Ready to tackle your dream DIY projects? Start every job strong with a toolkit that’s tailored to your creative vision(s). When you invest in a few staple tools up front, you’ll be able to breeze through your jobs with ease.
Let’s start out with a little advice: buy two tape measures. You’ll always need one and having two ensures that you’ll always be able to find one. Now that that’s taken care of, let’s jump into our list of ten must-have tools.
That’s right, hammers plural. You’ll need a high-quality basic hammer with a claw for putting in (and removing) nails. Opt for a hammer with a rubber handle for comfort and overall better grip. A rubber mallet for softer jobs will come in handy, and invest in an appropriately sized sledgehammer for any demo renovations you plan on knocking out.
Tip: Not every hammer will be a perfect fit. When shopping, hold the hammer as you would when doing a job, and make sure it’s a good fit in the grip area. The last thing you need is a hammer that isn’t comfortable or easy to use.
2) Cordless Drill
This will be your best friend for dream DIYs and daily maintenance. The versatility of a cordless drill is unmatched, and the ease of swapping out bits makes for easy adapting per job. Bare minimum, get a ratcheting screwdriver to take the work out of small jobs. Choose one with a collection of multi-bits for the perfect fit for each screw.
3) Basic Saw
Trust us, a basic hand saw is something you’ll reach for at different points along your DIY journey. Check out your local hardware store for a universal woodsaw, a panel saw, or a junior hacksaw. For bigger jobs, invest in 45 and 90-degree angle guides for easy (and precise) cutting. Make sure you have a safe method for storing any saws you bring home, and invest in extra blades for saws with swappable tips.
4) Laser Level
Your future self will thank you for this, and your past self will be envious. A good quality laser level will help nearly every project you take on. From hanging pictures to installing cabinet doors, a laser level will help get the job done with ultimate ease. Bolster your tool bag with a handheld level for extra precision, and don’t start a project without a sturdy carpenter’s pencil for making your mark.
5) A Carpenter Square
This may seem like an odd one, but it’s worth its weight in gold. A carpenter square will quickly become any builder’s best friend. You may also know it by other names, like speed square or builders square. It’s the best tool for checking angles and squaring up things like trim and detail work, but can also come in handy for small jobs around the house every day. Bonus: these tools typically include measurement lines to double as an extra-handy ruler.
6) Adjustable Light
An adjustable light will come in clutch for any jobs that don’t offer optimal lighting. Working under a sink, in a closet, or even in a tight corner will be made easier with a little extra light. Opt for a light that has adjustable settings and an adaptable base for the ultimate hands-free experience. Some models are even magnetic for sticking on sturdy surfaces.
7) Stud Detector
Cue the joke where you hold the detector to yourself and say, “Ope, looks I found a stud!” Now that we have that out of the way, this tool is a must-have for any job involving walls. It’s important to check what’s behind the drywall before you drill, as you could easily hit a live cable or plumbing pipe. Spend a little bit more in this category for a stud detector that you can rely on for many years down the road.
You only have two hands, but luckily you can have as many clamps as you want! Quick grips or G-clamps will be useful for a myriad of DIY jobs, and will come in handy when you’re low on extra help. They’re a must for any wood gluing or for holding things in place before you can affix them.
9) Screws, Nails, Etc.
Do yourself a favor and pick up a multi-kit with different sizes of nails, screws, and other key pieces of hardware. At some point you will need an extra nail or a set of screw eyes and you’ll save a lot of time by already having what you need on hand. Pick up a picture hanging kit, too, as these come in handy every time artwork is ready to be displayed.
10) Goggles and Gloves
All builders need to follow the same simple rule: always protect yourself first. Don’t worry about looking “cool,” because your DIY projects will bring the cool factor all on their own. It’s better to wear goggles and feel a little over-prepared than to pause mid-job for a quick trip to the ER.