The checklist includes a basic selection of tools for repairs or maintenance around the home.

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Q: What are the must-haves for my home toolbox?

A: Every owner should have a complement of tools for maintenance and DIYing around the home. Why? For one, there are many tasks you may not be able to find a contractor or handyman available to perform. You may also just be a person who desires to be handy and doesn’t like spending money on things you could do yourself.

I feel that most people have a desire to learn about their homes, and that many would like a chance to work with their hands, even if they haven’t before. This may be a desired welcome change in the usual routine, for fun or a concerted effort to get jobs done around the house — and also to use in emergencies, like turning the water off at the meter.

It’s important to understand your home, and it’s no less important to own at least a small but handy complement of tools.

As a woodsman, carpenter, farmer, home contractor and tool hound, I’ve always had a wide array of tools for many different unique tasks. I’ve come to realize it has been a privilege to own many tools and possess the knowledge of their use to work on my own home without reservation. In fact, I’ve never had a handyman, plumber or electrician for any maintenance or emergency work on my home, simply because I have the know-how and proper tools to do the job.

With that, I’ve often wondered what other homeowners do who don’t possess my skills or tools. How would you know what tools you might need, before needing them? I’d like to help by listing a basic selection of tools I feel would be the handiest to you and your new home.

Adjustable tools for grabbing, pulling and twisting: Channel locks, vise grips, pliers, Crescent wrench and pipe wrench.

Tools for cutting: Utility knife, hacksaw, drywall saw, scissors and side cutters.

Bits for screws, bolts and drilling: Full kit of bits for all screw heads for use in a battery drill gun; same range as above in hand screwdrivers; ratchet set kit up to 1 inch; and a complement of different types of drill bits for drilling holes up to 1 inch.

Tools for prying and hammering: Cat’s paw, hammer, thin flat bar, wonder bar and crowbar.

Tools for support and clamping: Set of adjustable sawhorses; and two 36-inch and two 12-inch adjustable quick grip clamps.

Power cord tools: Extension cords, plug strip, jigsaw, palm sander, vacuum, reciprocating saw, circular saw, and chop saw with a 10-inch blade.

Battery-powered tools: 18-volt drill kit, and matching multitool cutter/sander.

I must admit that I did have my HVAC contractor install and maintain my furnace system, as it’s a little beyond me. Similarly, you’ll find that point where something is beyond you, at which time you’ll want to call a contractor. Until then, enjoy learning, working on your home and using your tools.


Daniel Westbrook is the owner of Westbrook Restorations and a member of the Master Builders Association of King and Snohomish Counties, and HomeWork is the group’s weekly column. If you have a home improvement, remodeling or residential homebuilding question you’d like answered by one of the MBAKS’s more than 2,900 members, write to