When we bought our first (and so far only) house, we were struck with how many tools we seemed to need, tools that we either rarely or never used before. Many trips were made to local hardware stores (or Amazon), but after about six months we felt like we had finally gotten to a good place.
Everything listed below are items we personally own and I’ve only included items that I like and regularly use. The lists are by no means comprehensive, but hopefully you can find something of use.
First up is outdoor tools. This group was the one we owned the least of at the onset and thus needed to buy the most of.
A shovel has a tapered pointed end and is primarily used for digging holes. It is useful for many other things such as shoveling mulch, gravel and so on. I’ve found that this is one of my most used outdoor tools.
What you want is one with a heavy duty head and has the ability to replace the handle, as these can break. I bought mine at our local co-op and it has a fiberglass handle which has held up very well.
A spade has a straight edge and is slightly better suited for shoveling loose items versus the shovel. It also lets you square off holes you have dug. I don’t use this tool nearly as frequently as the shovel, so if you had to choose between the two, go with a quality shovel.
- Metal Rake
Contrary to what you may think, I find that this type of rake isn’t useful for raking leaves. It is great at raking heavier things such as mulch, gravel, dirt, hay/straw and other similar things. It is a pretty good tool all around.
Similar to the shovel, you want a heavy duty head and preferably a replaceable handle. I also bought this at our local co-op with a fiberglass handle.
- Garden Wagon or Wheelbarrow
Sometimes you just need to move things and one of these two items is great for that. We ended up buying a dump capable garden wagon at Tractor Supply and so far we have really liked it.
Many of these tools I already owned when we moved, but it is possible that a lot of new homeowners do not.
You need a decent hammer. While you could get by with a simple, cheap one for hanging pictures and such, a quality hammer will last a lifetime and be useful for a broader range of tasks.
I had a simple hammer when we moved, but opted to get a Estwing Hammer when I started building our chicken coop. It is a very nice, all purpose hammer and I use it quite frequently.
- Stud Finder
I’m sure that most people have discovered the annoyance that is stud finding. Sometimes you just need to anchor in a stud and they can frequently be a pain to find. I’ve tried several battery powered ones and never liked them. On a whim I bought a Magnetic Stud Finder and it’s pretty much amazing. It works by being magnetically drawn to the nails/screws used to put up the drywall. So far I’ve yet to run into a situation where it didn’t find a stud.
- Caulk Gun
One of the first tasks I had to do when we moved in was to buy some silicone kitchen caulk and apply it around the kitchen sink. Whoever installed it apparently forgot to do so. I ended up buying a Tarvol one as it sounded like a robust tool. Brittany and I have used it for several dozen tubes of caulk with no complaints.
- Snaking Tool
Lets face it, no one likes unclogging a drain; it’s gross and it always needs to be done at the worst time. A few years back I bought a set of small plastic clog removers and for most clogs they will do the job. It is the first tool I try on a clog and only after failure will I consider getting the auger out.
Powered Tools (battery, AC or air)
- Cordless Drill
You never know when you will need to drill a hole or drive a screw and that makes a cordless drill invaluable. When we moved I had a Bosch cordless drill, but as I was frequently working in both the house and the pole barn, I decided to buy the Bosch Cordless Drill Set. It’s a great set because you get the regular drill, plus an impact drill (great for driving lag bolts) and two batteries.
Some may consider this non-essential, but even a simple outlet or switch change is best done with a multimeter to assist. If wiring such things is too scary, I don’t blame you. Electricity can be dicey, but this tool has been essential in both installation and troubleshooting.
- Electric Bug Zapper
We moved to a bit of land and as such we find flies and wasps more frequently than we would like. I randomly ran across this bug zapper one day and bought it on a whim. It is amazing! Flies and wasps get taken out with minimal fuss and no smears on the walls.
- 3 Outlet Heavy Duty Extension Cord
This is not a power tool per se, but needed to power tools. A heavy duty extension cord is a must and one with three outlets on the end (and a LED light indicating current) is really great.
- Angle Finish Nailer
I have several nail guns (all acquired after we moved), but if I had to name one as the most useful and my favorite, it would be my Hitachi 15 Gauge Angled Finish Nailer. I like it because it is quite versatile. I’ve used it to put up molding, nail boards together for furniture, put up plywood sheets on the wall, attach soffit boards and fascia and many other things.
Since I bought it, it appears that Hitachi’s tool division was bought and is now Metabo. The comparable nailer appears to be the Metabo HPT Pneumatic Angled Finish Nailer,
- Compound Miter Saw (aka chop saw)
An absolutely essential saw if you do any work around the home. It’s perfect for quick cuts, or angled cuts, or mitered cuts. If you get the sliding version, it’ll even be useful for cutting shelving wood. I ended up buying a Kobalt (Lowes) 12″ sliding compound miter saw and while not the most accurate, it has been a workhorse.
- Circular Saw
Eleven years ago I bought a Milwaukee Circular Saw and it is still going strong now. If you don’t have a table saw, or need to make long cuts on site, a circular saw is a great tool. I’ve used it quite extensively in the last few years and it is a tool that can replace many other saws, in a pinch.
- Electric Earmuff
I’ll admit to having owned a pair or two of these for quite a while. And the reason? Not only do they protect your hearing, they can also amplify sound. This is great when you are working with someone else and want to be able to communicate while still protecting your hearing. They have a 3.5mm audio jack, allowing you to hook up to a phone (or MP3 player) and play tunes while you are working.
This list is a bunch of nifty things I’ve run across in the last few years that I have really liked.
- Anti Tip Kit
Whether or not you have kids, this kit can prove invaluable for the safety conscious. Some furniture is just tippy and needs something like this.
- Hand Made Broom
I can’t stand the lame plastic brooms that all the stores seem to have. I just don’t think they do a good job. This broom on the other hand, is super and has held up to frequent use quite well.
- LED String Lights
These lights are pretty fun and quite durable and energy efficient. We have them strung up in my daughter’s room and also around our fireplace mantle (a non-working fireplace). For pictures of the lights in action scroll to the end of our contractor post.
- Dimmable LED Light Switch
After moving into our house, we started the long and arduous process of replacing nearly every light fixture. The ones the previous owner had put in were the bland off-the-shelf Lowes special. As part of this process I would put dimmable LEDs in and in a few rooms of our house, I added this light switch.
- Dimmable LED Candle Light Bulbs
And.. After trying quit a few different candle bulbs, I ended up deciding to get these. They are very consistent (as in, they all work regardless of the fixture) and put off excellent light.
- Programmable Light Switch
Living out in the country, it gets dark at night given the lack of street lights. While we don’t frequently stay out past dark, it does happen and it was very frustrating to come home and have to fumble with your keys in the dark. After some research, I ran across this light switch and decided to buy it. It was an excellent purchase! I have it set up to turn the outside lights on at dusk and off at 11PM, meaning we have never come home to a lightless porch since.
There are many other items I could list, but I don’t want this post to be endless so I will stop here. Hopefully this list will help you to select some useful tools for your home.