Holiday Gift Ideas for the New Homeowner: Basic Tools

Welcome home! Yes, the welcome mat is definitely at the top of every new homeowner’s wish list, and maybe a plunger and a keychain, but wait! Have you considered you might need to maintain that home? A little DIY is always in the cards when you own your own home – not to mention, hanging some pictures, setting some curtains rods, tightening up that shower head and doing a little restoration. It’s all going to require tools!

We love tools, and we love receiving tools as gifts even more…

What  tools do all homeowners need? Depends on their knowledge and motivation to DIY, really. We’ve divided the wishlist into three categories: Basic, Intermediate, & Advanced.

Have fun at the hardware store!


Beyond the plunger: for the person who’s just moving in, or just starting to think about renovations and repairs.

Smoke Alarm & Carbon Monoxide Alarm: It doesn’t get more basic than this. If nothing else, a homeowner should have these basic tools to keep their family and home safe.

Toolbox: There’s no point in carting around tools without a good box to cart them in. Start your loved one’s collection off with a way to organize.

Hammer: It doesn’t get more fundamental than this! Some tool experts recommend getting a hammer with a straight (rather than curved) claw for easier prying action.

Tape measure: Get a solid one that’s at least five metres (16 feet) long. Experts agree that the optimal width is 2 cm or ¾”.

Screwdriver set: A variety of screwdrivers brings a smile to a burgeoning handyman’s face. If a whole set seems excessive, at the very least make sure there’s a a Phillips (cruciform 4-pointed star), a Roberts (square) and a slotted screwdriver in the kit.


Hex keys: often come with IKEA kits –  very handy if you need to re-assemble or tighten up IKEA style furniture!

Pliers: “Needle-nosed” pliers are a must-have.

Wrenches: An all-purpose crescent wrench and a pipe wrench are essential to a basic toolbox. A socket wrench set sweetens the pot.

Level: This tiny tool is indispensable for tasks ranging from small (making sure a frame is hung straight) to major (stabilizing a fridge). Fancy “laser” versions have recently become trendy, but the old-fashioned air bubble models work perfectly fine.

Electric drill: An essential tool that makes everything from curtain hanging to building and dismantling a breeze. Opinions differ on the relative virtues of cordless and plug-in drills; cordless is obviously easier to transport, but a corded one is cheaper if you’re budget-conscious.


Someone who has a basic tool kit may appreciate these handy add-ons.

Pry bar: Like a primitive hydraulic tool, this harnesses brute force to make things move.

Chisel: One of the most ancient tools is also one of the most essential. Make sure to get the kind with a metal handle, so it can withstand the blows of a hammer.

Carpenter’s square: Enables the handyperson to mark or cut on a precisely straight line or angle when necessary.

Industrial-strength vacuum cleaner (aka “Shop-vac”): Ideal for major cleanup projects and keeping workspaces in a civilized state. Some vacuum cleaners can be used for both solid and liquid waste.

Clamps: Handy for securing items while you cut, glue or fasten them.

Caulk gun: Gives the handyperson more control over caulking. This is handy for blocking window leaks, sealing bathtub joints and a whole lot more.

Staple gun: Great for temporarily affixing any kind of sheeting, as well as for home upholstery projects.

Stud finder: A key tool for hanging anything substantial on walls, this helps find the wooden beams behind drywall for the optimum hanging spot.

Electrical tester: Anyone taking on home electrical work should have one of these handy. This tool tells you if an electrical input has running current or not. Simple, yet potentially live-saving.


For the more serious handyperson in your life.

Impact driver: When your handy loved one has to mount something really securely, as in a rack to keep heavy items on a wall, a mere drill just won’t do. An impact driver has the strength to handle large items, long bolts and/or thick walls.

Random orbital sander: For the home carpenter, this tool will help smooth a large surface or remove finish.

Circular saw: A must-have for major carpentry projects, installing moulding or making a bench for the backyard. This should only be put in the hands of someone who’s serious about safety.

Drill-mount drain auger: For home plumbing. Only the bold will dare, but it might save you from calling a plumber.