The Best Flashlight
ThruNite Archer 2A V3
After three weeks testing 23 flashlights, we’re sure the ThruNite Archer 2A V3
is the best flashlight for most people. It offers high-end flashlight features at an affordable price, including a wide range of brightness levels and a versatile, easy-to-use design.
The Best Drill
Bosch PS31-2A 12-Volt Max Drill/Driver Kit
The Bosch PS31-2A 12-Volt Max Drill/Driver
is the lightest, most compact drill we tested, and it blew away its rivals on battery life and power, drilling twice as many holes as the second-place drill and driving almost 50 percent more screws.
The Best Multi-Tool for Most Cyclists
Topeak Mini 9
Whatever you ride—a road or mountain bike, fixie, or commuter—don’t walk home if you break down: Get the Topeak Mini 9
, the best multi-tool for most cyclists. We tested 13 mini tools, and the light, durable, inexpensive Topeak has the best range of tools in a usable package. But we have more picks for those with specific riding needs, from hard-core singletrack to fixed-gear street riding.
The Best Wire Cutter
Channellock E337CB Diagonal Cutting Plier
It took hundreds of cuts and years of reader requests for us to finally post the best wire cutter: The Channellock E337CB
is a truly superior snipper.
The Best Circular Saw
After researching 35 circular saws and testing four, we found the SKILSAW SPT67WM-22
is the best for most people. It has noticeably better power than the competition and simply feels the best while in use. It also has great features that other saws don’t, including a magnesium footplate and motor housing that make it durable and lightweight.
The Best Drill Bit Set
Ryobi 90-Piece Drill and Drive Kit
After eight months of testing for our original guide, plus an additional three months of testing for this update, we think the Ryobi 90-Piece Drill and Drive Kit
is the best drill bit set for most people. It offers the widest variety of useful accessories for drilling holes and driving screws. Some sets have too much repetition, and others are lacking critical pieces, but the Ryobi kit gets it just right.
The Best Tools and Toolbox
After more than 300 hours of research and testing more than 180 tools, we’ve put together the best tool kit for your home. To come up with these 22 recommendations, we consulted three carpenters, six leading tool experts, and many, many tool manufacturers. Plus, after narrowing the tools down to our top picks, our writer used our 22 picks exclusively for eight months in a major home renovation.
The Best Precision Screwdriver
If you need to change a toy’s batteries or tighten your sunglasses, you need a precision screwdriver, and the best one for most people is the MAXCRAFT 7-in-1
. It offers convenient onboard bit storage, a knurled shaft for easy gripping, several of the most commonly used bits, and a little pocket clip. It’s also the least expensive model we tested.
The Best Stud Finder for Home Use
C.H. Hanson 03040 Magnetic Stud Finder
If you’re hanging heavy pictures, mirrors, or shelves, you need to know where your wall studs are—and the best tool we found for the job is the C.H. Hanson 03040 Magnetic Stud Finder
. After 30 hours of research and testing against five other magnetic stud finders, we found the C.H. Hanson to be reliable, durable, and accurate, and because it’s magnet-based, it doesn’t need batteries or any kind of calibration.
The Best Bike Pump (Floor Standing)
Bontrager Turbo Charger HP
After testing 25 floor-standing bike pumps with a 10-person panel, we found that the Bontrager Turbo Charger HP
is the best option. Its head is the only non-screw-on design that seals reliably and completely the first time on both Presta and Schrader valves. Plus, the Bontrager’s hose is longer than most we tested, and it has a comfortable handle and easy-to-read gauge.
The Best Tape Measure
25-foot Stanley PowerLock Tape Measure
After 45 hours of research and dropping, extending, and scrubbing the blades of 17 different tape measures with 60-grit sandpaper, we found the Stanley 25-foot PowerLock Tape Measure
is the best option for most people. The PowerLock has a more durable blade than nearly all of its competition, and its pared-down simplicity makes it light, accurate, and easy to handle. Plus, it’s one of the least expensive tapes we looked at.
The Best Pry Bar
Stanley 55-116 8-inch Nail Puller
A small pry bar isn’t exactly a home-toolbox essential, but it is quite handy, whether you need it to open a stuck window, lift a corner of a bookcase for shimming, remove a piece of baseboard, or pry up a floor register. After three veteran carpenters pulled nails and separated boards with five leading pry bars, they chose the Stanley 55-116 8-inch Nail Puller (about $9). From a visual standpoint, it wasn’t the most polished tool, but when it came to functionality, no other pry bar offered as much control while prying boards. It also impressed us with its multiple nail pullers. Best of all, at less than $10, the Stanley was the least expensive bar we looked at, performing just as well as pry bars that cost nearly twice as much.
The Best Hex Wrenches
TEKTON 25282 26-piece Long Arm Ball Hex Key Wrench Set
For installing towel bars, tightening door handles, or assembling IKEA furniture, a home toolbox should have a good selection of hex wrenches (commonly known by the trademarked name Allen wrenches). We had three carpenters test 11 top models, and our favorite set is the TEKTON 25282 26-piece Long Arm Ball Hex Key Wrench Set (about $17).
The Best Non-Contact Voltage Tester
A non-contact voltage tester is a useful tool for any kind of electrical work—there’s no quicker or simpler way to safely check for electrical current in a wire, outlet, switch, or an old lamp that has mysteriously stopped working. Every electrician carries one. And after talking to a 20-year veteran electrician and performing eight months of testing with seven leading models, we found that the Klein NCVT-3 (about $25) is the best one to get.
The Best Painter’s Multitool
If you’re planning on engaging in any painting projects at all, a painter’s multitool can make the process a lot easier. We researched the topic and tested four, ultimately finding that the Hyde 17-in-1 is the most versatile of the bunch.
The Best Locking Pliers
If you’re going to own a set of locking pliers1 (and we strongly suggest you do), the best ones to get are the Grip-On 111-10 (about $20).
The Best Needle-Nose Pliers
Klein J203-8 Heavy Duty Journeyman Pliers
After enlisting three veteran carpenters to test 16 different pairs of needle-nose pliers1, we found that the Klein J203-8 Heavy Duty Journeyman Pliers are the best.
The Best Handsaw
Shark 15-inch Carpentry Saw
For replacing a deck board, building a treehouse, or fixing a piece of rotted trim, it’s essential to have a handsaw. We had three carpenters test seven saws, and the one chosen unanimously as the best is the Shark 15-inch Carpentry Saw (about $29).
The Best Toolbox
Milwaukee 13-inch Jobsite Work Box
The best toolbox for most people is the Milwaukee 13ʺ Jobsite Work Box
(about $30). Simply put, it is the most efficient, portable, and organized toolbox we could find.
The Best Torpedo Level
Sola PH 22 Flooring Level
For hanging pictures, installing shelves, or adjusting the legs on the washer/dryer, we recommend an 8⅝-inch-long torpedo level called the Sola PH 22 Flooring Level
(about $19). Even though it’s designed for the specific needs of the flooring installer, we found it to be great for general work.
The Best Putty Knife
Craftsman 1-½-inch Flex Stainless Putty Knife
After spending months filling nail holes, repairing cracked plaster, and talking to a painting contractor with 30 years of experience, we found the Craftsman 1½-inch Flex Stainless Putty Knife
is the best putty knife for most people. Its 1½-inch width is perfect for filling small holes, the stainless steel blade is easy to clean and won’t rust, and its handle is shaped to fit your hand with a rubbery padding that makes it much more comfortable than the competition.
The Best Combination Square
Irwin 1794469 12-inch Combination Square
If you're planning on doing any carpentry–successfully–you'll need a way to mark a straight line. After researching at least 20 combination squares and testing six during the final phase of a whole-house remodeling project, we’re convinced that the best option for most people is the Irwin 1794469 12-inch Combination Square
The Best Basic Home Toolkit
HDX 76-Piece Homeowner’s Tool Set
After 70 hours spent researching and testing home toolkits, we found that Home Depot’s HDX 76-Piece Homeowner's Tool Set
is the best for most homeowners. The compact HDX set features all the essentials at a lower price than competitors charge, and it omits the useless filler tools found in other kits.
The Best Step Stool
Gorilla 2-Step Aluminum Step Stool Ladder with 225 lb. Type II Duty Rating
We took a hard look at new competition in the world of step stools, but it was the new version of last year's favorite Gorilla EasyReach 2-step
that came out on top. It's a great size for most use cases, is surprisingly light, and gives you a bigger lift than other stools we tested. Plus, this newer version features a built-in tool shelf.
The Best Adjustable Pliers
Irwin GV10 10-inch GrooveLock Pliers
A great home toolbox needs a solid pair of adjustable pliers. After considering over 50 models, the $14 Irwin GV10 10-inch Groovelock Pliers
came out on top due to easy jaw-size adjustment and comfortable handles.
The Best Hammer
After testing 11 hammers and getting the opinions of two working carpenters and a former editor at This Old House and Popular Mechanics, we recommend the Estwing E3-16C, a 16-ounce, curved claw, steel-handled hammer for general around-the-house hammer needs.
The Best Picture Hangers
From this point forward, I’m only using 30-pound Floreat picture hangers to hang things on my wall. After 25 hours of research and testing, it became clear that they’re the best. In addition to our own testing, I spoke with four different art galleries and a professional art installer and all of them exclusively use Floreats. The hangers are also highly recommended in articles written by art hangers and custom picture framers.
The Best Multi-Bit Screwdriver
MegaPro 211R2C36RD 13-In-1 Ratcheting Driver
The MegaPro 13-in-1 Multi-Bit Ratcheting Screwdriver
is the perfect one-stop screwdriver to have at hand around the house. After over 22 hours of research and hands-on testing of 13 different models, I found that the MegaPro has all of the right features: nice ratcheting action; smart, accessible bit storage; excellent bit selection; and a comfortable handle.