/ Home & Energy

Do you keep a toolbox at home?

Is it essential to keep a box of tools at home to do your own jobs? Let us know what’s in your toolkit and why they’re so important.

There are always little odd jobs that need to be taken care of in a home; hanging a picture, bleeding a radiator, or even just tightening a wobbly door knob. So it makes sense for everyone, regardless of if you’re a homeowner or renting, to have a tool kit that contains what they need to tackle their DIY issues.

Given the amount of tools that are out there, it can be a bit confusing for those who are trying to put together their basic list of items. Many DIY outlets may try to tempt you with discounted bargains, but for items that aren’t actually necessary for jobs around the home. For example, not everyone needs access to a press vice or bungee cords!

Most essential tools

The pandemic lockdowns saw many people try their hand at DIY, regardless of if they had previous experience or not. Some were as simple as painting a room while others tried their hand at creating coffee tables or outdoor bars. But for many, not knowing what tools are needed for the job can be the main sticking point.

We asked our Which? Trusted Traders which key tools they would have in their tool kit, the most common items were:

🛠️ Measuring tape

🛠️ Hammers and nails

🛠️ Screwdrivers (a variety of types if possible) and screws

🛠️ Spirit level

🛠️ Drill

🛠️ Torch

🛠️ Pliers

🛠️ Pencil

🛠️ Extension cable

🛠️ Ladder

Along with these, they also suggested safety goggles, Stanley knife, handsaws, masks, cutters, spanners, scissors, rawlplugs, small height steps and battery-powered tools. Hertfordshire Driveways Ltd suggested consulting YouTube as there can be “lots of tips available and you can find answers to most questions with an accurate search”.

Leave some work to the professionals

Many DIY jobs can be done by using essential tools (and common sense), but there are some jobs that are best left to the professionals. MTS Plumbing & Heating Services suggested leaving any gas work to a professional due to the health and safety requirements surrounding the work. Plumbing and electrical work were also put in that category for similar reasons by Aston Locks Ltd, Bamsey Plumbing and Heating, PJC Electrical Services, Three3one Ltd and DB Electrical

Roofing, hot water cylinder works, structural work and installations of large TVs or units onto false walls were also strongly encouraged as jobs that should involve professionals to ensure that they can carry out the job safely and efficiently.

Sometimes it’s also better to be safe than sorry – Strysen Heating summed this up nicely by saying:

“Homeowners should ask a professional to complete any job they are remotely unsure of how to complete competently and safely, or anything that they are unprepared for should it not go as planned”

What essential tools do you keep at home? Do you trust yourself to use them, or would you rather get a professional in to do a job?

Let us know in the comments.


A difficult question. I have four toolkits, each with a dedicated purpose. There is my garden toolkit; my decorating toolkit; my fixings toolkit; and my electrical & electronics toolkit. There are few common tools, for example the garden tools include a sledge hammer that never gets used anywhere else, while my fixings kit includes three different sizes of hammers and a mallet that are not used in the garden.

I think the real issue is one of gaining basic skills. Replacing a plug is easy BUT you need to be trained to do this job safely. Power tools are great BUT people need training to use them safely. There is the issue of maintenance. Bladed tools are safest when their blades are sharp BUT few people understand how to use a stone to keep their sharps sharp.

I’m lucky. I am a baby boomer who was taught woodwork at my direct grant school and learnt many safe working practices doing practical work as part of my studies of Physics and Chemistry. I learnt to use a screwdriver and spanners from my father who made printing machines for a living. Consequently, I know that Phillips and Posidriv screws can be damaged if you use the wrong cross head driver with them. I was taught when to use WD40 and when to steer well clear of it. As a Scout I learnt to work with axes and cross cut saws, knots and basic rope work. Are our young people getting the same education today?

This basic toolkit is starting to get very big and heavy! It’s for home maintenance, not major improvements! I must agree, though, that safety precautions are vital if drilling into walls.

Pictures can be hung on hooks with plaster-depth pins but extra care has to be taken with shelves, cabinets and mirrors, especially if there is a socket beneath the position or likely to be a water pipe in the wall.

Crusader says:
18 April 2022

One thing to watch out for in some really old houses like mine which is Edwardian, is lead gas pipes buried in the plaster which might still be connected to the gas supply, this is a serious danger with lots of old houses which I bet few folk, especially younger generations will be aware of. And there’s plenty of such old pipes in the walls in my home but thank goodness they’re all long since disconnected from the gas supply, but this might not always be the case with a good many other older houses out there so beware.

I once had a large house, built in 1902, that had gas pipes running up inside the walls supplying bracket lamps but they were not lead — probably galvanised steel. They had all been disconnected by the time I bought the house. Our present 1928 house has lead water pipes under the concrete floor supplying the kitchen and rising up to first floor level for the bathroom. Because they are embedded they have been left alone and new services branched off them. I have documented all the quirks of the house so that any new owner will know what to look out for [but not until after exchange of contracts!].

Jeremy says:
18 April 2022

Well my Dad liked to do the work himself if he could but employed a tradesman working along side him to get the job done. He maintained that the cost of buying the right tool for the job justified the expense because it made the job that much easier and quicker.

Gareth Jones says:
20 April 2022

Really helpful Conversation. I couldn’t possibly be limited to just the one toolbox though. What I do find really useful, is to have a second little toolbox in the house with a couple of Screwdrivers, a set of Hex Keys, Stanley Knife and a Tape measure, Radiator Key. This means that I don’t have to get wet on the way to the shed on those rainy days where there’s some tightening or battery replacing to do!

SheffLOCK says:
7 May 2022

Like others have mentioned, as your tool collection grows and the weight and bulk increases you have to box them up according to purpose like electrical tools, mechanical tools & woodworking tools. I find an oscillating saw a very useful addition for cutting in tight corners.