If you believe everything you see on TV, you might think no home is complete without a tricked-out workshop.
Sure, there are intrepid DIYers out there whose homes look like something out of Norm Abram's "New Yankee Workshop." For the rest of us, though, the closest thing to a home workshop is a kitchen junk drawer jammed with a screwdriver and a pair of pliers.
The sweet spot is somewhere in the middle: a well-organized tool bag (or cabinet, if you're lucky) with all the essentials to keep your home in good working order.
What should the collection include? We put that question to the pros at HomeAdvisor, an online marketplace for home-related services. Here are their seven must-haves:
What for? You only need to have one living room sofa not fit through the front door to realize the value of a good tape measure. Besides furnishings and large appliances, use it to measure room sizes for paint and carpet purchases, or windows for curtains, blinds and other coverings.
Buying tip: A 25-foot tape is plenty long for basic household measurements. Look for one with a thumb-operated blade lock, which comes in handy when you're measuring longer distances.
What for? The one power tool on our list, a cordless drill will help you zip through a variety of tasks, from hanging shelves to assembling furniture.
Buying tip: A general-use drill with a 12-volt battery will deliver plenty of power for most household tasks, and it will cost hundreds less than the heavy-duty, 24-volt models designed for professionals.
What for? Even with a cordless drill, you'll still need screwdrivers on hand to tighten cabinet pulls, outlet covers and the like, or to pry the lid off a paint can.
Buying tip: Screwdriver sets are fairly inexpensive ($15 or less), and typically include the standard flathead and Phillips, as well as shorter screwdrivers for tight spots.
What for? Sure, your 10-inch chef's knife can open packages and cut up cardboard, but then it won't be so good when it comes to slicing ripe tomatoes. Plus, a decent utility blade is helpful on so many other tasks, from cutting away old caulk to repairing window screens.
Buying tip: Look for a blade that locks in the open and closed positions, for safety and ergonomics. Built-in space to store extra blades is an added convenience.
What for? Many of your home's most critical parts are secured with nuts and bolts, from the U-bend under your kitchen sink or your washing machine's water shutoff valve. That's why an adjustable wrench is a must-have for emergency situations, including clogs and leaks.
Buying tip: An 8-inch wrench delivers the most versatility. Choose one with a comfortable padded grip to minimize hand fatigue. A smooth thumb turn will make it easy to adjust the size of the jaws.
Allen wrench set
What for? Also known as a hex key, an Allen wrench is a simple, L-shaped tool used to drive screws and bolts into hexagonal sockets. They have many uses, including bike and home electronic repairs.
Buying tip: Folding hex sets, which look and function like Swiss Army knives, are a good option, since they keep the tiny tools from disappearing.
What for? The oldest hand tool is still one of the most valuable, whether you're hanging a painting, putting together some-assembly-required furniture or tamping down the lid of paint can. The V-shaped claw is ideal for removing nails without damaging the wall or floor.
Buying tip: A 16-ounce hammer is the right weight for most homeowners. A soft grip makes the hammer easy to hold and less likely to vibrate upon impact.