By Jennifer Goforth Gregory
IT’S A FACT of life as a homeowner that you will
need to hang pictures on the wall, make repairs,
assemble furniture you’ve purchased and maybe
even build a new bookshelf for the living room.
But in order to do the job right, you need to have
the essential tools on hand.
“When things break, you don’t always have
time to run out to purchase tools, so it’s helpful to
have tools that cover the majority of home-improvement needs on hand,” says Marie Leonard,
Costco member and author of the book Marie’s
Home Improvement Guide (Seal Press, 2009; not
available at Costco).
She recommends purchasing the best-quality
tools you can afford and not just grabbing the
cheapest tools you can find. “Poor-quality tools
will not last, and you will have to spend more
money buying replacements,” she says.
Here are the tools that experienced do-it-yourselfers recommend every homeowner should have.
Basic tool kit. Look for a starter kit that
has a hammer, screwdrivers, pliers, a level and a
tape measure. Costco member Ron Hazelton, former Good Morning America home-improvement
editor and host of the home-improvement television show Ron Hazelton’s HouseCalls, says the
most common home projects are installing electrical equipment such as switches or fans, hanging
items on the wall and assembling furniture and
accessories that are sold unassembled. “If you buy
a basic kit with these tools, you will have the tools
right from the start that you need for the three
most common tasks around the house,” he says.
Stocking the essential
tools for homeowners
The Costco Connection
A variety of hand and power tools are available
at Costco and at Costco.com, including many of
the items mentioned in this article, and more.
See the Buyers’ Picks on pages 41 and 43.
Cordless drill and drill bits. It’s almost
impossible to install blinds, mount a television on
the wall, hang a towel bar or put up shelving with
a screwdriver. “When you have a cordless power
drill, you can do all of these things without damag-
ing the woodwork or the wall,” says Leonard.
“Make sure the drill feels comfortable in your
hand and fits well. You will use your tools more if
you like them.”
But your cordless drill only works if you have
the right drill bit for the project. A large set is more
economical than buying bits separately.
Ladder and step stool. Resist the
temptation to use your parents’ old secondhand
ladder next time you need to change a light bulb
or clean the gutters. “Invest in a new ladder
which is sturdier and made with fiberglass [or
aluminum]. Ladders are rated by weight, so make
sure that the ladder is the right size to hold your
body,” Hazelton says. “If you don’t have a ladder
on hand, you will be tempted to stand on something that is not safe next time you get up high,
and run the risk of a serious injury.”
Shop vacuum. Cleaning up debris, water
and even fireplace ashes is much easier with a shop
vacuum. Shop vacuums can be especially useful if
a room in your house floods due to rain or a
plumbing malfunction. Leonard recommends
selecting a shop vacuum with a HEPA filter.
Nail gun. Once you master the basics in
repairs, you might be encouraged enough to start
making improvements around your new home.
While it’s not a basic tool, Hazelton says that a nail
gun will help you put up chair rail molding and
build cabinets and bookshelves.
“If you try to do these things with a ham-
mer, you run the risk of splitting the wood,”
Of course, use caution
when using any tool, espe-
cially around electricity.
Your project and body
will be better off. C
Jennifer Goforth Gregory has
been writing professionally for
more than 20 years.