Your first toolbox can be small and simple. A plastic or metal box with a handle works well, as does a five-gallon bucket outfitted with a canvas insert that holds the tools around the side. Plan to purchase the following tools early on — or ask for them as house-warming gifts.
Use it for: Primarily for driving screws but also for light-duty prying.
Use it for: Driving nails and prying things apart with the claw back.
Look for: Swing several 16-ounce claw hammers before you decide on one. You should be able to grip the handle comfortably and the weight should feel balanced. Lighter claw hammers are available for smaller hands but won't drive nails as efficiently.
Use it for: Loosening or tightening hardware and gripping just about anything.
Look for: Locking pliers are among the most versatile type of pliers. Grove-joint pliers adjust to grasp small or large items and are useful for the large fasteners used in plumbing. Needle-nose pliers are ideal for working with wire.
Look for: A standard-size model with a locking blade that easily retracts is your best bet in a utility knife. Buy extra blades to ensure you always have a sharp edge — cutting with a dull blade can be dangerous.
Use it for: Finding the right spot to hang shelves or art and measuring rooms for painting or before purchasing furniture and appliances.
Use it for: Hanging perfectly horizontal art, shelves and window treatments.
Look for: A three-foot long levelwill provide you with the most use. Choose a smooth metal model so it can double as a straight edge.
Use it for: Tightening and loosening nuts and bolts.
Look for: An adjustqable wrench should adjust easily and hold its size after being set.
Use it for: Cutting wood trim and slicing through metal and plastic pipe.
Use it for: Patching tears and holding things together.
Look for: A 14-volt or 18-volt variable speed reversing cordless drill will cover most jobs. A keyless chuck makes changing bits easier, and a rechargeable lithium battery will power longer than older-style NiCad batteries. Every cordless drill is weighted differently, so try a few before making a purchase.