Check out the video below to see my Lennox tool backpack in action as well as the rest of my everyday carry.
But first, nine must have tools.
Vice Grips can save you from many a situation. Stripped nuts, broken screws, etc. I like the ten inch shown here because they can open large enough for small pipes as well. They are also available in needle nose but for that,
A pair of needle nose pliers. I like the 45 and 90 degree bend because sometimes you need a little more holding power and find them more versatile.
Rubber mallet. There are many styles to choose from and a larger one may be better, but I like the one here because it fits neatly in smaller toolboxes. A must for Ikea furniture assembly.
Allen bits for drill/driver. You can get sets that have all the sizes you will never use but the 4 and 5mm are very common in furniture, and we use the 6mm for exercise equipment. I have a video explaining how to make your own, in which I also explain why the ones pictured here are better for use with your cordless drill. Which brings me to…
Cordless drill. A corded drill will work as well but be sure to get a variable speed or you wont be able to control it on small jobs. And you might consider a hammer drill if you have concrete walls. I have met a few contractors that prefer the impact drivers, but for the best all round I recommend a keyless cordless with a clutch, which I explain in this video. I use Dewalt, guaranteed tough, because the batteries outperform some of the others I have tried. Ryobi was a great value, we used them in my furniture business, but they are only available at Home Depot.
Drill bits. Here I prefer Milwaukee Electric to Dewalt. You can get kits that have both drill and driver bits, might be important if you choose the impact driver over a drill. I just think you need at least three things that are not common to all sets.
A. A longish #2 Philips. number two is the most common, it fits drywall screws and a host of other stuff but do not expect it to be universal. Small things like electronics sometimes use a number one and on occasion I have to reach for the three. I say get a long one because often the diameter of extensions is too big and you cant reach recessed screws.
B. 1/2″ bore. Useful for toggle fasteners. Check back later for video.
C. Socket adapter. Like this 1/4″ drive, useful with the next tool…
Socket set, like this 1/4″ drive fits most of your stuff. You might consider a SAE combo to cover both metric and fractional, as the 1/2″ is also very common around the home, but cheap and light I find this universal to easily fill the gaps. And when you can’t use a socket…
An adjustable wrench, sometimes called a crescent wrench, you will need this for the other side of bolts. This is another tool that should be high quality as loose fits will strip hexes. Good thing you have vice grips 🙂
Magnets. Useful for all kinds of things like keeping tools together, fetching dropped fasteners and finding studs! Really, I prefer this to a stud finder, just locate the drywall screws as shown in this video by MyDIyDork.
Now I assume most already have a level and a tape measure and I could go on about the reciprocating saw and telescoping ladder I keep in my wagon, but I think this covers the most important overlooked tools used for making your living space your own. From hanging tvs and shelves to putting together furniture, don’t start a project without them.
Also important is keeping them organized, see how I do it below.