So your son or daughter is off to university and will soon be living in an apartment of their own for the first time. Along with this major life milestone comes furniture assembly, plumbing problems, picture hanging, and other household chores that are incredibly tedious without the right tools on hand.
Why not make their lives a little easier by equipping them with a tool box full of the basics? They might not appreciate the gesture right away, but they'll be thanking you mightily when that dinky wrench that comes with Ikea furniture snaps in half. Below, we've listed a handful top-quality tool deals that should be indispensable for anyone living on his or her own.
Tool BoxOf course, tools aren't worth much if they're lost in the bowels of a drawer or under a sofa among the pizza boxes. A good set of tools needs a home. The Craftsman 17" Toolbox ($9.99 with in-store pickup, a low by $3) has a removable tray as well as a draw bolt latch with padlock eye; the latter of which can come in handy if your child has roommates who don't honor the "if you borrow, then return" policy.
Claw HammerAny time you need to hammer, this is the tool to have. Plus, its claw is ideal for removing nails that were not precisely placed (a likely occurrence for a novice handyman). The Estwing 16-oz. Curved-Claw Rip Hammer ($21.84 with in-store pickup, a low by $1) is light enough for even young arms to wrangle, yet substantial enough to drive a nail with authority. It's forged from a single piece of metal too, so there's no need to worry about the head flying off and busting a window.
Vise GripsWhen you need a pair of pliers, think vise grips instead. The plier-like tool can lock in position, giving you a much better grip on the problem, whether it's a loose plumbing pipe or a bolt that won't come loose. (It can also be useful to crack nuts!) The Irwin VISE-GRIP 6" Groovelock V-Jaw Pliers ($10.29 with free shipping via Prime, a low by $2) are a good option.
Tape MeasureFor those times when a precise measurement is necessary, a tape measure is indispensable. (Remember, measure twice, cut once!) This Stanley 25' Steel Tape ($9.03 with $1 s&h, a low by $5) has an automatic rewind, perfect for playing with the cat when not using it to measure.
Adjustable WrenchA set of pliers can round off the edges of a nut and make it impossible to loosen. Instead, an adjustable wrench is the proper tool for this job, with it flat edges that mesh with the flats of a nut perfectly. The Stanley 6" MaxSteel Adjustable Wrench ($7.97 with free shipping via Prime, a low by $5) is large enough for most household chores.
Needle-Nose PliersThere are times and situations when vise grips are too large or clumsy to wield; repairing jewelry is one example. A pair of needle-nose pliers are more sensitive and easy to maneuver. The Stanley 5" Needle Nose Pliers ($8.31 with free shipping, a low by $4) are the right fit for this kind of work.
Screwdriver SetAlthough it comes as a surprise to many people, there's a right size of screwdriver for every screw; one size doesn't fit all. This Kobalt 13-in-1 Multi Bit Ratchet Screwdriver ($4.98 with in-store pickup, a low by $5) offers a variety of bit options, including the two most common types of screw head — slotted and Phillips.
Utility KnifeFrom cutting tape to scoring drywall, shaping plastic to trimming wood, a good utility knife is an essential part of any tool kit. The Irwin Retractable Utility Knife ($7.35 with free shipping via Prime, a low by $5) uses razor blades to provide a clean, smooth cut.
Toilet AugerLastly, a tool that will be a godsend to anyone living in an apartment or house with old, inadequate plumbing (and this is likely the case for your student). Forget the plunger and instead invest in the Cobra 6' Homeowner Toilet Auger ($15.21 with free shipping, a low by $6). It's well worth the price, saving your child from multiple plumber visits, landlord calls, and roommate shouting matches.
This feature has been updated since it was originally published last year.
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