Disclaimer-Captain DIY and DIYtoFI.blog highly recommend exercising extreme caution when attempting DIY projects. Not everybody can do everything, and some things should only be done by professionals. Keep your digits attached, and keep the insurance company off of your back. Do it right or call the right people!
Since the dawn of humanity, we have made our world more convenient to us by using tools. At first we chiseled rocks into cutting and smashing implements, and sharpened sticks into stabbing and poking implements. We evolved from there into putting rocks and sticks together in creative and helpful ways, such as sticks with sharp rocks on the end so as to make the poking and stabbing more effective.
For many thousands of years our tool repertoire remained fairly stagnant and stick-and-rock based, until finally some Neanderthal decided poking and stabbing were maybe not the only things we could use tools for. From there we have blossomed as a species, and our ingenuity and creativity has produced some amazing and quite literally life-changing tools.
Unfortunately, many of us have since grown complacent in our tool collection, and have decided that the ownership and manipulation of tools for benefit is best left to others. This has led to a travesty in the form of Homeowner Grade Tools. Because even if you don’t think you need tools, you still realize somewhere in the deep dark caveman recesses of your brain that you do need tools, so you appease that reptilian cortex with the $39.95 all-in-one tool set at the nearest big box hardware store.
For the average non-financial independence (FI) seeking soft-handed homeowner, this child’s tool set is more than sufficient to hang the family portrait over the mantel and put up the Christmas decorations every year. For those of us looking to get serious with our DIY skills, however, these ridiculous farcical tool sets simply won’t do.
I have been hereby influenced by the existence and continued use of these toy sets (I mean tool sets) to compile a list of the Tools Every Homeowner Should Have. This list does not list every single tool you will need for all of your projects, but it gives you a starting point to have what you need to Get The Job Done. Whether you are just starting your career as a homeowner or you have just seen the light and realize your life is severely lacking without being able to Do It Yourself, this list is the bare minimum of what should be hanging in your garage.
You will always need to hit things and pry things, and there are the occasional instances where you just need to give something a bit of persuasion to get into the damn hole. I recommend a fiberglass neck straight-claw hammer from a reputable name.
The Nerd of the tool world
These go with the hammer, and just about every other tool on the list. If you’ve never seen why you should have these, check out this article on Popular Mechanics. That’s all I have to say about that.
The ones you can drink are good, too
This means a large flat head (1/4”), a small flat head (1/8”), a #1 Phillips head, and a #2 Phillips head. There are of course thousands more, but this list is basic. Remember, we are just trying to keep you from buying yourself the Father’s Day Gift Tool Set. Let your 8-year-old do that.
Don’t forget the Band-Aids
Really anything that has a good grip and uses utility blades will do. When you need to cut some stuff, you need something super sharp. More injuries occur with dull knives than sharp ones. I realize your Grandpa’s knife is special to you, put it in a special place and pull out the work knife.
A yo-yo for Grown-Ups
Or as the old-timers call it, a “measuring stick”. If you don’t know how to read a tape measure, figure it out. Seriously. There is no project other than demolition that doesn’t require accurate (or at least semi-accurate) measurements. Bonus points if you get one of those fat ones that hold up to eleven feet out before they collapse. You’ll probably never need that feature, but it’s cool.
I have the power!
How much faster would it be to put together that Ikea kids’ bedroom set if you had a drill to put in the 56,342 screws that are currently scattered around on the floor? Way faster, that’s how much. Plus, you can stave off that carpal tunnel just a bit longer.
I’m moving up the corporate ladder (yuk-yuk)
This can be a two-foot step stool, it can be a six-foot step ladder, or it can be a 32-foot extension ladder. Whatever the project demands, that’s what you should have. And while it’s tempting to climb right up to the very top because you could reach if you just took one more step up, the potential to get seriously maimed by a fall is pretty darn good from the tippy top step. Get the right sized ladder, no messing around! If you don’t have the right size, borrow one from your neighbor. Or, if you need a big one for one job and you don’t know anyone who has one you can borrow, there are rental shops that will rent a ladder for a reasonable price. I’ve seen a ten foot ladder for rent for $20 for a day. That’s a whole lot cheaper than getting a cast for your broken arm!
This is a partial list, I couldn’t stuff everything I thought should be on here in one post. Keep an eye out for Tools You Should Have Part 2, and in the meantime you can start working on your collection. Of course, if you don’t mind trying to put together your mother-in-law’s family heirloom dining room table that she just inherited from her Great Aunt Mildred with the Tinker Toys Lil’ Tykes Tool Set that you bought when you got your first apartment and thought you were an adult, go right ahead. If you feel like you’re ready to do some serious DIY with the Captain, better show up with some grown-up tools. Pro Tip: Craigslist and garage sales are fantastic places to find quality tools for cheap. Check them out!