9 Must Have Tools for Your DIY Arsenal
My dad and I were talking about DIY and interior design and how much progress we’ve made since the ‘old days.’ We laughed at stories of when Wendy and I first started. We had a total of 2 tools; a hammer and a drill, and we were clueless to the time and work required to transform a space.
We watched all the HGTV shows just like everyone else and thought, “Yeah, we could do that!” Turns out we were right, but not without seriously steep learning curves. We also figured out that we lacked the hundreds of people that HGTV has working behind the scenes to get those rooms completed in their ridiculously short timelines.
One of our first projects! Before…
In the beginning we borrowed tools from friends and I still laugh when I think about us standing in the middle of the room screaming about the air compressor we borrowed from a friend because we thought it was going to explode! Was it supposed to be making that noise? That loud and for that long? Did we break it??? Haha! Clueless! But everyone’s gotta start somewhere, right?!
Our DIY education came from trial, error, persistence, perseverance, and asking questions to anyone who had more knowledge than we did, which was a lot of people!
One piece of advice that we got over and over again was the right tools make all the difference. Truer words have never been spoken. If you’re going to be a DIY-er, purchasing the right tools for the job is more than worth it!
While you’re learning, Home Depot has tool rentals for pretty much any job, and in the beginning, when we weren’t borrowing tools from friends, we were renting them from Home Depot. Tool rentals are also a great resource for big jobs that you’re only going to do once. For instance, we rented a drum sander from Home Depot when we refinished these hardwood floors.
Me and the rented drum sander. You can see from the pics that we were in the thick of it. Dust everywhere!
Dust settled, everything is wiped down. This is just before we started staining!
Fast forward 7 years, and we still don’t have a drum sander but we now have more education, a legitimate company, and yes, the right tools for the job!
Here’s the day we took the plunge…and also caught a sale! Haha! * FYI- We use Ryobi brand tools and they’ve done a great job. However, many of the contractors we work with recommend Dewalt brand.
There are a ton of jobs you’ll need specialty tools for but here are the top 9 tools that we’ve used on every project and have made all the difference in getting jobs done with a better quality of work and in faster time.
One: Miter Saw
A miter saw is a specialized saw that lets you make cuts at various angles as well as straight cuts. It’s mounted on a swing arm and is great for cutting trim, crown molding, and casing. We use the miter saw to cut anything from 2x4s to lauan to mdf. It’s a handy compact tool and has saved us a lot of time (and math) because the angles are built right in!
All of the cuts for this wainscoting project were made with a miter saw.
Two: Circular Saw
A circular saw is a small, versatile, hand-held saw that has a round blade used to make a variety of cuts. The circular saw gets our vote for its versatility. It’s easy to use and its portability has allowed us to build everything from a wood mantel, to chopping up old furniture and making something completely new.
These 2 nightstands were made from one end table, and we used a circular saw to make the cut!
Three: Drill/ Multiple Head Drill Bit Set
A drill is a hand held power tool used to make holes in surfaces. When paired with the right bit, it can be used to create holes of a specific size and depth or to drive screws into surfaces. Even before I was a DIY-er, I owned a drill. It’s the tool we’ve used most. From assembling furniture to building barn doors, a drill is 100% necessary!
**If you are going to be driving a lot of screws into wood, consider an impact driver. They are very similar to a drill but offer much more forceful bursts of torque. They’re excellent when a regular drill won’t pack enough punch for the job. Note: Impact Drivers are very powerful, so beware! You’ve been warned! 🙂
These dining room chairs would’ve taken me hours to assemble if I’d used the little Allen wrench that was included with each chair. The drill and Allen wrench bit saved me!
Four: Pneumatic Nailer
Also known as a nail gun, the pneumatic nailer drives nails into surfaces using air from an air compressor. Talk about a time saver! This tool has made the hammer just about obsolete and if I’m being honest, it’s a little bit addicting once you get the hang of using it!
This custom wine rack was attached to the wall using a pneumatic nailer. There are many many nails in the rack but they’re easily disguised because of the dark color and small size of the nails.
Five: Utility knife
A small knife with a razor blade edge designed to cut cardboard, wood, or other materials. Whether it’s for opening packages or removing carpet, we use a utility knife on every project. It’s just a good versatile tool to always have in reach!
All utility knives are NOT made equal. We love this little guy by Husky.
Pliers- Small flat parallel tools used to grip or bend materials. If you’ve got a pesky nail that’s stuck or that seemingly unbend-able piece of metal, then pliers will be a great companion. They are awesome for simple tedious tasks saving time and frustration.
When we had to remove what seemed like a million staples while redoing my parent’s stairs, I was never more thankful to the inventor of pliers…ugh!
Clamps are a brace or clasp used to strengthen and/or hold something in place. Clamps are such huge time savers because once their in use, you can continue on with other projects.
We use often clamps when we’re making cuts or to hold materials together, like we did when we made our barn doors.
A hand-held tool with a heavy metal head used for breaking items or driving in nails. Although the hammer has been all but replaced by the pneumatic nailer, they do come in very handy for forcefully knocking things in place. We also use them to set nails or remove small nails.
When it comes to hammers, it’s better to have it and not need it, then to need it and not have it. For that it get’s our vote and makes our list.
A level is a tool that has a flat surface without bumps or slopes used to show perfectly straight lines. Levels come in different sizes and are made from different materials. We have 3 levels; a 10 inch, a 2 foot, and a 6 foot. They are great for drawing paint lines, as well as to check that hung materials are perfectly straight. In the construction realm they can also be used to make sure wood is ‘square’ and floors are even.
When we recycled the old dining room table making it into two console tables, the level came in quite handy. We use the 6 foot level most often and prefer levels made of metal. That way there’s less chance of them bending over time. Nothing worse than an unlevel level!
This completes our list. Do you agree with our list? What would you add? Let us know by commenting below.