50 Common Household Hand Tools
Whether you are using the tools yourself or curious what a construction company is using on a jobsite there is a huge range of tools out there that can be used in construction. Here is a construction tools list. Since there are so many tools I am going to start with common hand tools for this list and then clist the specialized tools by trade in another list. I am going to use the Construction Specifications Institute or CSI codes in the more specialized list. By the way, I am going to try and list these tools in terms of “most used” in my day-to-day remodeling life while remodeling my house so if you see one at the top of the list that you don’t own in your “arsenal” yet then you may be missing out! I have never attempted this before but since I generally own all of these tools I am going to create a construction tools list with pictures! Most building construction tools names have a real technical name and also a name that people actually call it, i.e. Kleenex vs tissue paper, so I will try and let you know the multiple names that a tool is known by.
I am going to let you know what brand of tool I own for each tool type in order to tell you exactly what I am using but there really is no best brand for hand tools. I will tell you all day long that I believe that American made tools are the best and have the highest quality but at the same time I know that means they have a high up-front cost. Feel free to purchase whatever brand you like!
Before I start the list it’s worth discussing safety equipment right now. I know they aren’t technically tools but please remember to always wear your safety gear or Personalized Protection Equipment (PPE) Including safety glasses or safety goggles, gloves, sturdy work boots, and pants, don’t forget pants! We hate when guys show up in sandals and shorts on our projects! Best way to get kicked off a commercial jobsite! Even when you are working at home that’s probably when accidents occur the most because you are maybe a little more distracted at home. I can fully relate since I have 2 beautiful daughters but you leave then alone for about 30 seconds and they can turn a whole room upside down! Probably why I haven’t done a lot of diy remodeling lately!
Construction Tools List
- Tape Measure
Before you cut, hammer, drill or screw anything you usually have to measure for it so that is why a tape measure made the top of the list. We own about 4 of them in our house (and still can’t ever find out when we need one) so this is definitely one of the most important tools in the house for us! I would recommend getting a tape measure that is as wide and stiff as possible as I always find myself trying to bridge a long distance with ours!
I know, it’s an obvious choice, but similar to above, after you measure what you want to cut or build you are going to have to mark it with something! It is important to note that I said “pencil” and not “sharpie marker” or “pen” because pencils tend to be able to write on anything, and God forbid if you “miss” the first time a pencil is possible to get off of a wall or cabinet if you need it gone! At a minimum you can easily paint over it, especially compared to a sharpie marker! In commercial construction the standard are the carpenter pencils – wide and flat pencils that can be sharpened with a knife. However, I would personally recommend picking up some mechanical pencils – generally the .07 lead works better than .05 since they hold up a little better across various surfaces. I like mechanical pencils because you don’t have to try and keep a pencil sharpener or knife around to be able to write with the pencil. The only downside is if you are rough with pencils (like me) you may have to keep a few extra on hand!
- Cordless Drill
After a measuring tape and a pencil (or kid’s crayon, marker, or piece of chalk, whatever I can find!) the most important tool in my house and on this construction tools list is my cordless drill. I can safely say that I use my drill more than anything, by far! Need a picture or light hung? Fix a door? Take apart (and try and put back together) a bike? Install kitchen cabinets? Need to go get the drill! My drill is probably about 10 years old and is certainly not as powerful or lightweight as the newer ones out there but it does the job. The best advice I can give on a drill is get a high quality (i.e. “American made”) one that will last for forever. If you have an old one like me? The best thing that I did was buy a new battery for it so it didn’t keep running out on me! The main reason that I can use my drill for a lot of projects is that I am obsessed with keeping all the right bits around my garage. With the right bits a cordless drill really can replace a large number of basic hand tools so it is more like a “utility” tool that solves many tasks rather than just a single hand tool. See the “bits” section below for advice on what bits to buy.
Just like the tape measure, we certainly own a few hammers around our house! I tend to prefer screws over nails, especially when fastening into our drywall walls, but there is always a time when a good old hammer and nail will do just fine! I especially use a hammer when the studs are exposed, like in our garage, attic, or patio, because nailing into drywall alone (without hitting a stud) is pretty much useless unless you are hanging a light picture. A hammer also doubles as a crowbar to pull out nails or pull two pieces of wood apart. There is nothing like banging the heck of something when it’s not quite working as you planned as well! I recommend using a claw hammer so you can pull a nail out when necessary, as opposed to double faced hammer, but who has seen one of those in the last 30 years anyways?
- Drill Bits – (Drill, Screwdriver, Spade)
As I mentioned above, a cordless drill is only as good as the bits that you have for it. The most common bits you need are going to be drill bits and standard screwdriver bits including phillips (#’s 1, 2, and 3) and “flat-head” bits. In addition to the standard ones I have found it handy to have a bit holder that allows you to switch out bits quickly. In addition, there are some of the less common but helpful bits that I recommend having around including “allen wrench” bits, square bits (for finish screws), spade drill bits (for drilling deep, large holes), and sometimes “star” bits come in handy when you are working on special door hardware. I usually recommend buying a multi-piece “kit” that typically include most of these common bits that you will need.
This certainly falls under the “personal protective equipment” category again but it’s always helpful to have a set of general work gloves around. Even when you are just moving furniture around or taking the trash out it’s great to have gloves to make sure that you don’t accidentally scrape or cut yourself while going work around the house. Even if you don’t think you need them, if you are shoveling or doing a bunch of hammering gloves help you to be “less sore” the next day after a long day of manual labor! Most hardware stores carry cheap but sturdy work gloves nowdays, I usually pick up a set about once every couple years. Not because I am doing so much work that I wear through them, I really just tend to lose them pretty quickly.
Hopefully the cordless drill can take care of most situations but sometimes the best tool to take a screw out is a regular old screwdriver. You can buy a whole set but most of the time a good old #2 size phillips head screwdriver does the trick, or a standard flat head screwdriver. One other helpful set of tools are the “mini” screwdrivers. It seems that more and more electronics – ESPECIALLY toys, require a “mini” phillips head screwdriver in order to remove the batteries or take it apart. I have a designated “old” flat head screwdriver that I keep around for the “messy” tasks I sometimes use a screwdriver for like prying something apart or adjusting a sprinkler head.
A nice level is certainly helpful around the house. I personally have a 2’ level that serves most of my needs, including anything from hanging pictures on the wall to setting cabinets in the kitchen. For “taller” items like installing fence posts or even using a nice straight edge when using a table saw I use a 6’ level, but most of the time a 2’ level does just fine.
It’s always helpful to have a knife around. The best ones that I find I like are either “box cutters” or “carpet cutters”. The ones that are retractable and that have “storage” compartments are convenient because you can keep them retracted when not in use. The safest ones have a locking mechanism that ensures the blade does not accidentally retract when in use. There are some other types of knives that are “OK” for use around the house like the “retractable” ones that break off the blade as you are done with them but they are not as sturdy as a retractable box cutter.
- Crowbar or Wrecking Bar
A crowbar is always helpful when you need to remove a stubborn nail or try and “wedge” something up. It’s similar to a claw hammer except it’s longer and bent a little bit different so you can get to a nail or similar that a hammer sometimes can’t reach. I had mine out the other day to wedge up our hot tub so I could slip a cover holder underneath it. Nothing like picking up over 1000 pounds with no sweat!
A pullbar is very similar to a crow bar or wrecking bar except that it’s usually shorter, wider, and has a bit of an sharp edge to it. A pry bar can usually still pull nails like a crowbar but it’s a little more suited to wedge something up or scrape something up. When I am removing floor base from a wall or casing off of a door my prybar usually comes out.
- Extension Cords
I don’t know how many times I have needed an extension cord around the house. Of course any “corded” tool needs to be able to reach whatever you are working on so having extension cords handy are essential. A couple of tips for an extension cord? I have burnt out a number of ends of extension cords – normally it happens when I am using a long cord and running a tool that uses a lot of electricity, such as a circular saw or a vacuum. If you want to avoid burning out an end I would recommend either ordering just as long as you need (and no longer) or try and buy the biggest gauge wire that you can afford. Most of the time the ones called “heavy duty” or “contractor grade” are 12 gauge and can handle most any normal load from a power tool. Always buy “exterior grade” and “grounded” (i.e. with the third prong) extension cords because it is unsafe to be using an interior only or ungrounded cord while using tools or especially while working outside using tools! If you DO burn out an end of an extension cord you can buy a replacement cap but try and find the OSHA approved replacement caps including the grounded wire so it’s legal and safe.
- Task Light
Whether it’s a little 40w light bulb with a reflector and a cage or a nice 500w double headed halogen task light it’s always helpful to have a task light on hand. Most of the time when you must shut off power to swap out electrical devices or if you need some extra light for some finishes (drywall or flooring) a task light is necessary to get the project done correctly. It doesn’t really matter what type of light you use but whatever it is I always recommend having a cage or protective cover over it and if you are using a light outside while doing work make sure that it is waterproof!
Saws Section! [stopped editing here]
After looking at my construction tools list I just realized that I have a LOT of saws listed! I don’t know why but looking through the list I would definitely say I use each one of these on a regular basis!
I picked the hacksaw first because I find myself using a hacksaw more than any another saw on the list. It does not look like much and has tiny teeth but what other hand saw can cut through pretty much any type of pipe including steel, PVC, copper, or galvanized conduit, etc..? The list goes on. I usually pull the hacksaw out when I only have a few cuts to make and the cuts must be precise, otherwise I can do the same cuts with either a miter saw or a Sawzall if I have a lot of cuts to make. I don’t think hacksaws have changed in decades and that is fine with me as it’s a great tool.
- Hand Saw
Full disclosure: I don’t actually own a handsaw. I grew up using one, mainly on account of not being allowed to use power tools for most of my childhood (I don’t disagree with my dad’s decision), but once I got out on my own I ended up buying most of the powered saws before I considered buying a hand saw, and I really don’t find a need for a hand saw at this time. Don’t get me wrong, if you do not own a hacksaw, coping saw, miter saw, circular saw, and tree saw yet, a handsaw is absolutely a great saw to have around, and something that you should get (hence, why it is near the top of the construction tools list), but I have found that the specialized saws are a little more efficient than a typical hand saw. For example – I used to cut 2x4s with a hand saw and a miter box. Now do you think that is as easy as cutting stuff with a powered compound miter saw? Didn’t think so. Cut a branch off a tree? Well my tree (hand) saw can cut the tree branch in about 10 seconds compared to probably 30 seconds with a regular handsaw.
- Circular Saw
When I was in college and started buying my own power tools, I purchased two tools to start my “collection” and to get my first project done. Those two tools were a Dewalt circular saw and a Dewalt drill (corded). My first project while living in my first apartment without my parents? Building a collapsible bar of course! Have to keep my priorities in line! Actually my first project in my dorm (using borrowed tools) the year before I moved to an apartment with my buddies was a mini putt-putt hole for a charity event so I guess that’s a little more appropriate! If you had to but one powered saw to start I would definitely recommend starting with a circular saw. It take a little more setup than one of the more specialized saws but if you are being careful (i.e. safe) you can use it to cut studs down, cut doors down, and (again you really have to be careful) you can rip plywood or 2x’s down with a circular saw if everything is in place and prepped correctly.
- Miter Saw
I mentioned my “handsaw and miter box” earlier in this post, but for this section I am definitely not talking about just a handsaw and a box. This refers to a powered miter saw and is similar but not exactly the same as a chop saw or a compound miter saw. The “Miter” refers to the ability to rotate the blade and produced angled cuts (or miters). A compound miter saw has the ability to rotate in two directions (vertically and horizontally) and give some very precise cuts. A miter saw’s main use is to cut long material down at the end, including studs (metal or wood), floor base, door or window casing, crown molding, pipe, and really anything you can think of as long as it’s not too big and you have a proper blade for what you are cutting through. I use a compound miter saw and consider the “compound” to be necessary when you are cutting crown molding but they are expensive and a miter saw is very handy for just about any other type of work.
- Sawzall (reciprocating saw, hognose)
A Sawzall, or reciprocating saw, is definitely a fun tool to use. I have two versions of it; corded and cordless, and I like to think of it as a hacksaw or drywall saw on steroids. With the right blade you can really cut through anything quickly. The only catch is with the speed that you can cut something and with the saw blade being attached only at one end it’s really difficult to get a nice, straight cut with a Sawzall. For that reason, I really only use a reciprocating saw when I am demolishing something and it doesn’t have to look pretty at the end. I definitely do not use a sawzall when I am trying to cut pipe that I am going to be re-using or cutting drywall that doesn’t have to have an exact line. However, if I do have to demo something quickly and appearance doesn’t matter? I love to get the old Sawzall out and go to town with it! A tip if you are buying one? Take a look at the locking mechanism that locks the blade in and make sure that it’s sturdy and easy to use! Also make sure that the saw allows for a different blade orientation because sometimes you will need to attack a cut at different angles than a normal “downward” direction. Cordless or corded? Depends on if you are doing a lot of heavy duty cutting. There are definitely times when have pulled out my cordless and it doesn’t get through my whole project so you should certainly consider a corded saw for a Sawzall and really any saw since they use so much energy while cutting.
- Table Saw
A table saw serves a very specific purpose – if you need to cut something “lengthwise” then a table saw is the way to go. A table saw will typically take the place of a circular saw. It is definitely safer than trying to use a circular saw to make “long” cuts but please take caution – doing any “lengthwise” cuts are dangerous regardless of what tool you use. I love using my table saw to rip furniture grade pieces of lumber down to exact widths as you can really get precise and consistent with a table saw that has a nice guide setup. I have used it to cut down plantation shutters base, and casing. Table saws have a pretty “unsafe” reputation and for good reason. Really try and be careful while you are using one and call a buddy over if you need help!
- Corded Drill
I had placed a cordless drill near the top of this list and, for the most part I still feel like a cordless drill can handle most anything you throw at it. It’s still worth mentioning that a corded drill is an important tool to have in your “arsenal”. However, it is also worth mentioning that ever since I replaced my battery on my cordless drill, and have tried to keep it charged at all times, I really find myself using the corded drill less and less nowadays. If I ever did get myself out of the “stone age” and buy a new cordless drill, I think that I would find the newest drills out there are a lot more powerful and last a lot longer than my current cordless drill, so corded drills are probably going to become less and less relevant as tool technology (battery technology in this case) continues to get better and better. Here are a couple of activities I will absolutely pull my corded drill out for every time though: while using a hole saw – mainly when I am prepping door hardware, but also when I finally start my “can lights” electrical project, and when I am using a big spade bit – usually when I am repairing our old wood outdoor furniture. At the end of the day if I am using a lot of power, for an extending period of time, and I need the power to last so I can make a clean cut or hole, I resort back to my good old corded drill. A couple of tips if you are looking for one: find one with a variable speed motor, and I do not have this (I just “reverse” the motor for the same effect), but a nice electric brake is helpful as well.
A grinder is definitely a nice utility tool to have around the house. I don’t use mine very often but if you are doing any demo work and find the need to cut a little masonry or concrete a grinder is the way to go. Whatever you are cutting with a grinder expect it to be messy, smelly, and with sparks and debris flying so please take necessary precautions to stay safe including gloves, goggles or even a facemask if needed. I also use my grinder to grind down steel that I can’t get out of concrete or grout. In that case the sparks definitely fly so please be careful!
- Dremel Rotary Tool
I have had a Dremel rotary tool for about 10 years and I love it when I bring it out. Unfortunately I just don’t find a lot of times when I actually need a Dremel. A Dremel or rotary tool or multi tool is basically a small drill type tool that spins a lot faster than a drill. Dremel is the biggest name brand when it comes to rotary or multi tools – mainly because of the accessories or “add ons” that fit on the Dremel tool . It is definitely a precise tool and you can really get a number of things done with it such as cutting, grinding, sanding, drilling, etc… Everything is just done at a small scale so I can see it being used a lot more with a hobby such as building models, woodworking, etching, etc… rather than a tool that you use regularly to remodel your house. I find that it’s most useful when I am messing with door hardware such as a stubborn strike plate or as a “rotozip” to cut drywall out. My Dremel multitool that I own came specifically with a kit on it to allow me to use as a rotozip so it’s definitely useful in the drywall world! I use it around curved cuts that I can’t easily cut with a drywall hand saw. Take caution though it is MESSY when you are cutting drywall with it, you will be covered from head to toe by the time you are done!
- Hammer Drill
I learned the hard way what a hammer drill does when I tried to use a regular corded drill to try and drill about 40 holes into a concrete deck. Guess what? I didn’t get very far! I am guessing I “googled” hammer drill at that time and found out that in order to get through concrete or masonry you definitely need to use a hammer drill! I got a smaller version (1/4” bit) Dewalt and was quite impressed with how well it performed! Sure my hand felt super sore after the job but once I got the hang of it the job (installing Christmas lights from a concrete deck) went pretty smoothly! The sky is definitely the limit as far as how big of a hammer drill you need so definitely think about what you are going to be using it for the most. Some of them are even made to operate a small spade in tough dirt so you can really go as large or small as you want.
It’s a simple tool but the good old shovel definitely needs to make the “top 50” construction tools list. When on a jobsite with exterior sitework or when working around the yard having a shovel around is definitely a must. I can go into 100 reasons why you would need to dig a hole around your yard but I think that it would be a little more helpful to go into the different types of shovels there are and why to choose one over another depending on what you are doing around your yard. There are a large variety of shovels depending on shaft length, handle type, and head type but at the end of the day you really want to decide if you want a flat shovel or a pointed digger. If you trying to clean up an edge or are moving soft soil then you want to stick with a flat shovel. If you are trying to dig holes for trees in stiff, clayey soil then a pointed shovel would be the way to go because it’s made to cut through tough dirt a little better than a flat shovel.
- Scrapers – flooring scraper or sidewalk scraper
Scrapers – whether a flooring scraper or sidewalk scraper, are essentially the same thing, just identified for a different purpose. They are basically a tool in the shape of a shovel that has a flat blade at the bottom rather than a curve blade that is made for scooping. The scrapers are really made to either A) scrape ice up from a sidewalk or B) scrape old flooring up. My only recommendation when choosing a scraper is to go with a long handle, heavy scraper, rather than a “handheld” scraper. The weight of the longer ones as well as the width of the longer scrapers will help you to keep a good page going. The handheld scrapers really aren’t as heavy as they need to be and your arms will be feeling it if you have any sort of square footage you are trying to cover.
- Demo Saw
A demo saw is very similar to a grinder. It typically used the same blades and is made to cut the same type of materials including masonry and concrete. However, it’s just a lot bigger and more powerful. We usually use 14” demo saws with diamond blades and use them to either cut through CMU walls or concrete. Definitely recommend using a full facemask when you are working with one of these saws. I had a blade blow up on me and was really lucky that the blade didn’t hit me in the face the wrong way. I did have safety goggles on but those are no match for a diamond blade!
- Drywall Saw or Jab Saw
When you are hanging or working with drywall, regardless of the size of the project, a drywall saw or jab saw is probably the most important tool you can use for the job. It really is a simple tool – a hand saw with a wood or rubber handle, pretty large serrations, and a pointed edge. It cuts through drywall like butter though and in terms of precision – when I feel a little uneasy going in with a Sawzall to cut drywall, such as when I am cutting around an electrical box or similar, then I usually default back to a jab saw to make the cut. It’s also less noisy and dusty then a rotozip so definitely less of a headache. Long story short is if you ever cut drywall go pick one of these tools up for less than $10 typically.
- Allen Wrench
An allen wrench, with a hexagon shaped head, is a must have for almost any household, ever. Sure, most Ikea furniture sets come with an allen wrench so you probably already have an allen wrench in your arsenal whether you wanted one or not, but having a nice combo set that has each of the common sizes is a great tool to have around. I can’t count the number of times that I have had to adjust my bike or put furniture together and the connection turned out to be an allen wrench. As I mentioned earlier I sometimes go to my cordless drill with an allen wrench bit on it when I can, but I am still always finding myself using a good, old fashioned allen wrench on a regular basis. I own both a metric and US allen wrench set but at the end of the day the wrenches are close enough in size that you can typically make one or the other “type” of allen wrench work on a random allen wrench screw.
- Socket Wrench Set
I have to admit, I am not much of a “car guy”, so I am not “under the hood” very often, but I am proud to say that I have ventured into the “car part” junkyards before, found a part I needed, and successfully installed it on my car! What was the first mistake I made when going to pick up a part? Forgot to bring a socket wrench! My new rule when working on my car is to always bring a socket wrench set. Other times when I have needed a socket wrench set usually include when working on playsets or when installing any bolts (lag bolts especially) around the house.
- Wrench Set
I have a wrench set. I would call it a staple in my toolbox but the reality is that I probably use monkey wrenches and/or socket wrenches a lot more frequently than my standard wrench set. They are usually either US measurement or metric measurements, so I would recommend getting a set of both if you get them, or get a nice set of monkey wrenches instead!
- Monkey Wrench
A monkey wrench is a wrench that adjusts to different sizes with an adjusting screw. As I mentioned above monkey wrenches are quite convenient because you don’t have to guess the exact size of the nut that you need, you can adjust the monkey wrench as needed while you are twisting it on. The only small downside to using a monkey wrench is if you are continuously using it on a nut a monkey wrench tends to wear down a nut a lot faster than a regular wrench because a monkey wrench will never be a perfect fit.
Pliers would definitely fall into the “must have” category for simple hand tools. You never know when you need to grip something you are working on or if you have to try and loosen a stuck nut or similar. I usually only use pliers as a last resort when it comes to turning a nut – basically because they have a tendency to strip the nuts, but it’s something you are always going to need if you are going a lot of work around the house.
- Needle Nose Pliers
I love needle nose pliers. I don’t know why but I do. Usually when I am using needle nosed pliers I am doing something that I enjoy. The needle nosed pliers usually come out when I am working on electrical wiring, whether it’s bending wiring to install at an electrical switch or outlet, or soldering two wires together, needle nosed pliers have the precision you need that a regular set of pliers don’t. Also, needle nosed pliers usually have cutting abilities as well so they come in handy when working with wiring as they can be used to strip wires as well. I haven’t been very involved in “hobbies” lately on account of my two young daughters but back when I built models and RC vehicles needle nose pliers were one of my most used tools.
- Plumbing (Channellock) Pliers
Channellock pliers are mainly used for plumbing work because they can really grasp a huge diameter and are typically only needed with plumbing pipes. I usually pull them out when I am working under the sink and having to deal with drain lines. The channellocks are nice because they can adjust to the exact size of what you are looking for and wow can they grip stuff well! If I am really stuck with untwisting ANYTHING I usually start with these bad boys and then resort to channel lock pliers if necessary for the real nasty jobs.
- Plumbing Wrenches
Plumbing wrenches are basically monkey wrenches but similar to the pliers, since some plumbing pipes are so big (compared to normal nuts and bolts) you reach a new level of sizes with plumbing pipes. I bought a set of 3 wrenches awhile ago when I remodeled my condo from floor to ceiling but haven’t really used them since.
Snips are amazing. Their official use is for cutting sheet metal such as ductwork or flashing, however, they really can cut through anything. I have used snips to cut a ton of random stuff including but not limited to flower stems, sticks, cardboard, acrylic….really anything that scissors have a tough time getting through can sometimes get taken care of by snips.
- Laser Level
Laser levels come in many shapes and forms. The one that I have owned for a number of years and that I use the most is called a cross line laser level. I have used this to set a full set of kitchen cabinets, and I have used it to hang photos for my wife. It is super advantageous over a standard level because it “self levels”, so you can pretty much guarantee that your line will be straight. If you get the room dark enough you can get a pretty solid line across a pretty long (50+ foot) distance so these lasers certainly come in handy for lots of projects.
- Carpenter Square or Rafter Square
This gets a little old school as most power tools nowadays like miter saws, etc… have some nice lasers, but when you are going straight cuts or 45 degree miter cuts I always love a nice carpenter square or rafter square. The rafter square especially is such a simple tool but geared so much toward being able to make a 90 degree or 45 degree cut that I really appreciate it when I am going to town on cutting studs, base, or casing.
- Sheet Sander
Sanding stuff is definitely not one of my favorite things to do, but something I would consider to be a “necessary evil” whenever you are working with wood. My normal “go to” (other than a piece of sandpaper) is a sheet sander. A sheet sander is definitely limited to “flat” surfaces so it has it’s limitations, but if you are trying to sand a flat table, piece of millwork, trim, etc… it’s definitely the way to go and WAY better than trying to sand something by hand. There are a lot of cordless versions out there, but at this time I only own a couple of corded sanders that I use.
- Orbital Sander
An orbital sander is very similar to a sheet sander except that it is setup to vibrate in a random pattern rather than just a standard “back and forth” motion. This random pattern is made to help eliminate swirl marks in the wood. They are a little more pricey and you can’t just use regular sheets of sandpaper, so you have to get special “disks” to use with the sander. I don’t have an orbital sander but I don’t typically finish a lot of high end wood (furniture or otherwise). I would say if you are really serious about refinishing furniture then an orbital sander is the way to go, but if you just occasionally use it to refinish some doors or outdoor furniture on occasion then a sheet sander would meet your needs.
- Compound Miter Saw
As I mentioned earlier a miter saw is one of my “go to” saws and mine happens to be a compound miter. Per above a miter saw will handle most everything that you throw at it but I do prefer my compound miter saw for a couple of situations: First is when putting floor base – a miter saw will do the trick but when you are putting two pieces of wood base together a compound miter saw will help you to hide the joint better than if you cut it with just a miter saw. Second, and more importantly, is with crown molding. Crown molding is nearly impossible without a compound miter saw, because crown molding is already at an angle, so when you have to cut the angled piece at an angle, you need a compound miter instead of just a miter saw. In addition you need a coping saw for all “outside” corners but I can get into that in the “coping saw” section!
A ladder does not fall under the “cool” category but it’s definitely worth mentioning on this construction tools list since it’s so important. I am not saying that you need every ladder in the catalog but having one or two is pretty critical if you want to get something done around your house. I personally own a 6’ “A frame” ladder and it helps me take care of most everything around my house. I would probably own a 20’ ladder as well in order to get to the top of my two story house but my wife think that I am “Clark W Grizwald” in the flesh so any ladders that get me 10’ over finished grade are off limits in our house. A 6’ ladder works for me in my house but if you have higher ceilings in your house then take a look and make sure you are buying the right height. Ladders typically come in 2’ increments so if you don’t think 6’ would do it then take a look at 8’ or even 10’. Just keep in mind that the taller the ladder the wider the base is going to be and the heavier the ladder is. I personally like using aluminum ladders as they hold together a lot better than fiberglass ladders. They are a little heavier than fiberglass ladders but once you get stuck with a fiberglass splinter in your finger from an old ladder then you can appreciate a ladder made from aluminum!
- Furniture Dolly
A furniture dolly is basically 4 pieces of wood attached to 4 casters. The manufactured ones have some material wrapping the wood to protect whatever you are moving, but the concept is the same. How do the furnitures dollies work? They work great! Despite the simple construction I couldn’t imagine not owning a furniuture dolly. We definitely use our furniture dollies a lot on – you guessed it, furniture. It is definitely more helpful when you are on level grade. We used to use it more when we lived in our condo and had to take stuff down long hallways.
- Sledge Hammer
I don’t use it much but when I need my sledge hammer I am always thankful that I have it. I own a 10 pound hammer and I couldn’t imagine having anything heavier. I typically use it to drive stakes in the ground, or to force furniture together with a nice pounding. That probably does more bad than good but I would like to think that it’s handy to have around the house still!
- Rubber Mallet
I have a rubber mallet but don’t actually use it very often. Mainly because I can’t find it half the time when I actually need it. Most of the time if you need a rubber mallet a hammer with a 2x piece of wood (to protect what you are hitting) will do just fine.
- Putty Knife
My putty knife gets the award for tool that I use for the most things other than what it is made for. Sure I have fill in drywall holes around my house on occasion, especially right before I paint a room, but the indirect benefits of having a putty knife around far outweigh the use of a putty knife to tape and finish drywall mud. Things I find myself using a putty knife for lately include: scraping “gunk up”, prying something apart, cutting styrafoam for a project, and cutting (small) pieces of base. One tip I would recommend is to designate a putty knife as your “junk” putty knife. More often than not I am using a putty knife along with a hammer – gets the job done but as soon as you start using a hammer the knife is only going to last so long!
- Stud Finder
When you are hanging stuff around the house a stud finder is SUPER critical. Really your two options are a stud finder, tapping it with a hammer, or punching a bunch of holes in the wall looking for a stud. Pay some money up front and get a good stud finder to save time and money down the road!
- Mason’s Line
Any rope will do for most occasions but I especially like mason’s line because it is SUPER strong and it’s woven in such as way that it’s not made to unraven very easily. Similar to a putty knife I find mason’s line more useful than actually using it to lay out masonry (something I have never done personally) but when I need lay some concrete out, tie some branches together, or secure something onto my car, mason’s line certainly comes in handy.
- C-Clamp or Lock Clamp Pliers
As I said above, regular pliers or needle nosed pliers really take care of 99% of all of your issues, but it never hurts to have channel lock pliers around! These beast can hold anything “locked in” without you having to grip the whole time. The only caution I would give is make sure that you don’t destroy whatever you are trying to hold onto, these channel locks are beasts!
- Hole Saw
It took me awhile to pick up a set of hole saws but when you are doing specialized tasks such as running conduit or MC cable, installing lights, or install door hardware you get to a point where really the only way to do it is by “ponying up” and purchasing a hole saw. This is where having a corded drill around comes in handy because it take a lot of energy to run a hole saw – big or small, and the last thing you want to happen is run out of power when you are in the middle of installing a new leverset.