Then, you start to notice things that need attention — a kitchen drawer pull is loose, the bathroom door sticks and a nail is poking out from the baseboard molding. You weigh calling the landlord versus just fixing these small annoyances yourself, but you don’t have any tools. Here’s your opportunity to buy a starter set, but what should you get?
Here are seven things to remember when buying your first set of tools.
1. Think of any tool kit as an investment
Good tools should last for years, if not decades. Like so many other things you can buy, you get what you pay for. It’s better to have fewer tools that are quality pieces than a cheap starter set that only lasts a year or two.
2. Stay away from multi-tools
Avoid any tool touted as a “multi-function,” “all-in-one” or “folding knife” type of gadget that fits in your pocket. These have their place (for example, when camping or hiking with space and weight at a premium) but compared to full-size hand tools, the multi-tool is mediocre at everything.
3. Recognize that apartment space is always tight
Include a toolbox or bag on your shopping list – just be sure it’s the right size for your space. Figure out where the tools will be stored, then buy a carrier that will fit that space. As you grow your tool collection, you can fill it up and keep it organized.
4. Keep it simple
You don’t need “one of every tool ever invented” when making your initial purchase. A small list of essential tools should include:
- Two flat screwdrivers, one small tip and one large tip
- Two Phillips screwdrivers, a size 1 tip and a size 2 tip
- A claw hammer (the kind that can also remove nails)
- One pair of pliers (preferably locking pliers which can work as an additional hand)
- An adjustable wrench
- A tape measure
- One pair of diagonal cutters
- A putty knife
- A utility knife
Your budget should drive your choices. Buy the best tools you can afford. If you’re truly limited, consider paring this list down, or spreading out the purchases over time. Be smart and think about what you’ll truly need. You may decide you don’t need everything listed here.
5. You need more than tools to fix things
You also need what are called “consumables.” This includes nails, screws, tape, sandpaper, lubricants and glue. When making these purchases, avoid the temptation to bulk up.
When you need only two Phillips-head screws, we know buying that box of 100 is more cost-effective than the bag of six. Save the bulk purchase for when you own your first home and have a garage. For now, buy what you need and avoid the clutter.
6. Splurge only if you can
If space and budget allow it, consider stretching your purchase to include a staple gun, a cordless drill/driver and drill bits. The staple gun is handy for hanging posters and fabric, the drill/driver can loosen stubborn fittings and drill bits are essential for boring holes. Keep in mind that these items are larger and heavier than most of the hand tools listed above.
7. Tools do more than just make repairs
Tools also mean you can assemble furniture, repair your bicycle and hang new curtain rods. The more you use them, the more your confidence grows. Don’t be surprised if your comfort level grows to the point that you start volunteering to make repairs at friends’ apartments!