It’s said that if all you have is a hammer, everything starts to look like a nail. That’s fine if you’re hanging a picture, but really bad if you’re trying to fix a leaky faucet. Stock your toolbox with the right tools for the right job, and you’ll be on your way to HGTV-level home expert in no time!

Hammer

Again — not for use on a leaky faucet, but you’ll need this more than any other single tool. Hang pictures, cleanly pullout nails left in walls, or (gently) tap in pegs when assembling furniture.

 

Screwdrivers

A basic set of screwdrivers (both flat-head and Phillips) is a must, but if you can, opt for a set with a large range of screwdriver heads. Using the right size head provides optimal torque and keeps you from stripping screws.

 

Level

Spare yourself endless rounds of “Does this look even?” and just get a straight answer (see what we did there?). This is a must for hanging pictures and shelves.

 

Tape Measure

Invest in a heavy-duty 25-foot model. Just be careful when releasing the lock, because an uncontrolled retraction can deliver a wicked slice to the hand.

 

Pliers

As with screwdrivers, this is a case when a wide variety of sizes comes in handy. From needle-nose pliers for tiny spaces to larger, adjustable models, the right size makes all the difference.

 

Adjustable Wrench

Even if you don’t install your own shower heads or disassemble pipes to remove clogs, you may need to perform an emergency water shutoff. And that’s the worst possible time to need a trip to the hardware store.

 

Duct Tape

This is the little black dress of home maintenance. Seal boxes for storage, temporarily seal a small water leak, secure cords to floors to prevent tripping, and so much more. The “MythBusters” guys proved it can even help you survive on a desert island. This little baby can do it all!

 

A Sturdy Toolbox

Remember that leaky faucet? If it starts its annoying drip when you’re trying to fall asleep, you’ll want to find the right tool stat! And “in the toolbox” is a much better location than “somewhere in the garage.”