Here are the tools I recommend for homeowners, DIY, and general repairs. If you click on each category, you will see the tools I recommend for each category.
Wrenches: Typically these have an open end that spans around the bolt or nut, and a closed end or box end that can go all the way around the bolt or nut.
- SAE wrenches, metric wrenches, and crescent wrenches
Sockets: These fit over the head or nut, and then use a ratcheting mechanism on the handle to turn it either direction. Much faster than an open/box wrench, and can also get into tight areas with a combination of extensions and flexible joints.
- Regular sockets, deep well sockets
Allen Wrenches or Hex Wrenches: Some specialty hardware has an internal hex that you must use a male hex on. These wrenches typically come in sets in a nice holder. Available in both SAE and Metric, I recommend a set of each. Pay the extra money and get the ball end version. These allow you to tip the wrench at an angle to reach better, and are easier to use. Straight end ones will only go in straight, and are harder to use.
Pliers: A basic pliers can be a “good” substitute for wrenches, sockets, or just turning a stubborn screw. They can also be used for a multitude of odd jobs. A requirement for the person just starting out.
- Needle nose pliers, side cutter pliers, tongue and groove pliers, snap ring pliers, line man’s pliers
Pipe Wrenches: These are for gripping onto steel pipe to rotate it onto fittings. Pipe wrenches have a wide variety of sizes. Somewhat specialized, but a medium sized one is helpful for at home. Changing a sink drain or a ball valve in the home plumbing can be much easier with one. Should not be used on any hex fasteners as it will damage the heads.
Screwdrivers!!!! There are so many types of screwdrivers that you could go crazy trying to pick which one is correct!!!
Vise Grips: Why is a vise grips so handy? Well, they have many general uses and can replace end wrenches, pliers, crescent wrench, and one of the few that work if you round off the head of a fastener. They also work as clamps to hold parts for drilling or welding or sawing.
Clamps: Clamps are so useful when fabricating stuff, from holding it while you are sawing or cutting, to clamping it in place for drilling or welding. It can also be used to temporarily fix equipment in lieu of welding or bolting it if you are short on time.
Chisel and punch set
Hot glue gun: Don’t laugh, it’s not just for craft projects! If you need to mock up a prototype to test something, this is the ticket. You can glue up cardboard to simulate a welded joint, or sheetmetal assembly. Cardboard is much cheaper than steel!!!
Pry bars or Crowbars