In can frustrate you to distraction when you have a job to do but there's no suitable tool in the box. I went to local DIY and home improvement stores and asked clerks what the essential home remodeling toolbox has inside. Answers varied so dramatically, I realized it depends entirely on the person you ask. Sure, there has to be a must-have list.
On Bob Villa's website, they cite tape measures, carpenter's square, combination square, torpedo level, basic handsaws, claw hammer, electric drill, screw drivers, bar and c-clamps, random orbital sander, locking pliers, bevel gauge, staple gun, plumb bob and hand-held circular saw.
Tools the pros use
Ask any contractor and you'll know the kind of work they specialize in by the tools in their box beyond what's on Villa's list. A replacement windows installer will bring along shims, chisels, skill saws, and nail guns.
The fellow at my hardware store said he wouldn't do without his 12-inch power miter saw and his worm-drive saws. Power miter saws are irreplaceable for making those precise cuts for joinery.
Personally, I can't make it without my 18-volt cordless power drill. There's nothing I hate worse than driving screws by hand. The new lithium ion batteries used in today's models cordless drills have a longer working life than their predecessors. I like the drill to have variable speeds, forward and reverse, and clutch settings. (A second battery can be a lifesaver.) Consider a drill and drive kit (20 to 40 pieces) to extend the utility of your drill.
For screwdrivers, I use a ratcheting, multi-bit model that doubles up on work and saves my hands. Standard and needle-nose pliers are essential. Buy ones with rubber grips if you're doing electrical repair.
Homeowner Net has great suggestions on how to choose power tools.
Don't forget miscellaneous take-alongs
If you're buying an actual toolbox for all your gear, I recommend hard plastic, which won't dent like a metal box. Contractors lug their equipment along in those hard plastic, tall paint cans with handles.
If you have room, be sure to complete your work kit with duct tape, jars of screws and nails ... and a pencil. You will rue the day you forget it.
Depending on your home improvement projects and routine maintenance, you may want to add putty, lubricating oil, wire strippers, electrical testers, tubing cutters and crimpers, aviation snips, hack saw, caulking hammer, utility knife and chalk-line clamp.
Round up essential gear that won't fit in your box, but stows neatly in your garage, like step and extension ladders, optional generator, and high quality extension cords.
Finally, don't forget to buy eye protection. Don't take safety lightly.