Handyman essential tools

As a handyman, you know the right tools make all the difference. We surveyed hundreds of handymen to build a list of the toolkit essentials and the most trusted brands. Find out what they said are their must-have handyman tools.

There’s nothing worse than showing up to a handyman job without the right tool. Best case scenario, you can jerryrig the situation with a few other trusted tools from your toolbox. But sometimes, you have no choice but to tell the client you’ll need to come back at another time, which can cause frustration on both sides of the equation.

Whether you’re just starting your handyman business or you’re a seasoned professional whose toolkit needs a serious upgrade, the right tools can simplify your job.

We surveyed experienced handymen to get their best recommendations on toolkit essentials, highly recommended add-ons, and the most trusted brands for tools. Find out what they said are their must-have tools.

#1 Drill

Whether you’re installing shelves, putting up drywall, or assembling furniture, you need a drill. This is one of the most versatile, dependable tools in your kit. To make sure your drill is always ready when you need it, opt for:

  • Cordless drill – Eliminate the risk that someone trips over your cord and save time looking for outlets.
  • Cordless drill – You need sufficient power to generate torque. Look for models with at least a 20V battery.

Don’t forget to bring a spare battery and charger!

#2 Impact driver

While impact drivers are similar to drills, it’s helpful to have one on hand for any task where you’re repeatedly driving in fasteners, bolts, or screws. Due to their lightweight design, impact drivers are easier to hold for long periods of time.

For bonus points, get a battery powered impact driver/drill combo. Once again, remember to keep your batteries on hand!

#3 Hammer

No kit is complete without a hammer. This pound-and-pull tool is your go-to solution for driving in nails, pulling up hardware, bending metal, assembling furniture, and more.

#4 Tape measure & level

One of the most essential tools in your kit, a measuring tape ensures that you take reliable measurements and complete projects with a perfect finish.

Will any old tape measure do? We have a few tips from handyman:

  • Thicker tape makes it easier to get accurate measurements, including vertical measurements.
  • The Stanley Fatmax is the handyman preferred brand for one-person jobs.

Like a tape measure, a level ensures that your finished work project looks professional.

#5 Saws

When you’re undertaking woodworking projects, you need a saw. Depending on your specific needs, consider the following four options:

  • Table saw – This versatile tool is the go-to choice for accurate wood cuts.
  • Skill saw – A circular saw is easier to take on-the-go. You can do just about anything with it, although it takes more practice and skill than a table saw.
  • Japanese saw – If you’re trimming hard-to-reach areas or need highly accurate cuts, this precision saw can meet your needs.
  • Oscillating saw – These tools can cut just about anything, and are ideal for demolition work.

#6 Tool Belt

It goes without saying that you need somewhere to store your tools while on a job. Make sure your essentials are always within reach, invest in a comfortable tool belt where you can hold a few different tools:

  • Hammer
  • Drill
  • Screwdriver
  • Wrench – preferably an adjustable wrench
  • Utility knife
  • Tape measure

Over time, you can add other helpful tools you often find yourself needing.

#7 Truck

If you have a tight, organized toolbox, it may be easy enough to place it in the trunk of your car. But a professional handyman business often has more than the essential tools on hand. And you’ll inevitably need to haul tools and materials to and from your job sites.

A truck enables you to transport materials and even attach a trailer if you need extra space.

#8 General liability insurance

When you’re out on the job, there’s always the risk that something can go wrong.

  • Should someone trip over the power cord to your table saw and break an arm, they could sue you for bodily injury.
  • Should you damage your client’s furniture while putting up drywall, they could sue you for property damage.

General liability insurance provides coverage for claims that arise from third-party bodily injury, property damage, and personal and advertising injury.

“It is the tool that enables you to keep on working when claims, lawsuits and companies try to prevent you from your next job” – Thimble customer

Thimble’s Handyman Insurance is specifically designed to meet your needs. Take out coverage by the hour, day, or month so that your insurance is only working when you are. Our monthly general liability insurance plans come bundled with business equipment protection which means you can protect your growing tool collection as well!

Other handy tools

Beyond the common must-haves tools, there are numerous other tools that can streamline your handyman work.

Below are some of our surveyed handmen’s other favorite tools:

  • 10″ Cat’s paw – Use this mini crow bar to pull nails, tear down walls, and complete other tasks in tight spaces where a hammer might not reach.
  • Pressure washer – Clean windows and decks upon request or after a particularly messy job.
  • Airless paint sprayer – Make painting jobs fly by with a reliable model like the Graco Ultra 395.
  • Contour gauge shape duplicator – Copy irregular shapes so that it’s easier to cut tile, laminate, or wood to fit.
  • Deck wrecker – There’s no easier way to remove decking boards.
  • Needle nose pliers – This gives you the ability to bend small wires when making minor electrical repairs.

Tool quality is key

When you’re browsing the aisles at the local hardware store, it’s helpful to have a sense of the most reputable brands. Our survey of handyman recommended the following three brands as the most trusted:

  • Dewalt
  • Milwaukee
  • Ryobi

When in doubt, you can usually benefit from asking the nearest salesperson (or other contractors in your industry)!

When the right tools are on-hand, work is a breeze

Having the right toolkit is the first step to success as a handyman. Beyond the tools you pick up at the hardware store, the last essential tool for handymen is common sense.

At the beginning of any job, your task is to understand what needs to happen and how to go about making it happen. Then, make sure your client is on the same page to avoid any miscommunication.

To prepare for handyman jobs:

  • Invest in the nine essential handyman tools of the trade
  • Select other specialty tools that help you prepare for the most common client requests in your area
  • With a bit of experience, you’ll quickly identify any other tools you need
  • Take out general liability insurance to prepare for the rare occasion when things do go wrong

After all, errors cost time and money. But with time and experience, you’ll find it’s easier and easier to identify the right tools to get any job done.

Our editorial content is intended for informational purposes only and is not written by a licensed insurance agent. Terms and conditions for rate and coverage may vary by class of business and state.

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