The best basic tool kits for DIY home projects

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The Insider Pick:With a good set of tools, you can repair a crooked cabinet, hang a shelf or picture frame, tune up your bicycle, or fix a leaky pipe under the sink. The Stanley 65-Piece Tool Kit is our top choice because it comes with many tools you'll use all the time, it has only the tools you need, and each item is well-made.

One of the best gifts I have ever received was something I didn't even know I needed. Shortly before I left for college, a family friend gave me a basic tool kit, advising me to bring it along with me to school, which I did. Over the subsequent four years, I used the screwdrivers, hammer, pliers, measuring tape, and the other essentials in that kit to do everything from repair a broken bed frame in my dorm room to hang shelves and assemble furniture in an apartment and to work on sets and lighting design for many student film projects.

After college, that very same kit made a cross-country move with me to California, where it remained in service throughout the early years of my working life and my marriage, helping as my wife and I decorated and furnished our first apartment and made the innumerable little repairs and updates that came with renting a charming but decades-old property.

I still have the hammer, level, and needle nose pliers from that basic tool kit sixteen years later. The tape measure broke sometime in the last decade. I lost most of the bits for the screwdriver and finally lost the handle itself. I have no idea where the wrench ended up. And the plastic case that housed the few dozen tools cracked and stopped opening or closing properly within the first few years, by the way. Still, the fact is that one basic set of tools — a set that probably cost only around $30 and fit into one slender carrying case — served as my only tool kit for the better part of a decade.

As life progressed, I acquired more and more tools, including an electric saw or three, a few drills (why do I have more than one drill? This is not rhetorical, I really have no clue and am asking), a needlessly comprehensive set of screwdrivers, and so forth. I do a lot of home repairs and work on the yard and such, and eventually, the demands of the projects I was tackling surpassed the capabilities of that plucky little kit. For many people, though, an affordable, basic tool kit is all you need to help out with minor home repairs and projects. If you choose the right kit, you may well end up with the only tool set you'll need for many years to come.

We've selected a range of kits that are well priced, thoughtfully curated, and sure to match the needs of many people. When considering which tool kit is the best match for you, make sure you consider which tools you will likely use the most often, but also think about which you might never touch. When was the last time you actually found yourself in need of a ratchet set, for example? (If that need arises regularly, maybe look beyond a basic kit!)

Remember, we're looking at elementary kits for a reason: The aim is to serve your needs, not clutter your home with needless extras. You can always add on specialty tools as the need arises, but these kits should save you from realizing mid-project that you're missing one of the basics. Read onto see which kit is best for your needs.

Although the Stanley 94-248 65-Piece Tool Kit is our top pick, for the reasons laid out in the slides below you should also consider the WorkPro Kitchen Drawer 100-Piece Tool Kit, the OUTAD Multi-Functional 100-Piece Tool Kit, the Cartman General Household 39-Piece Tool Kit, and the AmazonBasics 65-Piece Home Repair Tool Set. View As: One PageSlidesThe best basic took kit overallThe best basic took kit overallStanely/Business InsiderWhy you'll love it: The Stanley 65-Piece Tool Kit comes with well-made tools that you will use frequently and it should last for years.

Truth be told, I've never used a Stanley tool kit. But I do own a Stanley measuring tape, a few Stanley screwdrivers, a Stanley Allen wrench set, and, well, looks like I probably should have just bought a kit instead of a bunch of one-off tools. Sigh. Anyway, every Stanley tool I have ever bought is still in good working condition after many years of use, and you can expect the same from the carefully selected tools you'll find in the Stanley 94-248 65-Piece Tool Kit.

Too many lower cost basic tool sets include inferior tools and try to compensate for the middling quality with an abundance of items. The 65 pieces in this kit include 30 screwdriver bits and ten Allen wrenches (also called hex keys), and eight ratchet attachments, so you're only getting about a dozen actual individual tools. 

Each of said tools is durable and precision crafted, sure to last for years even if you use them regularly. The screwdrivers have reinforced tips, the 13-ounce hammer is rock solid, and the 16-foot tape measure offers excellent standup ability.

This kit costs a few dollars more than most options, but when it lasts twice as long, you'll agree it was worth the modest investment.

With more than 1,500 ratings posted online, the Stanley 65-Piece Tool Kit enjoys a solid 4.6-star rating. One owner calls the set a "great homeowner's tool kit" that was a "good value," while another says: "Everyone should have a toolkit" like this one.

A product reviewer with PlantedWell noted that the kit's "ratchet handles are very comfortable and easy to use," while in a Wiki.Ezvid.com review, a tester praised how the "durable hard case offers good protection" to the tools and "snaps shut tightly and securely."

Pros: High-quality tools, durable hard-shell storage case, no superfluous tools

Cons: Tools often slip out of place inside case

Buy the Stanley 94-248 65-Piece Tool Kit on Amazon for $38.67The best value tool kitThe best value tool kitWorkPro/Business InsiderWhy you'll love it: The WorkPro Kitchen Drawer 100-Piece Tool Kit costs less than $30 but comes with dozens of useful tools and hardware in a lightweight soft-shelled carrying case.

For those of you paying close attention, yes, you're correct — This is not actually the lowest priced tool kit on our list, it's the second-lowest priced. But considering it comes with more than twice as many items as the most inexpensive set, the WorkPro Kitchen Drawer 100-Piece Tool Kit represents the lowest cost in relative terms.

This kit has all the basics you'd rightly expect to find here, such as a claw hammer, needle nose and standard pliers, a wrench, and multiple screwdriver bits. It also has four precision screwdrivers, great for working with electronics (even if that just means removing the battery casing) or for repairing eyeglasses. The 9-inch magnetic level features three vials, allowing for accurate positioning and easy reading.

All of the many components of the kit tuck away into a lightweight but durable soft-sided storage pouch that, as the name suggests, can fit into a drawer with ease. As for those 40 cable ties (AKA zip ties), you'll be amazed at just how often they prove useful, from cord management to a stopgap plumbing repair to helping support plants in the garden.

The WorkPro Kitchen Drawer 100-Piece Tool Kit has a glowing 4.7 out of five star average rating on Amazon. One customer named Stacey says it "has everything you need" in a "compact case," while a customer called J.R. says the "price and variety of tools in this kit are both great!"

In a comprehensive review, the team from The Sweethome called this kit a high-quality choice, noting its "soft case with straps that hold the tools securely in place" and the singling out the well made adjustable wrench.

Pros: Great price point, lightweight well made case, includes precision screwdrivers

Cons: Short tape measure, hammer too light for some uses

Buy the WorkPro Kitchen Drawer 100-Piece Tool Kit on Amazon for $27.99The best comprehensive tool kitThe best comprehensive tool kitOUTAD/Business InsiderWhy you'll love it: The OUTAD Multi-Functional 100-Piece Tool Kit skirts the line between a basic household tool kit and a professional grade set.

I'm aware that it might seem ironic to include OUTAD's comprehensive tool set in a list of basic tool kits, but for the record, any professional contractor, electrician, plumber, or general handyman would probably consider this kit pretty basic. For folks like you and me, however, the four precision screwdrivers and the fixed Phillips and flathead screwdrivers (not to mention the ten other bits that fit in the dual direction handle), the two types of pliers, the twin wrenches, the hammer, saw, blade, measuring tape, and more will probably represent a surplus of supplies.

Not only does this kit include plenty of basic hand tools, but it also comes with a few handy accessories great for common household fixes, like electrical tape, caps for wiring, and even a digital voltage tester. With this kit, you could replace an outlet, upgrade a switch, or even swap out a lighting fixture. And no, those projects really aren't that hard. Find a good video online and make sure to switch off the right circuit.

The OUTAD Multi-Functional 100-Piece Tool Kit has a commendable 4.3-star rating on Amazon, with one owner named Jack speaking for many when he says: "The most beautiful thing about this tool kit set is that it includes those tools that are used most frequently by most of the people."

A writer with XLRaceParts.com said the kit's "tools are of a good selection and solidly constructed," while in a CompareSix.com review, a tester said the set "brings you the necessities" and called it a "great addition to any DIY homeowner's" gear.

Pros: Comprehensive set, includes voltage tester, wide selection of screwdrivers

Cons: Rather expensive, does not come with level

Buy the OUTAD Multi-Functional 100-Piece Tool Kit on Amazon for $46.99 (originally $69.99)The best compact tool kitThe best compact tool kitCartman/Business InsiderWhy you'll love it: The Cartman General Household 39-Piece Tool Kit is small enough to fit in a drawer, but it has most of the basic hand tools needed for minor repairs and hobbies.

The Cartman kit is far and away the lowest cost tool kit on our list, but I'm not calling it the best value kit for one reason: It's missing a couple of items that you will almost surely have to purchase separately and that will essentially negate its low cost. These are a level and a pair of needle nose pliers, which I certainly wish the brand had included instead of those scissors. You probably have a few pairs of scissors already, but may not have pliers, right?

That said, the tools that are included in this little kit are decent considering its minuscule price, and the small size of the kit is a definite advantage. The Cartman General Household 39-Piece Tool Kit is small enough to slip into the drawer of a little kitchen or to hang out in your car's trunk, under the seats, or even in a large glove box, ready to assist with roadside repairs or for tasks that arise away from home.

The tool kit has multiple screwdriver bits that fit in a driver handle but note that the driver does not ratchet. It comes with four precision screwdrivers, a pair of basic pliers, a rather small hammer, and a few other useful tools. With the addition of needle nose pliers and a level, I would call this a great tool kit for the price. As is, one can still appreciate its small size and small cost.

Indeed, many people do appreciate the Cartman General Household 39-Piece Tool Kit. It has a 4.4-star average rating on Amazon. An owner named Ted calls it "a great start for me," while a customer named Marleen says it's a "great deal for the price."

The product reviewers at Wiki.Ezvid.com called this set the best inexpensive tool kit around, noting that the tools are "heat-treated to resist corrosion" and that all the included items meet or exceed ANSI standards.

Pros: Great low price, compact size, heat treated chrome plated tools

Cons: Missing level and needle nose pliers

Buy the Cartman General Household 39-Piece Tool Kit on Amazon for $15.99 (originally $29.99)The best basic tool kit for use on the roadThe best basic tool kit for use on the roadAmazonBasics/Business InsiderWhy you'll love it: Whether you're headed to a friend's house to help them get settled in after a move or you need to make some repairs around the shop or the office, the AmazonBasics 65-Piece Home Repair Tool Set is always ready to go.

The AmazonBasics 65-Piece Home Repair Tool Set has, well, all the basics. Each "basic" item is of above average quality, too. It comes with a solid 13-ounce hammer, standard and needle nose pliers, a 16-foot tape measure, a trim little set of mechanics tools, screwdrivers, and a level. And I'm even leaving out a thing or two.

As you expect from the AmazonBasics brand, these tools are of decent quality and are yours for a great price. When paired together, these qualities make this a good tool kit, plain and simple. This set is also notable for its carrying case. The soft-sided bag-style carrier features both a handle and a shoulder strap, making it remarkably easy to move around with your tools.

If you need to spend time on the road and want tools close at hand, or if you often move around your property (or your office, shop, or friend's house) while working, this ease of portability will be a major plus.

The AmazonBasics 65-Piece Home Repair Tool Set has a 4.2 out of five-star average rating. A user named Michael says it includes "very decent quality tools for an inexpensive kit," while an owner named Aaron says it's a "great kit for small house repair tasks."

In its tool kit review, TheBestProductsToBuy.com included this tool set and noted the chrome-vanadium plating on the screwdrivers as well as the reliable auto-locking tape measure.

Pros: Easy portability, thoughtful curation, solid hammer

Cons: Weak ratchet mechanism

Buy the AmazonBasics 65-Piece Home Repair Tool Set on Amazon for $26.97 (originally $31.99)

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