Wrenches come in every imaginable configuration, but unless you’re building a Cadillac, you need only one. An 8-inch adjustable crescent wrench ($9) will allow you to tighten leaky plumbing fixtures or put together a bookshelf. (For rusty bolts or stripped screws, step up to a pair of $15 vise grips.)
A must-have for the DIYer, the 6-in-1 screwdriver ($13) offers small and large tips for both straight-slotted (flat-head) screws and cross-slotted (Phillips-head) screws. The fifth and sixth tips are sockets for securing bolts. Just pick a designer color for your handle and you’ll be ready to take on any Ikea project.
Retire your kitchen knives from box-cutting duty and use a $3 utility knife instead. Make sure the blade retracts to avoid a hazard in your tool belt, and spring for a bright color to make it easier to find.
Cordless drills aren’t just for pros anymore. They’re now light enough and small enough for anybody to handle—and you can use them for both drilling and screwing, saving your wrists from excessive labor. Cordless drills start at $20 for the most basic model, but for the more stylish and well-heeled driller (whether female or male), Tomboy Tools makes a nice 8-volt pink model ($80). Don’t forget the bits and screwdriver tips.
Before trying to move that couch into the sitting room, save yourself some trouble and measure the doorway. A 10-foot tape measure ($5) will allow you to measure your windows for blinds, size rooms for furniture, or center pictures on a wall. No need for lasers or other tricks; just make sure the tape measure is easy to read and has a belt clip.
You can’t have too many flashlights. The apocalyptically minded can spend hundreds of dollars on a bombproof light stick. But most people will do just fine with a rechargeable light equipped with a hand crank ($10), which provides human-powered illumination with just a few turns.
You can go old-school with a steel toolbox, but a more fashionable and functional alternative is a wearable canvas tote with plenty of pockets. Until Marc Jacobs signs on for a Home Depot line, consider Girlylock or Pink Tool Belts.