Whether you’re faced with crumbly, uneven plaster walls that refuse to hold nails, a dripping showerhead, or an all-day Ikea assembly project, the frustration level will be significantly reduced with the right equipment at hand. We polled six local hardware stores to determine the essential components of the New York City toolbox, asking them to outfit us from scratch. Total cost of our kit: $119.31. While you’re at it, be sure to pick up the box that stores it all; this small metal version ($29.99 at Academy Hardware, 2869 Broadway, nr. 111th St.; 212-222-3060) holds everything nicely and fits under the bed.
Saw Most Anything
“It cuts anything— a hole for wires, the Christmas tree, or a frozen chicken,” says salesman Jonathan Jefferies (Stanley 4-Way keyhole saw, $5.99 at Vercesi Hardware, 152 E. 23rd St., nr. Lexington Ave.; 212-475-1883).
“This one works on sound waves and will find any obstruction behind walls,” says Lopator (Strait-Line stud finder, $39.98 at Midtown Hardware).
Also Known as a Box Cutter
“This snap-blade knife is for FreshDirect boxes,” says Jefferies ($1.99 at Vercesi Hardware).
Soft to the Touch
“You don’t feel the heavy pounding; the handle is nice and cushiony,” says hardware associate Al Manigault (FatMax Antivibe hammer, $19.93 at Home Depot, 40 W. 23rd St., nr. Sixth Ave.; 212-929-9571).
“Long-nose pliers are for yanking things out, like furniture staples. The slip-nose pliers are for turning a nut,” says Jefferies (eight-inch slip-joint pliers, $3.99, and 6.5-inch long-nose pliers, $4.99, at Vercesi Hardware).
“I’m an old-timer, and I prefer regular bubble levels, because the laser levels aren’t as accurate,” says owner Joe Speranza (Johnson nine-inch torpedo level, $9.99 at Eastside Hardware, 1175 Second Ave., at 62nd St.; 212-207-8378).
Will the Sofa Fit?
“You want a 25-foot metal, locking tape measure—that will cover anything in Manhattan,” says salesman Steve Lopator ($10.98 at Midtown Hardware, 155 E. 45th St., nr. Lexington Ave.; 212-682-7858).
When in Doubt…
“It has 101 uses. People use it for plumbing leaks or taping boxes,” says manager Harry Basdeo (Duck duct tape, $6.48 at Lowe’s, 118 Second Ave., nr. 10th St., Park Slope, Brooklyn; 718-249-1151).
“Assemble-your-own furniture comes with its own keys, but they’re not great,” says co-owner George Schoen (PrecisionCraft hex keys, $14.99 at Garber Hardware, 710 Greenwich St., nr. Charles St.; 212-929-3030).
Hardware for Any Occasion
Project: Hiding Your Handiwork
Use brads ($1.29), the headless nails that disappear below the surface.
Project: Attaching Two Light-Use Materials
Use nails ($1.29). Simple as that.
Project: Attaching Two Heavy-Use Materials
Use drywall screws ($1.29), which are tough enough for headboards and thick picture frames.
Project: Hanging Shelves on Drywall
Use E-Z anchors ($1.99), also known as mollies, which support thin drywall with extra prongs.
Project: Hanging Pictures, Mirrors, or Wall Hangings
Use picture hooks ($1.59). Nails are not made for hanging.
Not committed to purchasing a pricey tool like a table saw? Rent it here (they deliver).
T.P. Rental Services Inc.
417 W. 50th St., nr. Ninth Ave.; 212-713-1999
Total Tool Rental
166 Nostrand Ave., nr. Myrtle Ave., Fort Greene, Brooklyn; 718-222-9588
Manhattan Ladder Company
31-15 14th St., Long Island City, Queens; 718-721-3352