The 20 essential pieces of kit your toolbox can't live without!
Every home needs a good toolkit to fall back on for those smaller DIY jobs.
CLICK through the window below to see our Guide to 20 Essential Tools we guarantee you're going to need.
If doesn't matter whether you're a trade professional or an occasional DIY'er, in this guide you'll find the 20 tools you're absolutely going to need at some point. We've also included a few handy links to the essential items we think every household should have to hand. Remember, if you invest in good kit for your Toolbox, it will last you a lifetime. Buy once, buy well.
First, you need a good
Size and sturdiness matter. It's going to get bashed around a lot over the years so it needs to be robust. For a basic tool set-up a standard capacity toolbox is usually fine, but don't forget it's likely you'll be adding to it as time goes on so make sure you have plenty of extra space (or you'll soon reach the dreaded 'unable to close the lid' point). Fast and easy access is important too - definitely consider a toolkit with multiple compartments for screws, fixings and smaller items.
In many respects, a reliable multi-purpose drill is the heart of any good box. A Cordless Combi Drill is a must because of the versatility offered, but the saying 'don't use a sledge hammer to crack a nut' should apply. If you're a serious Tradesperson or DIY enthusiast then you probably need something with a bit more oomph & power that will run longer – think about 18V power and a bigger Li-Ion battery capacity.
If you're only likely to be doing a spot of DIY, occasional drilling or flat pack building then there are plenty of lower voltage options from Bosch, Dewalt and Makita which offer a superb balance between performance and price. And remember, your Drill is only as good as the Drill Bits you put in it – so choose wisely by putting quality first.
A toolbox wouldn't be a toolbox without a good set of high quality screwdrivers to handle the most common Pozidriv and Slotted screws. Try to go for a set that bear a VDE certification mark. This signifies that they're safe to use when working with electricity which makes them much more versatile. You also get the peace of mind in knowing they've undergone rigorous testing to ensure a high standard of quality and construction.
If you're screwing a lot, definitely think about comfort and choose something with a softer grip. To cover everything else, you'll want a Bit Set that includes a variety of Philips, Torx and Hex options – they usually come with a universal adaptor so can be used with your Combi Drill.
There are plenty to choose from, and it's important to find the one for your project. Generally speaking though, it's likely you'll get the most use out of a regular 20" Hand Saw. A good Hand Saw should be able to easily cut through all kinds of wood, including chipboard and hardwood. Look for one with hardened teeth (sometimes referred to as Hard Point Saws) as they do tend to last a lot longer.
A spanner (sometimes called a wrench) is useful for a number of tasks and can be adjusted to fit a variety of nuts and bolts. The more adjustable the spanner jaw is, the more useful it becomes – so consider one which offers extra wide opening. It's likely you'll find yourself trying to manoeuvre it in a tight space, which can be an issue if you have a larger spanner. Thankfully they come in a variety of shapes and sizes, including ones with slim heads and short handles that are ideal for use in awkward spaces.
As the name suggests, Combination Pliers are perfect for a combination of applications. They're ideal for gripping, twisting, holding, turning, bending, cutting & snipping wire and cable. They're great for clamping and compressing. They're perfect for pulling out nails. They're even good for a bit of light hammering … and the list goes on. Go for Combination Pliers that are drop forged or induction hardened and tempered – they'll offer exceptional strength and durability and last you a lifetime.
Offering great versatility and durability, a strong set of locking pliers will definitely come in useful. A good set will offer the strength you need when trying to get a firm grip on your DIY project. By their very nature and design, locking pliers will provide a mechanical advantage, allowing you to apply a greater force to an object with the confidence that precision will not be affected.
A fine and complex skill, which chiselling can sometimes be, should not be made any harder by a poor quality chisel. Whether you're adept at the art or not, the saying 'a workman is only as good as his tools' definitely applies here. Look for a set that are supplied with oil and a sharpening stone – and with a little bit of care, you'll be confident in your chisels longevity.
There are a wide variety of sets out there that vary in both size and quality, so when choosing one to suit your needs, it may be an idea to make a list of what you think you'll require most often; hex sockets, universal joints, combinations spanners, extension joints etc. That way you can check your criteria against the options available. The 41-piece socket set (pictured) is an excellent example of a comprehensive kit supplied in a neat box with a range of sockets inside.
Even the toughest and strongest of us need a bit of TLC every now and again - and metal certainly falls into that category. Garden tools, door hinges and power tools all enjoy a long life, and will last longer with the occasional application of lubrication. Rust and corrosion not only looks ugly, but could leave you spending unnecessarily on new tools, locks and equipment.
Three things to consider when choosing a utility knife are sharpness, size and safety. Intricate jobs often require a fine and precise tool, while it's certainly worth keeping in mind the safety aspect and whether it has a retractable blade.
If you're a trade professional, you'll no doubt be using a utility knife on a regular basis, so the Stanley Original Retractable Blade Knife (pictured) may be the perfect partner for your toolbox as it comes with three blades, the extras conveniently stored in the handle. This knife allows five setting positions of the blade, a great feature enabling you to use the same knife for a variety of cutting applications.
"Right side down a bit… left side down slightly now… a tiny bit more on the left…"
DIY can get a bit stressful at the best of times, so if you can avoid human error, do it! Most DIY projects require a certain degree of level headedness, and a spirit level will help take away any doubt or uncertainty when looking for that perfect level surface. The finishing touches count, so whether it's a family photo frame, a mounted TV or a bookshelf - make sure it's on the straight and narrow with a good honest spirit level.
A tape measure isn't just a tool kit essential, it's a life requirement. Length is probably the most important factor when it comes to finding the right tape measure to satisfy your needs. They can range from 2m to a whopping 100m, so what you intend to do with it definitely counts. If you're looking for something a bit more advanced, there are some very handy and very affordable Laser Measures out there too, which are great if you don't have somebody to hold the end of the tape.
You can never be too sure exactly what lies where behind your walls. To avoid injury or expensive damage when drilling or hammering, it's vital you know the location of live electric cabling, metal drywall supports, nails, studs or beams in partition walls. Investing in a Stud Finder will make this an easy task, and it's definitely a better option than banging on walls and listening for echoes, or playing Russian roulette with an electric cable.
Unless you don't care for your finger nails then a strong, stainless steel scraper is an indispensable item in the home, particularly for those long days spent decorating. Jobs like peeling or filling can be arduous tasks, so try to avoid a cheap or poor quality tool. Also, make sure you clean your scraper thoroughly once you've finished using it, this will ensure it's ready do deliver another professional finish the next time it's called upon.
Ever had that sinking feeling as you go to finish a job by screwing in that last screw, only for that last screw to not actually exist? A small screw can carry a huge amount of responsibility, while its versatility for use on a range of surfaces, such as wood, plastic and masonry mean it will prove to be a regular player in your toolbox. Experience has taught us that every toolbox needs an 'emergency supply' of screws, nails and wall plugs.
Electrical tape is another DIY essential, especially when it comes to jobs involving sealing or marking. Similarly Gaffer Tape is also a key addition to any toolkit thanks to its strong adhesive qualities and strong tensile strength which makes it useful in a multitude of environments (particularly if they involve sticking down trip hazards like loose cables).
You can't do decent job, if you can't see what you're doing – especially on those projects undertaken during the winter months. A portable LED worklight will provide ample illumination in low level light, however it may not be ideal for lighting up hard to reach areas behind or underneath things (in the same way a torch would). Thankfully, there are some excellent worklight / torch hybrids out there, which cover both bases. To save on the inconvenience of drained batteries, you might also want to consider picking a rechargeable option.
This may be number 20 on the list, but it is certainly no less important than any of the aforementioned 'must haves'. A pair of safety glasses will allow you to see DIY work not as the daunting task it perhaps once was, while a pair of work gloves will give you the strength to handle any task with the utmost confidence. Both are almost guaranteed to be the most used items in your toolbox.