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The Best Basic Home Toolkit – The New York Times

After spending 75 hours researching almost 70 home toolkits, testing 11 on a range of household tasks, and talking to experts about the essentials of any toolbox, we found that Home Depot’s Anvil Homeowner’s Tool Set is the best basic toolkit for most homes, apartments, or dorm rooms. No pre-assembled kits go beyond basic, light-duty tools, but this set offers the most well-rounded selection, relatively decent quality and durability, and is among the most affordable.

Our pick

Anvil Homeowner’s Tool Set

The Anvil has all the essentials in a small package at a great price, making it the best choice for common home repairs and upgrades.

Buying Options

*At the time of publishing, the price was $25.

The Anvil set provides the necessary items without useless filler inflating the tool count—and the price tag—which was a common flaw we saw in competitors’ kits. Beyond a hammer, tape measure, utility knife, screwdriver, and hex wrenches, as well as adequate versions of other tools we considered essential, the Anvil kit also has one of the best adjustable wrenches we found in any kit. At one of the lowest prices of the sets we considered, the Anvil also has one of the most compact cases we found. If you need something small and basic to keep in a closet and use for occasional home repairs, this kit is a satisfying value that should last for years.


WorkPro 100-Piece Kitchen Drawer Tool Kit

The quality of the WorkPro tools is the same as that of our main pick, but the selection of tools isn’t as good.

Buying Options

*At the time of publishing, the price was $28.

If the Anvil is sold out or unavailable, the WorkPro W009021A 100-Piece Kitchen Drawer Tool Kit contains nearly all of the same tools at the same quality for a similar price. It also comes with a nice zippered case that’s equipped with straps to secure the tools. The drawbacks are that the kit offers only metric hex wrenches (instead of common SAE sizes) and it lacks any kind of wide-jaw pliers, so in situations where you need to hold a nut and a bolt simultaneously, the WorkPro is much more limited than the Anvil kit.

It’s important to keep in mind that both of these kits are entry-level. They’re the best of their kind, and they’re certainly better than nothing, but they aren’t designed for consistent, long-term use. We genuinely wish there were stronger pre-assembled kits to fill the vacant middle ground between the tools contractors use and these comparatively unimpressive options. If you want a better toolkit, here’s our advice: You’ll be much happier purchasing individual higher-quality tools—starting with our picks for hammer, screwdriver, and tape measure—which will get you started building a permanent collection of capable tools with better features, performance, and durability.