Store all the bits you'll need in the handle. Its ratcheting-action handle drives screws home quickly with less fatigue than a regular screwdriver; the bit holder does double duty as a nut driver.
About $20; leevalley.com
35-Foot Tape Measure
A longer tape helps mark off bigger projects. This one has a beefier end hook that grips corners better than smaller tapes.
About $32; bostitch.com
Bucket-Liner Tool Organizer
Keep your growing collection of tools organized around an inexpensive 5-gallon bucket where everything is in view. Stash smaller items in the fabric pockets and one or two larger power tools in the bucket.
Bucket Boss, about $25; duluthtrading.com
18-Volt Lithium-Ion Drill/Driver and Circular Saw
You need these tools to drill lots of pilot holes, drive lots of screws, and cut up lots of lumber for your projects, and because they're cordless, you can take them anywhere. Lithium-ion batteries are the power source of choice because they promise fade-free power and lighter weight. This Porter-Cable combo kit offers these two popular tools at a rock-bottom price.
About $90; lowes.com
A must-have for hanging pictures, installing cabinets, or laying a patio. A sturdy metal one like this is less prone to dings than a plastic one.
About $25; johnsonlevel.com
Come fall or spring, you'll appreciate its help hauling yard debris. Bigger tubs hold more, but are also ungainly when full. The 4-cubic-foot steel tub on this wheelbarrow will carry compost, soil, or bags of mulch with ease.
About $35; ames.com
Until you're seasoned enough to knock on the wall to determine the location of the stud, use this bit of technology to avoid surprises. The rechargeable 4-volt lithium-ion battery in the Tek 4 stud finder works in a host of other Ryobi products.
About $40; ryobitools.com
A good socket set with a ratcheting handle speeds the assembly process of anything held together with nuts and bolts, including decks and play sets, and lets you get them nice and tight. This kit includes eighteen ¼-inch-deep sockets, with an extension bar, ratchet, a case to keep all the pieces in order, and a lifetime warranty.
About $15; stanleytools.com
Strapped to your hip or tossed into your glove box, a good multitool puts a knife, pliers, and screwdrivers close at hand, saving you from multiple runs back to the toolbox. Packed inside the 5-ounce stainless-steel body are 12 different tools.
Kick multitool, about $30; leatherman.com