Five Pro Level Tools to Upgrade Your Toolbox

Basics like a socket set, pliers, and a drill are great to have on hand, but don't overlook these damn useful additions to your lineup.

There comes a time in every man's life when he begins to take pride in his domicile instead of just adding his landlord's number to speed dial. Until then, the basic tools every man should own -- or just a big roll of duct tape -- probably made a sufficient arsenal against household fixes, but it might be time to refine that toolbox.

A socket set, allen wrenches, needlenose pliers, a drill with bits -- these are all common sense next-step tools that will definitely come in handy. But there are a few others you might not think of on a cursory trip to the hardware store.

1. Channellock pliers

Or really, any brand of tongue-and-groove pliers. Channellock is certainly the most famous, but really, you just need a set of angled, adjustable, flat jaw pliers. Everyone has moved into an apartment with terrible water pressure. Every morning, the shower, and life in general, just dribbles out onto you - a terrible way to start the day. Instead of passively accepting it, use these to change the showerhead, and any other plumbing fixture that becomes an issue.

All pliers are designed to amplify your strength, but Channellocks are also angled to give you the gift of leverage. So, when you have to screw something tough on or off, these should be your go-to.

2. Spackling

A pint of lightweight spackling, like DAP or Red Devil, costs less than ten bucks and will save you a ton of frustration. Nail holes and botched home improvement attempts from prior tenants (or maybe *ahem* yourself) are eyesores and hard to paint. But by daubing a little white spackling into the hole then smoothing out the surface, you either render the hole invisible, or you give yourself a solid surface over which to paint.

3. Razor scraper

This is one of those tools that you need maybe three times a year, but when those times come, you really, really need it. What three times? How about the 92-degree day in July when you’re trying to scrape the giant adhesive price tags off those vintage theatre chairs you bought and the idiots that sold them used the best adhesive money could buy? Or that time when you had to peel the registration ticket off the inside of your windshield and it ripped into a million sticky pieces? Or maybe that time when you were moving out and were finally forced to clean the 12 months of boiled-over pasta starch off your glass stove top?

Pro tip: Razor scrapers work well in conjunction with an adhesive remover like Goo Gone, which, if you haven’t experienced, you should. Basically, it melts price tag glue, leaving only a pleasant citrus scent.

4. Utility knife

While we're talking about knives, you really should have a no nonsense, retractable utility knife. Whether you have to break down a box, strip the insulation off a wire, score and fold cardboard, drywall or ceiling tiles or make a point to errant meth cooks threatening to topple your drug empire (Breaking Bad? Anyone? No?), a basic utility knife is a good thing to have on hand.

5. Clamps

Eventually, pretty much everything breaks. Clamps help fix things. Whether it’s a ballet flat in need of a glue repair job, a cracked dresser drawer, or any of the hundreds of other things that come up no one can predict, clamps help piece A stay with piece B. Start with the inexpensive and fairly ubiquitous C clamp (you guessed it - like the letter C) and spring clamp , which is like a heavy duty clothespin.

Stock these at home, and you'll have a few things going for you. First, you get the quiet, internal joy of having what you need when you need it. Second, you save a lot of money and time by fixing things instead of throwing them out and buying new ones. Third, you get, like, a thousand man points when you whip out your toolbox and say, “Here, we can use this C clamp.”

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