14 Handy Tools Every Homeowner Needs

Updated: Dec. 20, 2023

Need to do a bunch of little repairs? This list of small DIY tools will get you started.

14 Handy Tools Every Homeowner NeedsVIA MERCHANT

Over the years, Family Handyman has showcased innumerable tools, gadgets and goops that make renovating our houses and repairing our vehicles easier and fun.

The tools listed here, however, are not for major repairs or renovations. They’re for those times you need a quick, temporary or emergency fix, and don’t feel like going into the garage or workshop to bring out the “big stuff.” Things like hanging a picture, or patching a tiny hole in the wall.

As a professional automotive technician who rehabbed two homes and updated a third, tools are as essential as the air I breathe. And if you’re reading this, you must be a tool lover like me!

Although most of the tools are inexpensive, always buy the highest quality you can afford. Kept in a convenient tote bag, they’ll quickly become your “go-to in a pinch” tools.

1 / 14

Hot Glue Gun
via merchant

Hot Glue Gun

Mostly used for crafting, glue guns are handy for quickly repairing many household products.

A friend recommended hot glue to fix a loose wood chair stretcher, and it worked perfectly. Over the years I’ve used hot glue to secure fabrics, loose tiles, interior car trim, wallpaper, drywall and even a leaking PVC drainpipe.

As a “third-hand,” hot glue easily seals boxes and holds work together when drilling or cutting wood or plastic. Hot glue doesn’t shrink when drying, either, so it’s an excellent option for a permanent repair. It comes in two categories, high and low temperature glues, depending on the material.

Shop Now

2 / 14

Mini Screwdriver Set
via merchant`

Mini-Screwdriver Set

With many devices getting smaller, a mini-screwdriver set is an invaluable tool. They’re excellent for working on smartphones, laptops, hard drives, precision equipment, small appliances, electronic toys and other items with tiny screws.

Besides repairing eyeglasses, I’ve used a mini-screwdriver set to rebuild a power drill and tighten loose screws on my camera. This set comes with assorted bits, tweezers and an extension bit for removing screws in hard-to-reach places.

Shop Now

3 / 14

Small Hammer
via merchant

Small Hammer

You don’t need a 22-ounce framing hammer for assembling boxed furniture, working on glass, repairing floor tiles or fixing other tools. For delicate work, choose an eight-ounce hammer (half the size and weight of a full-sized hammer), a four-ounce craft and jewelry hammer, or a tapping hammer with interchangeable steel, brass and plastic heads.

A hammer that’s too large or heavy can damage or mar material, even if you’re taking precautions. Smaller hammers work well for hanging pictures, driving wall anchors or resetting a popped nail. They’re also useful for driving clevis pins, installing hairpin clips on children’s toys, or tapping a screwdriver to loosen a stuck screw.

Shop Now

Shop Now

4 / 14

Wire Ties
via merchant

Wire Ties

Wire ties are invaluable when fixing, fastening or organizing something around the house, car or boat.

Usually made from chemical resistant nylon or polymers, they’re perfect for securing unsafe and unsightly cable clutter. They’re especially useful for supporting garden plants, hanging decorations and holding together a repair while the glue dries. Wire ties come in:

Shop Now

Shop Now

Also, explore how to sharpen garden tools.

5 / 14

Torpedo Level
via merchant

Torpedo Level

A nine-inch magnetic torpedo level is another valuable tool for small jobs like hanging a picture, installing an electrical cover plate, adjusting a cabinet door, repairing a fence or adjusting something that needs to be square and level. It shows you take pride in your work.

Invest in a torpedo level that comes with:

  • Three vials that read plumb, level and 45 degrees;
  • A top-read window;
  • A non-marring rubber magnetic edge;
  • A V-groove frame that can easily sit on a pipe.
6 / 14

Caulking Tool
via merchant

Caulking Tool/Remover

Until I came across caulking remover and application tools, I dreaded removing old caulking and applying new. The angled scrapper cleanly and quickly cuts away shabby, crusted caulking in the kitchen or bathroom, or around windows. It leaves a smooth finish that provides better adhesion anywhere requiring water or airtight seals.

Applying caulking with the silicone pads saves time and material while preventing excess from oozing all over the place. That gives the repair a professional look you’ll be proud of.

7 / 14

Multi Tool
via merchant


Another great innovation for the DIYer, these come in dozens of configurations and a wide range of prices.

My go-to multi-tool offers 17 choices, enough to handle just about any job around the house, car or anywhere in between. Look for a multi-tool that comes with:

  • Needle-nose pliers;
  • Wire stripper;
  • Flathead and Phillips screwdrivers;
  • File;
  • Awl;
  • Ruler;
  • Can opener;
  • Scissors;
  • Serrated and full plain edge blades.

Although a multi-tool can’t replace your entire tool collection, they’re perfect for most smaller tasks and can really be a lifesaver in an emergency.

8 / 14

A 120 Volt Line Tester
via merchant

A 120-Volt Line Tester

Inexpensive 120-volt line testers are the first tools to grab when troubleshooting electric circuit problems. Once you identify the issue, use these tools to confirm the power is off before you start working on any electrical circuit.

You’ll need a non-contact voltage tester, outlet tester and two-lead circuit tester. The latter is especially handy for older homes to verify the ground wire (green insulated or bare copper) is actually connected to ground.

An outlet tester — the same used by most code inspectors — can detect an open ground, reverse polarity, open hot, open neutral or reversed hot/ground connection. A non-contact voltage tester can detect power (voltage) in a wire, cable, or connection without touching or piercing any devices or wires.

9 / 14

Multi Bit Ratcheting Screwdriver
via merchant

Multi-Bit Ratcheting Screwdriver

Why carry around a dozen screwdrivers and bits when one tool, a ratcheting screwdriver with a multi-bit set, will do? This versatile, compact tool/kit is ideal for those grab-and-go types of applications.

A ratcheting screwdriver lets you work faster. Choose one with a built-in magnet at the top of the driver to keep the bits from falling out and hold screws securely in place while turning. Securing fasteners to the bits means fewer lost screws and headaches. You’ll quickly find a multi-bit ratcheting screwdriver another tool you can’t do without.

10 / 14

Led Adjustable Headband Headlight
via merchant

LED Adjustable Headband Headlight

Once you’ve used an adjustable headband LED work light, you’ll wonder how you ever got along without one.

Whether you’re working in a crawl space, dark basement or under the hood of your car, these lamps throw plenty of light right where you need it. No more fussing around with a trouble light or a magnetic based lamp. Your frustration level will drop while speeding up the job at hand.

11 / 14

Putty Knife
via merchant

Putty Knife

A 1-1/2-inch stainless steel flexible putty knife is yet another indispensable tool for every DIYer. Look for one with a hammer cap and sturdy handle.

These come in handy when cleaning and smooth surfaces before painting and tiling. Mostly used for drywall and window repairs, you’ll also grab a putty knife to apply wood fillers, drywall compound, grout, plaster, caulking, glazing and even concrete. They’re also useful for mixing two-part compounds like epoxy or body filler.

Pro tip: Thoroughly clean and dry the blade before stowing it away.

12 / 14

Multi Grit Sanding Blocks
via merchant

Multi-Grit Sanding Blocks

It never fails: Whenever you need to touch-up damaged drywall, you can never find the correct grit sandpaper. Buying a set of wet-dry multi-grit sanding blocks will end that annoyance forever.

They’re flexible, so they fit nicely in your hand and conform to most shapes. They’re excellent for removing rust, deburring plastic or metal and, of course, sanding. Look for the washable and reusable kind. Once dry, store in a large freezer bag so they’re all in one place the next time you need them.

13 / 14

Razorblade Scraper
via merchant

Razorblade Scraper

For a hundred reasons, a razorblade scraper is one tool no self-respecting DIYer should be without. Look for ones that accommodate steel and plastic razor blades.

Choose plastic razor blades to remove debris, glue, stickers or paint from wood, vinyl floors and composite bumpers to avoid damaging the surface. These are also excellent for pre-cleaning glass stovetops and shower doors, and removing stubborn caulking or adhesives from car windows.

It’s best to have two — a long-handled version for hard-to-reach places, and a stubby model for everyday use.

14 / 14

Twelve Volt Drill Driver Set
via merchant

Twelve-Volt Drill Driver Set

The one splurge on this list is a 12-volt drill and impact driver set suitable for general maintenance and automotive repairs. This kit comes with two batteries, a charger and convenient carrying bag.

The impact driver will fasten 1/4-in. lag screws into pre-drilled holes for hanging a TV mount. The drill comes with an adjustable, ratcheting metal chuck that speeds up furniture assembly and odd jobs. It easily drills up to 3/8-in. holes.