By David Wulff, AIA

I love tools. Always have. I guess it comes from my Dad who had a workshop in our basement when I was growing up. There were only certain tools that I was not allowed to use unless Dad was watching. As I grew older and learned how to use power tools, my world expanded. Then when I bought my first house, I really learned the value of tools. There were home repairs and basic improvements that needed to get done, so when the need arose, I needed the right tool for the job.29_workbench

Recently we sold our other home in Florida and moved all our “stuff” to our Lake Lure home. Of course I had tools in both places and not wanting to part with any, I moved them all. When I had them all in one place, I needed to determine what tools to keep. It’s nice to have doubles, but that takes up a lot of space. That got me to thinking of just what tools does the home handyman (or handywoman) need? One doesn’t want to get rid of an essential tool. So, I went on an internet search and came up with a number of essential tool lists.

Before I tell you what I feel are the essential tools for your home I want to preface the list with what this list is not.

We all know that you need to have the right tools for each job, and some of those tools can be quite specialized. But there are also some more general tools that are useful in many situations for common home repairs and quick home improvement projects that you can use in many different ways.

This list does not have on it very specialized equipment and tools, or list lots of power tools. Instead, this list contains more general items that have multiple uses and will help you have what you need in your home the majority of the time for lots of different repairs and quick fixes.

The types of tasks I envisioned that you would use these tools for include simple and basic home repairs, hanging photos and other items on the wall, and assembling furniture and other storage solutions and organizers.

Here’s my basic list.


  • Hammer
  • Pliers (slip joint)
  • Needle Nose Pliers
  • Wire cutter
  • Screwdrivers – multihead can save space – or 4 regular screwdrivers, a small and large of each flathead and Phillips
  • Adjustable wrench
  • Saw – general purpose, 15 inch steel blade
  • Glasses repair kit (if anyone in your family wears glasses I strongly recommend this)
  • Scissors
  • Utility knife (with retractable blade for safety)
  • Cordless drill, and drill bit set
  • Staple gun (small or medium size)
  • Clamps (these are useful for holding together items that are being repaired, for example) – C-Clamps for a workbench, or spring clamps


  • Nails (various sizes)
  • Screws (various sizes)
  • Nuts and bolts
  • Plastic anchors (most people would do well with an assortment pack of screws and anchors)
  • Screw eyes
  • Picture hooks and wire (use Command wire-backed picture hangers for nail and hole free picture hanging)
  • Cup hooks
  • Command hooks (great for when you want to attach something to the wall without holes or damage)

Measuring & Hanging Equipment

  • Metal 12 inch ruler
  • Tape measure – 25 foot long
  • Level – 12 inch
  • Stud finder

Miscellaneous Equipment

  • Safety equipment – protective glasses, leather work gloves, latex gloves
  • Pencil
  • Flashlight
  • Sandpaper, assorted grit
  • Carpenter’s glue
  • Instant adhesive (a.k.a. Super Glue or Krazy Glue)
  • Adhesive remover (such as Goo Gone)
  • Masking tape
  • Painter’s tape
  • Duct tape
  • Electrical tape
  • String
  • Putty knife
  • Spackle

I need to check my workroom to see if I have all these. If not, Lowes, here I come!

DAVID H. WULFF, ARCHITECT welcomes the design challenges presented by new projects and is dedicated to developing innovative design solutions.

David H. Wulff, AIA, 167 Trails End, Lake Lure, NC 828-625-5537,