Whether you plan on doing a lot of DIY projects or not, you’d be amazed at how often you need at least some basic tools once you enter adulthood. Need to figure out if something will fit in your space? You’ll need a measuring tape. Hanging your favorite picture? Grab that level. 

Below is our list of seven basic tools every adult should have. 

SCREWDRIVER SET

Why: Hands down the most common tool used in SO many household items—from opening battery compartments on gadgets to tightening the inevitable screw that comes loose. 

Suggested: A simple set of 6 with flathead and Phillips heads in various sizes will cover most of your needs. JZ’s first screwdriver set, bought at 17 years old, was was one of those with a single head and multiple attachments. It wasn’t going to do any heavy lifting, but it was useful enough at the time. If you have a little more space, we recommend something like the Stanley set below, which you can find on Amazon. 


Stanley 60-060 Standard Fluted Screwdriver Set 6-Piece (3 Pack)

(affiliate link)

RATCHET AND SOCKET SET

Why: When a screwdriver won’t do, it’s probably because you need a ratchet  Get a set that has metric and imperial, and you’ll be set. 

Suggested: This one has a range of sizes—imperial and metric—and would be a great start.

Stanley STMT71654 201-Piece Drive Mechanics Tool Set
(affiliate link)

 

MEASURING TAPE

Why: You know why. How else will you know if that new thing will fit in your car, or room/apartment/house? We keep a few measuring tapes in the shop, and one in the car. 

Suggested: We’re huge fans of the Stanley Leverlock measuring tape with magnetic tip. The lever lock on the bottom makes it easier to use than traditional measuring tapes, and that magnetic tip comes in handy when measuring long areas by yourself. Bonus, it’s not terribly expensive. 

Stanley 33-281 Leverlock Fractional Tape Rule with Magnetic Tip, 1-Inch X 25-Feet (affiliate link)

HAMMER

Why: Whether you’re hanging pictures in your room or need to tap something back in on an item you bought, a hammer is a good tool to have around. 

Suggested: Hammers are pretty standard, and inexpensive. But you still want a solid one that will stand up to repeated impacts. Something like this Stanley hammer should suffice:



Stanley STHT51304 20Oz Rip Claw Fiberglass Hammer,

(affiliate link)

 

GRABBER

Why: Ever dropped something in a tight space? That’s why. 

Suggested: We couldn’t find the grabber we use online, but this one looks pretty close. A good grabber should be long enough to actually help you reach things, but still fold in half for storage. Also, rubberized tips will aid in gripping items as you grab them, like this one.

Grabber Reacher Tool, 32″ Foldable

(affiliate link)

LEVEL

Why: If you hang anything on a wall—art, shelves, or a mirror, you’re going to want to be sure it’s straight. The great news is that levels are relatively inexpensive, even ones with a few extra features. You *can* use a level on your smartphone, but having a dedicated level will keep you from putting your phone in a precarious spot. 

Suggested: Levels are relatively inexpensive overall. We liked this one from Qooltek, as it goes beyond the usual vertical, horizontal and angle levels to provide a laser level line as well. Pretty nifty. 

Qooltek Multipurpose Laser Level Laser Line 8 feet Measure Tape Ruler

(affiliate link)

CORDLESS DRILL

Why: Some of the first DIY projects most adults undertake aren’t crazy big projects. They’re smaller things like hanging curtain rods or towel hooks. While these projects can seem daunting at first, having the right tool—in this case a cordless drill—makes them so much faster and easier. 

Suggested: For smaller projects around the house, a simple 12volt cordless drill should be sufficient. It wasn’t until we got into bigger, crazier projects that the 12v didn’t quite cut it. Below, we’ve listed a mid-range tool that should get most around-the-house jobs done. Bonus tip: if the one you buy doesn’t come with a stud finder, then definitely pop for a stud finder. You’ll thank us later. 

 

BLACK+DECKER 20V MAX Cordless Drill / Driver with 30-Piece Accessories (LD120VA)
(affiliate link)

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