Non-Contact Voltage Tester

Most of us have a dead light fixture, a wall receptacle, or a scary dangling wire that we’re unsure about. To fix it, first you need to know whether it’s a live wire or a dead one. The non-contact voltage tester is a little larger than a ballpoint pen and just as useful.


These might be the most valuable items in your toolbox. The next time you try to saw a piece of wood, clamp it to a table or counter so it won’t shift with each stroke of the blade. If you’re gluing or screwing two pieces of wood together, a clamp will make the task more accurate and successful.

9-Inch Level

Nobody likes a crooked picture on the wall. A small level ($4) takes the guesswork out of the task of straightening frames. (If you live in an older house and a level picture still looks crooked, try using the level on your floor.)


Saws are like kitchen knives: There’s a different design for every occasion. A basic 15-inch steel handsaw ($13) will aptly complete most simple jobs like cutting a two-by-four or a piece of plywood.

Socket Wrench Set

Don’t be pressured into thinking you need a thousand sockets for your socket wrench. A good 20-piece set ($40) will do; be sure to get a nice selection of metric and standard sizes for tightening up table legs or sinking bigger bolts into a wobbly fence. You’ll soon find that the ratchet’s crank is the sweet sound of independence.