The Best Tools You Can Ever Buy for Home Remodeling

  • 01 of 06

    Best Tools for Remodeling

    Man Using Reciprocating Saw
    Man Using Reciprocating Saw. Huntstock / Getty Images

    When you've just purchased that dream home that needs a little TLC, it suddenly becomes remodel time.  Your best-laid plans for hiring professionals and having them swoop in on a charitable mission evaporate when you learn that this charity comes at a steep price.

    So:  it's time to strap on the tool belt and take on some of those remodeling jobs yourself.

    Before you rush out and buy that 10 pc. DeWalt cordless tool set, just think for a moment about what you really might need.  After...MORE contemplation, you realize that you can buy tools piece-meal and get the ones that you will actually use.

    Like this pictured reciprocating saw.  Buy or not?  If you're just beginning a whole house remodel that involves much demolition, you may want to buy one.  To save money, get a corded saw, not cordless.  If the project is mainly building, not unbuilding, you can probably skip the recip.

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  • 02 of 06

    Oscillating Multi-Tool

    Bosch Multi-Tool
    Bosch Multi-Tool. © Bosch

    This Bosch just sat around my workshop for ages, unloved and unappreciated, until I can to the light and saw its greatness.  

    The epiphany.  Who knows what spurred it?  I don't remember.  Likely, I had to rip out some tile grout or cut a piece of wood straight-on and bam! I was an instant convert.

    Multi-tools have interchangeable accessories that do common tasks with ease and that do uncommon tasks that you cannot do with other tools.  Like that aforementioned piece of wood that you cannot...MORE access in any direction with a conventional saw: the multi-tool can take it head-on.  If only for that one reason, you should eventually put a multi-tool in your workshop.

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  • 03 of 06

    Cordless Drill

    DeWalt Cordless 18-V Drill (Hammerdrill)
    DeWalt Cordless 18-V Drill (Hammerdrill). Copyright DeWalt; Courtesy DeWalt

    I know you're saying already: "Cordless drill! Bah! I already knew that." So, that's why I'm getting the cordless drill accolade out of the way right now.

    A (Blissfully Short) History of the Cordless Drill

    Cordless drills barely existed prior to the 1980s. Black and Decker technically came out with the first cordless drill in 1961, but it wasn't until the introduction of higher powered and lighter nickel cadmium (NiCad) batteries twenty years later that cordless drills...MORE really found a home in residential workshops.

    Hello, Lithium Ion Batteries!

    Still, the bulky and heavy NiCad-based cordless drills put undue strain on the user's wrist. So, it was a relief to all when the lighter (though not exactly feather-weight) lithium ion batteries came on the market. Best thing about lithium ion batteries is that they have longer life.

    A Pressing Need?

    Can you go without a cordless drill? No, not really. Can you get by with a cheap cordless drill? Even that is a dicey proposition. When you're renovating your house, your cordless drill is always at your side...for drilling, driving, cutting, you name it.

    Buying a cheap cordless drill is like buying cheap underwear. After that initial cost savings, you're miserable every single day of your life.


    You can buy "up" with a cordless drill from DeWalt (a subsidiary of Black and Decker). This DeWalt 18v lithium ion drill/driver will take you all the way through your home renovation career. Buy Direct - DeWalt DC988KA Heavy-Duty 18-Volt XRP™ Cordless 1/2-Inch Hammerdrill/Drill/Driver Kit.

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  • 04 of 06

    Flat Pry Bar

    Gorilla Pry Bar
    Gorilla Pry Bar. Copyright/Courtesy Northern Tool & Equipment

    When renovating a house, you cannot get by without some kind of pry bar or crowbar. A claw hammer's claw may take out nails, but a pry bar can do the same thing and about 1,000 other things, as well.

    More often than not, you'll need to jam your pry bar between two unyielding things and yank them apart. You cannot use a claw hammer because the hammerhead gets in the way--the ergonomics are all wrong. You cannot even use a full-size, old-timey crowbar because you need a flat point to get in...MORE there. So...

    ...Enter the Flat Pry Bar!

    The flat pry bar is the answer. One end has a slight curve; the other end has a more pronounced curve. Notches on both ends allow for removal of nails and other small items.

    But the flat pry bar also lets you do non-demolition activities like lifting a slab door you're trying to hang or moving delicate things incremental distances (as when framing a pre-hung door or dealing with replacement windows) prior to nailing in.

    One prominent brand is called the Gorilla Bar. Buy Direct - Roughneck Gorilla Bar

    The Stanley Wonder Bar works the same way, does the same thing, and costs roughly the same. Buy Direct - Stanley Wonder Bar

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  • 05 of 06

    Side-Cutting or Lineman's Pliers

    Klein Side Cutting Pliers
    Klein Side Cutting Pliers. Copyright/Courtesy Klein Tools

    Just the name fills me with awe: lineman's pliers. I imagine electric company workers using these pliers while perched on top of power poles.

    Truth or fiction? I don't know, but lineman's pliers (also called side cutting pliers) are a super-duper tool that absolutely belongs in the "best tools" category, and in your toolbox!

    Just the heft of these pliers tells you that they will never bend or break. So, these side-cutters do three things very well:

    1. Cut. The cutting edge on the...MORE side (go figure!) of the side-cutting pliers can chop off anything from electrical wire to small pipes.
    2. Grip. This is the "plier" part. Massive jaws with nubby teeth grip--and hold--onto almost anything.
    3. Pound. Not an officially sanctioned use, but these pliers will improvise as a light-weight hammer in some instances.

    Buy Direct - Side-Cutting/Lineman's Pliers (Klein Brand)

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  • 06 of 06

    Voltage Tester

    Voltage Tester
    Fluke Voltage Tester. Copyright/Courtesy Fluke Corporation

    Freeze! Before you say, "Hey, I'm not doing any electrical work," find out why the voltage tester belongs in the category of best tools to have in a home remodeler's toolbox.

    Sure, a voltage tester is used when you do electrical work. But let's think outside the box for a minute.

    What Does It Do?

    A voltage tester is not a voltage meter. It has no needle telling you any specifics. A voltage tester tells you Stop or Go. If a current is detected, the tester tells you that it's...MORE not safe. If a current is not detected, the tester is silent.

    Think of the possibilities. You're ripping into a wall with your flat pry bar. You encounter...something. A wire? A live wire? Well, place your handy voltage tester next to it and find out if it's safe to proceed. So many activities happen around electrical work that you need to be aware of what's going on electrically.

    The unfortunately-named Fluke Voltage Tester does the job, and it's easy to clip onto your shirt so that you have it handy whenever you need to test voltage. Personally, I've never loved having the word "fluke" connected with an action that might have a bearing on whether I might die today. Name aside, the tool works fine and it's cheap.

    Buy Direct - Fluke Voltage Tester