14 Essential Items Every DIYer Has in Their Tool Kit

A well-stocked tool kit is key to any home project. We asked DIY pros for their can't-do-without tools, tips, and products.

The right tool is vital to a successful DIY project, whether it's a small home decor how-to or a large-scale renovation. After all, the last thing you want to do during a job is drop everything to run to the hardware store. We asked DIY experts and editors for their most trusted tackle-anything tools. Here's what they recommend for upgrading your toolbox.

supplies including nails, tape measure, hammer, and paint
Brie Williams

Before expanding your selection of hand tools, you'll need a container to store them all. Look for a toolbox with overlapping lids, adjustable storage, and foldout trays or plastic bins. There should be enough storage for hand tools of various sizes, including small containers for nails and screws and larger compartments for items like wrenches, screwdrivers, and hammers.

ryobi glue gun
Courtesy of Ryobi

1. Glue Gun

Most DIY projects require some form of adhesive. Hot-glue guns are our go-to for holding everything together. "I reach for my glue gun before I reach for the bigger tools and typically am surprised about the amount of hold it provides," says Jen Jones of I Heart Organizing. The Ryobi 18B One+ full-size glue gun is a favorite of Monica Chavez of House of Esperanza. "The battery makes this tool portable, so it's possible to craft, fix, and create anywhere," she says.

Buy It: Ryobi 18B One+ Full-Size Glue Gun ($35, The Home Depot)

Bottle Of Goo Gone
Blaine Moats

2. Adhesive Remover

Mistakes happen. When you run into a sticky situation, turn to this adhesive remover. "Goo Gone removes more than sticker residue," Emily Clark of Emily A. Clark blog says. "It also takes off dried paint, crayon, tar, tree sap, gum, lipstick, and markers." The favorite problem-solving product comes in a variety of sizes and will fit into any tool kit.

Buy It: Goo Gone adhesive remover, 8 ounces ($4, Lowe's)

Lutz 15-in-1 Ratchet Screwdriver
Blaine Moats

3. Ratchet Screwdriver

The tool of every DIYer's dreams is small, simple, and easy to use. "A ratchet screwdriver—with interchangeable bits stored in the handle—is the most convenient tool," says Nicole Balch of Making It Lovely. The tool is so helpful and inexpensive that it's to your benefit to have multiples. "I bought a second one just in case I misplace the first," she says.

Buy It: Lutz 15-in-1 Ratchet Screwdriver ($15, Walmart)

Black & Decker Matrix AC Drill
Blaine Moats

4. Corded Drill

Brent and Courtney Richardson from Gray House Studio emphasize the importance of having a backup drill while working on DIY projects. "We keep at least one corded drill in the toolbox," they say. "There is nothing worse than forgetting to charge your drill's battery or running out of battery halfway through a project."

Buy It: Black+Decker Electric Corded Drill ($38, Amazon)

Dewalt 20-volt cordless drill
Blaine Moats

5. Cordless Drill

Or opt for a cordless drill, no outlets necessary. "Professional-quality cordless drills cost more, but the extra power is worth the money," says Mandi Gubler of Vintage Revivals. Remember to charge the battery after use, or purchase an additional backup battery, so your cordless drill is ready for your next DIY project.

Buy It: DeWalt 20V Cordless Drill ($70, Walmart)

grid fabric ruler
Blaine Moats

6. Fabric Ruler

You can replace a number of items in your toolbox with just one fabric ruler. "I use a clear fabric ruler as a straightedge, a ruler, and a spacer," Gubler says. "I love seeing the measurements and the materials at the same time!"

Buy It: Dritz 18-Inch Sewing Ruler ($15, Amazon)

Angled Paintbrushes
Blaine Moats

7. Angled Paintbrushes

Get full coverage with a 2-inch angled paintbrush. "A short angle paintbrush is my absolute favorite and a necessity for long paint jobs," says Gwen Hefner of The Makerista. "It saves my hand from cramping."

Buy It: Wooster 2-Inch Polyester Angle Brush ($6, The Home Depot)

milwaukee auto-lock tape measure
Courtesy of Milwaukee

8. Auto-Lock Tape Measure

A tape measure is essential for just about every home improvement project, whether you're hanging curtains, building furniture, or cutting lumber. "I own several tape measures, and I always find myself reaching for this one because of the auto-lock feature and the easy-to-read tape," says self-taught carpenter Jen Woodhouse.

Buy It: Milwaukee 16 ft. Compact Auto Measure ($11, The Home Depot)

arrow trutac staple gun
Courtesy of Arrow

9. Stapler

A basic staple gun is necessary for many home decorating projects, including upholstery DIYs. And a soft-grip handle makes the process less tiresome. "This is smaller and lighter than a lot of staple guns, so I keep it handy for upholstery projects and other quick repairs. It's 'forward action,' which means you push down right over the staples. Much easier!" says interior designer Liz Morrow.

Buy it: Arrow TT21 Manual Staple Gun ($15, Lowe's)

husky 5-in-1 painters tool
Courtesy of The Home Depot

10. Painters Tool

Next paint project, reach for this do-it-all tool. "I bought this because I can never find a paint lid key. But now anytime I don't have just the right tool, this one saves the day," says Danielle Guerrero of Our Nest on Powell. "Lately, it has been a chisel and a crowbar to take off baseboards."

Buy It: Husky 15-in-1 Painter's Tool ($7, The Home Depot)

e6000 adhesive
Courtesy of Lowe's

11. E6000 Adhesive

This industrial-strength adhesive bonds to leather, ceramic, glass, metal, fabric, wood, and more. "I keep a tube handy at all times," says Better Homes & Gardens home editor Katy Kiick Condon. "It's strong but dries flexible. The narrow applicator tip is a key feature."

Buy it: E6000 Adhesive ($4, Lowe's)

wiss fabric shears scissors
Courtesy of The Home Depot

12. Fabric Scissors

For sewing projects, fabric shears are a must-have, but the scissors can also be used for a variety of home improvement tasks. "These are not my mama's good fabric scissors," says Timisha Porcher of Toolbox Divas. "I can go back and forth between materials without ruining the blade. I've cut cardboard, rope, leather, plastic, even flooring."

Buy It: Wiss 10-Inch Offset Shears ($14, The Home Depot)

Sugru Moldable Silicone Dough
Blaine Moats

13. Moldable Glue

Build, seal, or create just about anything with this self-adhering silicone dough. It comes in a variety of colors, cures in 24 hours, and stays stuck yet flexible even in hot, cold, or wet conditions. Not sure what to fix first? It's our favorite for curing frayed cables.

Buy It: Sugru Moldable Glue, 3-Pack ($9, Amazon)

Bosch Laser Measurer
Blaine Moats

14. Laser Measuring Tool

Measure large-scale distances with small-scale size. At just 4 inches tall, laser measuring tools are compact, speedy, and easy to use; a laser beam measures space between two surfaces so you can start planning your DIY project dimensions.

Buy It: Bosch Laser Distance Measure ($49, Amazon)

Put those tools to good use! Avid DIYer Wendy Lau shares her best ideas for home projects on our new podcast, The Better Buy. She shares more information about decorating, home renovation, and finding your dream house.

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