Men are builders by nature. But these days too many of us are quick to call a handyman for every household project. It’s time to regain our spirit of self-reliance, not to mention our hard-earned cash. So whether it’s fixing a leak, installing a light fixture, or building a desk, here are the 31 essential tools every man should own to get the job done right.
1. Claw Hammer
Every man needs a hammer. But not just any hammer – a claw hammer. That’s because a claw hammer is the perfect all-purpose hammer. It can drive and pull nails, serve as a pry bar, and do small demo jobs without breaking a sweat. You can pick up a forged steel hammer that will last forever, like this Estwing, for the cost of a few cold brew coffees. And best of all, it’s made right here in the USA.
2. Multi-Bit Screwdriver
A solid multi-bit screwdriver will save you the hassle of buying a bunch of different Phillips and flat-head screwdrivers and then fumbling around looking for them in your toolbox. Year in and year out pros choose the 11-in-1 Klein multi-bit screwdriver because of its price, versatility, and durability.
Remember the last time you tried to hang a picture, mirror, curtain rod, or shelf by “eyeballing it” to make sure it was straight? Then the next day your wife or girlfriend disappointingly asked why it looked a little crooked? Don’t make that mistake again. Get this compact Empire magnetic level and take the guesswork out of your next installation.
4. Adjustable Wrench and Pliers
A good adjustable wrench and set of pliers are essential tools for any man’s toolbox. Whether you’re a newbie or experienced handyman, this 8-piece set from Irwin Tools has just what you need. The set’s adjustable wrench, sometimes called a Crescent wrench or spanner, features an adjustable sliding jaw allowing you to tackle many different sized nuts and bolts. The set also features 7 different pliers – GrooveLock (3 sizes), long nose, linesman, diagonal cutting, and slip joint – that will make it easy to finish up all those DIY projects you’ve been putting off.
5. Tape Measure
“Measure twice, cut once.” That’s what people used to say before Stanley started making tape measures. All kidding aside, this 25-foot measuring tape is the perfect size for all of your household tasks. And because this Stanley tape measure is made with high-impact ABS, you’ll enjoy using it for decades to come.
6. Utility Knife
There’s no reason to suffer through opening boxes or annoying plastic packaging any longer. A good utility knife will slice through any box, plastic, rope, or other material you can throw at it. I’m a huge fan of the Milwaukee Fastback utility knife and I know you will be too. Not only is this thing Samurai sword sharp, it also features a gut hook, 4-blade storage compartment, and wire clip so you’ll always be ready to go.
7. Socket Wrench
The socket wrench is a master at fitting in tight spaces where other wrenches fail. Because of its ratcheting system, the socket wrench gives you the ability to quickly tighten or untighten nuts and bolts without needing to reposition the wrench on each turn. This 45-piece set by Tekton features all of the high-quality chrome sockets, extensions, and adapters you’ll need for your next project.
8. Hex Key Wrenches
Hex keys are a must-have for putting together furniture, working on bikes, and fixing toys and electronics. This set comes equipped with SAE and metric hex keys, featuring every size you’ll ever need, all in a convenient storage case.
The iconic hacksaw should be your go-to tool for cutting through metals and plastics, like copper and PVC pipe. This Lenox hacksaw is the best around due to its 12-inch all-purpose size, storage capacity, and blade tension (up to 50,000 psi), all of which will help you make quick, accurate cuts in no time flat.
10. Cordless Drill/Driver And Bits
Number 10 on our list of essential tools every man should own is the cordless drill/driver. This is the tool that makes men actually think up projects to do around the home just so they can use it. The Makita 18V cordless drill/driver is the perfect combination of power, weight, and battery life. It effortlessly drills, screws, and drives in drywall, wood, brick, and concrete. It also comes equipped with 70-piece bit set, making it a phenomenal value for the money.
11. Combination Wrenches
Combination wrenches are essential tools in any garage or shop. That’s because they make quick work of any nut of bolt you can throw at them. They’re also super helpful when working in tight places that your adjustable wrench simply cannot fit. This set of Crescent combination wrenches features 10 chrome-plated metric wrenches in the most commonly used sizes.
12. Metal Cutting Shears
Metal cutting shears, also known as aviation snips, cut through metal, plastic, heavy textiles, and wire like a hot knife through butter. Think of them as scissors on steroids. You can even use them to cut up that old metal credit card that’s been sitting in your drawer for the past year.
13. Non-Contact Voltage Tester
A good non-contact voltage tester will literally save your life when doing electrical work around the house. That’s because it automatically detects and alerts you when a wire is “hot,” so you don’t end up electrocuting yourself. Use it any time you’re doing household electrical work, like mounting a light fixture, installing a ceiling fan, or replacing an electrical plug.
14. Step Ladder
Even the best tools in the world are of no use if you can’t reach what you need to work on. That’s why a good ladder is an essential tool. A strong and lightweight 6-foot ladder like the Flip-N-Lite is a great choice to tackle DIY projects around the home. And because it has such a slim profile, you can store it almost anywhere.
15. Stud Finder
If you’re thinking about installing anything even remotely heavy on your walls the best practice is to secure it to a wall stud. That’s where the stud finder comes in. It sniffs out the wall studs so you know exactly where to put your nail, screw, or mounting hardware. The CH Hanson stud finder is a pocket-sized wonder that locates studs with a powerful magnet. No batteries required.
16. Pipe Wrench
The award for the most manly tool goes to the pipe wrench. There’s just something incredibly powerful about the way you feel when holding a heavy pipe wrench in your hands. But not only that, it’s actually an essential tool for helping you tackle all of your home plumbing needs. Check out the RIDGID heavy-duty pipe wrench. It’s made of iron and hardened steel, so it will never do you wrong.
17. Crosscut Hand Saw
When it comes to cutting wood, branches, and lumber, the crosscut hand saw is man’s best friend. The Stanley 15-inch crosscut saw has the perfect balance of size and strength to make quick work of your wood-cutting jobs around the home, garage, and yard.
18. Pry Bar
A pry bar is one of those highly versatile, essential tools that every man should own. Use it to remove, scrape, and pry apart just about anything, like nails, baseboards, tile, wood, tack strips, and molding. You can’t go wrong with the Stanley pry bar, featuring heat-treated, forged high-carbon steel for superior strength and reliability.
19. Caulking Gun
There comes a time in every man’s life when he needs to caulk something, whether that be a bathroom, shower, drafty door, or window. To do the job you’ll need a caulking gun. To do it right, you’ll need the Newborn no-drip caulking gun. That’s because it features steel construction, a 10:1 thrust ratio, and a smooth pressure rod system, all of which means your next DIY caulking project will be quick and look professional.
20. White Lithium Grease
White lithium grease is the essential tool when it comes to all things lubrication. That’s because it’s the perfect lubricant to use on any metal or plastic surface around the home, like door hinges, locks, latches, and tracks. Plus, it helps protect against rust and is better for the environment than WD-40 which, by the way, is actually not a lubricant.
Don’t be caught in the dark when the power goes out. Make it a point to pick up a long-lasting LED flashlight. The Streamlight ProTac LED flashlight is a favorite among law enforcement and emergency personnel because it works when others fail. Featuring high intensity, low intensity, and strobe modes, the Streamlight is highly functional, durable, and dependable, all while fitting in the palm of your hand.
22. Wet/Dry Vacuum
A reliable wet/dry vacuum is a lifesaver when it comes to cleaning up dirt, grime, and liquids around home, not to mention your garage and car. “Small but mighty” is the best way to describe this Shop-Vac wet/dry vacuum. Powerful, hardworking, and portable, this Shop-Vac comes with all the accessories you’ll need to make clean up a breeze.
23. Speed Square
Although the speed square isn’t the most glamorous tool in the toolbox, it’s one of the most practical. In fact, the speed square is a framing square, try square, saw guide, line scriber, and protractor square all in one convenient package. What that means is that if you plan to do any woodworking in the future, you’ll need a speed square.
24. Staple Gun
A good staple gun is a virtual necessity for doing any upholstery, carpentry, or general fastening work around the home. The Arrow T50 is America’s best-selling staple gun, for good reason. It’s made in the USA from high-quality chrome and steel, so you know it’s built to last.
25. Cable Ties
Cable ties, or zip ties, are one of those essential tools for men that you can’t live without once you use them. There’s a million uses for these things besides wrangling cables and wires, like creating luggage locks, loops to hang tools and supplies, child-proofing cabinets, and unclogging a drain, just to name a few.
26. Plumber’s Tape
Plumber’s tape is a no-frills tool that does exactly what it’s supposed to do: stop water leaks. Just wrap a little bit around the pipe threads 4-5 times before connecting your next shower head, faucet, etc. and you won’t have to worry about leaks. A truly essential tool for all of your plumbing needs.
27. Electrical Tape
Every man should keep a good supply of electrical tape in his toolbox. It’s a DIY electrician’s go-to for holding, protecting, and insulating wire connections. Here’s a quick tip for using electrical tape: be sure to stretch the tape when its applied. This will ensure that it sticks where you want it and will help its insulating properties.
28. Duct Tape
29. Safety Glasses
Every experienced tradesman will tell you that eye protection is a must. Heed this advice and pick up a pair of NoCry safety glasses. They provide direct, peripheral, and UV radiation protection for your eyes, and won’t fog up when the going gets tough.
30. Work Gloves
31. Tool Bag
Now that you’ve got all the essential tools, you’re going to need a place to store them at home and on the go. Look no further than this rugged DeWalt tradesman tool bag. Featuring ballistic poly fabric construction, 33 pockets (13 interior, 20 exterior), and a cavern-like interior, you’ll have no problem storing your tools in style.
Don’t let this list intimidate you. Nobody expects you to piece together a set of essential tools all at one time. Instead, simply buy what you can afford today, then add to it as time goes by. Soon enough, you’ll own a set of tools that can tackle any job, and something you’ll be proud to pass down to your son or grandson.
All the best,
P.S. Have you been putting off a painting project on your to-do list? Well, there’s no reason to wait any longer. Take a minute to check out the definitive guide to the 15 Essential Painting Supplies And Tools For The Home. It will arm you with the items you need to change the entire look and feel of your house.