Beginner Handyman tools

80 Replies

So, as a budding house hacker I wanted to ask my friends on BP:

What tools come in most handy to a novice landlord? What should I add to my list?


Tape measure

Power drill



Screw drivers

Allen wrenches

Channel locks

Teflon tape

Pvc tape


Wire strippers




Chalk, screws, nails, putty, spare knobs for the shower and sinks, plunger, snake and wet-dry vacuum.  

Teflon tape isnt a tool . Its materials .  So my suggestion is to go to the tool section of Home Depot , buy one of everything and you will still find out you dont have the tool you need 

Get a basic "handyman toolkit" in a formed plastic case. They come in useful. If the kit doesn't have one, get a small Channellock and keep it in whatever bag or toolbox you assign as your general maintenance bag. This is also where you'll keep your tape measure.

Leather work gloves in your size, a box of blue nitrile gloves in your size, a 20-pack of N95 respirators in your size, hearing protection ear muffs that fit, safety glasses, a 3M half-face respirator that takes interchangeable filters and cartridges.

I like the FlexFit dad hats better than cheaper ballcaps with open backs. You're going to need one or two good heavy oversized cotton T-shirts in gray and white, light colors that can take heavy washing.

One basic tool you're sure to need that isn't on your list is a 10 oz. caulking gun. You want a very good no-drip model. Don't get the cheap one, don't get the powered one, get the seemingly overpriced one the tool guy recommends.

Outlet tester, non-contact pen voltage tester, voltometer or (preferably) wiggy with continuity tester. Wiggys are the not-so-professional electrician's very best friend, and they're not cheap.

Margin trowel. Get a cheap one.

Get a sanding block before you get a random orbital sander or a finish sander or a mouse sander.

Cold chisel

Stanley 12 3/4 in. Wonder Bar. Don't get a cheaper pry bar, you won't need a bigger one yet.

For a drill: I would actually recommend starting with one of the larger, heavier 11-amp hammer drill models with a 1/2 in. chuck. You can just do more with one tool, even though it's not as comfortable. Harbor Freight.

You need decent putty knives, you need decent scrapers. Start with a multifunction painter's tool, a 2-inch flexible putty knife, and a 4-inch taping knife.

One of the best get-you-out-of-a-jam all-around power tools that you can buy is a variable-speed oscillating tool, which is often called a multitool. Fein makes the best ones. You can get one from Harbor Freight that costs 1/20 of what the Fein costs and will be adequate for your needs. It does not come in a toolbag. Buy a toolbag for it. I would start with the oscillating tool saws, but you're going to want to move on from there quickly. The problem then is figuring out what's most useful to you, especially if you're not planning on doing this for a long time. Probably a 7 1/4 in. circular saw.

Get a standard 5-gallon bucket to start with. Don't get something smaller and lighter.

Get a 1/4 in. drum auger snake that's 25 feet long. You won't need more than that.

A heavy-duty 25-foot 12/3 extension cord rated to 15 amps. Get it now, you'll use it forever.

Something to think about: a single-outlet GFCI  adapter.

Electrical tester, about $4. The kind with 2 ends that will tell you 110 or 220v.  I hate the pens that make a noise.  Unreliable and tell you nada. 

A zip--it sink and tub drain unclogger for $3.  Get a 15 ft hand auger snake for about $7 while you're at it.  I have only used my closet (toilet) auger twice. Don't get one. 

Cleaning, hanging blinds, repairing screens and unclogging drains are going to be your new side hustle. 

Oh, and garbage managememt in multis. Renters dont recycle so they will fill your dumpster with all their gdam amazon boxes.   I swesr they all attend a how to destroy screens and not recycle class. 

I have more tools than anyone needs that does not use them for a living.

I accumulated them on an as needed basis. Sears used to be my go to, now it is Harbor Fright. Maybe not the best quality tools, but if you are only using them once in a while.....

Do get decent quality basic tools that you will use over and over.

Screwdrivers, pliers, wrenches, hammer, etc.

Good set of cordless impact and hammer drill. You need an impact and not just a drill. You can buy cheap corded stuff, but the difference between cordless sears brand and Milwaukee Fuel is very very noticeable. Fuel with 4amp/hr battery will last longer than the sears impact driver itself. Lol. Seriously though. Worth it.

Also a little and medium sized pipe wrench with good quality non setting dope. I really like purple monster. Never have I had a gas or water leak in my days of live in flips with purple monster. My wife and I moved 12 times in 9 years and I pretty much did the whole house myself which is a lot of wrench turning.

Good brand non contact voltage as mentioned earlier. Personally fluke makes the best and tool shop or other cheap brand can give false readings. I actually buy these still today and give them to my guys to keep them alive. Best $15 you can buy.

@Shawn Westbrook my personal must-haves: skirt board ladder, left-handed hammer, glass hammer, lightning hammer (never strikes the same place twice), wood enlarger, nailing lubricant, and a rip saw with a pull chord. Ask for these at your local hardware store, they’ll point you in the right direction!

The thing i cant do without is my impact driver  :) also a basic pair of pliers and a multi head screwdriver  

This is a great list so thanks for posting it!

Originally posted by @Steve Vaughan :

Oh, and garbage managememt in multis. Renters dont recycle so they will fill your dumpster with all their gdam amazon boxes.   I swesr they all attend a how to destroy screens and not recycle class. 

I always say I am just an overpaid garbage person! Because honestly, cleaning up the garbage enclosure, re-sorting the recyling and breaking down boxes is my main gig. Seriously 


Originally posted by @Shawn Westbrook :

@Steve K.

What about a sky hook, 5 gallon bucket of steam and a squeegee sharpener?

Good point! And if you're doing any electrical work don't forget the bottle of sparks, decepticons, autobots, and a 360 degree motorized rotating ladder to screw in light bulbs.


@Shawn Westbrook

If you have a high paying job I would suggest working overtime at your profession and leave the handyman jobs to the pros. By buying all of these items you will be more focused on doing a low wage JOB than you are building your investment portfolio. Work on your business not in it if you want to scale at all.

Demolition: 4-5lb short handled hammer. Framing hammer ~18oz. ~36” pry bar. Sawzall. Dust masks and BIG garbage pale.

Minor wood working: impact driver & #2 Robertson & Phillips bits. Drill & decent bits up to 3/8”. Circular saw. And a sliding 7.5” dual bevel mitre saw will get you through 90% of the same thing a 10” will do for less than half the cost and 10lbs less carrying weight. Safety glasses.

Painting: 3/8” nap purdy white dove and a good cage. 2-4’ extension handle. 5in1 tool. Good square tray and refills. This will do 90% of what you’ll need.

Drywall: beginning, just fix nail holes. Some dap spackle will work and a putty knife. Couple disposable sanding blocks.

Good spade and a square head shovel is handy too. A GOOD caulking gun, one with a cutter and a poker on it that doesn’t flex like a paper bag.