DIY Toolbox

Just the Basics Toolbox

As we try to simplify our lives and pare down our home and furnishings we also have streamlined our toolboxes and created separate ones based on the project requirements. On shelves in the garage we have all our painting tools and gear. On another we keep wallpapering tools. The plumbing and electrical tools have their own place, too.

The toolbox we keep handy in the house is small, it’s a canvas tote with pockets on the sides designed for individual tools so they’re easy to find. Over the years we’ve had several different boxes – everything from a basic plastic office file box with a top to a heavy duty plastic storage box designated for power and hand tools; it proved useless because it became so heavy no one couldn’t lift it.

So I guess we’ve come full circle and are back to a smaller, more compact toolbox. Here are the tools we’ve honed to fit in our canvas bag for making everyday repairs and installations: a steel measuring tape to measure any and everything, a hammer for hanging things, an adjustable wrench and slip-joint pliers to tighten nuts and bolts (and sometimes open a tight jar lid, a flathead screwdriver for installations, and a Phillips head screwdriver for installing everything that doesn’t use a flathead and a set of Allen wrenches for assembling things like small furniture. For basic electrical installs we use a needle nose pliers, a multipurpose electrical tool and a neon voltage circuit tester. A putty knife comes in handy to separate surfaces and for scraping. To cut things we have a utility knife, heavy scissors and a small crosscut saw. A small bullet level helps plumb things up and a 12-volt cordless drill with bits fills up the sack. And of course, there’s a roll of duct tape.

Want to build a tool box? Here’s everything you need – instructions, shopping list, cutting list – to build one Tool Box plan. We hope you’ll visit us at if you want to know the cost of 350+ home improvement projects which you can localize with your zipcode.


Gene and Katie Hamilton are authors of 20 home improvement books and creators of, a website that compares the DIY and contractor costs of hundreds of repair, decorating and remodeling projects. Their weekly column Do It Yourself or Not is syndicated by Tribune Content Agency.

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