Must have handyman tools

A set of tools on a wooden table.

A handyman is only as good as his or her tools. After all, without them, these tradespeople are unable to complete even the most basic of jobs.

However, knowing what tools every handyman needs can be tough if you are new to the trade. It can also be tricky knowing how to best protect your vital tools.

With this in mind, this guide will run through the must-have tools all handymen need in their arsenal. From hand and power tools to basic plumbing essentials and safety equipment, we look at the items no handyman should be without. We also explain the purpose of specialist handyman insurance. This includes outlining how these policies can help protect you in the event your tools are lost, stolen or damaged.

What tools does a handyman need?

As a handyman, your tools and equipment represent your entire livelihood. Without them, for the most part, you would be unable to work. For this reason, before starting out in this trade, all budding handymen should know what basic tools they need and how to keep this equipment safe. Below we take a look at the basic set of handyman tools and equipment needed to start a business.

Hand tools

Although you may think power tools are a handyman’s best friend in this day and age, the truth is hand tools are equally important. These basic instruments are used in almost every construction industry, across all trades. This versatility makes them ideal for handymen, who never know exactly what their next job will involve.

Your basic handyman tool box should contain a range of hand tools. As a minimum, this should include a hammer, pliers, chisels, a set of screwdrivers, spanners, a utility knife, a tape measure and a spirit level. However, better stocked tool boxes will also include allen keys, files and vice grips. Although not strictly ‘tools’, a handyman’s hand tool box may also contain supplies of nails, screws and other miscellaneous equipment.

Basic power tools

While a number of basic power tools are essential for all handymen, it’s important not to go over the top when purchasing for the first time. There are specialist power tools for every job nowadays. This means it can be all too easy to buy an expensive specialist tool for a job, only to never need it again. However, by sticking to a number of essential tools with multiple uses, you can save yourself money and storage space. Must-have power tools for handyman include:

An electric drill (and drill bit set)

As a handyman, you’ll be drilling holes on a frequent basis. For this reason purchasing a good quality drill driver, along with an accompanying drill bit set, is important. Any other specialist drills - such as hammer drills and rotary hammers - can be rented as and when you need them.

Circular and reciprocating saws

These power tools make sawing woods, metals and other materials quicker and more accurate.

An angle grinder

These heavyweight versatile tools are great for cutting everything from metal to tiles. Ideal for demolition jobs, angle grinders make removing pipes, bathroom units and kitchen fittings easy.

An electric sander

From installing new wooden fittings to restoring floorboards, many home improvement jobs require some form of sanding. Electric sanders make the sanding process much quicker and typically leave a higher quality finish. 

Plumbing essentials

While certain plumbing work requires the skills of a certified plumber to complete, handymen are often tasked with small scale plumbing jobs. This means people in this trade should possess a range of basic plumbing tools. This should include pipe cutters, pipe tapping tools, sink/toilet plungers, crimping tools and a ratchet threader set.

Basic painting supplies

Although handymen are not painter decorators, you may be asked to just touch an area up or apply a lick of paint after finishing another job. For this reason, being prepared with a selection of basic painting tools and supplies is a good idea. While you don’t need to carry paint with you, having a range of brushes, rollers and paint trays is a good idea. You may also want to purchase some overalls and painters’ dust sheets.


From repairing guttering to painting window sills, ladders are needed for a range of handyman jobs. As different jobs require different height ladders, it helps to own a few different sizes. We recommend a 4 ft step ladder for jobs that are at low heights, and an extendable 20 ft ladder for larger jobs.

Safety equipment

As with all trades, safety should come first. This means you should always have the right safety equipment ready for any job. As a minimum, this should include eye protection, ear guards, dust masks, a hardhat, knee pads and workman's gloves. You should also consider purchasing a versatile tool belt. This gives you a place to temporarily, yet safely, store tools when you are on the job.

Cleaning equipment

A good handyman will always clean and tidy the area they have been working in after finishing. This means cleaning equipment is a must. With this in mind, consider purchasing a hand vacuum cleaner. It also pays to have a mop, broom and range of cleaning soaps handy so you can clean your workspace, no matter what job you’ve been doing.

What does handyman insurance cover?

From £8 a month*, specialist handyman insurance can provide you with a range of covers, including tools and equipment protection. As mentioned above, this policy could give you the money you need to replace vital tools in the event they are lost, damaged or stolen.

Public liability insurance is also typically built into handyman insurance packages. Public liability insurance protects you in the event of third party injury or property damage. This could include if you damage a client’s home while working, for example, or if a client trips on a piece of equipment and becomes injured while you are working.

Handyman insurance packages can also include employers' liability insurance. These policies are a legal requirement for all handyman businesses that hire staff, including apprentices. In the event an employee falls ill or is injured on the job, this cover can financially protect your business.

At Markel Direct, our handymen insurance policies can be customised to suit your needs. This means, as a handyman, you can choose which covers you’d like to be included in your own tailored policy.

*Example premium is based on a handyman requiring £1 million of public liability cover, no claims history and meeting all underwriting criteria.

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