ISSUE 103  |  DIY Holiday Decor

Holiday Gift: The Ultimate Starter Tool Set

December 19, 2013 4:00 PM

BY Remodelista Team

When I moved into my first apartment, I acquired tools piecemeal as needed. To start I bought a truly basic tool kit from The Home Depot, something not unlike the Workforce Household Tool Kit; $10.97. I vividly remember the female cashier eyeing my purchase, then eyeing me, and exclaiming, “Good for you!,” apparently proud of a young woman tackling repair projects herself.

Several tools from that first set remain in my arsenal, but my kit has grown exponentially. Over the years I’ve added several pieces that have hugely expanded my ability to build and repair on my own, and I know now what I would have loved to have from the get go. If you’re thinking about a holiday gift for a first-time apartment dweller who’s interested in getting things done, here’s what I recommend: 

Photography by Meredith Swinehart.

Above: The basics need not be expensive. A Stanley 25-foot Tape Measure ($9.97) stays firm when measuring and is long enough to meet most needs. A hammer is a necessity; I like the HDX 16-oz Ash Handle Hammer; $5.98 at The Home Depot. I’ve never worn gloves and I have the scars to prove it. If I had it to do over again, I’d have a pair of Firm Grip Women’s Full Grain Deerskin Gloves, also available in Men’s; $19.97 at The Home Depot. And I’m now in the habit of keeping carpenters’ pencils near my tools; their bright orange color makes them easy to spot, and they don’t roll away: C.H. Hanson Oversized Carpenter Pencils are 19 cents each. 

Above: If anyone had ever told me I would be able to make use of almost all of the screwdrivers in a 71-piece set, I wouldn’t have believed it. But it’s incredibly useful to have a wide variety of screwdrivers on hand, and this kit includes a 6-piece precision set that I use constantly. The HDX 71-Piece Screwdriver Set is $9.88 at The Home Depot, and a Klein Tools 12-1/2-inch Canvas Zipper Bag ($9.48) is helpful to keep the pieces in one place. 

Above: I wish I’d bought a power drill years sooner. Today, I like the Ryobi 18-Volt One+ Lithium-Ion Drill Kit; $79 at The Home Depot. A canvas drop cloth (or several) is another necessity for the handy person: An Everbilt 9 x 12-foot 10-oz Canvas Drop Cloth is $26.98 at The Home Depot. And wood crates make the best gift boxes; wrap your gift in something the recipient can use to store it in. The medium-sized Wood Crate shown here is $11.97 at The Home Depot. 

Above: The Dremel Multi Max Oscillating Tool Kit is an efficient and easy-to-use multitasker. Use it to cut and sand wood, scrape and remove grout, and more. For someone who lacks the space for several power tools, this is a great little stand-in that can often get the job done; $69 at The Home Depot. 

Above: I’ve taken to storing my tools in a Husky Tool Cabinet and I love it. But you’ll inevitably need to carry tools around your home, garden, and beyond, and a sturdy, generously sized tool bag comes in handy; the Klein Tools 16-inch Canvas Tool Bag is $57.18 at The Home Depot. And, if your apartment dweller is going to be doing any painting, include a few decent paintbrushes–a better brush makes a big difference in a paint job. Shown here, the Wooster Pro 1-in Nylon/Polyester Thin Angle Sash Brush; $7.58, and the Purdy XL Glide 3-in Angled Sash Brush; $16.47 at The Home Depot. Leaktite 5-Quart Metal Pails come in handy for a million uses and are $10.77 for a pack of three at The Home Depot. 

Above: These are the critical pieces in my tool set, and it would have been a dream to have them in my first apartment.

Meredith Swinehart

Want to see some of what Meredith has built? Have a look at Fill the Void: A DIY Plywood Bookcase and The Storage Closet Reinvented.