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The Best Tools and Toolbox

Updated Dec 10, 2022
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After more than 350 hours of research and tests of nearly 250 tools, we’ve put together the best tool kit for your home (and found the best toolbox to hold them all). To come up with these 22 recommendations, we consulted three carpenters with a combined experience of 36 years, got input from six leading tool experts, and had many, many conversations with tool manufacturers. After we conducted our initial tests and decided on the best tools, I used them to complete a major home renovation as well as countless other projects that have cropped up since my move into a 250-year-old home. After this much work, we’re sure these tools can handle just about everything your house can throw at you.

Milwaukee 13″ Jobsite Work Box, the best toolbox

Milwaukee 13″ Jobsite Work Box

The best toolbox
This toolbox stores tools vertically, keeping them organized, easy to find, and unlikely to shift around. It’s not the biggest, but it holds a complete tool collection at a size that’s manageable even when full.
We recommend
MegaPro 13-in-1 Ratcheting Driver 211R2C36RD, the best multi-bit screwdriver

MegaPro 13-in-1 Ratcheting Driver 211R2C36RD

The best multi-bit screwdriver
This manual screwdriver combines smooth ratcheting action with excellent bit storage and a uniquely comfortable handle to be the most well-rounded, capable tool of its kind.
We recommend
Channellock 131CB 13-in-1 Multi-Bit Ratcheting Screwdriver, an identical model

Channellock 131CB 13-in-1 Multi-Bit Ratcheting Screwdriver

An identical model
This Channellock screwdriver is identical to the MegaPro, so it’s a good option if the MegaPro goes out of stock.
We recommend
Stanley PowerLock Tape Measure 25-Foot, the best tape measure

Stanley PowerLock Tape Measure 25-Foot

The best tape measure
The PowerLock is easy to use, durable, affordable, accurate, and capable of doing its job without additional features that aren’t necessary for around-the-house work.
We recommend
Milwaukee Fastback Flip with Blade Storage, the best utility knife

Milwaukee Fastback Flip with Blade Storage

The best utility knife
With an ergonomic handle, a fast one-handed open, and room for four additional blades, the Milwaukee Fastback was better than 22 other knives for around-the-house cutting needs.
We recommend
Estwing E3-16C, the best hammer

Estwing E3-16C

The best hammer
Easy to swing, comfortable, and indestructible—the Estwing 16-ounce steel hammer has it all.
We recommend
DeWalt DCD701F2 Xtreme 12V Max Brushless 3/8 in. Drill/Driver Kit, small, manageable, and plenty of power

DeWalt DCD701F2 Xtreme 12V Max Brushless 3/8 in. Drill/Driver Kit

Small, manageable, and plenty of power
The DeWalt is the most comfortable drill we’ve ever held, and it’s loaded with convenience features. It has enough strength and stamina to easily handle common home jobs.
We recommend
Ryobi 90-Piece Drill and Drive Kit, the best drill bit set

Ryobi 90-Piece Drill and Drive Kit

The best drill bit set
This set offers the widest variety of useful accessories for drilling holes and driving screws.
We recommend
C.H. Hanson 03040 Magnetic Stud Finder, the best stud finder

C.H. Hanson 03040 Magnetic Stud Finder

The best stud finder
Equipped with two magnets, the C.H. Hanson is a basic, durable model that scans twice as fast as the rest.
We recommend
Sola PH 22 Flooring Level, the best torpedo level

Sola PH 22 Flooring Level

The best torpedo level
Compared to the other levels we tested, the PH22 is the easiest to read. It’s also durable and the level vial slightly glows in the dark, so hanging closet poles was no problem.
We recommend
Tekton 25282 26-piece Long Arm Ball Hex Key Wrench Set, the best hex wrenches

Tekton 25282 26-piece Long Arm Ball Hex Key Wrench Set

The best hex wrenches
These hex keys (aka Allen wrenches) are ideal for tight spots, and their simple-to-use case lets you easily remove and replace even the tiniest wrenches.
We recommend
Channellock 8WCB WideAzz 8-Inch Adjustable Wrench, the best adjustable wrench

Channellock 8WCB WideAzz 8-Inch Adjustable Wrench

The best adjustable wrench
The Channellock 8WCB has the jaw capacity of a much larger wrench. We like its smooth jaw adjustment and comfortable, padded gripping area.
We recommend
Grip-On 111-10, the best locking pliers

Grip-On 111-10

The best locking pliers
The build quality of the Grip-Ons far exceeded the other models, and none of our testers knew that a pair of locking pliers could be so smooth.
We recommend
Klein J203-8N Heavy Duty Journeyman Pliers, the best needle-nose pliers

Klein J203-8N Heavy Duty Journeyman Pliers

The best needle-nose pliers
The thick jaws of the Kleins make them the perfect tool for grabbing and twisting wires (or reaching for a toy behind the couch). They’re pricey, but we feel they’re worth it.
We recommend
Irwin GV10 10-inch GrooveLock Pliers, the best adjustable pliers

Irwin GV10 10-inch GrooveLock Pliers

The best adjustable pliers
With a nice, big jaw opening, easy adjustment, and a tough-to-beat price, the GrooveLock pliers are better than eight others we tested.
We recommend
Shark 15-inch Carpentry Saw, the best handsaw

Shark 15-inch Carpentry Saw

The best handsaw
Three carpenters were stunned by how fast the Shark cut. Its pull-stroke cutting style is very accurate and it’s easier to use than a traditional push-stroke saw.
We recommend
Craftsman 1-½-inch Flex Stainless Putty Knife, the best putty knife

Craftsman 1-½-inch Flex Stainless Putty Knife

The best putty knife
Putty knives are basic tools, but what sets the Craftsman apart is a comfortable handle, a stainless blade, and a metal butt end that can tap the lid down on a can of wood filler.
We recommend
Hyde 17-in-1, the best painter’s multitool

Hyde 17-in-1

The best painter’s multitool
It may look strange, but the Hyde is truly a multipurpose tool. It can open paint cans, clean rollers, scrape old plaster, and crack a beer, among many other tasks.
We recommend
Stanley 55-116 8-inch Nail Puller, the best pry bar

Stanley 55-116 8-inch Nail Puller

The best pry bar
For pulling nails or prying a stuck window, the inexpensive, rough around the edges Stanley worked as well as other bars twice the price. It may not be the most polished tool, but it gets the job done.
We recommend
Black Diamond Spot 325, the best headlamp

Black Diamond Spot 325

The best headlamp
Bright, durable, and long-running, the Spot 325 offers the best mix of the most important features at an attainable price.
We recommend
Maxcraft 7-in-1, the best precision screwdriver

Maxcraft 7-in-1

The best precision screwdriver
The Maxcraft is inexpensive and basic, but its onboard bit storage, knurled grip, and good bit selection can meet most people’s needs for working with electronics, toys, and other small hardware.
We recommend
Irwin 1794469 12-inch Combination Square, the best combination square

Irwin 1794469 12-inch Combination Square

The best combination square
A combo square is a great all-purpose marking tool—and the Irwin has a better build quality than other, more expensive rivals we tested.
We recommend
Klein NCVT-3, the best non-contact voltage tester

Klein NCVT-3

The best non-contact voltage tester
The Klein detects standard and low voltage and is equipped with a handy flashlight—a nice touch for a tool you may need when the lights go out.
We recommend

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