5 Best Tools for a Home Toolkit (2023): Stud Finder, Cordless Drill, and More

Few people enjoy waiting around for the repairperson and shelling out more money in labor cost than the price of the parts themselves. Yet so many people do, because the idea of home repair seems murky and intimidating. Here’s a trade secret: If you’re reading this, it’s entirely within your abilities to handle many small tasks yourself, even if you’ve never turned a wrench before in your life. All it takes is a can-do attitude, a bit of patience, the humility to know when you consult YouTube and the instructions, and the right tools.

You can save a ton of money and time if you’re willing to learn. Instructions on how to construct things can be found in manuals and YouTube videos, but there are certain tools you inevitably need, whether you live in an apartment or a single-family home. We’ve rounded up all the best tools you should have to handle all common household tasks.

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Be sure to check out our many other buying guides, including our Favorite Cold-Weather Gear Under $100, the Best Climbing Gear for Beginners, and Emergency Gear to Keep at Home.

A Utility Knife

5 Best Tools for a Home Toolkit (2023): Stud Finder, Cordless Drill, and More

Milwaukee Fastback Utility Knife

In my experience, utility knives don’t vary that much in effectiveness. It’s the replaceable blade that matters much more. That said, the Fastback is the best I’ve used (I have used a bunch!), and you can replace the blade without having to find a screwdriver to take the knife apart. It also folds—you can flick it open and it with one hand—it locks securely, and the coating is tough enough to last for years. A nice plus is the built-in gut hook for cutting string and plastic ties without opening the knife. It came in handy more often than I thought it would.

Zircon stud finder

A Stud Finder

Zircon 1.5-Inch Scan-Depth Metal and Wood Stud Finder

If you want to mount anything heavy to a wall, you should always mount it to the vertical structural pieces of wood (studs) behind the wall. This means you need to find them without being able to see them. A stud finder, held and rubbed against a wall, will light up when it passes over a stud, so you know where to drill.

Builders sometimes run wires along with these studs, and to keep people from drilling into a wire and getting fried like Daffy Duck, they place metal guards over them. Any decent stud finder, like this Zircon, will warn you if it detects one. Plus, you can hold it up to yourself and go “Beep, beep, beep. Stud detected.” It’ll never get old.

DeWalt cordless drill set and bag

The Best Power Drill

DeWalt 20V Max 1/2-Inch Cordless Drill

Twelve volts will do for most home jobs, but if you ever end up having to drill 1/2-inch holes into wall studs to mount a heavy shelving unit or a beefy sound system, you’re going to want the extra torque of an 18V or 20V drill. This 1/2-inch chuck will accept bits as large as you’ll need, and at this price (which includes two batteries and a charger), it’s too good a deal to pass up. The batteries work with more than 200 other DeWalt power tools too.

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DeWalt Drill Bit Set

My Favorite Drill Bits

DeWalt Black and Gold 14-Piece Drill Bit Set

For all but the smallest of jobs, it’s going to go easier if you drill out a hole before driving screws and bolts into a wall. The black oxide coating on these drill bits reduces friction, which speeds up drilling and resists rust. These are good for general use and will handle wood, metal, plastics, wallboard, and fiberglass.

Stanley rubber mallet

A Mallet for Whacking

Stanley 16 Oz. Mallet

A lot of furniture needs a few whacks during assembly, but if you hit it too hard with a regular hammer, you can cause damage. Some jobs need a rubber mallet to snug pieces together without chipping off bits of plastic or wood. Sixteen ounces for a mallet is pretty light, but it should be heavy enough to bang together furniture and shelving units without being cumbersome for most people.

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