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    The 10 Tools That No Home Should Be Without

    HGTV’s Mina Starsiak Hawk on how to build the essential tool kit.

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    Whether it’s your first apartment rental without roommates (goodbye, pants!) or your very own house that you’ll be paying off for (*gulp*) the next 30 years, when you move into a new home, you’re going to need a good set of tools.

    Ellie Sunakawa / BuzzFeed

    But what if you don’t know the difference between a standard screwdriver and a Phillips? Every tool kit has to start somewhere — and Mina Starsiak Hawk, of HGTV’s Good Bones and cofounder of home renovation business Two Chicks and a Hammer, thinks you should start with the essentials.

    Hawk learned that early on. “To save a few bucks we always chose the budget option,” she says, “and quickly learned the number one DIY lesson the hard way: Don’t buy the cheapest tools!” But you don’t have to buy the most expensive ones, either.

    Ellie Sunakawa / BuzzFeed, photo by HGTV

    “As great as that $50 269-piece homeowner tool kit looks, take a pass, and buy tools as you need them,” Hawk says. “If a better or the best tool will save you time, even if it’s expensive, it’s probably worth the money. Tools are investments that continue to grow as you gain skills and confidence. Do a project yourself and you’ll probably offset the cost of the tool.”

    It can be daunting to put your first toolbox together because you may not know exactly what you need. “Tools are like kitchen knives,” Hawk says. “Sure, you can cut bread with a steak knife, but it’s a lot easier to cut it with a bread knife.” So let the project dictate the tool.

    Ready to dip into some DIY for your new home? Here are Hawk’s picks for creating your tool kit.

    An Expandable Tool Bag

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    Toolboxes don't flex to squeeze into a closet or your car. So Hawk prefers a bag that’s able to expand as you add more tools to your collection. Milwaukee’s 15” Packout Tote is heavy-duty with an impact-resistant molded base that attaches to other bags and boxes in the series as you need them.

    Get Milwaukee’s 15” Packout Tote from Amazon for $103.

    A Trusty Hammer

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    “Pick one that feels good to swing and that’s for general use, from putting a nail in the wall to hanging a picture to tapping together the frame for a raised bed,” Hawk says. Estwing’s 16 oz. Straight-Claw Hammer takes the vibration out of hammering, and it’s light enough so your arm won’t get tired swinging it but heavy enough to get most household jobs done.

    Get the Estwing 16 oz. Straight-Claw Hammer from Amazon for $21.

    A Steel Tape Measure

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    "You’ll use this for anything from measuring a window for curtain rods to making sure that a piece of furniture will fit where you want to put it,” Hawk says. “Steel tapes are best — make sure to get one that’s 15 to 25 feet long.” Milwaukee’s Wide Blade 25’ Tape stretches a full 14 feet before collapsing.

    Get Milwaukee’s Wide Blade 25’ Tape from Home Depot $25 .

    A Drill With Screwdriver and Drill Bits

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    A good drill should be every homeowner’s first power tool, Hawk insists. She prefers an impact driver, which fits in tighter spaces and uses less force to drive. The Craftsman V20 Brushless Impact Driver CMCF820 has excellent run time and durability, tons of torque, and takes 60 minutes to recharge. Plus, as you expand your power tool collection, the battery can be used in other Craftsman tools. Add the Craftsman 60-Piece Steel Hex Shank Screwdriver Bit Set, which has everything you need to use your drill for most household tasks. But if you're on a budget, go for a classic screwdriver, like Husky’s 6-in-1, that has at least two bits you can flip.

    Get the Craftsman V20 Brushless Impact Driver CMCF820 from Amazon for $131.

    Groove Joint Pliers

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    “There are a hundred uses for these adjustable pliers,” Hawk says. “Buy the middle size to start.” Channellock’s 9.5” Tongue and Groove Pliers can grab anything, whether you’re tackling an under-sink leak or tightening the bolts on your deck railing.

    Get the Channellock 9.5” Tongue and Groove Pliers from Amazon for $17 .

    A Utility Knife

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    “Buy a cheap one and the locking mechanism and blades will be weak and prone to snapping,” Hawk says. “Plus, a belt clip is crucial!” DeWalt’s Autoloading Folding Utility Knife stores three blades, swapping them takes seconds, and it doesn’t flex or rattle when you’re cutting.

    Get DeWalt’s Autoloading Folding Utility Knife from Home Depot for $15.

    A Torpedo Level

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    For hanging art or leveling a dresser, a torpedo level is all you need, according to Hawk. The Empire 8” True Blue Magnetic Billet Torpedo Level is accurate, easy to read, and has magnets that hold it tight on metal surfaces.

    Get the Empire True Blue Magnetic Billet Torpedo Level from Home Depot for $20.

    Metric and Standard Hex Keys

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    “Most furniture assembly uses hexes,” Hawk says. These will also let you tighten other things — from your TV’s wall mount cage to your home security camera mounts. The AmazonBasic Hex Key Allen Wrench Set With Ball End includes both metric and standard sizes. It’s compact, and with a ball tip the key can be used at an angle and lets you work in tight or awkward spaces.

    Get the AmazonBasic Hex Key Allen Wrench Set with Ball End from Amazon for $12.

    Linesman Pliers

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    “Use linesman pliers for cutting wire, or pulling out a stripped deck screw,” Hawk says. The ergonomic handles of Commercial Electric’s 9” High-Leverage Multi-Purpose Linesman Pliers  don’t slip when you're prying. And, if and when you decide to rewire a lamp, you’ll appreciate the built-in wire stripper.

    Get Commercial Electric's Multi-Purpose Linesman Pliers from Home Depot for $25.

    A Socket Wrench

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    “You need this tool for tightening nuts and bolts throughout your home,” Hawk says. “Most come with a billion heads that take up space and are easy to lose. Get a set with a good carrying case so you can keep track of the parts.” The Craftsman 40-Piece Polished Chrome Mechanic's Tool Set covers all the bases, standard and metric, and the carrying case is compact and easy to store.

    Get the Craftsman 40-Piece Polished Chrome Mechanic's Tool Set from Amazon for $59.

    HGTV / Via

    Once you’ve got your tools, you can dive right in. “Go out of your comfort zone!” Hawk says. “You can learn so much on YouTube. And if something is out of your scope, there are TaskRabbits everywhere who can help. Know where to draw the line, and if you’re terrified of putting holes in your wall, get assistance, but watch how it’s done.”