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Our friend Megan Miller over at PopSci is getting married — sorry, guys — and she called the other day to say that she’s skipping Saks and Macy’s to register at Home Depot, Lowe’s, and Sears instead. It seems that all those years of apartment living left her almost tool-less, and her husband-to-be’s tools were recently stolen.

Her question to Toolmonger readers: what should she add to her registry to make sure she assembles a decent tool kit for apartment/home maintenance and general around-the-house work?

If you’ve got a moment, add your suggestions to comments. Next week we’ll collect up all the results and post the final list. And to show our appreciation for your help, if you’re the first one to recommend an item or set of items (by brand and type) that makes the list, we’ll send you a pair of gloves.


24 Responses to Reader Question: What Tools For A Newlywed?

  1. Joe Brown says:

    Megan needs a reciprocating saw—at least, that’s what I would choose to get me through the first few years of marriage. That way, when you hit a rough spot or get in a fight, you can just be like, honey, let’s go break some shit together. Instant reconciliation. Maybe she should have a Fubar too… we all know how handy she is with one of those.

  2. Jeff says:

    That’s easy! The GearWrench Stubby Flex Combination wrenches are sweet! They fit into to any tight space (with only 5 degrees needed to make them ratchet), and they’re shiny enough to use as a shaving mirror!

  3. Ray says:

    Since it appears they are totally tool deprived, register for a good mechanics tool set. This would cover a lot of based very easily.

  4. Fong says:

    Combining 2 peoples worth of stuff into a single garage is always a challenge esp if hubby’s toys come with motorized wheels. You’ll need storage cabinets and LOTs of them.

  5. Well, first I’d advise that she register for some girlie stuff at Bed Bath Beyond or a nice department store.

    Let’s see… what has come in handy in the past 3 months of my marriage?

    A Werner StepRight step ladder – available at Lowes. It has three steps and folds flat for easy storage.

    Some OOK photo mounting kits. A rubber mallet. Two claw hammers – a 16 oz and an 8 oz.

    Hex key set – I like Bondhus, but a set from Sears may be adequate. T handles are great, but not necessay.

    Measuring tape – 25′ Craftsman or Stanley. Safety goggles *2. Mechanics gloves for moving furniture and heavy boxes.

    Vacuum. If they’re moving into an aparment and not a house, a simple vacuum such as a $45 Eureka should suffice, but a ShopVac is essential for a homeowner.

    Adjustable wrench, pipe wrench and/or Channellock-type wrench. Utility knife – standard style for some applications, retractable style for kitchen drawer stowing. Flashlight(s). Maglites are excellent. I’d suggest one or two 3AA LED flashlights, and one or two 3D cell ones, possibly with LED upgrades.

    Cordless drill. I’m a strong fan of Hitachi’s 18V offerings since they are compact and powerful. Cordless driver – it makes putting together ready-to-assemble furniture a snap. A driver is much better at RTA furniture since it offers much better control than even the lowest torque drill setting.

    Screwdriver set and x-in-1 screwdriver. It doesn’t pay to have several sets of screwdrivers, but when working on things together, someone always has the right size tool.

    If they are moving into a house, then a whole other list of tools are needed, mostly power tools.

    Oh, and a ratchet set. Although a wrench set – ratcheting or otherwise – should be 12pt, a ratchet and socket set should always be 6pt. It’s usually best to purchase a finer gear toothed ratchet than to use 12pt sockets. A 95 piece set (#34095) from Craftsman is on sale for $50 regularly.

    Levels – maybe a 9″ or 12″ one, and a 24″, possibly a 48″ one as well.

    Pliers – needle nose, slip joint, wire/cable cutter, wire stripper tool. Vice-grips are also nice to have.

  6. Brian says:

    Having just hung 7 sets of blinds in my new house, three things come to mind:

    -a stud finder, but don’t get the cheapest one. I don’t know what they are finding, but it’s not a stud half the time

    -a cordless drill, not necessarily a very expensive or powerful one but drilling a hole or driving a screw is probably the most common tool related thing I’ve had to do since I bought a house

    -a quick change drill/screw bit set, like the Craftsman Speed-Lok sets. These make changing between drills and bits a lot easier.

  7. Dave says:

    The Gordon wrench (http://www.gordonwrench.com/)

    Reduces household swearing by making it much easier to turn those cheap-a** under-sink handles in kitchens and bathrooms when they are sticky.

  8. A nice air compressor. Something that has enough capacity for a blow gun attachment. I use mine to blow out my computer, my vacuums, my hoses before I store them for the winter, cleaning my garage floor, cleaning the coils on my refrigerator, etc … Yeah I guess you can use it for keeping your car tires at the proper inflation and running some air tools too.

  9. Let’s not forget about WD40, 3-in-1 oil, and Gojo or Fast Orange.

  10. tooldork says:

    Start with hand

    Vice Grips
    Needle Nose Pliers
    2-foot level
    Quality box knife
    Common Household repair book
    Tool organizers — I use one for electrical, one for plumbing, one for basic carpentry, etc.
    Bosch Miterfinder
    Carpenter pencils (sharpener)
    Voltage meter
    Wire strippers
    First-Aid Kit
    Combination square
    12-gauge extension cord with retrieve function
    Fish tape
    Closet auger
    LED Flashlight

    – then move to power
    Circular saw
    Bosch PS-20
    Jig Saw
    5″ Random Orbital Sander
    Dust Extractor system – NOT a ShopVac

    My wife and I registered at Home Depot, Macy’s and one other retailer and about 90% of our gifts were linens, towels, glasses, etc. Most of the people that got stuff from HD were actually my co-workers. Go figure.

  11. Mike says:

    I know a lot of tool lovers look down their nose at them, but keeping a good multitool in the kitchen drawer has gone a long way toward marital bliss in our house. (The Leatherman Juice S2 is my personal choice).

  12. Old Donn says:

    Simple. Tell Mr. to Be to back his truck up to the loading dock at Sears, go to Tool Territory and tell them you want one of everything. Seriously, it depends on how much he/they really want to do. The basics for around the house would be a regular & phillips screwdriver, hammer, tape measure, slip joint & channelock pliers, adjustable wrench, utility knife, a decent flashlight and a small cordless drill. For the garage/basement, a hand saw, hacksaw, pipe wrench, long nose & lineman’s pliers, stud finder, multi-meter, an assortment of rubber washers & O-rings, 3/8-1/4 socket set, standard & metric combo wrench set. Anything more would be strictly up to him. No sense loading up if he’s not a motorhead or Norm Abram clone

  13. Patrick says:

    What I’ll want?

    Good mechanic’s set (a basic set), a decent set of woodworking/household hand tools (which I only can afford cheap-knockoffs of). A good router, large circ saw, and decent bits and blades. A good jack and stands. First aid kit, I’ll need it. Flashlights/worklights. Work bench, if one can be had.

    What she wants – electrical tools. Multimeter, breadboards and electrical parts.

  14. Hank says:

    For the tool inclined, the suggestions above are good.

    For the non-tool couple, and electric leaf blower. Not for just leaves, but for garages and anything else that needs a 230 whatever lift off.

    Given several and always got a nice thank you, usually after they have used it.

  15. Brian H says:

    A lot of the suggestions so far are pretty good, so I won’t try to compile an exhaustive list here.

    I would say the number one tool that I use regularly is a cordless drill/screwdriver. I like the Black & Decker I have, though I can’t remember the model. However, I would recommend something with 18v-19v LiIon and and an extra battery.

    It might also be handy to have a secondary (smaller) cordless (the type where to handle pivots from 0-90 degrees) for small jobs as well.

    A new house or apartment means hanging pictures, so I would recommend the Black & Decker BullsEye Auto-Leveling Laser with Stud Sensor. I bought one of these on sale at HD, and found it’s come in handy for many tasks. Shelves and pictures are much straighter now.

    If one of their guest wants to buy them a craftsman 13 drawer tool cabinet, that would be great, but not knowing if they’ll be living in an apartment or a house, I’d recommend a sturdy, simple toolbox like the Plano BAB™ 22″ Power Tool Box with Tray to keep everything in it’s place. A tool is no good to you if you can’t find it when you need it, right?

    They NEED to have a big ol’ roll of Duct Tape. What can’t be fixed with Duct Tape? ;o)

    Finally. how about his and hers safety glasses?

  16. Brian H says:

    A couple more things I would add would be:

    Craftsman 10 pc. Screwdriver Set – These mini-screwdrivers are a must have in my opinion with all the tiny bolts found in laptops, mp3 players. radios, etc.

    Also something that would be really nice to have is the Craftsman 7 pc. Drill-Out/Screw-Out Power Extractors for removing stripped wood screws and bolts. They’re on sale this weekend by the way.

  17. A staple gun, a hot glue gun, and a heat gun can all come in handy at times. A bundle of ty-raps and some velcro cable organizer straps aren’t exactly tools, but you find ’em at hardware stores and they’ll help tame the mess behind the TV stand.

    Cleaning supplies also aren’t necessarily tools, but every homeowner should have a decent mop and bucket, a grout brush, and one of those spiny drain hair remover things. A long brush for cleaning refrigerator coils, perhaps?

    I’d skip the rubber mallet, and go with a wound rawhide head that’s less likely to mar the surface being struck. Nothing beats a leather mallet for putting furniture back together. For taking shelving apart and many other mallet tasks, a real dead-blow hammer is a better idea. Just get both, and you’ll be less tempted to use one where the other is really needed.

    I’d augment any screwdriver set with a couple extra Phillips drivers, or skip the set entirely and buy the right mix piecemeal. For some reason, most sets will give you 4 or 5 straightblade drivers (when I’ve never seen a need for more than 2 or 3), but then only give you 2 Phillips drivers, where you actually *need* the right one for every size head, and sizes 00 through 3 are common.

    Nutdrivers shouldn’t be ignored, either. The hose clamp that secures our lint trap to the washer’s output hose is much easier to tighten with a real nut driver, versus a screwdriver that tries to slip out as the hose flops around. I’m not sure I’d go name-brand on these since they’re not heavily used, but when you need ’em, they’re sure nice to have.

    A strap wrench (or set thereof) will come in handy in the garage as well as the kitchen. Is a mousepad, used as a jar opener, considered a tool? Maybe to an anthropologist. But I doubt it’ll make it onto anyone’s registered gift list, so it’s moot. In the kitchen junk drawer, you’ll want a battery tester, a 6-in-1 screwdriver, basic slipjoint pliers, a ruler, a measuring tape, and a telescoping magnetic retriever tool. Probably also a good place for a flashlight. Am I the only one whose infrared thermometer sees most of its use in the kitchen?

    Whoever ends up maintaining the cars will need a coolant specific gravity tester, a battery side-terminal wrench, a set of funnels, a Torx key set (for those infernal GM taillight screws), a code reader, a feeler gauge set, a spark plug socket, a good tire pressure gauge in each glovebox, and a pack of microfiber towels. Trust me on that last one, nothing makes windows disappear like damp microfiber. “His and hers” portable jump-start packs might be nice, if they’re charged regularly. More involved maintenance will need a jack and stands, a torque wrench, a breaker bar, and a good shop light.

    For household electrical maintenance, the best thing to have is a spouse who’s CPR-trained. Enroll in a Red Cross class together! After that, get a non-contact voltage detector (my favorite is the Fluke LVD1), a basic stripper/crimper, and some decent diagonal cutters. A drywall saw and electrician’s snips would probably not fall under basic maintenance, but installing data wiring is all the rage these days, so maybe a punchdown tool should join the list.

    Along with the little PS20 or similar drill/driver, a bigger hammerdrill and some masonry bits will help with mounting garden hose hangers and stuff like that. If there’s yard work to be done, a shovel and post-hole digger and wheelbarrow and pitchfork (for turning compost!) and rake and… aww heck, that’s its own list!

  18. Oh yes, flashlights: Every home should have a couple of good flashlights, and by “good” I mean more than just bright and dependable, but also fueled by standard (rechargeable) batteries, and small enough not to weigh down a toolbag. I’ve currently got my eye on the Fenix L2D-CE, which is approximately the BMW to the Mini-Mag’s Escort. Disposable income, ahhh….

    Oh yes, a single call to the plumber costs more than a little drain snake. Invest in one, and then use it to justify your purchase of a full face shield, because getting splattered with that stuff is not my idea of a good time. Then again, maybe paying someone else to make it his problem isn’t so awful.

    A propane torch and igniter (or just flick your Bic) are good to have around, and not just for starting recalcitrant barbecues or fireplace blazes. All sorts of thing happen at high temperatures that simply don’t otherwise, and if the house’s plumbing is soldered copper, you’ll need it eventually. Bonus: A single-burner camping stove that screws onto the same propane tank makes a handy power-failure standby.

    Even if you’re not into woodworking, a hand plane or chisel can be useful for shaving doors when the house starts to relax and nothing fits quite right anymore. Make it a really cheap chisel so you won’t feel bad about abusing it, because darnit, the things come in handy for some really stupid stuff.

    An extension ladder for roof and gutter work is probably a good idea, and a Little Giant convertible would tackle both that and regular stepladder duties. Then a regular stepstool will suffice for everyday use, because I’m no fan of the three-step ladder/stool compromises. They’re not sure-footed enough to be ladders, and not maneuverable enough to be stools.

  19. Don says:

    Bosch PS20. These are reasonably priced as a wedding gift and are invaluable in the home.

  20. Wayne D. says:

    -Small hammer for finishing nails.
    -Normal hammer for the rest
    -Set of Phillips and flat drivers Long and short (high quality with the little ridges on the tip, cheapies strip) Also, jewelers drivers.
    -Small and large crescent wrenches
    -at least one small level
    -Hex wrench set
    -Pliers pliers pliers, needlenose, regular, curved, basically on of everything and size.
    – Vice Grips
    -wire cutter/stripper/crimper
    -Quick clamps
    -Measuring tape
    -Cordless drill with a starter drill set.
    -6 ft. ladder, 10 ft. ladder (for vaulted ceilings), and an extendible ladder for the roof.
    -Shovel, pick, and wheelbarrow for garden and yard stuff.

    This is all I need to get 90% of home repairs done.

  21. brodie says:

    in addition to many of those above.
    work gloves
    dental picks
    exacto knife/scalpel
    a box of disposable syringes

  22. Chris says:

    Ryobi 18V Lithium 4-pc Combo Kit! It includes a sawsall, circular saw, drill, flashlight, 2 batteries and charger. Backwards compatability with the rest of the one+ line lets them add other tools to the kit. I have the regular one+ kit and its great for household use and takes a pretty good beating.

    Small socket set (craftsman/husky/kobalt are all fine) for assemblying furniture and stuff around the home.

    Hex key set- cheap but necessary for furniture assembly as well.

    And the obvious tape measure, screwdriver set, hammer, adjustable wrench.

  23. Megan says:

    Thanks for all of your great ideas! We are moving into a house, with a yard, if that helps. 🙂 Can’t wait to see the final list…

  24. David Bryan says:

    When my guitar player married my drummer I gave ’em a Mighty Plierench with all the regular jaws. Everybody needs one of them.

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