The $13 IKEA Product I’ve Had for 16 Years and Through 11 Homes
There aren’t a lot of items from my teenage years that I’ve kept into adulthood. Some old extra-cozy team and event T-shirts remain, as well as a handful of meaningful mix CDs, a full collection of yearbooks, and a few cherished photos. But there’s only one thing from 2007 — the year of both Bee Movie and the first-ever iPhone — that I have made sure to keep within easy reach over all this time: my trusty IKEA FIXA tool kit. Over 16 years and 11 different homes across four different states, I’ve made sure that this basic kit was among the first things I unpacked.
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My FIXA was a high-school graduation gift from a neighbor whose name I don’t even remember anymore, but even as I’ve amassed a larger collection of tools, it’s remained a go-to. The small box neatly packages everything up so that it takes up about as much room as a hard-cover book, meaning it wasn’t ever difficult to find a home for it (even in small shared dorm rooms). And the curated collection includes the essentials you’d need to tackle most basic at-home DIYs: a hammer for hanging picture hooks, a pair of pliers for pulling out or re-bending old furniture staples, a screwdriver with interchangeable heads to secure shaky hardware, and a wrench so that you could tell people you had a wrench (this is the one item I never really found a use for).
These aren’t really high-quality tools fit for tradespeople, but they’re exactly sturdy enough to accommodate the needs of first-time apartment dwellers and DIY novices — and the price reflects that. Today, the 17-piece FIXA costs just $12.99 (I think it was under $10 back when I received it).
My FIXA kit has seen some hard times over the years, including an accidental encounter with a human foot, but it remains intact enough that I haven’t felt the need to replace it. And even though I’m more often reaching for my cordless power drill these days, I still use the hammer and interchangeable screwdriver at least monthly. This is a gift that remains on my “most-used” list, and it’s one I’ll be buying for any other people in my life who are moving out on their own for the first time. After all, the first step to making your own fixes is having the right tools — and for less than $15, this set’s tough to beat. So tough, in fact, that it’s barely changed in the years since I received mine. The carrier is a little sleeker, and the plastic cover a little less brittle (although that might be the decade-plus of wear peeking through in my set), but the tools themselves are virtually identical. The only change, as far as I can tell, is the addition of an optional rubber casing for the face of the hammer in case you want to use it as a rubber mallet. What can I say? If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it (but if it is broke, you’ll find me reaching for this tool kit).