Find out the best building tools for DIY-ers. Beginner to advanced, you’ll want all these tools for your next DIY project!
My high school chemistry teacher was from Minnesota. To her Texas students, that might as well have been the North Pole. I still remember her waving away our incredulity about temperatures 20° below zero with her matter of fact tone and mid-Western accent: “There’s no such thing as impossible weather, just appropriate or inappropriate clothing.”
Funny, I still think of that when I think of tools (and yes, apparently I am that crazy!). The principle is the same:
There’s no such thing as an impossible task, just appropriate or inappropriate tools.
That said, one of the main draws of DIY (for me, at least!) is budget. Sure, it gives a great feeling of empowerment, but if I had endless supplies of money, I would probably just pay the experts. 😉 So how do you pick and choose the right tools so that you are being the most efficient? How do you find the right tools without over spending? These questions led me to starting a new little series: Tools for DIY-ers. Today’s focus is BUILDING. What are the most useful (and versatile) tools to put in your arsenal?
I tried to list them in order of importance (ie versatility and use on multiple projects), though it obviously depends on which particular project you are trying to complete. And if you read on, you’ll notice they are not all hundreds of $$$… Take heart! 😉
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- what I have: this one, and I wanted to start you with something both affordable and super versatile. Though a variety of screwdrivers would accomplish the same thing, I love how efficient it is… and as far as tools go, pretty dang affordable.
- what I have: this one, and I love it… but I know others who have different brands and love them, too. I think the most important thing is that you have a lithium battery (I’ve seen the best success with at least 20V); the others just don’t keep up.
- budget option: I’ve heard great things about this little one, too. It won’t have the power of one like mine, but it is definitely better than nothing!
- projects where I used mine: pretty much EVERYTHING! 🙂
3. drill bits
- what I have: this set
- projects where I used mine: I always pre-drill before sinking screws, even in sheetrock, so my DIY RH curtain rods, my furniture and cabinet building, and even my picture hanging all used these guys!
4. palm sander
- what I have: this one, but I’ve used other brands and they seem to work well. I personally prefer a palm sander to a circular one; I’ve had circular ones damage surfaces I’m working on.
- projects where I used mine: pretty much every build or painting project, including this vintage dresser makeover, our diy boot box, and our vintage schoolroom chalkboard
- what I have: this one, and I love it; it is so much easier to use than a bulky full-sized circular saw. However, if you can only afford one saw, you may want a bigger one like this… Between this and my miter saw, though, I manage just about everything (and anything larger I just have cut at my local home improvement store). I love how easy it is to adjust the length of the blade, especially, allowing me to make grooved cuts (see some of the projects below)
- projects where I used mine: faux planked table top, diy plank wall, trimming out our whitewashed attic
6. air compressor (and brad nailer)
- what I have: this one is awesome: portable and reliable. Plus the set comes with brad nailers and staplers… they are so very useful.
- budget option: you could always start with just the compressor, but it’s a better deal if you can get the full set. If you already have a compressor, you can get a brad nailer to go with it; you’ll love it!
- projects where I used mine: diy boot box, diy plank wall, trumeau mirror, built-in bookcases, stairwell bookcase… pretty much any and all building projects!
7. miter saw
- what I have: this one is AMAZING. It is probably my favorite tool to date… and our most expensive one. Admittedly, it’s a little overkill, but the sliding operation allows it to act almost like a mini table saw. Whether it slides or not, a miter saws allow for precise angle cuts, and I love it…
- budget option: I think our first miter saw cost only $50, and I managed to use that to build frames, put up a chair rail, and even build bookcases. They are super versatile tools. Given the quality of Hitachi, I imagine this one would be an excellent basic miter and quite a bit cheaper.
- projects where I used mine: trumeau mirror, DIY RH inspired curtain rods, vintage chalkboard
8. saw horses
- what I have: these, and I use them all the time! Painting, especially, is made easier when the item is at table height. These are lightweight and simple.
9. kreg jig
- use: creates pocket screws (allowing you to angle screws when joining boards so that the screws are hidden)
- what I have: this one, and I confess that Mr. Pax is better at it than I am; that’s what teamwork is for. 😉
- budget option: I’ve heard great things about this little one, too.
- projects where I used mine: Built-in Bookcases, Stairwell Bookcase, Laundry Room Cabinetry
- what I have: this one, and it’s great!
- projects where I used mine: DIY mudroom unit, Industrial Spool Turned Table, DIY Boot Box, Plank Wall
And that’s it for today. I figured limiting myself to 10 might make the whole process a little less intimidating to those who are just starting out. And if you have been building for years and just need a recommendation for a solid brand, I can’t say I’ve tried every brand out there but I really do love all the ones we have! I have at least two more planned in this series: top painting tools and other miscellaneous ones. Any more you’d like to see? Leave me a comment!
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