house-warming gift. Begin with a sturdy plastic toolbox, and in one trip to that store you’ll have the tools you need to cope with the most common home repair jobs.

Cordless Drill/Screwdriver

While high-end power tools can run into the hundreds, there’s no need to spend that much. For light duties, a battery-powered or rechargeable drill is indispensable. Most models now accept both drilling and screwdriver tips. Make sure your drill has a reversible feature so you can remove screws as well as put them in.


Even if you have a great cordless drill, there will still be times when you’ll need old-fashioned elbow grease. Add several screwdrivers in various sizes to your family’s tool kit. Be sure to get both flat and Phillips (X-shaped) types, and choose longer lengths when you can. Look for those screwdrivers with magnetized heads, which can prevent screws from falling and disappearing behind furniture.


Don’t be tempted to save money with a cheap hammer; you want high quality here. Less expensive hammers can be dangerous to use and won’t last long. A quality hammer has a strong hardwood handle and a heavy iron pounding surface, often including a “claw” to remove bent nails. By the way, if you have an old hammer with a damaged handle, ask your local hardware store if they can replace it. (The same goes for axes.)

Small Handsaw

A handsaw is used for light wood-cutting duties. Look for one with a strong handle and a rigid cutting blade (thin blades dull easily). If you think you might need to cut metal, invest in a hacksaw as well. Ask for a name-brand with commonly available, replaceable blades.


The traditional metal “bubble level” can be on the heavy side, so try finding a strong plastic version. If you love gadgets, splurge on one of the new laser levels. The laser types use technology that casts a perfectly straight laser line against most surfaces. Beware, though—some of these are hard to see in bright light and may be impossible to use outdoors.

Adjustable Wrench

An adjustable wrench allows you to fasten and remove almost any size of bolt you might encounter. Avoid the really large ones. You probably won’t encounter large bolts, and the biggest wrenches are heavy and impractical.


A regular pair of flat-grip pliers makes a handy helper whenever you need a strong grip. Needle-nose pliers are an ideal addition, especially those that include wire cutters. Look for brands with cushioned handles. These provide a better grip and help protect your hands from fatigue.

Tape Measure

Again, quality is key. A good tape measure can last a lifetime, so don’t skimp. Get one at least 25 feet in length.

Utility Knife

Don’t waste your money on cheap utility knives. Purchase a high-quality product that accepts replaceable blades. It’s wise to choose an established brand to ensure the availability of refills.

Heavy Gloves

Look for rubber-coated cloth to protect your hands from dirt, chemicals and splinters. A textured coating gives more gripping power, which is helpful when you’re lifting heavy objects like air conditioners.

Other Items to Include

Here’s a list of commonly needed supplies to round out your family toolbox. While not essential, having these around the house can save you a lot of time.

  •  Assorted nails and screws
  •  Sandpaper (various grits)
  •  Picture hanging wire
  •  Small paintbrushes
  •  A pair of goggles and a dust mask
  •  Electrical tape, duct tape and Super Glue
  •  Strong utility scissors
  •  Flashlight
  •  Pencil and paper for marking level lines and recording measurements
  •  Padlock (lock the toolbox to protect young children)

Now you have everything you need to make quick repairs and adjustments in most common situations. Sit back, relax, and wait for something to break!

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