How to Build a Basic Toolbox in 5 Steps

Essential tools for handy DIY repairs in your home.

DIY home repairs made easy with a well stocked toolbox

5 steps to getting your home equipped with a basic toolbox


When I moved in with a boyfriend for the first time I was the one with the fully equipped toolbox and drill. I was also the one who handled the spiders and showed him how to check the oil in his car.


There is something sexy about being prepared, knowing how to fend for yourself and being the tool master in your household. Step one: assemble your arsenal.


1. Buy the box

The first and quite obvious item that you should acquire is the actual toolbox. Keeping all your tools in one location will save you a ton of time and headache when it comes to actually fixing or assembling because you won’t have to spend time sorting through your everything drawer, cleaning the garage or looking under the cat to find the screwdriver you need.


Toolboxes come in a variety of sizes and are made of metal or plastic. I recommend getting a toolbox that is a minimum of 16–20 inches so that it will be large enough to hold your hammer and any other larger tools. A 19-inch plastic toolbox with metal latches will set you back about $20.


2. Well hung pictures

For most of us, picture hanging is one of the first things we do in our home that requires a tool. The mighty hammer will cost under $10. A level and a measuring tape each cost between $5 and $14 and will make life easier; plus, they’ll be handy for many other things around the house, such as putting together furniture and adjusting the length of a wobbly table. 


3. Screw it

The items I probably use the most in my toolbox are the screwdrivers. From changing a light switch cover and putting a lock on a door to reupholstering a chair or working on my car, screwdrivers are essential.


A very handy tip that I will bestow upon you is to invest in a multi-bit screwdriver (around $10). Instead of investing in a full set, which will only clutter your toolbox and waste your time when you’re looking for the right bit, a multi-bit has them all built in. I would suggest the Picquic Multique, the Piggyback Multi Driver or the Picquic Super 8 Plus.


If you are worried about the bits getting misplaced, you might want to look into a Retract-a-bit. Also, for those tiny items like glasses, computers, toys and small electronics it can be very helpful to have a six piece precision screwdriver set, which go for under $5.


4. Triple threat pliers

I find pliers are really helpful for getting things unstuck (such as a broken light bulb out of its socket) or for getting a good grip on something (like those annoying Ikea nubs that hold shelves up in a bookcase). A set of three standard pliers, including longnose, diagonal and slip joint, will only cost about $10–$15.


5. Toolbox bling

Other helpful items to keep in your toolbox are an exacto knife, putty knife, staple gun, and sandpaper of different grades.


You can gather these tools slowly, picking up each one as you need it, ask for them as gifts or splurge and get yourself all set up in one go at the hardware store.


As you do more repairs around the home you will continue to add to your tools, but these basics will be a great help to get you started.