Toolbox Essentials

Our hardware managers have given their recommendations for a variety of toolbox essentials from dust masks to levels.  We broke their selections down into categories and have put together a list of basics to start your collection.

Save time and effort with the right tools in your toolbox.

Here are our suggestions for the types of tools to have on hand so that you’ll be ready for any task. The right tools can make the difference between success and frustration.

The Toolbox

Before you invest in a lot of tools, you’ll want a place to store them to keep them clean, dry, and ready for duty. Maybe that means a wall or pegboard system, or maybe it means an actual container.  Here’s one suggestion for a tool box that you can store or carry: from DeWalt, the TSTAK® deep box with flat top (DWST17806). This flexible platform from DeWalt allows different combinations; all units can stack on top of each other and are able to connect with durable side latches for easy carrying and safe stacking. This model can be used for storage of corded and cordless tools and features a removable tray for access to essential tools. Heavy duty metal latches and hinges are built for durability.

Utility Knife

This is an upgrade from the throw-away box cutters you can pick up anywhere. A good quality utility knife is a favorite cutting tool. From opening boxes to cutting carpet, a utility knife can do it all. Try the Stanley Quick Change Retractable Utility Knife (ST10499) – a trustworthy tool at a reasonable price point.

Our Pro pick is the DeWalt Premium retractable Utility Knife (DWHT10295) which is water resistant and has a lifetime warranty.


You could buy a whole set of screwdrivers, or you can buy one that can handle many jobs: the Lutz 15-in-1 screwdriver (7965001). This screwdriver has a an easy grip handle and integrated storage for 7 double ended interchangeable bits. Ratcheting action in the handle gives you some extra power. This truly is a toolbox essential that you will reach for over and over.


Pliers are universal tools that can perform a range of duties. They can be used for light electrical work and other tasks because they can grip, bend, and cut. These tools are indispensable for your toolbox, work bench, or tool belt. A good basic set of pliers is the Stanley 3-piece set (ST84056) which includes 6″ diagonal pliers, 6″ long  nose pliers, and 6″ slip joint pliers.

Our Pro pick is a single set of Stanley Long Nose Pliers (ST84097). This plier has a rust resistant finish, hardened cutting edges for strength, and machined jaws for a slip-resistant grip.

Safety Gear

PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) is important, and it doesn’t cost a lot.  Some items to consider:

3M masks – for chemical use, painting, sanding, and recently, virus protection! For a one time job, keep a pack of 2 masks (under $10) in your tool box: 3M N95 Particulate Respirator our item # 82MMM8654.

For a bigger job or if you have people helping you, stash a box of 10 with your gear  – at under $25, you’ll save on buying in bulk and have them ready when you need them – item # 82MMM8511BX.

Other PPE to keep nearby: high visibility safety gloves – reusable single pair item # 82BG8412M (or L, or X depending upon size – just $6); safety vest  – under $10 for a basic hi-vis vest with reflective stripes; safety glasses & ear protection (under $10 for a combo pack of glasses and ear plugs, item # 590541839, plus other items to choose from.


For small jobs around the house, like leveling a shelf or picture frame, a toolbox size level may be all that you need. The Johnson 7500 aluminum torpedo level measures just 9″ long and is under $10. for larger projects like doors and windows, you may need a longer level, such as the Johnson 4800 (JL4800) – a 4′ aluminum box level.

Our Pro pick is the Stabila (STA37532) Jammer set – this 2-piece set includes 78″ and 32″ aluminum box beam levels for leveling headers, sills, thresholds, door frames and more.


You’ll want a good hammer for nailing or pulling nails. The Vaughan 999 (VAU999) rip hammer, 20 oz, is a classic tradesman tool, and a good fit in any toolbox. This one has a hardwood handle, a rust-resistant finish, and is made in USA.

Step up your game with the EstWing E320S (ESTE320S). This 20 oz hammer is forged from steel and has a shock reduction grip for more comfort when you’re using it all day. At under $35 each, either of these will serve a wide range of people and projects.


Our hardware experts have 2 recommendations for measuring tapes that are go-to items for the trade, and equally useful around the house: Stanley Fat Max 25’ tape item # ST33725.  Or try the DeWalt 25’ Tough Series tape, with a 17’ stand out (meaning you can extend it 17’ before the tape will bend). At under $30 each, these are both reliable tape measures you will reach for again and again.

Adjustable wrenches

An adjustable wrench is a great tool to have in the home because they are used for tightening loose nuts and bolts, making them essential for assembling furniture, working on the car, and a myriad of other tasks. For general use, you can try a Stanley 8″ adjustable wrench (ST87369).

Our Pro pick is a socket kit. With 69 pieces including both 3/8″ and 1/4″ drive sockets and ratchets, this Stanley (ST92824) set this will serve you well for common home and automotive use.

Tapes and Adhesives

Yup, you saw it here, a good old roll of duct tape is handy to have. Plus other kinds of tape, such as masking or painter’s tape, electrical tape, teflon tape, double sided adhesives, hook and loop fasteners or wood glue. When it comes to having the right tools for the the job, sometimes the word tool is used loosely.

Dropcloths or tarps

Maybe a  dropcloth won’t fit in the toolbox, but it is nice to have on hand. Quite often this is the item that is forgotten until you start sawing or making holes in drywall and realize what a mess it makes. Tarps are useful for covering projects outside.

We hope to see you at one of our many locations where you can meet the Riverhead Building Supply team and take advantage of their knowledge. See our calendar for information about tool shows and other upcoming events.