As someone who, for most of my adult life, has lived in flats which were maintained by the landlord, in theory at least, it came as something as a shock for me when I moved into my own place. I realized that there were loads of things to be done in and outside the house, and that I didn’t have a single tool with which to begin. I simply had to go out and buy some, and having been a builder in earlier years, I knew the most important thing was to acquire proper ones; something that would hopefully last me for years. I remember once buying a club hammer at a sale–it lasted two days before it splintered, narrowly missing my eye in the process. The old maxim is still true–buy dear, buy cheap.
Screwdrivers should probably be at the top of your list. For most jobs around the house, a medium sized one should do the trick. Actually, you need two–one with one slit in the head, and another one with a cross slit, a Phillips head as it’s called. A fairly small one with an insulated handle is useful as well, for electrical work. Do not use them for opening tins or as a lever, as that will certainly shorten their useful life.
A hammer is probably one of the most essential tools–a claw hammer should suffice at the start, as it’s handy for both knocking nails etc. home, but also for pulling them out.
Although a lot of folk use electric saws nowadays, an ordinary panel saw will suffice for most smaller tasks. A lot of them now are not designed to be sharpened, just to be used a few times, and then discarded. This is reflected in the price, as they are relatively cheap.
Maybe you won’t need one very often, but a chisel can be useful to have in the toolkit. There are many types and sizes, each specially suited to its intended use. Be extra careful when using this tool–a permanent scar on one of my fingers is testimony to the fact that I ignored this piece of advice.
Pliers come in various shapes and sizes as well, but for most jobs around the house, two types should do. There’s the flat or snub nosed ones, which can cut wire as well as pull things, and the needle or long nose ones for getting into small or confined spaces. Pincers, or nippers as I used to call them, are also very handy for pulling out things like nails or pins.
Spanners range in size, and if you feel that you don’t need a whole box of them cluttering up space, the answer is to get an adjustable one, or a shifter, as it’s sometimes called. Different sizes of nuts and bolts can then be handled by the same tool.
I find that a DIY knife is a must, for cutting materials such as thick paper,, fabrics, lino etc. I use one with a retractable blade–I just find it easier. Again, be really careful with this one. After use, make sure that the blade is covered.
For measuring, it’s best to invest in a steel rule. When cutting something, and needing a guide, a wooden rule would be of little use, for obvious reasons. For longer measurements, I keep a steel tape–a three metre one should take care of most things.
For some jobs you might need a drill. Because they’re so cheap nowadays, an electric one would be best, preferably multi-speed, as you can do so much more with them than with a one-speed model.
I’ve just mentioned basic tools above, that could come in useful at any time. Hopefully, you won’t have to deal with any emergency situations, but you might consider the following.
A plunger is definitely worth having, in case of a blocked sink or pipes. If you live in an area where you cannot access a plumber for maybe days, then drain rods should be on your shopping list. It’s also a good idea to have spare fuses and lightbulbs in a cupboard, as they don’t last indefinitely. Tapes are something that I feel I cannot do without either. Even the humble sellotape can hold things for you temporarily, but you should also think about having rolls of insulating and masking tapes.
Try to keep your tools in good condition, in a safe place, especially if there are children in the house.