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The Best Tools for Home Improvement of 2020

Reviewed.com logo Reviewed.com 4 days ago Reviewed Staff
— Recommendations are independently chosen by Reviewed’s editors. Purchases you make through our links may earn us a commission.

Here at Reviewed, we've spent extensive time testing home improvement items to help you make wise purchasing decisions when stocking up your garage, shed, or closet with all the tools you need to make home repairs, put furniture together, and create your favorite DIY projects. For example, after building closet organizers over and over again, we found the Dremel GO-01 (available at Amazon) is the best electric screwdriver to have in your toolbox.

From the best basic tools you should buy if all you need to do is do light tasks like hanging a picture frame, to which circular saws would best slice through a two-by-four, our testers and writers have spent months on home fix-it projects, to determine the most easy to use, comfortable, and cost-efficient tools for home use.

These are the best tools for home improvement:

  • Best Starter Toolkit: Stanley 94-248 65-Piece Homeowner's Tool Kit
  • Best Electric Screwdriver: Dremel GO-01
  • Best Cordless Drill: Makita FD07R1 Cordless Driver / Drill Kit
  • Best Circular Saw: DeWalt DCS391B
  • Best Reciprocating Saw: Milwaukee 2720-20 M18 Fuel Sawzall
  • Best Multitool: Leatherman Wave+
  • Best Work Gloves: Carhartt A518
Best Starter Toolkit
Stanley 94-248 65-Piece Homeowner's Tool Kit

The quality of each individual tool was the best in this Stanley kit. While its molded case does not have space for additional tools, it held the tools that the kit comes with, relatively well. This kit includes all of the tools that you’ll need for many basic and intermediate home repairs, and the limited one-year warranty provided for the kit is among the best we were able to find.

The hammer included in the Stanley kit convinced us that a good hammer can make a big difference when you’re working on a repair or building something new. The grip on the Stanley hammer was the most comfortable out of all the hammers we tested—the force of the strikes were actually being directed onto the nail, rather than bouncing off of it. While it doesn't include one of Stanley’s popular FATMAX tape measures, the one that comes in the kit is good quality. The Stanley’s level, with its magnet and fine build quality, was one of the best we encountered, too.

One of the best features of the Stanley 94-248 kit is its interchangeable head screwdriver, which comes with 30 bits. This is in addition to the two dedicated screwdrivers—a slot-head and a #2 Phillips—that the kit ships with. The only real complaint about this kit is that the handle of the interchangeable head screwdriver wasn’t as comfortable to use as the ones built into the kit’s dedicated screwdrivers.

In total, this kit includes a 13-ounce hammer, a 16-foot tape rule, 18mm snap-off knife, one torpedo level, a set of needle-nose pliers one set of slip joint pliers, a Phillips screwdriver and slot-head screwdriver, eight SAE and eight metric hex keys, an 1/4-inch round-head ratchet and eight SAE 1/4-inch sockets, one 1/4-inch spinner handle as well as the aforementioned 30 screwdriver bits and an interchangeable screwdriver handle to use them with.

If you wanted to buy each of the tools in this kit separately, it would cost you significantly more, making the Stanley 94-248 an incredible value. If you need a trustworthy set of tools to get started on home repairs, the Stanley 94-248 is an excellent value, boasting quality that will last.

Read our complete guide to the best starter toolkits.

Best Electric Screwdriver
Dremel GO-01

Dremel’s first screwdriver takes some great design cues from their well-known rotary tools to build a versatile powered screwdriver for your home. Its slim handle allows for an easy grip and gives the tool a low profile to help access hard-to-reach spots. Not only was the handle thinner than most of the screwdrivers we tested, but its grip was also comfortable and easy to hold onto. The screwdriver spins when it is pushed against a screw rather than using a trigger like many other electric screwdrivers. By eliminating a trigger, the GO-01 has a lower profile and makes using it simple. The GO-01 can be operated with one hand: a thumb switch in the handle allows for a quick change in direction.

The screwdriver’s torque is variable and can be changed using a dial in the bottom of the handle. This allows you to use a small amount of force if you are working with something more brittle, like an old light switch or use all the power possible when driving in a screw into a wall. The GO-01 charges using a USB charger rather than a proprietary charger—a handy feature, letting you charge the screwdriver with any USB cable you own or through a computer. The screwdriver comes with a USB cable with a wall plug and a small selection of seven common bits in a soft plastic retainer. For the price and the size of the tool, the power of this screwdriver is impressive.

Read our complete guide to the best electric screwdrivers.

Best Cordless Drill
Makita FD07R1 Cordless Driver / Drill Kit

This Makita drill has a very short snout and a slender, comfortable grip. Its lightweight, excellent balance in your hand, and compact profile make it easy to maneuver into tight spots. But it packs big-drill muscle. Our hardest test was boring through lumber with a spade bit, and this little Makita powered right through it without binding up or getting tired.

The key to its strong showing is the powerful, efficient brushless motor. Other details that made the Makita stand out are the integrated LED for lighting up work, its high-quality feel in your hand, and hard-shell carrying case. The Makita family of cordless tools runs deep, too. As a starting point, this Makita drill is outstanding. Even veteran tool-slingers will be impressed with its capabilities and the eager, responsive way it tackles jobs and it’s great-handling design.

Read our complete guide to the best cordless drills.

Best Circular Saw
DeWalt DCS391B

At first glance, this spartan-looking tool doesn’t impress: there aren’t any fancy laser guides or LED lighting. There are no extra buttons or levers. In fact, without its iconic yellow and black color scheme, at first blush, the DCS391 could be interchangeable with a number of the other right-handed saws we tested. It wasn’t until we set out to use this circular saw that it started to shine.

Weighing in at 7 pounds, the DCS391’s design and ergonomics made it feel significantly lighter than many of the other saws in our test group, despite having roughly the same heft. More importantly, it easily sliced up all the material w tested it with. The rubber handle felt comfortable after several cuts and, after an hour of testing, the battery had only reduced by a third.

The DCS391 is a bit short on features but goes long on quality. It comes packing a high-grade magnesium alloy shoe and a quick blade brake that kicks in instantly after removing your finger from the saw’s trigger. While equipped with a small 6 ½-inch blade, it proved capable of completing bevel cuts on two-by-four lumber without pause. Add to this the wide range of DeWalt tools that leverage the same 20-volt battery platform as the DCS391 and this saw’s value increases—it’s a great tool on its own, but even better when used as part of a system. The only real downside to this incredible workhorse of a saw is buying a battery and charger to use with it will set you back an additional $130.

Read our complete guide to the best circular saws.

Best Reciprocating Saws
Milwaukee 2720-20 M18 Fuel Sawzall

The Milwaukee 2720-20 M18 Fuel Sawzall was the standout favorite in our best reciprocating saws roundup. Not only does it come with the saw, battery, charger, blades, and instruction manual, it has a stud hanger as well. If you've ever been at the top of a ladder and needed to set down a Sawzall, you know how important this feature is.

With a rubberized pistol grip in the back and a second-hand grip on the front, it's really comfortable to hold. It needs to be comfortable because, during our endurance test, this saw outperformed the other battery-powered saws by more than 2 ½ times. Whether that’s a function of superior battery or superior cutting—and this saw is a superior cutter—it’s hard to tell. That said, we were able to lop the end off of a two-by-four more than 100 times before the battery gave out.

As for downsides, it's worth mentioning that the levers that control the depth guard and blade changing mechanism are plastic. We can't say how these pieces will last in the long term. It’s also a little hard to clean, as it was spitting out sawdust for days after our final test.

Its price is more expensive than the other saws we tested, however, we believe the price is offset by the included charger, battery, and hard shell case.

Read our complete guide to the best reciprocating saws.

Best Multitool
Leatherman Wave+

The Leatherman Wave checks all the right boxes, from convenience to quality. It's a multitool that's a balance of sleek form and impressive functionality. It comes with needlenose and regular pliers, hard and regular wire cutters, wire strippers, HC420 serrated and straight blades, spring-action scissors, an 8-inch and a 19-cm ruler, a can and bottle opener, large and small bit drivers, and a flathead screwdriver.

All the tools on the Wave exceeded our expectations when we tried them out, including the diamond-coated file and the two high-carbon blades.

The Wave has a smart design, with thick and rounded sides that prevent the multitool from cutting into your palms, even when you're squeezing the pliers as hard as you can. We also liked the fact that all the tools lock firmly into place, but can be released by pressing down on a textured button.

When we used the multitool to install a dishwasher, take apart a watch, and perform other household tasks, we found a lot of additional conveniences. For example, you can tell the serrated and straight blades apart without unfurling them because they have different spines–bumpy for serrated and smooth for straight. We also think the fact that you can operate the scissors with just your thumb is pretty clever.

We threw a lot of tasks at the Wave, and it handled all of them with ease.

Read our complete guide to the best multitools.

Best Work Gloves
Carhartt A518

The Carhartt A518 leather work gloves topped our list because they balanced dexterity and protection. High-quality double-stiched-sewn-grain-leather pads cover the fingertips, palm, part of the wrist and the knuckles. To test durability, we slashed at these areas with a knife made of 154CM steel, and aside from the very ends of the fingertips, we were pleased with how these gloves held up. However, it's the flexibility that puts them over the top. We opened a pocket knife, turned small dials, and typed this sentence while wearing these gloves.

While we liked the durability and flexibility, we found the A518's to be just adequate when it comes to insulation. When we subjected these gloves to wet, freezing temperatures, the inside of the glove went from a toasty 89°F to 60°F in under five minutes.

Issues aside, our testing showed us that the Carhartt A518s are the best abrasion-resistant gloves for general work such as shoveling, light construction, and moving heavy objects.

Read our complete guide to the best work gloves.

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