Whether you’re hanging a gallery wall or recovering a chair seat, get the job done right with a fully stocked toolbox. Here’s what every DIYer should have.

tool bag

Keep your tools organized in a case, box, or carryall. It’s not a bad idea to get one that’s a bit larger than your current tool collection so you’ve got room for new additions.


A basic pair of pliers is a must-have for your toolbox. It’s ideal for gripping and pulling. Needle-nose pliers will hold on in tight or delicate spaces and are good for cutting wire.

locking pliers

For those particularly stubborn twists and pulls, locking pliers or vise grip is the tool to have.

One side of the handle includes a bolt that is used to adjust the spacing of the jaws to suit any job.


Either purchase a set of flat or Phillips head screwdrivers or opt for one that features a changeable slot and comes with a selection of heads in a variety of sizes. Always save Allen wrenches (aka hex keys) that come with furniture assembly kits.


One pair of scissors is a must but it can’t do it all. A craft knife is best for precise cuts, while a utility knife is handy for cutting heavy materials. Pinking shears and a rotary cutter are helpful when working with fabric. If you can, designate one pair of scissors for cutting fabric only. Label it so it doesn’t get used for cutting packaging or other items that can dull the blade.

Hanging Art_hanging hardware

Keep an inventory of small nails, screws, hanging hardware, Command strips and picture wire on hand in a divided box or in resealable bags (they take up less room than multiple boxes).


For a good, all-around hammer, opt for a 16-ounce framing hammer. Add a rubber furniture tip to the business end and you’ve got an instant mallet. If you work on upholstery, a smaller tack hammer is also a good choice.

cordless drill

A cordless drill with a selection of bits is a godsend for projects all around the house. Select one with at least 9.6 volts. Keep an extra battery pack on hand and fully charged. A T-handle  drill is good for basic household chores.

squeeze clamps

You’ve only got two hands so a selection of squeeze clamps can act as an extra pair when needed.

Use adjustable C-clamps for larger projects and more precise stability.


Make sure your work is plumb and level with this aptly named tool. Small levels are best for hanging picture frames and such. A larger carpenter’s level will do the job on larger (and longer) projects.


A selection of adhesives will suit just about any situation. Hot-glue guns are great for craft projects, epoxies are weatherproof, so ideal for outdoor applications, some glues are briefly repositionable. Double-sided tapes will bond fabrics.

measuring tape

Unless you live in a very large home, a 25-foot measuring tape will suffice for most projects. Choose one that has a strong locking lever and a durable tang that can grab an edge and hang on while you pull.


With a stash of staples in a variety of lengths, this tool will tackle multiple tasks. You’ll use it for tacking down covers, putting up twinkle lights, securing cords and for basic upholstery.

painting supplies

You could fill another tool box with supplies for painting but the basics include trim and sash brushes, a scraper, sanding block, painter’s tape, and a paint-can key. Roller frames, covers, and paint tray are needed for room-size projects.

shatterproof safety glasses

Shatterproof safety glasses are absolutely necessary. A pry bar, flashlight, nail set for countersinking nails, roll of electrician’s tape and an inexpensive spray gun for cans of spray paint will also help get the job done right.

Get your gear, get used to handling the tools, and get going. These affordable essentials will have you tackling basic projects with confidence.


© Caruth Studio

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