I’ve always been a do-it-yourselfer. Fiercely independent. If I can do it myself, I’m not asking anyone else to do it. Then I lived with a string of guys who could barely handle a hammer, let alone change out a faucet. Emergency repairs? Forget it. Then I lived by myself, and that sealed it for me: I needed my own set of tools.
So I started collecting tools -- enough that I could either fix the problem or control it until a professional could get there.
Soon I realized that there were some tools I was always using, even just for little stuff around the house. These crown jewels got their own repository: my essentials tool box. Every woman should have an essentials box -- it’s as important as a first aid kit.
Claw Hammer -- Just a regular, standard hammering hammer. They do come in different sizes and weights, so spend some time at the hardware store feeling them out. You want one with enough weight to do the hammering work for you, but not so heavy that you can’t be accurate.
Screwdriver(s) -- I actually recommend buying a screwdriver that has interchangeable bits. It may come as a kit, or the bits will be stored in the handle of the screwdriver. You can buy a screwdriver set, or several ones, but for pure space economy, this is the way to go.
Adjustable Wrenches -- I’d go with three of these, enough to give you a good span of sizes. These are indispensible around the house (you’ll be surprised what you use them for).
Pipe Wrench -- Before I owned my own home, this would never have made the list. But you try fixing that stupid f%&#*ng pipe leak with just an adjustable wrench, sliding all over the place. Or retrieving your engagement ring after it heads down the garbage disposal (it jumped, I swear!). They also do double duty as home defense, if you happen to live in a “transitional” area like I did.
Socket Wrench Set -- You don’t have to go all out on a set of these, just get the basics. A socket wrench will let you get into tight spaces that other wrenches won’t, and for really tough nuts, the socket style will do more of the work for you than a conventional wrench. Make sure you purchase the hex bit set, not the impact set (impact is meant for use with an air compressor).
Pliers -- You absolutely need a pair of needle-nosed pliers and slip joint pliers. Both come in different sizes, so pick the ones that work best for you -- just make sure your needle-nosed pliers are narrow enough to get into tiny spaces (like the aforementioned pipe).
Cordless Drill & Bit Set -- You can buy a corded one, of course, but you will thank yourself for getting the cordless version. Black and Decker makes one that has a battery pack, so you can charge the battery when you aren’t using the drill. Make sure to get a matching bit set as well.
Level -- Buy any kind you like, but I cannot recommend a laser level enough. I have a bargain basement version that was less than $10 and it has paid for itself a thousand times over. I use it to hang pictures, when I’m painting walls with stripes or other effects, and I used it continually when I built my stained-glass mosaic backsplash.
Sharp things -- A variety of sharp and pokey things should occupy some space in your tool box: an awl (you’ll use it for all kinds of things, including starting screw/nail holes), tin snips, and a utility knife with extra blades. Bonus item: multi-tool, similar to a Leatherman.
Accessories -- You should have on hand a variety of household screws and nails, a retractable metal tape measure, sandpaper, a variety of tape -- including duct, electrical, and Teflon tape (a must-have for almost any plumbing project), work gloves, a good strong glue or epoxy (I recommend E6000), and a small flashlight (a 6-inch Maglite is perfect).