Essential Toolbox

Do you need a toolbox?

If you own a house, or even rent one, chances are at some point there will be something that needs to be taken care of. In this journal we aim to give you proper guidelines and instructions to perform those tasks yourself and become a confident DIYer.

Before taking on this journey you will need to set up your toolbox. For now, only the essentials.

What does an essential toolbox look like?

Although there are many articles online about this, they are rarely relevant to our clients' needs - anyone asking this question probably does not need many tools. There is a saying in the woodworking community that you never have enough clamps but if you are starting in DIY or just want to maintain your house, I honestly doubt you will use one.

I believe an essential toolbox should have as few tools as possible and be versatile. As you develop skills you might add more specialised tools to do the job quicker (for instance switch the crescent wrench for a socket wrench), but this comes much later. And by the time you get there you will know exactly what you need.

An essential toolbox should also be affordable. A popular belief is that you must invest directly in high quality tools. But since you might use your tools only a few time a year, I advise to start with affordable tools. When they break, if they ever do, it means you are using them enough to invest in a better version.

The complete toolbox I am advising costs only 60€ (+115€ if you get the hammer drill, screw and wall plug) and will get the everyday person through most of the tasks. I am linking to products I have personally used and can recommend.

Tools

1. Tape Measure

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The tape measure is an absolute essential. The tape measure simply ensures everything will be exactly where it should be. Remember: "Anything worth doing is worth doing well.". So don't eyeball it. Take your time and use your tape measure.

Pro tip: Always measure twice.

Here is the one I currently use - Price: 2,40€

 

2. Level

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It is a quick and easy way to check if your frame is straight. You may also use the iPhone built-in app (open the compass and swipe right).

This one will do just fine. - Price: 3,60€

 

3. Screwdriver with bits

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You probably have a picture of a screwdriver in your head now. Do not buy this one. The classic screwdriver does not have the versatility we are looking for here. Furniture is sold with many different types of screws so you will quickly end up with a collection of screwdrivers tips.

Instead, look for a screwdriver with changeable bits. It is a single handle on which you can fit all sorts of bits. That is an all-in-one, saving you money and space.

Plus, you will now have the perfect bit for IKEA furniture and won't be using their annoying little tool ever again.

Here is it. - Price: 10,00€

 

4. Crescent wrench

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Following the same logic, you can simplify your toolbox by having a crescent wrench.

A crescent wrench has a sliding jaw that can be adjusted to the size you need. It will grip a great variety of nuts. One size fits all (well, most).

Pro tip: To reduce backlash, place the moveable jaw on the side towards which you are rotating.

Heavy duty wrench - 7,80€

 

5. Hammer

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There are over 20 types of hammer. Each one has a specific use.

The one I regularly use is called a French cabinet-maker hammer. Although pretty standard in France this design is not common in other countries.

The French cabinet maker hammer has a smaller head. It is compact, it is light, it is easy to manipulate.

I recommend this size - 5,90€

 

6. Combination plier

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There are pliers for every use too, but buying a combination plier instead of a full set of pliers will keep your toolbox light. 

Here is a good one - 8,50€

 

7. Voltage tester screwdriver

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Small electrical work, such has plugging a celling light on an screw terminal, is easier than you would think. There are just a few rules to know and follow, as we will explain in a future article.

A voltage tester screwdriver works this way: when the tip of screwdriver touches a wire under tension, the small light bulb turns on. You should always make sure to turn off the power before touching a wire. The voltage tester screwdriver is an added safety, if you switched the wrong circuit-breaker it will light up. Work on the terminal only when the screwdriver does not light up.

As you probably understood by now, the screwdriver is a protection between you and the electric current so don't be cheap on that one.

This one is from FACOM. The brand guarantee free replacement without time limit. - Price 8,25€

 

Extra: Hammer Drill and bits

I would suggest buying a hammer drill instead of a regular drill. 

While a regular drill will do fine on wood, tiling, steel and plasterboard, the hammer drill has an switch-on hammer function that allow to drill brick and concrete as well.

A cordless hammer drill is better but it will cost twice the price with the battery.

Bonus. All drills also work as a driver.

I have not personally tested this Ryobi but I have read good reviews. It comes with the drill bits - Price 99,99€

Hardware / Supplies:

1. Pen

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This is one is easy.

I personally use a mechanical pencil for their accuracy.

A simple BIC Matic Original 0.7mm is perfect. - Price less than 1€ (no link)

 

2. Masking Tape

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That is a trick of the trade. Before marking your wall, apply masking tape where you plan to mark. If you made a mistake, remove the tape and leave no trace on the wall. It also helps a lot on dark surfaces.

Here is it - Price 9,90€ for 3 items

 

3. Nails

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You will need nails to hang frame and light decoration. Nail diversity is unbelievable! There are different kinds of nail heads, lengths, diameters, etc. They all have a specific use.

I won't get into this, it is probably not worth your attention yet. Just buy these:

I love black nails. Price - 3,25€ pack of 80 nails

 

Extra: Screw and Wall Plugs

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Heavier items (wall lamps, big pictures, trophies and whatnot) will require a steadier hold. For those you will need screws and wall plugs. Drill a hole, put the wall plug in and screw your item (I will give more detailed instructions in another post). Never use a screw directly into a wall.

There are 3 size of wall plugs you may need: 6, 8 and 10. The matching screw for each wall plug should be in varying length, so you can choose depending on the item you are hanging.

This one has the basics - 14,75€

Toolbox complete!

That is it. Nothing more for now.

Once you get better, here are some additions you can make to your toolbox.

Here is a directory of retailers in your country of residence.