Have you been inspired to try your hand at some DIY projects, but not sure what tools you’ll need? For more basic projects I have the same tools I grab almost every time. I’ve put these tools together in an essential tools list here.
If you’re ready to tackle a project that’s a little more complex, you might want to add a few more tools to your arsenal.
The Best Tools for DIY Projects
Here’s my take on the the tools you’ll want to have when you start taking on more advanced DIY projects like installing trim, basic furniture builds, and even building a deck.
Hand saws are great if you only need to make a small number of cuts. But if you need to make many, precise cuts you might want to invest in a mitre saw.
A circular saw is a must if you will be cutting down sheets of plywood. Sure, you can probably get your local hardwood store to make these cuts for you, but being able to make them at home is really convenient. Right now I’m using an older 7 1/4″ corded model but I’m hoping to upgrade to a smaller, cordless model for convenience.
The number of times we use this tool is kind of ridiculous although I can never remember what it’s called (I accidentally called it a “hand job” once and that name has kinda stuck). The JobMax is great because it’s so versatile. There are a ton of different heads you can attach and it can get into some pretty tight spaces. I can attach a small saw blade to notch out the back of a bookcase so it will sit flush to the wall, or use the drive head to tighten screws in spaces too small for my cordless drill.
Once you start any projects involving cutting wood you want to make sure you have a sander. Sure, sandpaper works fine, but for anything bigger than a shoebox your arm is going to get tired. These are lots of different shapes and sizes out there and they work best for different types pf projects.
Detail Sander – For Everyday Projects
Personally, this is my favourite sander. I would use it for every project if I could because I love the compact shape and size. This works for smoothing sharp edges and scuffing up surfaces before painting.
5″ Orbital Sander – For Large Surfaces & Stripping Finishes
If you need to sand a large flat surface (like a large board of sheet of plywood) an orbital sander gives you a larger surface area and gives a nice smooth finish.
A Palm Sander – If you Only Want One
If you’re only going to be sanding occasionally and want a sander that can work for both small and large projects, a palm sander might be your best bet. It uses regular sandpaper sheets cut to size and can take on all sizes of projects.
I will not use a power sander without wearing these gloves. I find the vibration of the tools causes a lot of problems with my hands and if I’m sanding a lot without them my hands will start to go numb. Anti-vibration gloves help – but remember to switch hands and take breaks if you’re working on a large project.
Not the most glamorous tool in the shed, but the caulking gun is helpful for all sorts of DIY projects. This will be essential if you’re ever installing a sink, finishing the edges of tile, or installing baseboards/trim. I’m also a big fan of using the caulking gun with strong adhesives like I did for my raised stone flowerbed.
Pro Tip: Even if your caulk says it’s “paintable” try a small area first. We have found a lot of them are not as paintable as you might think.
Okay, you may not actually need an air compressor for most DIY projects, but I wanted to put it on this list and not my soon-to-be-published renovation tools list because it kind of straddles the line. We didn’t get our own air compressor until about two years ago and before then either hand nailed things or borrowed one from my brother. Whether or not you need one really depends on the type or projects you will be doing. We have a nice compact model that is very convenient for installing trim or a DIY shiplap wall. They also make doing any sort of upholstering super easy (if you’re into that kind of thing).
Mine seems to have been discontinued, but this one is similar: Rigid 6 Gal. Electric Pancake Air Compressor
You can’t use an air compressor without tools. We started with a combo nail & staple gun which is a nice multi-purpose tool. The only downside I’ve found with it is that it can leave a larger mark when nailing. When we did our renovation and replaced all our baseboards we purchased a separate nailer which gave us a more finished look.
My Combo Tool: Bostitch 2-in-1 Stapler/Brad Nailer Combo
My Nailer: RIDGID 18-Gauge 2-1/8 in. Brad Nailer
If you’re a regular reader of my blog you’ll know I’m a huge Kreg fan. If you’re interested in building any furniture from simple tabletops to bookcases to large wall storage units, pocket holes make it 1000% times easier. The mini kit is an affordable way to try out the system, but for speed and easy set up the K4 jig is worth the extra money.
I love my Kreg jig so much I’m giving away a Kreg Mini Jig Pocket Hole Kit to one lucky winner – enter below for your chance to win!