Tool box checklist

What you'll need to tackle small jobs around the house

It’s not as sexy as a makeup kit, but it’s also a lot more affordable. Learn how these tool box essentials can right a bunch of bad fixes in your home.

Hammer: The building block of your tool box, so don’t skimp. This is an item that should last a lifetime so stay away from dollar store versions. Stanley makes a new 16-oz graphite hammer with a ribbed grip handle to increase air flow and channel perspiration. A tempered edge helps reduce chipping.

Tape measure: Look for a locking tape measure that offers both metric and imperial measurements for convenience, in a minimum 16 ft. length (they go all the way up to 30 ft.). Tape that is one inch wide isn’t as likely to kink when it’s fully extended.

Screwdriver: The Picquic sixpack screwdriver has interchangeable heads stored right in the handle where you need them, and makes it easier to keep track of bits (they are pretty tiny). Just push out the head you need for the job and pop into the magnetic handle.

Vise grip locking pliers: These one-up regular pliers, especially when you are working on a job on your own and need a sturdy grip.

Cordless drill: Drills have changed over the years, it’s not so much about power as it is about having a lightweight drill that doesn’t require a ton of muscle to operate, and can go anywhere.

Drill bits: Cheap ones break. DeWalt Heavy Duty Twist Drills come in a sturdy protective metal cases with the sizes of the bits clearly marked for organization. The better the case, the more likely you are to put things away when the job is done.

Torpedo level: Don’t just trust your eyeballs when hanging a shelf or mounting a picture. Torpedo levels are compact enough to fit inside small toolboxes, and keep your artwork straight so it doesn’t look like your home is sinking.

Wrecker bar: Smaller than a crowbar, a wrecker bar helps to safely take apart, pry or pound things down – handy when working on projects like decks or when installing flooring or shingles. Look for one with a claw design for pulling nails, Lee Valley has a heavy-duty version with a double-claw rocker head and twin blade designed to straddle joists, studs and trusses.