Whether you’re a professional tradesman, novice, handyman or a DIY enthusiast you can’t get a good job done without a range of good quality basic hand tools that are essential pieces of kit to get you on the right track.
Top Ten Hand Tool Guide
Are you looking to put together a basic tool kit? Below is a list of top ten hand tools that will handle any home repair or DIY project. Always choose quality hand tools that are durable, accurate and fit for purpose. The benefits of a good basic tool kit are invaluable saving you time and as the old saying goes “time is money” so choose your basic tool kit wisely.
A range of good-quality screwdrivers are an absolute essential for any trade or home toolbox. You can either choose a boxed set containing a selection of screwdrivers including flat-head, Phillips and Pozidrive heads in a variety of different sizes or as a space saving option buy one compact all-purpose screwdriver with a hollow handle for storing the interchangeable driver bits.
The Phillips head screw has rapidly replaced the flathead screw in most projects. The Phillips head screwdriver has a four star point at the end that fits into the corresponding screw’s shallow, cross-shaped depression. The design of the Philips screwdriver lets the user apply more torque than is possible with a flathead screwdriver. Good quality screwdriver brands include Wera, Stanley and Wiha.
2. Claw Hammer
You can’t go wrong with a good, solid claw hammer. They can be used for driving nails into wood as well as removing nails. This excellent general purpose hammer can be used for a wide range of tasks including general carpentry use. Good quality hammer brands include Estwing, Stanley and Vaughan.
3. Spirit Levels
Spirit levels are an invaluable hand tool to ensure you have a straight, level edge. Whether you're simply putting up a shelf or fitting a door you will definitely need the aid of a levelling device. Spirit levels are available in a variety of shapes and sizes and have up to 3 transparent vials that contain a bubble trapped in oil. A 60cm level is a handy, compact size for toolboxes. Good quality spirit level brands include Stabila and Stanley.
Combination pliers are the most useful type of plier to have in your basic tool set. They are fantastic for cutting, gripping and holding as they have a pair of flat, serrated jaws for gripping, as well as sharp-edged cutters for slicing through wire.
Good quality plier brands include CK Tools, Knipex and Wiha.
5. Retractable Measuring Tape
A retractable metal measuring tape is a must for the accuracy of any job and the most popular size is 5m/16ft. Choose a tape measure with a cushion grip that provides a sturdy, slip resistant hold and a reliable power return with blade locking for ease of use. A durable polyester coating on the blade provides abrasion resistance and a matt finish prevents reflections when measuring. A tape measure which has both metric and imperial graduations will make the tape easy to read in any situation. Good quality tape measure brands include Stanley, Stanley Fatmax, Stabila and Fisco.
6. Retractable Utility Knife
This type of knife is invaluable for tradesmen and DIYers alike and can cope with most cutting tasks on the work site and around the house. It will slice neatly through paper, cardboard, leather, carpet, vinyl, linoleum plus many other materials. Always go for a utility knife that can hold a supply of fresh blades stored in the handle then you are always ready for a quick change when necessary. The 99E original Stanley retractable blade knife remains one of the most popular models with its well-known precision die cast zinc body that is both strong and lightweight with a safe interlock nose which keeps the blade securely inside the body when not in use. Good quality utility knife brands include Stanley and CK Tools.
7. Adjustable Wrench
An adjustable wrench is a versatile hand tool that can be adapted to many situations meaning you don’t need multiple wrenches in your tool kit. With an adjustable wrench at hand you can quickly change the width of the jaw to the required size of your nuts and bolts. The movable jaw should always be snugly adjusted to the nut or bolt head in order to prevent damage to the fastener's head. On some models there is a metric etched measurement scale on one side of the jaw and an imperial scale on the other side. Good quality adjustable wrench brands include Bahco, Stanley and Eclipse.
This invaluable gem is often overlooked when putting together a tool kit, but for compact spaces, outdoor night jobs or electricity failure situations you can’t be without one. The many styles include pen lights which are compact but powerful, head torches for wonderful hands-free light wherever you look and clip light torches which also give hands free visibility. Keep it in with your hand tools for easy access. Good quality recommended torch brands include Coast and Nextorch.
Go for a compact tool box saw with a rubber grip handle and finger guide will give you greater control over the saw for accurate cutting.
The tool box saw is ideal for cutting pelmets, coving, architraves and skirting plus smaller DIY projects. Alternatively choose a Junior Hacksaw which is suitable for cutting thin steel or tubing. Good quality saw brands include Spear and Jackson, Stanley and Eclipse.
10. Hex Key Sets
Hex keys (sometimes known as Allen keys) are a useful, compact hand tool to keep in your tool box. Hex key sets come with a variety of different sized wrenches which are "L"-shaped at a 90 degree angle. The appropriate hex key is inserted into the hex-shaped hole on the surface of the bolt that you're loosening or tightening. This small hand tool is invaluable for furniture assembly tasks and bike repairs.
Stanley make a 9 piece hexagon key set with a clever folding design which keeps the hex keys secure and is supplied in a compact, size marked and colour coded plastic holder for convenience. Alternatively Wera has a unique Hex-Plus system which uses a head geometry that guarantees longer life for both screws and tools, whilst providing increased torque.
Now you’ve put together your tool kit with our top ten hand tools all you need is something to keep them safe, secure and all in one handy place. There are a multitude of tool storage options available on the market from leading brands and the choice is down to individual taste and where you decide to store them for example in the garage, inside the house or carrying to the work site. Go for models that have multiple pockets and compartments to organise and protect your tools and give easy access.