Looking for the best tool set for your 2022 DIY needs? We researched nearly 40 before buying and stress-testing the top 13 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 various tasks, we've got you.
Case Type: Plastic hard case | Uses: General, cars, tractors, lawnmowers
REASONS TO BUY
Excellent quality socket set
Good mix of tools for auto mechanics
Meets new ANSI and ASME standards
REASONS TO AVOID
You'll need to buy some basics separately
Carrying case could be more durable
The Crescent 180-Piece Professional Tool Set is a solid professional socket set for working on cars, tractors, lawnmowers, and other motorized equipment with a few additions for household use. These sockets and ratchets are some of the highest-quality performers in the test, and there are a lot of them. You get two ratchets with three extenders for hard-to-reach spots and over 80 sockets in metric and SAE, including a super handy 5/8" spark plug socket. The 12 combination wrenches (with one open and one box end) are among the best in the test. We like the screwdrivers and the magnetic bit driver, which come with 48 bits. The needle-nose pliers are high quality with nice action, but there are no ordinary pliers or tongue and groove pliers. The metric and SAE hex keys are fine and come in sturdy holders.
This isn't a first-timer's toolkit unless you jump straight into auto-care. But the expansive selection of tools will help you accomplish 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 okay. The screwdrivers are comfortable to the hand when dry, but their edgeless handles are hard to hold when oily. The case is pretty good at holding tools but lacks durability. When it arrived, there was a gouge in the bottom of the case, and one of the socket holders was a bit distorted and barely held the socket in place. 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.
Best Simple, High-Quality Socket Set
DeWalt 108-Piece Mechanics Tools Kit and Socket Set
Case Type: Plastic hard case | Uses: General, cars, tractors, lawnmowers
REASONS TO BUY
Very high-quality toolset
Lightweight, simple, well-organized
Durable carrying case that holds tools
REASONS TO AVOID
A limited selection of tools and socket sizes
Not very diverse for general projects around the household
The DeWalt 108-Piece Mechanics Tools Kit and Socket Set scored very high in our four metrics. The tool quality and function were immediately apparent as soon as we assembled sockets to the ratchet. Easy to assemble and securely fastened became the theme as we repeatedly wrenched on ski bindings and bicycles at home. The carrying case is lightweight, easy to carry, and has two metal latches that snap solidly into place. And as a carpenter who has used DeWalt products for over 20 years, one of our testers can assure you that durability is second to none.
On the other hand, we can't recommend this high-quality toolset for general use only because it lacks diversity in its available tools. There are no hammers, pliers, or tape measures. However, if you either already own or don't mind acquiring those other tools separately, this might be the right toolset for you.
Case Type: Plastic hard case | Uses: Basic household projects
REASONS TO BUY
Great tool selection for simple tasks
Reasonable quality for the price
REASONS TO AVOID
Pliers aren't great, ratchet is slow
The carrying case could hold tools more tightly
The Amazon Basics 173-Piece Hand Tool Kit set offers a killer value and a solid selection of household tools. It comes outfitted with a small hammer, a saw, various pliers, a tape measurer, a small selection of nails and screws, and even a Torpedo level. 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 20 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 leave something to be desired; their small, slick grips make them hard to hold and the joints are not tight enough. And the action on the slip joint pliers is the worst in the roundup. As for the ratchet, the gears are too far apart, so it takes more time and repetition to tighten and loosen the bolts. The carrying case could be much more precise in its design and manufacturing to hold tools in place. After opening and closing the case multiple times, one pair of pliers fell right out. Overall, we found this tool set's value and utility impressive. We recommend Amazon Basics to anyone who needs a basic tool selection on a budget.
Case Type: Soft roll case | Uses: Electric, plumbing, general
REASONS TO BUY
A high-quality tool set building block
Made in the USA
High-carbon steel construction
REASONS TO AVOID
Limited to pliers
We tested these tool sets against our all-time favorites, including Channellock pliers 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 plier set is superb, but that's about all you'll get — 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 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, look no further. 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.
Case Type: Plastic case | Uses: Basic household projects
REASONS TO BUY
Solid tool set
Good selection for basic use
Good warranty information
REASONS TO AVOID
Sockets aren't the highest quality
The Craftsman 57-Piece Home Kit is a solid little tool set. If your projects aren't 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 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 it 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 set is of 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 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, this tool kit offers an impressive quality-to-value ratio and is a great starter tool set for less ambitious projects or those looking for quality on a budget.
Case Type: Soft tote bag | Uses: Household projects
REASONS TO BUY
Power drill is a great addition
Everything you need to get started
Includes an instruction manual
REASONS TO AVOID
Screwdrivers have very large bits
Less than inspired case
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, the needle nose, and the slip joint. Their handles are a little short but offer a pleasant grip and feel more solid than some.
While the drill is fairly good, it's not powerful enough for heavy jobs. The battery holds out for 25 minutes or so of continuous use, which is enough time to blast through a couple of hundred pilot holes or a few full hole cuts. An extra battery is necessary for longer projects, meaning you'll need to make an additional purchase. The included battery takes more than three and a half hours to charge. Additionally, 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 on the fair side. 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. Although, the bit driver gives you smaller options. We aren't crazy about 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.
Brian Smith is the quintessential jack of all trades. A professional mountain guide during the summers and winters, in the off seasons he has worked as a carpenter for over twenty years and as a bike mechanic for eight years. With unwavering attention to detail, he has a keen ability to scrutinize the quality of various tools. And his ability to guide folks through complex mountains translates to guiding consumers toward the products that best suit their needs.
Our toolset testing is divided into 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. We removed ski bindings with ratchets and then tightened truck toppers and bicycle bolts with various wrenches. Then we looked at toolset 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 consider 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 173-Piece Hand Tool Kit. It offers a great tool selection for general projects at home. Some of the tools are less than inspiring (for instance, the pliers), but this kit will get you through many basic chores for less.
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 Crescent 180-Piece Professional Tool Set also offer a fair value.
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 are confident that that tool roll will last you a while. The Cresent 180 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, DeWalt 108-Piece Mechanics Tools Kit and Socket Set, and Crescent 180-Piece Professional Tool Set kits top the list, though the Craftsman options offer solid functionality as well.
As we've mentioned, our testers have a set of Channellock pliers 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 also have the narrowest point of any other option in the test. This makes them more precise than most and our top choice for detailed wire work.
Crescent is another big-name tool brand, and their Crescent 180-Piece Professional Tool Set 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 Craftsman 57-Piece Home Kit is a step down in quality but offers good value for useful tools that cover the basics. The socket set works well, and the hammer is one of the best we tested. In fact, every tool in the smaller Craftsman set performs its task well.
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.
Though the Crescent and Channellock Pliers sets are the highest quality, neither includes the necessary household basics, like a hammer. The Crescent Professional Tool 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 Amazon Basics 173-Piece Hand Tool Kit gives you the best combination of tools to get you through most household chores and repairs. Thoughtful additions include a tape measure, a small selection of small nails and screws, and even a torpedo level. 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 DeWalt was far superior to every other case we tested with metal buckles, tabs that held tools securely without needing a screwdriver to remove them, and a well-organized configuration that made it really easy to find the tool you're searching for.
The plastic molded Crescent case 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. Also, the case that shipped to one of our testers had a small damaged hole in the base, but we figured this was an anomaly.
The Cartman and Apollo cases work 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 cases every time you open them unless you remember to leave the socket side down. 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 Amazon kits have a wide variety of tools but don't seem likely to last. We don't have great faith in the pliers, which have loose joints that will only get looser with time and use. However, the kits are very inexpensive and most of the metal tools will probably last a while.
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 Tool 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.
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GearLab is founded on the principle of honest, objective, reviews. Our experts test thousands of products each year using thoughtful test plans that bring out key performance differences between competing products. And, to assure complete independence, we buy all the products we test ourselves. No cherry-picked units sent by manufacturers. No sponsored content. No ads. Just real, honest, side-by-side testing and comparison.