You’ve probably figured out by now that I do a lot of projects around the house. If you’ve been reading for a long time, you also know that I once worked as a handyman.
I own a LOT of tools, but my top ten are the ones that I keep coming back to again and again. I think you’d be pretty well-equipped to handle a lot of DIY projects if you owned them too.
I prefer a corded drill because it’s more powerful (go for 6-8 amps), but I think most people like the cordless variety (at least 12 volts). If you’ll only own one, make sure it’s a drill/driver, not just a drill.
This is the type of hammer most people picture when thinking of a hammer. I’ve had mine forever (the handle is duct taped and well worn), it’s nice and heavy, and I use it all the time.
Open paint cans, clean rollers, pound paint lids closed, gouge cracks, and scrape loose paint – all with one tool.
This is definitely the tool I use the most. In fact, I had to go out and buy another one because Brandon and I both like to use it when we’re building things (like IKEA furniture) together. Regular screwdrivers are fine, but the ratcheting ones are a lot nicer. Add interchangeable bits that store in the handle and you have the best screwdriver EVER.
I use my long/needle-nose pliers more than any of my others, but I use my lineman’s pliers (they have a built-in wire cutter) quite a bit too. They’ll do in a pinch if you don’t have a wrench, and if you’re afraid of hitting your fingers when hammering (some of us are clumsier than others), you can hold the nail in place with pliers.
I have three levels (small, medium, and GIANT), but if you’re only going to have one I’d make it a torpedo level. You DO want those shelves you plan on installing to be straight, yes?
I like mine because it comes to a point for detail work, but a random orbit sander is probably a better choice (and the one I wish I had). If you want to refinish an old dresser, sanding by hand is sure to leave your arms tired and you frustrated. Go for a power sander.
Surely you already own a tape measure, right? Right. I carry a smaller one in my purse at all times too, but I’m a bit strange that way.
Handsaws are great for little projects. I have one with three interchangeable blades, but a hacksaw is another excellent option.
If you’ve ever wanted to try a simple upholstery project or to place some fabric over stretcher bars (like an artist’s canvas), you’re going to want a staple gun. There are power versions out there, but I find the $10-$15 handheld variety are just fine.
If you have the tools I’ve listed above, you’re pretty well set. To be further prepared though, you’ll also want to keep a stepladder and some general supplies on hand: sandpaper (in various grades), nails, screws, and wood glue.
I wouldn’t run right out and buy these just to have them, but you might want to consider them if you have some BIG projects coming up.
Nail Gun (& Air Compressor)
We kept borrowing a nail gun until we finally decided to buy our own. The air compressor is what gives the nail gun its force, so you need both. It seems like nail guns are a little scary to a lot of people, but they really aren’t too bad if you know what to expect. There will be a puff of air out of the back each time you fire a nail (and the nail won’t fire unless the tip of the gun is pressed in), the compressor will cycle on and off as needed to build up pressure, and it’s LOUD.
Compound Meiter Saw
If you have a lot of cuts to make, your arm will get really tired using a handsaw. A compound meiter saw will let you make straight cuts and all kinds of crazy angle cuts.
Table Saw or Circular Saw
Another tool we kept borrowing (and let me tell you, table saws are not exactly meant to be portable). We actually should have just bought a circular saw, but we went with a table saw instead. Both are good for making long, straight cuts in big pieces of wood.
So what do you think? Any essential tools that I left out of my list? What works for me may not be exactly what works for you, but I hope you found this helpful!
When I told Brandon that I was writing about my top ten tools, he asked if he was number one. I told him no, because he’s not a tool. ;)