Looking for the best tool set for your 2022 DIY needs? We researched nearly 40 before buying and stress testing the top 11 options for weeks. Our home improvement test team ran each set through an obstacle course of nuts, bolts, nails, screws, boards, and wires to test each tool's intended purpose around the house and garage. We drilled holes, tightened screws, pried rusty old bolts free, measured boards, cut dowels down to size, and hammered countless nails while assessing each kit's usefulness, portability, and quality. From streamlined, basic sets to extensive tool selections meant for a range of tasks, we've got you covered.If power tools are what you're in the market for, we've tested drills, impact drivers, and circular saws. Our selection of home and auto tools has all your projects covered.
|Price||$220 List||$236 List||$84 List|
$95.59 at Amazon
$54.98 at Amazon
|Pros||Impressive and useful tool selection, higher quality and more durable||High quality socket set, good selection for basic auto repair, sturdy case||Excellent quality, a useful selection of pliers||Among the best hammers, screwdrivers, ratchets, and sockets in the test||Great hammer, excellent price, great started selection|
|Cons||May be more than you need for the basics, not the best pliers||Not a basic household tool set, pliers are subpar||Does not include all household tool set essentials, higher cost||The case does not hold the sockets in place||Unorganized tote, lower quality pliers|
|Bottom Line||A comprehensive kit that offers reasonable quality and a solid value||A solid socket set for your automotive repair needs||This high-quality set of pliers is an excellent tool kit building block||A slimmed-down selection for basic home improvement projects||Helps you complete your chores and small projects at a minimal cost|
|Rating Categories||Kobalt 230-Piece Ho...||Crescent 170 Pc. Ge...||Channellock 5-Piece...||Craftsman 57-Piece...||Amazon Basics 65-Piece|
|Tool Quality and Function (30%)|
|Tool Selection for General Use (25%)|
|Carrying Case (25%)|
|Specs||Kobalt 230-Piece Ho...||Crescent 170 Pc. Ge...||Channellock 5-Piece...||Craftsman 57-Piece...||Amazon Basics 65-Piece|
|Purposes||General household and light mechanic||General purpose mechanic||Partial general household||Basic household||Basic household|
|Tool Summary||75 sockets (SAE and Metric), 2 quick-release ratchets, 3 extensions, 6 screwdrivers, 7 precision screwdrivers, magnetic bit driver, 52 bits, adjustable wrench, 3 pliers, hexes, scissors, measuring tape, level, box cutter, wire stripper, spackler, wire brush||3 ratchets, 4 extenders, 35 12-point sockets, 22 6-pt sockets, 12 deep sockets, 12 spark plug sockets, 12 combination wrenches, 2 pliers, adjustable wrench, 4 magnetic screwdrivers, magnetic bit driver, 44 magnetic driver bits, 13 SAE and 13 Metric hex keys||Tongue and groove pliers (9.5" and 10"), diagonal cutting plier (7"), needle nose (8') and slip joint (6.5") pliers||11 6-Point sockets, ratchet, slip joint pliers, bit driver and adapter, 22 bits, 2 screwdrivers, tape measure, hammer, snap off knife, 16 hex keys (SAE and metric)||Hammer, tape measure, two 8-piece hex keys (SAE and metric), 9-inch level, snap off knife, 2 pliers, 2 screwdrivers, magnetic bit driver, 30 bits, ratchet, 8 SAE sockets|
|What We Miss||Nothing||Hammer||Hammer, screwdrivers|
|Certifications||Meets or exceeds ANSI specifications||Meets stringent new ANSI and ASME specifications||No information||No information||No information|
|Materials||Chrome vanadium steel sockets||Chrome vanadium steel sockets||Forged from High Carbon Steel||No information||Steel, Chrome-Vanadium Phillips and flat head screwdrivers|
|Carrier||Tote bag||Molded plastic case||Plastic roll case||Molded plastic case||Tote bag|
|Claimed Weight||23.6 lbs||20.2 lbs||3.02 lbs||7.41 lbs||5.07 lbs|
Best Overall Tool Set
Kobalt 230-Piece Household Set
If you're serious about home repairs and improvements, the Kobalt 230-Piece Household Set is extensive enough to tackle your chore list. It covers all the basics and includes several handy extras, like wire strippers, seven precision and two stubby screwdrivers, and a great box cutter. It's also the only household-focused kit in the test with an extensive socket set, including 75 options in both metric and SAE sizes. (SAE stands for the Society of Automotive Engineers, which basically means American measurements.) The ratchets make your job easier with quick-release buttons. The six screwdrivers are comfortable to hold and seem durable. And, if you need more variety, the magnetic driver offers 52 interchangeable Philips, flathead, and hex bits. The tool tote case feels sturdy and provides more organization than most. The Kobalt hammer is among our favorites in the test, though our 130-pound tester finds it too heavy for extended use.
There is room for improvement, though. We aren't as impressed with the pliers. The handles don't transfer power well, and the diagonal cutters struggle to cut even soft metals like copper. The adjustable wrench has more play in its joint than we'd like. You often have to adjust it between turns, and its lower jaw isn't perfectly parallel with the upper. Though few options in the test were better. The hex sets are fine, but their holders both arrived cracked. While these tools aren't the highest quality, most are well-made and likely to hold up to moderate use over time. Overall, this is the toolkit we recommend to anyone serious about home repair.
Best Bang for Your Buck
Amazon Basics 65-Piece
The Amazon Basics 65-Piece set offers a killer value and a solid selection of household tools. It also includes an excellent hammer. Light and well-balanced, it was a favorite among our testers. While there are no other standouts in the set, the rest of the tools get the job done. The small socket set is handy, the snap-off blade is adequate, and the level is convenient when hanging art. The screwdrivers and magnetic bit driver have comfortable handles with rounded edges that help maintain your grip. The driver's 30 extra Torx, Phillips, flathead, hex, and squarehead bits expand the toolkit's capabilities. We always appreciate having SAE and metric hex keys around the house, especially if you own bikes.
The pliers are less impressive, with small and slick grips that make them hard to hold. And the action on the slip joint pliers is the worst in the test. The tote bag isn't well-designed either, with no padding and very few organizational features. Most of the tools are left to jostle around on the bottom of the bag. Still, we prefer the bag to the molded plastic cases that tend to toss out tools every time you open them. Overall, we're impressed with the value and utility of this simple tool set. This is a great option if you need a basic tool selection on a budget.
Best Set for Mechanical Projects
Crescent 170 Pc. General Purpose Set
The Crescent 170 Pc. General Purpose Set is more specialized than its title would suggest. It's a solid general socket set for cars, tractors, lawnmowers, and other motorized equipment with a few additions for household use. These sockets and ratchets are the highest-quality performers in the test, and there are a lot of them. You get three ratchets with four extenders for hard-to-reach spots and over 80 sockets in metric and SAE, including super handy spark plug sockets. The 12 combination wrenches (with one open and one box end) are also among the best in the test. We like the screwdrivers and the magnetic bit driver, which comes with 44 bits. The needle-nose pliers have a spring opener that makes them great for repetitive wirework. The tongue and groove pliers work reasonably well, though we prefer the Channellock versions. The metric and SAE hex keys are fine and come in sturdy holders.
This isn't a first-timer's toolkit unless you're jumping straight to auto care. But the solid screwdriver set and functional pliers will get you through many household chores. Just adding a hammer will extend the range of this kit's home repair and project capabilities. While the sockets, ratchets, and wrenches shine, the rest of the kit is just okay. The screwdrivers are comfortable in hand when dry, but their edgeless handles are hard to hold when oily. We even like the case. It's among the sturdiest and easiest to use, and none of the pieces fall out when you open it, a rarity among hard plastic cases. This is an excellent selection if you want a starter kit for auto care or want to add a great set of sockets and wrenches to your tool bench.
Highest Quality Pliers Set
Channellock 5-Piece Pliers Set
We tested these tool sets against each other. We also tested them against our all-time favorites, including Channellock pliers that have been in one tester's garage for forty years. The Channellock 5-Piece Pliers Set gives every indication of keeping up the tradition. The large tongue and groove pliers, which a lot of us call channellocks, are the best of their kind in the test. They also have the widest size range, making them a must for gripping pipes during plumbing projects. The slip joint pliers and diagonal cutters also top the list, with the latter cutting through plastic and wire quietly and efficiently without sending shrapnel across the room. The needle nose pliers have the narrowest tip in the lineup, making them great for tight spots and precision work. All offer smooth action with little to no play. Long handles with a vinyl sheath provide ample leverage.
This is a great set of pliers. That's all you're getting, though, and you're paying for it. The extra money will buy tools that work better, make your life easier, and last longer. They may save you money over time. They will definitely save you grief. You will have to round out the rest of your tool kit — hammer, screwdrivers, sockets, hexes, etc. — on your own. If you need pliers, this is it. It's hard to imagine these failing, as each tool is top-quality. This plier set is ideal for anyone looking to build a tool set to last a lifetime.
Best Minimalist Set
Craftsman 57-Piece Home Kit
The Craftsman 57-Piece Home Kit is a solid little tool set. If your projects don't get too elaborate, this kit offers the best mix of basic tools. Its fiberglass and rubber-handled hammer is one of the better options in the test, as are its slip joint pliers. They have an easy action and comfortable grip. The screwdrivers are pleasant to wield and work well. Instead of the magnetic bit driver that many of the other kits include, this one gives you a ratcheting screwdriver with a bit adapter. So you can use it for bolts or slap on a torx, Phillips, or flathead to tackle an array of screws. We like it. The little socket set is a handy size. It's not the top of the line but works well enough. The two hex key sets are standard, offering metric and SAE sizing. We like that the measuring tape is self-locking and marked with ¼ and ⅛ measurements, which are nice for taking measurements at a glance.
The sockets are only okay. The Crescent and Kobalt sets are higher-quality. The snap-off knife isn't the most comfortable cutting device to hold. It works, though, and snapping off a dull end to reveal a fresh edge is easy enough with the included pliers. Just be sure to bend the blade end away from the scoring mark for a clean snap. The plastic carrying case is alright, though the sockets fall out easily. You have to remember to leave that side of the briefcase down. All told, we think this tool kit offers an impressive quality to value ratio and is a great starter tool set for less ambitious projectors or those looking for quality on a budget.
Good Value with an Included Drill
Black and Decker 20V Max 68-Piece
The Black and Decker 20V Max 68-Piece kit is an easy favorite. If you've tackled any home repair projects involving screws, you know how many hours a cordless electric drill can save. So it's great to see one in a pared-down tool set along with all the essentials. The drill comes with 10 bits, which will drill pilot holes for a reasonable range of screw sizes. We also appreciate the spade and hole saw bits. You may not need to cut a big hole through solid wood often, but if you do find yourself wanting to run some wires through the back of a desk or cut a finger pull in a cabinet, they are great to have around. The drill gives you 11 torque settings to amp up the power for those higher friction tasks. We also like the pliers, both the needle-nose and the slip joint. Their handles are a little short but offer a pleasant grip, and they feel more solid than some.
While the drill is pretty good, it's not powerful enough for heavy jobs. The battery holds out for 25 minutes or so of continuous use, enough time to blast through a couple hundred pilot holes or a few full hole cuts. For longer projects, we wish it came with an extra battery. The one it has takes over three and a half hours to charge. The carrying case is just a bag with no organizational pockets, leaving your tools in a pile. Drill bits aren't very durable in those circumstances. The rest of the tools are fair. Hammers with necks that narrow are easy to break, especially when prying out nails. The screwdrivers have oddly large bits, 5/16" for the flathead and a #14 wood screw for the Phillips. The bit driver gives you smaller options, though. We don't love the grips or ergonomics of the pliers or snap-off blades, and the adjustable wrench wobbles. Still, this is a decent kit to get you going if you want to speed through your chore list with a cordless drill.
Why You Should Trust Us
Clark Tate led our tool testing team. Clark grew up in a farming community known for its excellent middle and high school vocational programs. After several shop classes in middle school and a summer class in aerodynamics spent constructing model airplanes, Clark started taking advantage of her family's extensive tool set. She's helped build barns and fences, worked several roofing jobs, volunteered for Habitat for Humanity, and recently built out a camper van. She believes that high-quality tools should last a lifetime and work for you instead of against you. Clark also recruited her father, Glen Tate, to try out all the tools to get a larger person's perspective. They mostly agreed on preferences, though Clark liked smaller, lighter hammers better.
Our tool set testing is divided across four rating metrics:-Tool Quality And Function tests (30% of overall score weighting)
-Tool Selection For General Use tests (25% weighting)
-Carrying Case tests (25% weighting)
-Durability tests (20% weighting)
We tested these tool sets head-to-head, but not just against one another. We also compared them to our family favorites, like a Stanley hammer that's been around for nearly 40 years and Channellock pliers of approximately the same vintage. Our testers systematically tested every tool included in each set for several weeks. We rotated through the hammers, knocking nails in and prying them back out. Then we pulled more out with the pliers and worked on wire projects with the needle-nose options. We tackled rusty old bolts with the wrenches and ratchets and stripped old wires with the wire strippers. We ran battery life and charging time tests on the cordless drills and compared each kit's tool selection to determine their overall quality. Then we looked at their costs to compare value.
Analysis and Test Results
From inexpensive tools that work for light-duty and infrequent use to day-to-day staples, we looked at a wide range of toolsets. We break down how each performed in our test metrics below.
When testing tools, we first focus on their quality and function. Then we note how useful the selection is for everyday tasks and specialized projects. Once we know how well they work and how long they are likely to last, we look at how much they cost.
Everyone wants a good value. To find one, look for high-scoring options with lower prices. We are particularly impressed with the Amazon Basics 65 Piece. It offers a great tool selection and solid basics, such as one of our favorite hammers and a small socket set. Some of the tools are less than inspiring (for instance, the pliers), but this kit will get you through a lot of basic chores for less.
If you want to get started with a trimmed-down selection of higher quality basics, check out the Craftsman 57-Piece option. You get fewer tools off the bat but without any duds. If you're looking to dive into the DIY deep end, we think the extensive selection and high-quality tools in the Kobalt 230-Piece Set offer a fair value as well.
Of course, tools that last end up saving you money over time. Channellock's 5-Piece Plier Set seems to have the same high-quality standards as a pair that's served our lead tester's family for 40 years. We feel pretty confident that that tool roll will last you a while. The Cresent 170 piece sets a similar quality standard, and we see it as a good investment for anyone looking for an extensive socket set.
Tool Quality and Function
High-quality tools work well, making your job easier. If a tool warps easily or its grip slips, you'll have to work that much harder to get the task done. That's why we really focus on tool quality in our tests. The Channellock Plier and Crescent 170-Piece General Purpose kits top the list, though the Kobalt and Craftsman options offer solid functionality as well.
As we've mentioned, our testers have a set of Channellock pliers that are nearly 40 years old and still holding steady. Our tests showed no difference between these ancestral pliers and the shiny new set, both USA-made. They were hands down the sturdiest pliers in the test with the best action, hold, and grip. The needle-nose pliers have the narrowest point of any other option in the test, too. This makes them more precise than most and our top choice for detailed wire work.
Crescent is another big name tool brand, and their 170-Piece General Purpose kit is predictively impressive. The sockets and combo wrenches are the sturdiest and most extensive we tested. The adjustable wrench has less play than any of the rest, holding its shape between turns, so you don't have to adjust it constantly. The rest of the set is less impressive but seems durable and more than holds its own with the other options tested.
The Kobalt 230-Piece Household Tool Set and Craftsman 57-Piece Home Kit are a step down in quality but offer a good value for useful tools that cover the basics. Their socket sets work well, though Kobalt's is of higher quality and much more extensive. Their hammers are two of the best we tested. (The Kobalt version felt too heavy to our lead tester, but those with larger frames liked it.)
In fact, every tool in the smaller Craftsman set performs its task well. The larger Kobalt option is nearly as consistent, though we don't love the precision screwdrivers. Their ends don't spin easily, which is important since you need to brace them against the meat of your hand to hold pressure as you spin the handle.
The Amazon Basics and Black + Decker sets are pretty good, though both contain some disappointing tools. The pliers in the Amazon Basics set are sub-par, and we're not thrilled about the hammer's narrow neck since we've broken similar ones in the past. The Black + Decker pliers are okay, but the adjustable wrench has a lot of play, rendering it less effective. We do like every other tool in the Amazon option, though, and we're impressed by the light and balanced hammer and its mini socket set.
The standalone cordless drill in the Black + Decker kit makes it a standout. A power drill can save a ton of time, and this is a decent one that comes with some pretty good screwdrivers, a measuring tape, a box cutter, a hammer, and pliers that work fine. While hole saws and spade bits are great for making large holes in wood, this drill struggled to power them through a board unless it was fully charged. The battery runs out after less than half an hour of continuous use. That's pretty impressive, but since you don't get a spare and it took over three hours to charge, you'll be limited to shorter projects.
The Dedeo Cordless Hammer Drill Kit gives you an extra battery, and it charges much faster, but it also comes with a stack of very low-quality tools. They are harder to use and may not stand the test of time. We suggest skipping this option and the Cartman Orange 39-Piece set, which is similarly low quality.
The Cartman 148-Piece Set, DEKOPRO 168-Piece Socket Set, and Apollo Tools 71 Piece Household Kit are all a little better, but not by much. They'll work for a time and have a few nice additions each (mostly the screwdrivers). Still, we recommend building your tool set over time if you can't afford one of the better kits.
Tool Selection for General Use
Though the Crescent and Channellock Pliers sets are the highest quality, neither includes the necessary household basics, like a hammer. The Crescent General Purpose set is great if you need to work on cars, lawnmowers, tractors, or other engines but won't do much to help you hang a picture frame.
The Kobalt Household Tool Set gives you the best combination of quality and variety to get you through most household chores and repairs. Thoughtful additions like squat and precise screwdrivers, a level, a wire brush, a wire stripper, and a great box cutter come in surprisingly handy. We highly recommend shopping for a power drill separately if you go this route. They are worth their weight in gold if you need to do anything that involves more than three screws.
The Craftsman 57-Piece Set is a good pared-down option, with all the basics solidly covered. We'd rather have a few good tools than a ton that are a pain to use. The Amazon Basics option offers similar functionality (at a lower cost) but with two bum pliers.
We tip our hat to the Black + Decker 68-Piece for offering some reasonable basics with an okay cordless drill. The combination will get you going and keep you going for long enough to figure out if you like doing your own handy work. If you do, you can start building a higher-quality tool set.
If you just look at tool selection, the Dedo Cordless Hammer Drill Kit's selection slays the competition. A cordless drill with two batteries, a trim socket set, screw divers, precision drivers, a hammer, and a little hack saw for (very) small jobs. Unfortunately, the quality isn't there, so we don't recommend this one.
The Dekopro set is similar, though it doesn't have a drill. A number of its basic tools—like the hammer, screwdrivers, and wire stripper—are downright pleasant to use. The wrenches, sockets, and pliers aren't up to our standards, though, and are much less enjoyable to use.
The Apollo Tools 71-Piece kit offers a unique and appealing selection. Apollo bills it as appropriate for home repair and craft projects. With an included square, mini-hacksaw, several rulers, and sturdy metal clamps, we were excited about its potential. Other than those clamps, the rulers, and the screwdrivers, every tool in the kit struggles to complete its task.
The Cartman 148-Piece Set is a reasonable buildout. Half of it is good enough to use often (skip the wrenches and the sockets). The 39-Piece is super paired down but covers the very basics. We don't expect that hammer to last long, and we don't recommend using it to pry out stubborn nails.
Some of these cases work far better than others. The top two options are the Kobalt tote bag and the Crescent molded plastic case. The tote bag offers a number of internal and external pockets to tuck tools away, but there aren't enough with the proper dimensions to have a place for every tool. The socket set, hammer, and wrench just tumble together in the bottom. Luckily, the floor of the case is sturdy enough to keep them somewhat protected.
The plastic molded Crescent case is the opposite. It has a little cubby for every socket and wrench, holding them in place. None drop out when you open the case, yet you don't need a crowbar to remove them. (This is exceedingly rare.) The case may not function perfectly forever, though. The plastic flexes each time you pull a tool out and will likely weaken over time.
The Cartman and Apollo cases work similarly well, though their plastic feels a little lighter and may wear out faster.
Most plastic cases are much less effective. The sockets fall out of the Craftsman's case every time you open it unless you remember to leave the socket side down. Quite annoying. The Dedeo and Dekopro cases are similar. The drill, extra battery, and level drop out when you open the Dedeo kit.
The bags work better in general. At least tools don't fall on you. The Amazon Basics option doesn't have pockets big enough for many of its tools, so they end up in a heap. It works, but organization lovers won't like it.
The small, single-pocket Black + Decker case requires care to pack since the tools are truly stacked, even the drill bits. Drill bits aren't particularly durable, and you'll probably need to wrap yours in something to help them survive this case. The simple Channellock roll case works well.
When a tool breaks, you'll be right back here searching for another set. That's why we try to get a sense of how durable these tools are when we test them.
The Channellock pliers are all built to last. You do need to treat the needle-nose option with respect, though, due to how thin and delicate they are. They seemed sturdy enough in our tests, but needle-nose pliers aren't that difficult to break. We've done it a time or two. It's good to remember what they're intended for, which is precision work.
We also expect the sturdily built Crescent wrenches, screwdrivers, and pliers to stand the test of time. The blended steel with a rust-resistant chrome finish seems solid, and the hinges have less play than other options in the test. Other than the plastic case, we can't think of anything likely to fail quickly here. The same is true of the Craftsman 57-Piece home Kit.
The majority of the Kobalt and Amazon kits seem likely to last. We don't have great faith in the pliers of either kit, especially Amazon's. Other than that, you're likely to get a lot of use out of both of these tool sets.
The thin-necked hammers in the Black + Decker, Apollo, and Cartman 39-Piece sets won't stand up over time if you use them with any frequency. We expect the rest of the Black + Decker kit to function well for moderate use over time. We're less confident about the Apollo set or the smaller Cartman option.
While the Dekopro Socket Set doesn't have any gems, everything feels serviceable. The tools are lower quality and have looser joints than we'd like, but they work reasonably well and should do so for a while.
The larger Cartman option, the 148-Piece Set, has some nice screwdrivers and a hammer that we trust. These few foundational tools will likely last as long as you want them to. Aside from its decent cordless drill, very little in the Dedeo kit inspires confidence.
We hope we've helped you find a tool set to satisfy your home improvement aspirations. The right kit can tackle the most common projects and home repairs without forcing you to run to the store. Those tools should also be reliable enough to work smoothly and durable enough that you rarely need to replace one. We recommend quality over quantity to reduce frustrations and your footprint on the planet.
— Clark Tate
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