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Tool box basics for 20-somethings

Alicia is a freelance writer who covers everything from pets to cocktails, with cocktails being her favorite. Her loves in life include cheap wine, overpriced lattes, and avoiding exercise at all costs, all while trying to stay slim. She...

No need to be a man to be handy

If you are a 20-something girl, out on your own, you may find yourself fixing and updating things around your home more than you used to. A few basic tools on hand can turn you into a handywoman in no time flat. You may save some cash on a service call, but you'll also have a new sense of independence.
Woman hammering nail into wall

From hanging curtains and pictures on your wall, to fixing broken hinges and craft projects, having a few standard tools around the house will make your life easier and keep you feeling independent. You may find that you actually enjoy fixing things around your house and if not, at least you'll have the right tools in case you need to call in back up.

The basics

  • Hammer
  • Screwdrivers — you'll need a Phillips-head and a flat-head screwdriver, ideally, in a few different sizes.
  • Pliers
  • A wrench set that includes a variety of sizes
  • Nails, screws and tacks
  • Measuring tape
  • Flashlight
  • Gloves

Must-haves

  • Nail filler or spackle
  • Paintbrushes, paint trays, tape and a drop cloth
  • Sandpaper
  • Level
  • Staple gun

For the yard

  • Shovel
  • Rake
  • Lawn mower
  • Weed eater
  • Hedge clippers
  • Garden-quality scissors

Other tools to consider

Electric drill

A decent electric drill will cost you less than $50, and you’ll easily get your money's worth. If you have to put screws in your wall, put together furniture or take something apart, an electric drill can be a lifesaver.

Hand sander

If you are planning to do DIY projects around the house that involve refinishing wood such as updating furniture or redoing your kitchen cabinets, a hand sander will save you major time. They are relatively inexpensive, and they’ll be worth their weight in gold if you have a large project to tackle.

Laser level or a chalk line reel

For projects that involve getting things straight over a long distance, a laser level or a chalk line is ideal. If you plan to hang a row of pictures or other decoration or even if you are laying tile, a level that you can see but doesn’t take up space will make for quick work.

Home improvement safety tips

  • Turn off the water to your house before you start any project that involves plumbing.
  • Always turn of the electricity before you work with wires or anything connected to live electricity.
  • If you are unsure of what's broken or how something works, don't mess with it. You may do more harm than good if you take apart a sink or a toilet with no way of putting it back together.
  • Wear gloves, goggles and face masks if need be to protect yourself from flying objects, dust or other foreign particles.
  • When in doubt, call a professional!

More home improvement tips

Store more in your kitchen with shelves and cabinets
Tips for working with your architect
How to spray paint furniture for a professional look

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