If you’re anything like me, you have an at-home to-do list that seems to grow longer by the minute. If it’s not a leaky faucet, then it’s a door that refuses to completely shut. Have you been waiting to caulk a tub? Refinish those secondhands dining room chairs you snagged at a yard sale? Whatever the tasks may be, getting started can often be the toughest part.

In my experience, attacking the first few items on my lists always prove to be a particularly daunting task because I am ill-equipped or unprepared. After all, you can’t begin a project without the appropriate tools.

If you’ve ever found yourself in a similar position, don’t worry! We here at Pink Verbena will guide you step-by-step on how to assemble the essential toolbox for your home repair projects.

Step #1: The Right Toolbox

tbe2Before you even set eyes on those awesome power tools, you’ll need to first find the perfect place to store your instruments of construction! From plastic, to heavy duty metal, to toolboxes with wheels– the variety can make your head spin. Ideally, you’ll want something large enough to house even your more hefty tools, but also has compartments for small items like screws or wall anchors. The Pink Verbena team shopped around and tested a few types of toolboxes. We were partial to many of the plastic boxes because they tend to be lightweight, very durable and included those oh-so-important draws, compartments or removable trays. If you are into the “classic look,” you can opt for a more traditional metal toolbox, but, make sure you consider its weight. Remember, you’ll be filling it with many tools and those extra pounds will start to really add up.

Pro Tip: Great places to start your search would be at locally owned shops such as Royall Ace Hardware located at 883 Ben Sawyer Boulevard in Mt. Pleasant or Hughes Lumber & Building Supply at 82 Mary Street in Charleston.

Step #2: Know Before You Go

Identifying your own skill level is just as important as buying the right tools for the job. Before you start any project, do an honest assessment of your home improvement handiness. If you think you’re a novice level DIYer, don’t be bummed out!

Practice makes perfect. The more tasks you take on, as well as the research and problem solving you do, will allow you to acquire a more advanced skill set. But for now, let’s start with the basics. For beginners, your list of essential tools should include a lot of the following items:

  • Screwdrivers (Both Slotted & Phillips) – Slotted is “flat-headed” while Phillips is “cross headed”. Match screwdriver with the applicable screws’ design.
  • Claw Hammer – You can use the claw side to remove nails as opposed to using pliers.
  • Metal Ruler – For marking and aligning
  • Screws & Nails – Be sure and pick up wood screws and nails in a range of sizes.
  • Chisel – Typically used in conjunction with a hammer to cut out notches in wood.
  • Pliers (Combination) – Find different types to tackle a variety of jobs that involve electrical, gripping or twisting.
  • Steel Tape Measure – Make sure it is retractable.
  • Sandpaper & Block – You can use the fine, medium or coarse grade paper alone or wrapped around a block–depending on the project.
  • Utility/Craft Knife – For precise cutting of materials
  • Adjustable Wrench – For use when you need to tighten or loosen nuts and bolts
  • Masking Tape – A must for marking, holding items in place and for protecting surfaces.
  • Plastic Wall Anchors – These allow screws to stay in place in hollow walls.
  • Standard Level – For when you need to create truly precise horizontal or vertical lines
  • Small Handsaw – For wood cutting
  • Allen Keys – Buy a set of these in a variety of sizes. Particularly, for assembling “Flat Pack” furniture… IKEA, anyone?
  • Flashlight – For help in dark areas where there’s no light or electricity.
  • Pencil & Notepad – Pencil for marking during projects and notepad for keeping track of measurements and other details.

Step #3: Thinking Outside the Box (More Tools for Advanced DIYers)

If you’re saying to yourself, “I know my way around a wrench or two,” then you’re probably ready to equip yourself with some serious hardware. In addition to the tools listed in Step #2, more advanced home improvement mavens will likely have some of the following tools in their arsenal:

  • Workbench – This will provide a secure surface for you as you work on projects and helps you keep your everyday, household furniture untouched. Look for portable workbenches that can be broken down or folded for storage.
  • Power Drills – You’ve got your choice between cordless (a little less powerful), battery powered (these are your 12 to 18 volt drills that pack a bit of a punch), and electric (VERY powerful but will require the use of an extension cord). Choose your drill wisely. Do your research on each drills’ features and make sure you use the best drill for your projects.
  • Saws – There’s your back saw (often used along with a Miter Box), your jigsaw, the keyhole saw, junior hacksaw, and–well, you get the idea. There are so many saws used for a multitude of projects. The most commonly-used saws for DIYers, along with the small handsaw, are probably the jigsaw (more of a power tool for cutting holes in wood) and the junior hacksaw, which is ideal for cutting small pieces of metal or plastic.
  • Caulking Gun & Specialty and Silicone Caulk – These items will certainly come in handy around the bathroom when painting or when you need to fill in small holes. The caulking gun is used to help you apply your sealant like a pro!
  • Paintbrushes & Rollers – When it comes to paintbrushes, you have options, but not all are created equal. That’s why we’re here to help. A good rule of thumb to consider when selecting paintbrushes is: the cheaper the brush, the lousier the finished product may turn out. When you skimp on a paintbrush, not only will your finished work look streaky and shoddy, but you’re likely to lose bristles left and right. In fact, you won’t really lose them…they’ll probably be stuck on the surface of whatever you just touched up. Look for high-quality brushes which can also have synthetic bristles. If you plan on painting entire rooms and/or ceilings, you may want to reach for a paint roller. The job will move more quickly and you’ll be left with a more even finish.
  • Rust-Fighting Lubricant – This stuff is amazing! The most recognizable name on the market is probably WD-40, the Holy Grail of spray lubricants. Creaky doors, old locks or a rusty yard fence clasps can all benefit from a spray or two of this.
  • Staple Gun – Great for furniture upholstery and, if my dad is reading this, outdoor holiday decorations. Just keep one handy.

Step #4: Safety First

Before you pass ‘Go,’ take the necessary time each project requires to prepare. Mapping out your projects will prove to be crucial to its success. Whether is taking proper measurements, creating a written list of steps or asking for tips from your local hardware store–always prep your project! Not only will your work benefit, you are more likely to stay safe during and after you do it yourself. Ponder these questions: “What tools will I need,” “Will I be using chemicals with fumes,” “Is this a job for more than one person?” Also, there are some very simple safety items to keep in your toolbox.

  • Safety Goggles – Guard your eyes against injury from debris or toxic chemicals that can spill or splash.
  • Protective Gloves – Heavy duty or disposable, gloves come in handy, pun intended, when working on tasks that could wreak havoc on your digits. Pro Tip: When working with potentially caustic liquids or chemicals, opt for rubber gloves.
  • Respirator Mask – You can find these on the shelves of any tool supply store in Charleston, perhaps in a pack of 2 or 3. The lightweight versions tend to do well protecting your lungs against dust or pollen. Read the packaging to ensure that you are selecting the right mask for your project.

Hopefully, you found these tips useful as you embark upon conquering you list! Check back with Pink Verbena for more help with all things at home.