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Five Tools Every Household Needs

Updated on July 7, 2017

...and I mean every house.

Whether you live in a hollowed out cedar stump like these folks in Oregon, a condo on the coast or a Victorian in Victoria, there will be times when minor things need to be fixed.

So what do you do? Not everyone can call in a "fix-it" handyman for every little thing that needs to be done around the home. Sometimes the repair can be easily done by the homeowner, but even then the right equipment makes all the difference.

Rarely can you get by without some sort of tool. But which ones? What do I need? How involved and extensive does my tool collection need to be?

From my years of experience as a carpenter I've carried a vast number of tools to be prepared for any situation, but that's not what had me thinking about the person who isn't a builder and didn't have access to so many tools.

As a homeowner and house dweller, I have put together a short list of five tools every household needs. Now I don't think that the "stumphouse" owners would find a plunger very useful since plumbing seems to be a "bath with a path" for them, but I bet they would have liked my other choices.

So stay awhile and see what you think. Start building that household tool box. I'll bet you can't stop at five!

Photos by Amazon. Photo credit Amazon Cedar Stump Residence, Oregon Photographic Prints

Image credit Amazon
Image credit Amazon

#1 - Hammer

The claw hammer is number one on my list of tools. It is a tool that has many uses. You can re-nail a piece of door trim and tap a few more delicate upholstery tacks in the ottoman in the den. Then take your hammer outside and pry some boards apart and bang a few stakes in the ground for your tomato plants.

Some may be reading this and saying, "Duh, who doesn't have a hammer?" But you would be surprised how many don't have one and if they do it is an old wooden handled one with a couple of nails holding the head in place. A hand me down from Grandma's old kitchen tool drawer. It's time to step into the 21st Century and spring for a new hammer.

The most versatile is the 16 ounce claw hammer pictured here. This is the type that I use and have used for years. It is light enough for anyone to swing as well as being light enough for small jobs like tapping a picture frame back together. No doubt about it, the hammer is number 1 on my list.

"My Expert Opinion"

Only because I've run into these

problems in my own house!

Household Tools

Do you keep a set of tools in your house?

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Stanely 16 ounce curve claw fiberglass hammer

Stanley 51-621 16-Ounce Curve Claw Fiberglass Hammer
Stanley 51-621 16-Ounce Curve Claw Fiberglass Hammer

The fiberglass handle absorbs shock and vibration which makes it easier on the wrist, plus this kind of handle minimizes vibrations and reduces breakage over wood handled hammers.

It has a textured rubber handle for a more comfortable and secure grip when in use.

Stanley hammers are heat treated and rim tempered for durability and safety.

Image credit Amazon
Image credit Amazon

#2 - Screwdriver

Available on Amazon

A screwdriver is next on the list. But not just any screwdriver. Today's fasteners come in all shapes and sizes and head designs. Having just a Phillips and slotted screwdriver just won't cut it. You need one screwdriver that will handle them all. There are many out there that will do the job, but I am impressed with the Klein 11-in-1 screwdriver.

This screwdriver comes with no. 1 and 2 Phillips bits, 1/4" and 3/16" slotted bits. It also carries bits for the new-fangled "star" or torx screws, square recess screws, and can be used as a nut driver. You just pop one bit out and put the other one in. This is a mini tool box in one tool. With a lifetime warranty, you can't go wrong with this tool.

I can't tell you how many times I have had to work on something in an older home, have crawled underneath a cabinet or some other hard to reach place, just to find that they had used both phillips and slotted screws. So I had to crawl back out and get what I needed. Not with this tool, however. You have the bits with you so you can change them out quickly and get the job done. Simple as that.

Klein Tool Sets for Better Value

Klein Tools 85078 Cushion-Grip Screwdriver Set (8-Piece)
Klein Tools 85078 Cushion-Grip Screwdriver Set (8-Piece)

This is a general-purpose selection of the most frequently used screwdrivers that are used for "regular" around the house jobs.

This particular set includes eight screwdrivers: cabinet tip, keystone tip, and Phillips head screwdrivers which are Ideal for a variety of household and workshop applications.

Includes one cabinet-tip, three keystone-tip, and four Phillips-tip screwdrivers.

Contains Klein part numbers 600-1, 601-3, 600-4, 602-6, 603-1, 603-3,603-4, 603-6 and a reusable plastic container.

Weight: 1.65-Pound


Stanley 25 ft. Tape Measure

Stanley 33-725 25-Feet FatMax Tape Measure
Stanley 33-725 25-Feet FatMax Tape Measure

Tape rule with first 6 feet reinforced with BladeArmor coating for maximum durability

11 foot tape standout; 16-inch and 19.2-inch stud center markings simplify framing jobs

Mylar polyester film extends the life of the entire blade

Heat-treated spring provides long life and smooth blade recoil

Stanley limited lifetime warranty; measures 1-1/4-inch-by-25-feet


#3 - Measuring Tape

When you want to get new drapes or window shades, you can't really afford to guess at the sizes. How much paint do we need for the living room, and how wide is that drawer in the bathroom? Inside the house and out, you need a tape measure.

Since a yardstick is only three feet long and a ruler only 12 inches, you are limited to what you can do with them. A good tape measure is just the thing to prevent costly mistakes when measuring custom made and custom cut items.

Tape measures come in all shapes and sizes. I find that if I have a twelve foot tape measure, the next thing I will measure will be over twelve feet. So my choice for the home tool box is a 25-foot tape measure.

The blade is wide and the numbers can be seen easily. Also the bigger ones like, the 25 footer, are more heavy duty and should last for years and years without a problem.

We keep one in the kitchen apart from my set, because it always seems there's something that needs measuring. This way I don't have to go out to my vehicle or shop to fetch mine.

#4 - Cordless Drill

If any of you have read my "Cordless Power Tool" lens, you will know that I am a huge fan of cordless drills. I wouldn't think of putting a shelf unit together without one. They are just a wonderful tool.

They are a bit pricey for the household tool box, but I have included it in my top five list because everyone can use it, and it makes some jobs a whole lot easier to do. From drilling holes, to tightening door catches and hanging shelves, this is the tool to have.

There are so many to choose from. The drill pictured is the one that I use almost every day. However, let me caution you. If you can be sure to purchase extra batteries so that you always have one charged. It seems I'm forever recharging mine.

Another thing to keep in mind is that many cordless drills can be purchased in a kit that includes other power tools. My wife has bought me many of these for Christmas or for other holidays as well. They are priced really well if you can go that route and most come with a carrying tote bag.

Cordless Power Tools Builders Use
For years people have been asking me the question, "What tools do you use?" Some think that the tools in my toolbox are too "commercial" ...

Image credit Amazon
Image credit Amazon

#5 - Vise Grip

I know that some of you are saying, "Vise grips, why not just a cheap pair of pliers?" Well the main reason is this. Not everyone has an iron grip to squeeze a pair of pliers onto a rusted nut and loosen the bolt. Not everyone has a set of open-end or box wrenches, but everyone can use a pair of vise grips.

Vise grips are adjustable to fit almost anything in the home (with the exception of some plumbing fittings). You turn the adjusting knob to get them to the proper size, put them on the item you want to grip, squeeze the handle and they lock in place. When you are done, just flip the locking lever and they release.

They may look a bit imposing, but this an excellent strain saving tool that should be included in your household tool box. Buy a good pair, and they will last you a lifetime.

Vise Grip Straight Jaw Locking Pliers

Vise-Grip 10R 10-Inch Vise-Grip Straight Jaw Locking Pliers
Vise-Grip 10R 10-Inch Vise-Grip Straight Jaw Locking Pliers

Straight jaws allow for maximum contact on flat, square, or hex work

Adjusting screw gives exacting pressure

Guarded release helps keep work safe and fast

Hardened tooth design

Full lifetime warranty


Bonus Tool:


A Super Power Plunger

Neiko 60166A Toilet Plunger with Patented All-Angle Design | Heavy Duty | Aluminum Handle
Neiko 60166A Toilet Plunger with Patented All-Angle Design | Heavy Duty | Aluminum Handle

When you need a plunger, nothing else can take its place! This one will do the trick.

Unique 4-step heavy duty graduated suction cup fits securely in all different types and sizes of toilet drain openings

Light weight, rustproof, and mold resistant aluminum handle with peg hole for convenient hanging

Super pliable and durable rubber cup creates an ultra tight seal around the drain from all angles for commercial or residential use

Special cup design never flips back and gets stuck like other comparative plungers

Smooth edge and bottom design without interior ridges prevents toilet water from remaining inside cup


A Plunger

Okay. How do I say this? We all have had a "clog" at one time or another and there is only one tool for the job. A plunger. It does the dirty work for you.

Since the days of the 3 gallon per flush toilets have long since gone down the drain and the new water saving 1.6 gpf toilets have taken their place, there has been an increase in the need for plungers. And be honest, your household is no different than the rest of us. We need this inexpensive little device more than we care to say.

This is not a topic that folks sit around the pot belly stove at the general store and discuss, but the plunger usually does the job with no extraordinary measures needed. Except for the time a Barbie doll made her way into the toilet...but that's a whole story in itself (and a true one).

When we have company, or family over (and you know who you are) I like to leave the plunger alongside the toilet. If there is a problem, you know what to do! By doing this, it saves me time and them embarrassment. This bonus tool is a social lifesaver. Even the "cheapo" dollar store variety.

So stop hiding your plunger, let nature take its course and everyone will be a little happier.

"Any tool can be the right tool."

What tool would you use for unplugging a toilet?

See results

© 2012 Senditondown

Do you have these basic tools? - What one tool can't you live without in your household?

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    • RonElFran profile image

      Ronald E Franklin 3 years ago from Mechanicsburg, PA

      I have everything on your list except the cordless drill. My drill isn't cordless, but so far it's done the job for me. It's reassuring to know I have the basics everyone needs.

    • senditondown profile image

      Senditondown 3 years ago from US

      @Jim Houston: Me neither. Thanks for the revisit.

    • Jim Houston profile image

      Jim Houston 3 years ago from Wilmer, Alabama

      Hi Jim, Had to come back and look at your lens again. Just can't stay away from tools. Nice Lens


    • profile image

      RuralFloridaLiving 4 years ago

      Very useful article!

    • Dusty2 LM profile image

      Dusty2 LM 4 years ago

      I can honestly say I have everything on the list in this lens and then some. Your recommendations are a sure hit for anyone who needs some basic tools but don't know which tools to get. Also "Thank You senditondown" for stopping by a coupe of my lenses and hope you enjoyed your visit. Do come back. (^_^)

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Very good recommendations for household tools. :)

    • sukkran trichy profile image

      sukkran trichy 5 years ago from Trichy/Tamil Nadu

      yes i have these useful tools. well presented lens.

    • LornsA178 profile image

      LornsA178 5 years ago

      We always need hammer, measuring tape, screwdriver...Very useful lens, thanks!

    • alex89 lm profile image

      alex89 lm 5 years ago

      great lens. My mom got me a tool box with all the essentials when I was 13, and I have been slowly adding to it ever since. I think my proudest piece is the cordless drill, seconded by my engraver. My boyfriend would probably say his hammer, it has a bottle opener on the back. And of course there is duct tape, lots and lots of duct tape.

    • PaigSr profile image

      PaigSr 5 years ago from State of Confussion

      All but the vice grip.

      Currently on loan.

    • WriterJanis2 profile image

      WriterJanis2 5 years ago

      Excellent recommendations.

    • ItayaLightbourne profile image

      Itaya Lightbourne 5 years ago from Topeka, KS

      I agree with all your choices! I think you've covered the top 5 and I love your article. :)

    • hntrssthmpsn profile image

      hntrssthmpsn 5 years ago

      I'm ashamed to say I'm deep in the throes of a decades-long tool addiction. My problem is generally finding the tool I'm looking for amidst all the other tools. I'm pretty sure the guys down at the hardware store are considering an intervention.

    • Zebedee32 profile image

      Zebedee32 5 years ago

      Cant live without a bottle opener! Nice lens

    • Brandi Bush profile image

      Brandi 5 years ago from Maryland

      @kerbev: Awesome idea! I'm totally getting some pink tools now! :)

    • designsbyharriet profile image

      Harriet 5 years ago from Indiana

      I am very proud to say we own all the tools mentioned, but I can't say they same about knowing how to use them.

    • BobZau profile image

      Bob Zau 5 years ago

      I love my tools, great lens!

    • Barbie Crafts profile image

      Barbie Crafts 5 years ago from United States

      Doesn't the new wood theme compliment this lens well? I like the house in the tree stump!

    • EEWorkouts profile image

      EEWorkouts 5 years ago

      not just the house, I have a stash in the truck too.

    • hartworks lm profile image

      hartworks lm 5 years ago

      We have them all... not sure I could use the cordless drill but I can use the others.

    • IMKZRNU2 profile image

      IMKZRNU2 5 years ago from Pacific Northwest

      OK...I did post once here and it disappeared...hmmm....don't want to repeat myself if it decides to reappear out of cyberspace...Nice lens and yes I do have the tools mentioned...especially the!

    • IMKZRNU2 profile image

      IMKZRNU2 5 years ago from Pacific Northwest

      That is the truth kab about the pink tools! Yes...I have the tools you recommend and hear ya on the plunger hate the low flush toilets because you seem to use more water in the long run cuz you have to flush more then once (at times)...UGH!

    • microfarmproject profile image

      microfarmproject 5 years ago

      Feeling pretty good because I have all these tools. Great to be prepared!

    • kerbev profile image

      kab 5 years ago from Upstate, NY

      I've got them all - and mine are pink! Why pink? Because I'm super girly and need everything in pink? No. Because if a girl has pink tools, the men of the house don't make off with them.