DIWife (or Serena as she is more affectionately known!) is often asking me for a tool set of her own so that she can get on with DIY jobs around the house when I’m away (reluctantly on one of my many work trips down to London). So I thought this would be an ideal vlog to kick off my You Tube channel with.
To prepare for this video I decided to first trawl through all my existing tools to work out which tools would form the backbone for a basic/ starter household tool set. This in itself was a pretty easy task, as certain tools are obvious contenders for any basic household tool set – such as a hammer, tape measure, pair of pliers, stanley knife or similar, saw, screwdriver, spirit level, spanner – those sort of things – and of course something to put them in!
So I set off down to my local DIY store to buy a small set of tools. I wanted to actually buy a new set a) because Serena genuinely wanted her own kit, and b) because this would put me very much in the mind set of someone setting off to buy their first tool set.
Where did I go? I decided upon B&Q. Not because they were paying me any money to endorse their products (I wish!) but really because it’s the obvious sort of store that someone putting together their first tool set would think of going to, and their range of tools is pretty hard to beat. Also, I’d seen on previous visits that they had a pretty extensive range of combination tool kits, and I was keen to compare these against my own, hand picked collection.
So I was pretty pleased with some of the bargains I picked up for Serena’s tool kit. Price wasn’t the absolute driver. As you’ll see in the above video, I allowed myself a couple of luxuries – such as the Stanley ratchet screwdriver. My own ratchet screwdriver is never far away as ratchet screwdrivers make driving in and extracting screws by hand SO much easier. I also added a Stanley multi tool kit – a sort of cheap Leatherman – as I have mine with me all the time and it has a pretty decent collection of tools on it.
Although there were some really cheap items in my hand picked household tool kit – tool box for £5, hammer for £3, tape measure, sprit level and angle square all for £5 – the combined total was a not inconsiderable £50. So this reminded me why I was doing the blog – to give advice to anyone setting out on their DIY journey, moving into their first flat or house, or for whatever other reason. Someone in the market for their first tool set may not have the knowledge or experience to hand pick their tools, so their attention is going to be drawn to the combination sets.
So what of these combination sets? B&Q had quite a large selection – from at least 4 of their own brand sets ranging from 24 to 78 pieces. JCB had a couple of sets 27 and 50 pieces and a company that was new to me – Magnusson also had a couple of sets with 45 and 83 pieces.
And this is where things would get truly confusing for the uninitiated first time DIY’er. The first thing to say is that these sets are heavily discounted so it’s almost impossible to put together your own set of comparable tools for at a cheaper price. A good thing I hear you say? Yes to an extent, but when you see the Magnusson 83 piece set retailing at £23.50 you wonder just how durable/ well made some of the tools are going to be.
The other slightly perplexing thing is whilst there was a common theme to each tool set (hammers, tape measures, screw drivers spanners and the like) each set inevitably has something different to offer. And crucially, in some cases the retailers have bumped up the number of items in each set to make them sound more impressive – by including loads of screwdriver bits, most of which the budding DIY’er will never actually end up using. So for example, of the 83 pieces making up the Magnusson tool set, 40 of these are screw driver bits, 15 allen keys (kex sets) and 5 spanners.
So this got me thinking…. If I picked what was in my opinion a pretty decent, good quality combination set I could add a couple of extras of my own that were missing, leaving you with a comprehensive starter DIY tool set. And this is exactly what I’ve done – pictured below. B&Q had a pretty decent household tool set including its own box – retailing at £24 when I was there, and to this I’ve added my old faithful ratchet screwdriver, and a wood saw.
The total price of this (now 60 piece tool set) is a very reasonable £40.98. I think the combination of B&Q’s set and my own additions produces a pretty decent starter household tool set that will have most of the tools that a new home owner or otherwise budding DIY’er is likely to encounter – before that is, they decide to expand their collection into power tools. And that will be the subject of another blog….