This buying guide will help you choose the perfect tool box gifts for the new homeowner in your life. These are the perfect set of basic tools to begin filling a new DIYer’s tool box.

Trying to find the perfect gift for a first-time homeowner or somebody who’s just starting out on their own? How about pulling together an assortment of basic tools that are essential for all kinds of simple jobs around the house?

Tools Make Great Gifts

Tools become a gift that keeps on giving, year after year, every time the need for a hammer or screwdriver arises. And the beauty of this type of gift is that you can tailor it to meet your budget. For an extravagant gift, you can outfit a complete, basic kit, including a toolbox for storing and carrying the tools. Or you can scale this down by buying a few key tools.

Although you could spend hundreds buying tools, most people don’t need a shop full of the latest and greatest. You can gather an excellent selection of tools capable of handling the bulk of do-it-yourself repairs for under $100. Watch for sales at Ace, Lowe’s, Home Depot, and similar home improvement centers. But don’t skimp on quality. Cheap tools usually don’t work properly and may not last past their first job. A poorly made screwdriver’s tip, for example, is likely to mangle under the pressure of driving stubborn screws.

Spend a few extra dollars to get quality tools that will last and be easier to use. Sears Craftsman hand tools are popular because they have a lifetime warranty. Which tools should you buy for a basic kit? Consider the varieties shown here as the “buy first” list.


Perhaps the most basic and necessary of all tools, a hammer is a household necessity. A 16-ounce curved-claw hammer with a wooden or metal handle is a good choice for the basic toolbox. You can buy a good hammer for under $20.


A curved-claw hammer is an essential for every household.
Curved-Claw Hammer GeoffreyWhiteway | FreeRangeStock

Measuring tape

A good measuring tape is necessary for almost every type of home-repair job. For from $8 to $10, you can buy a 16- or 25-foot retractable tape measure.

how to measure wall paper
Measuring Tape MConnors | MorgueFile

Utility knife

Razor-sharp, a utility knife comes in handy for cutting everything from cardboard boxes to insulation or drywall. The good thing about this type of tool is that you simply replace the blade when it becomes dull. Most store extra blades in the handle. A utility knife costs about $5.

Utility Knife
Utility Knife ©Don Vandervort, HomeTips

Adjustable wrench

For turning nuts and bolts in various types of construction, plumbing, and mechanical jobs, get an adjustable wrench. This type of wrench eliminates the need to buy a set of fixed wrenches. An 8-inch adjustable wrench is a good general-purpose size. Figure this will cost you about $20.


wrench for faucet repair
Adjustable Wrench

Tongue-and-groove pliers

Pliers with jaws that can be adjusted (sometimes called by the trade name Channellock pliers) to fit anything from nails to large pipes are often needed when working on other home improvement jobs—it does a great job of substituting for pipe wrenches. These are also perfect for opening baby food jars. They run about $13.

Tongue-and-Groove Pliers
Tongue-and-Groove Pliers Channellock


Buy several sizes of screwdrivers with both flat and Phillips-style tips. Be sure their grips are comfortable. You can buy a 10- to 18-piece set for from $20 to $30. Another option is to get a 4-in-1 screwdriver—a screwdriver with changeable tips that fit into the shaft and handle—for about $4.



Paint brushes

Of course, these are always handy. Get brushes with synthetic bristles because they can be used for both latex and alkyd/oil-based paints and finishes. Choose long bristles that splay evenly and are frayed at their ends. A good brush starts at about $7. See the HomeTips article How to Choose the Right Paintbrush.

Paint Brushes Dreamstime

Variable-speed drill/driver

This is a power tool and, as such, considerably more expensive than the hand tools on this list. But a variable-speed cordless drill-driver is extremely handy. One of these will not only bore holes in wood, plastic, and metal, but will drive screws. The higher the voltage, the more powerful the drill. A 9.6 reversible model is a good choice. Don’t forget to get a set of drill bits and screwdriver tips.

Drill / Driver
Battery-operated Drill / Driver


Of course, you can buy a nice metal toolbox, but one of these may push your budget too high. Instead, consider an inexpensive polypropylene tub-style container with storage compartments or a lightweight polyester tool bag for toting tools around the house.

Happy gift giving!

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About Don Vandervort
Don Vandervort has developed his expertise for more than 30 years as a remodeler and builder, Building Editor for Sunset Books, Senior Editor at Home Magazine, author of more than 30 home improvement books, and writer of countless magazine articles. He appeared for 3 seasons on HGTV’s “The Fix,” and served as MSN’s home expert for several years. Don founded HomeTips in 1996. Read more about Don Vandervort