How to Build the Perfect Tool Collection

How to Build the Perfect Tool Collection

Quilters never have enough fabric, woodworkers never have enough clamps and gardeners never have enough seeds.

The start of your next project won’t be to the DIY store for another tool if you have the right set ahead of time.

These tools repair most everything in a vehicle, house or RV.

Start with tools your budget can handle and acquire others as you can. Of course, pawn shops, garage sales, the local classifieds and Craigslist are great places to find bargains.

Here’s what every handyperson’s toolbox needs:

Set of Screwdrivers:

Purchase a set of screwdrivers at any big box, DIY or online store. Your set should include both flat (or slotted) and Phillips (the cross) type screwdrivers, and should be in varying lengths. The screwdrivers will be in different sizes as well.

A pair of tiny- sized screwdrivers are a must for opening electronic games, alarm clocks and more. They work wonders for eyeglasses.

If you’re also going to work on your vehicle, include a couple of electrician’s screwdrivers. These have offset shafts to help remove screws in odd places. A couple of extra long screwdrivers work well on vehicles to get those “hard-to-reach” screws.

Tape Measure(s):

I have a 30-ft. tape measure for my kit. Somewhere in my garage lives a shorter, smaller version. I also have a keychain 6-ft. tape measure.

Add to that a couple of rulers, a combination square, a roofing square and a yardstick, all which can measure my work, and I’m set. If I have one, say on the roof, and forget to bring one of the group, I don’t have to travel back down the ladder, through the house and into the garage for a tape measure/ruler.


For most repairs and building, a 16-ounce claw hammer with a smooth face is enough. There are many different types of hammers on the market. For those small hammers that come with “ladie’s tool kits,” those are best for hanging pictures.


Okay, no handyperson can ever have enough tape. Painter’s tape, masking tape, strapping tape, and of course, duct tape.

The humble duct tape has evolved into outdoor versions, capable of lasting in the sun and weather. It also comes in different colors, so you can match your d©cor or show off your repair skills.

Be sure to match the right tape to your project. For example, you don’t want to glue a picture frame together and use “Gorilla Glue Duct Tape.”


You have to be able to see what you’re doing. Mechanic’s lights have a cage protecting the bulb, with a hook for hanging the light inside an engine well. Today’s lights come with CFL’s and LED’s which still light up your workspace and use less energy.

Battery operated lights mount easily where no outlets exist, saving time and energy from running multiple extension cords indoors or outdoors.


Channel lock, slip joint and needle nose are common pliers. With these, you can grab any bolt or nut, fish out a part that’s fallen, grab and twist electrical wiring and much more.

A multi-set is a bargain.

Utility Knife:

You’ll use this more than most of the other tools. Buy the best knife you can afford and keep in handy in the kit. Several inexpensive plastic models are also handy if the “good utility knife” is in use.

Keep a set of blades handy and learn to change them quickly. Sharp is always better and safer.

Putty Knives:

I keep a plastic putty knife, and two others. One has a two inch blade and the other, a four inch blade. I can scrape or spread any compound, putty, spackle, etc. on anything. If I’m scraping old putty from metal (as in the case of an RV window), and don’t want to damage the paint, the plastic scraper works wonders.


There are many different types of saws, and over the years most handy people collect most of them.

Each saw is geared for a different purpose: keyhole saw, drywall saw, coping saw, , crosscut saw, ripping saw, etc.

The next group has all the different power saws: reciprocating saw, jigsaw, table saw, circular saw, etc.

For the beginning tool kit, a general handsaw will work fine.


I have four adjustable wrenches. Two have 10- inch handles and the others have 6-inch handles. I can remove a faucet by attaching one of the long handles to the pipe nut, and with the other wrench, turn the faucet until the first wrench sits against the wall like a vice. It’s nice having an “extra hand.”

The shorter handles get into spaces the longer handles won’t go. Having adjustable wrenches saves me from trying to find the right wrench size every time I need to accomplish a task.


String levels tell you if your marking string is level, so you can build level fences, containers, etc.

Levels come in different sizes from six-inches long, four-feet long and six-feet long. There are longer, but the beginner toolkit needs the string level, the six inch and the four foot models.

The smaller level helps hang pictures and level appliances. The four-foot level is great for retaining walls, fences and larger projects. There is a level for setting fenceposts as well.


Every yard needs a wheelbarrow. Carry sacks of soil, plants, gravel, cement, the kids, and anything else you can think of.

I bought mine with a coupon from the local paper for $25. You would be hard- pressed today to find a metal wheelbarrow for $25. I got a bargain.

Stud Finder:

Electronic stud finders are all over the market today, in varying sizes and prices. Frankly, I’ve never learned to use one. I was taught the “tap-tap” method. Tap the wall- when the sound changes, you have a stud. Drive a small nail to see.

A cow magnet from a feed store works well. Tie a string to it and move it near the wall. The magnet will be attracted to the nails in the stud.

Socket Set:

A socket set with both metric and standard sockets, extension and swivel joints will allow you to work on anything.

There are sockets with ¼” drive, 3/8″ drive (the standard) and larger for plumbing. The standard 3/8″ drive should be in every tool kit.

Prices vary from manufacturer to manufacturer.

Multi- Tools:

These are optional for any handy person.

Multi-tools with cutting blades are on the market, which allow many different projects to be accomplished with one tool. Prices and quality vary, so shop wisely.

Screwdrivers with multiple bits such as different sized screwdrivers, bolt drivers, hex or square drivers, etc. Some of the handles work with a ratchet action, others you have to turn yourself.

Pocket multi-tools are great if you’re away from the house. Many different tools are available, equipped with as few as a dozen tools or as many as you can pack into a handle.

Container/Tool box/Tool Chest

Now you need something to hold it all. Some tool chests have wheels, others are stationary. I keep everything in a stationary tool chest that I built; when I need specific tools for a project, I pack my toolbelt or bucket.

Battery Operated Tools:

These are also optional, and are nice to have when you can afford them.

Battery operated tool kits containing a power saw, drill, multi-tool, battery and charger are available. The 18-volt batteries hold the charges well, but never seem to last as long as my projects do. I carry extra batteries and get the job done.

Stocking your tool kit doesn’t have to be done in one shopping trip. Add a tool tool/set as your finances permit, and eventually you’ll have a workshop that can do everything.

And, you’ll never have enough clamps.