The Essential Toolguide for the Handyman

Sometimes known as the desperate housewife’s knight in shining armor, the handyman is probably the most universally know tradesman. How does one go about equipping this modern hero of urban development? An unlimited shopping spree at the local hardware store is any handy-persons dream. All those glittering shiny tools. Tools for every occasion, for just about any specific job you might have to do. But which ones does the average handyman really need to get the job done?

There are so many options, how does the general handy-person know which tools to keep handy for any job? Just about any handyman will tell you, there are tools you NEED and then there are tools you just REALLY want. If you want to know what to have on hand for general maintenance around your home, just take a peek in your favorite handy-persons tool box and your bound to find these:


Essential tools of the trade: These are the tools that are an absolute must for any handy-person to tackle just about any situation, no matter how unexpected when on the job.

Hammer – a Flathead hammer
Screwdriver set – containing at least a #1 and #2 Phillips head and Flat head screwdriver and a pick (a magnetic screwdriver is nice but not essential)
Drill– preferably a cordless with a standard set of bits
Reciprocating saw (Saws all) – with a package of metal/wood cutting blades for general purpose, you can buy blades for specific jobs (these babies will cut anything, hence the name saws all.)
Quick change razor knife
Measuring tape – preferably metal, at least 20-25 ft long
Torpedo level – you can buy these in sets of different sizes for bigger or smaller jobs.
Putty knives – 1 small and 1 large
Caulking gun
Flashlight or head lamp
Robopliers – these eliminate the need for carrying wrench sets and work like self adjusting channel locks. A good all purpose tool to have around the house for anything from fixing your kids bike to installing hoses on a washing machine or tightening a shower head.
Tool Pouch – To keep all your hand tools handy that your using right then instead of lugging your whole toolbox up two flights of stairs to fix a stopped up toilet.
Nail bar – useful for pulling nails and stubborn screws out as well as prying when necessary
Speed Square – for making straight cuts and drawing straight lines on diagrams
Carpenters pencil
Wire cutters A decent plunger ( you’d be surprised how many people and businesses don’t have these) Step stool
Clipboard/spare blank paper/pen – for making notes, drawing diagrams etc.
Toolbox – preferably one big enough to put all of your hand tools in with trays or separators to keep it organized (tool bags are nice to have as they are easy to manipulate and come with a shoulder strap and several separate pockets) Some handy persons like to buy a few of these and stock them with tools for specific jobs. If your strapped on cash, you can reuse that 5 gallon paint bucket that you have left over from painting the bathroom after you clean it out of course.

Safety tools: Personal safety should be at the forefront of any handy persons mind when working on the job. Safety equipment is an essential part of the handyman trade and should not be overlooked.

1 box of disposable latex gloves – you never know where you are going to have to stick your hands or into what
Safety goggles – for use when cutting, sanding, using chemicals or plunging among other things
Steel toed none slip work shoes – (preferably boots) for use on any terrain and to protect your feet from dropping heavy items on them. Boots are suggested to protect against spider bites when climbing in attics and under houses.
Leather work gloves- (Kevlar reinforced are great but a little more expensive) for use when cutting, pulling up old wood to avoid splinters, handling chemicals, hot materials, protecting your hands from rubbing when using tools repetitively or doing outside work etc.
Rubber insulated gloves – an absolute must for electrical work unless you like the smell of french fried fingernails (yuck)
Disposable paper masks – for use in areas where breathing fumes or dusty air is a hazard
First aid kit – just a small general purpose travel first aid kit fully stocked should be fine for patching up those inevitable nicks and cuts.
Other items such as overalls, aprons, bibs, welding helmet depend on the job, but these items should suffice for just about any situation that doesn’t require special equipment.

Tools that make most jobs easier: These are some tools that most professional handy persons have on hand, though they are not necessities, they tend to make the work a little faster and a lot easier on the ordinary fix it person. If your thinking about going into the handyman trade, any professional handy person will tell you these items are a good investment.

Circular saw with spare blades (Skill Saw)
Compound miter saw
Versiladder – at least 16ft. (This is a versatile ladder with joints that shift it into various positions and can be used for inside and outside work)
Hacksaw – for cutting accuracy in small areas
Any power tool that can be bought cordless ( drill, saws all etc. with an extra battery and charger)
Torch head – you can buy the propane for the torch as needed. This is good for soldering copper pipes, wood burning, shaping electrical conduits as well as for use around the home on simple wood or metal working projects. (they also make great roasted marshmallows)

Optional tools for more specific jobs: These are tools that most professional handy-persons keep in stock though may not bring with them to the job unless they know before hand that the job requires them. Most of these items can be bought when needed, but the professional handy-person usually keeps them accessible at a workshop or in their work vehicle for use when they are needed.

Power inverter – runs off a car battery for charging batteries for cordless power tools keeps you from inconveniencing your client with lengthy power cords and frees up electrical outlets close to the job, also good to have when doing work outside or a fair distance away from a power source.
Palm sander – with a small pack of several grades of paper (easiest to carry for any type of sanding and carpentry work)
Set of dry wall blades and mudding tray
Allen wrench set – good for the occasional odd job
Set of basic paint rollers – heads can be bought as needed
Plumbers snake
All purpose Shop Vac – for cleaning up after the work, clients really appreciate this (and so will your wife)

Odds and ends: These are items that just about every handyperson has on hand either in their toolbox or work vehicle. Though they aren’t essential to carry with you, they are quite helpful to have on hand especially when going to a job that you aren’t sure what needs to be done before you get there.

Electrical tape
Duct tape
Magnetic bowl (to put all those loose nuts, bolts, washers and screws in that are reusable on a job)
W D40 or Lithium Grease Spray – great for squeaky hinges, stubborn washers, rusty screws or just about anything else that needs lubrication
1-2 empty spray bottles – for use of various chemicals and water when needed to spray on items
Several scrap rags- for rubbing in chemicals, wiping off wet and greasy items etc.
Turpentine or stain Kilz

Some handypersons also like to keep an assortment of bolts, nuts, screws, nails, washers and electrical caps separated in small jars usually collected as leftovers from past jobs in case they run into the need for one and don’t want to run all the way to the hardware store for one or two of these. (take a peek in any handypersons favorite toolbox or work vehicle and your bound to see an assortment of these items)

Whether you’re a handy home owner or a professional handyman on the go, having the right tools for the right job is essential to success as a handyperson. Using this guide it shouldn’t be hard to equip your favorite fix it person with the tools they need to get the job done.

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