Ask Anthony: Top 10 Toolbox Essentials


anthony gilardi


FREE handyman repair advice from professional handyman Anthony Gilardi of HGTV's Myles of Style, right here on Home & Garden Buzz every other week.

Ask Anthony your home repair or home improvement questions right now in the comments below!

This week, Anthony shares with us his Top 10 Toolbox Essentials, Top 10 Tool Belt Essentials, and his Top 10 Locked Essential Tools. It's important to know the best tools to own.



Q: Anthony, last week you mentioned basics every home toolbox should have, what are some others?


A: Great question, jennmarie77—one everyone can benefit from too!

Last time we talked, I mentioned a few essential tools for the home. But Moms, let’s face it. We need to prepare for anything that comes our way. And you know me, I'm all about BEING PREPARED! It's all about empowering ourselves.

So what are my Top 10 Toolbox Essentials? What about my Tool Belt Essentials? And what essential tools do I keep In my pickup truck? Tool shed? Garage? 

Here we go:

Top 10 Tools Everyone Should Have in Their Toolbox

Now, some people go old school with an open wooden box. Others like a more durable closed metal box. Nowadays you can buy a cool round bag system that fits perfectly inside a 5-gallon bucket. I have a few different kinds to use depending on my mood, but keep in mind, I'm a professional. Pick your poison when it comes to choosing the right toolbox, as long as you have the key ESSENTIALS inside.

  1. Full-Size Framing Square. Most professional closed metal boxes will have a punch-out slot on the top so you can fit your square inside, make sure yours has one.
  2. Finish Hand Saw. I like a wooden handle with 1/8" teeth. Find the one you like and run with it (not literally LOL).
  3. Small Block of Wax. You'll need this handy item to lube your hand saw and your courser screws. Just run it down the teeth a couple times. It stops any binding when screwing into harder woods and or cabinets.
  4. Coping Saw. These blades break very easy; make sure you have spares.
  5. Plumb Bob. Have a couple hundred feet of string in a handy spool. Keep the end of the string from becoming loose. Use tape if you have to.
  6. Chalk Line. Keep a tube of extra chalk in the toolbox as well.
  7. Flat Bar. You might also want to have a Cat's Paw around as well.
  8. 2-Foot Level. See my "Locked Essential Tools" list for all other sizes of levels.
  9. Rubber Mallet. No need for more than 20 oz.
  10. Electrical Testers (GFCI and power tester)

As you know from watching Myles of Style, I don't make a move without wearing my tool belt. Having a well-stocked tool belt around my waist is as natural to me as wearing pants.

Top 10 Tools Everyone Should Have on Their Tool Belt

  1. Retractable Tape Measure. At least 25 feet long. I prefer 32 feet.
  2. Hammer. 16 to 20 oz. should be perfect. I prefer straight claw.
  3. Utility Knife. Choose one with an extra blade compartment.
  4. Safety Glasses. Preferably with wrap-around or side protectors.
  5. Pliers with wire cutter combo. Needle nose or linesman.
  6. Crescent Wrench. 6 to 8 inch.
  7. Screw Driver. Get a combo set with at least two choices, Flathead and Philips.
  8. Six-Inch Framing Square.
  9. Small Sanding Block.
  10. Nail Sets. Have at least 3 different sizes.

Top 10 Locked Essential Tools Everyone Should Own

Whether you store your tools in the trunk of your car, the cab or bed of your pickup truck, your tool shed, garage, or wherever, these tools need to be kept under lock and key.

  1. Table Saw. There are great portable table saws that come with wheels.
  2. Chop Saw. A 10” miter saw with a safety bar is all you really need. Don’t feel you have to break the bank on a 12” professional compound miter saw with an expandable stand—although they are great and if you have the means, I highly recommend one.
  3. Circular Saw. 7 ¼” at least.
  4. Reciprocating Saw. Stock up on different sizes of both wood and metal blades.
  5. Saber Saw or Jig Saw. Stock up on different sizes of both wood and metal blades.
  6. Levels. I like to have a 2 foot, 4 foot, 6 foot and 8 foot, but start off with just a 2 and a 4. Save the larger ones for when it’s time to reward yourself.
  7. Power Sanders. You should have a Belt Sander and an Orbital Sander. Stock up on varieties of sand paper for both. 80, 100, and 220 are the most common.
  8. Nail Gun with Compressor. Framing and Finish. I know a nice set can get pricey, but believe me, do what you can to get your hands on one. Save up for a good one, you’ll thank yourself!
  9. Cordless Drill/ Screw Gun. Don’t go with anything less than an 18 volt, trust me. I would also grab extra batteries and chargers. Don’t forget your drill/screw bits. Get a power strip and have extra batteries charging at all times.
  10. Buckets of Nails and Screws (at least 5 pounds each). I know there are many sizes of both, but you want to stock up on: 1) Screws: Drywall: 1”, 1 ¼”, 1 5/8”, 2”, 2 ½” and 3”. Exterior/ Galvanized: Same and 2) Nails: Finish: 4d, 6d, 8d, and 10d. Framing or Common: 6d, 8d, 12d, and 16d.     

Remember, whether you’re getting paid or just taking on a project around the house... take it seriously. And safety first.

On a personal note: Reward yourself after every job. What I do is buy myself a new tool, preferably one I don’t already have, after every job well done. That’s the best and most satisfying way to accumulate tools.

I know this list of tools sounds like a lot, but take my advice. Start out small with the first list and build your tool roster little by little.

Hopes this helps. Talk to you in two weeks.

Anthony Gilardi


+++ Ask Anthony your home repair or home improvement questions in the comments below. He'll be back in two weeks with an answer for at least one lucky reader!

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