10 Best Hand Tools You Didn’t Know You Needed (and They All Cost Less Than $20)

You don’t have to be a handyman to be handy with those spring projects, if you have the right equipment.

After spending years on home-improvement projects big and small, including several house flips with the help of talented contractors, I’ve bought and used dozens of hand, power and cordless tools. Some are great. Others, not so much. No matter what project I’ve undertaken, I’ve found that these 10 products can help to make just about any job easier. All should be available at big-box home-improvement stores or your local hardware shop.

Milwaukee 11-in-1 Multi-Tip Screwdriver

This basically is 11 screwdrivers in one. The bits fit most specialty screws, including those found in electrical boxes, conduit couplers and outlets. The shafts also work on most sheet-metal screws. The rubber handle makes it comfortable to use, and as an added bonus a wire stripper is embedded in the handle for making quick electrical connections. 

price tag: $7.97

Johnson Rafter Angle Square

It’s compact and lightweight, measures 45- and 90-degree angles and doubles as a ruler. All for less than $4.

price tag: $3.97

Defiant 5 LED Headlight

So it’s not the most fashionable-looking accessory. But freeing up your hands from holding a flashlight can be invaluable when working in tight, dark spaces. It’s also great for biking, camping, hunting or boating. The five bright-white LEDs help the batteries to last for up to 10 hours of continuous use.

price tag: $15.98

Stanley Retractable Utility Knife

These knives have been around for decades. They are designed to cut anything from cardboard to asphalt roof shingles. Made with steel for strength, they feature an interlocking nose that joins the knife halves in order to secure the blade, providing  stability and safety. Each knife comes with three heavy-duty utility blades that can be stored in the handle.

price tag: $4.48

Johnson Torpedo Laser Level

Whether you are hanging drywall or a picture, this level helps to keep everything, well, level. It also features a magnetic edge that holds the tool securely to non-ferrous metals for hands-free measuring. The tool projects laser-dot, horizontal and vertical lines.

price tag: $19.97

Dasco Pro 3-Piece Pry Bar Set

These are great for removing nails, pulling up old flooring or even opening a sticky paint can. This three-piece bar kit includes the most popular small bars for do-it-yourselfers and pros alike.

price tag: $9.97

Dewalt Small Trigger Clamp

A lot of small home-improvement projects require more than two hands. This trigger clamp is great because you need to use only one hand to set it. The clamp converts to a spreader, and with its removable jaw pads, it protects work surfaces.

price tag: $5.76

Craftsman Socket Wrench Set (standard or metric)

There are hundreds of options for socket sizes, but this 11-piece set covers the most commonly used. Ratchet wrenches are the perfect tool for working on cars, bikes or any other projects that require tightening or loosening nuts and bolts in hard-to-reach places. I recommend getting one of each, standard and metric, just to be safe.

price tag: $14.99

Craftsman Magnetic Pick-up Tool with Light

Ever drop a small screw in a tight space? Even if you find it, retrieving it can be frustrating at best and impossible at worst. This tool can pick up everything from nails to car keys, and it has a lifting capacity of five pounds. It's equipped with a light to help you look in dark places. It also boasts a telescopic magnet that searches in places that are a little hard to reach.

price tag: $9.99

Stanley Folding Metric Hex Keys

Hex nuts are replacing standard and Phillips-head screws in more and more applications. Though they are easy to use, they are easy to lose. This basic set covers the most commonly used sizes and folds away for easy storage. A chamfered edge helps to guide the wrench for a smooth, easy entry of the hex key. Size markings are printed on the hex key for easy identification.

price tag: $18.36



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