Essential Tools for the DIY Beginner

Recently I was fortunate enough to receive an invite to a DIY 101 seminar put on in conjunction with Rambling Renovators and Home Depot. It was a super fun event where we got to learn about gardening, tools and spray painting with the Home Depot pros. I learned a ton of new things (especially in the gardening area, as I totally have a black thumb!) Check out this excellent recap by Jen at Rambling Renovators (and you can even spy my mug trying out the cordless brad nailer!)

Sylvan teaching us how to not murder our plans.

Sylvan teaching us how to not murder our plans (we ended up making our own herb gardens to take home!)

Rick the tool guy giving us the down low on the coolest new tools

Rick the tool guy giving us the down low on the coolest new tools

The seminar on tools got me thinking. El Granto and I have been very lucky and have received a lot of our DIY tools as presents from family. Some hand me downs, and some Christmas and birthday gifts. I still have the hammer my dad gave me when he dropped me off at my first apartment in college. He left me with a small array of tools; hammer, screw drivers, and a little tin full of misc screws and nails. He didn’t want me to be the girl hanging pictures and assembling Ikea furniture with a butter knife. Thanks Dad!

We now have quite the tool arsenal, but if you’re just starting out on the path to DIY getting your needed tools can be an expensive and overwhelming experience. So to help you out, I have devised a list of the best items to purchase to get you started on most tasks.

Essential Tools for the DIY Beginner

Miter saw. This workhouse will have you making precise, clean cuts for everything from trim and moldings, to framing and furniture. To start out, all you need is a basic 10″ single bevel compound miter. If you outgrow this down the line, corded tools hold their value well, and you’ll be able to resell on Kijiji or Craigslist.

Ryobi Saw

Ryobi 10 In. Compound Mitre Saw With Laser $99.00

Good quality tape measure (or two!) You will literally use this non stop. Measure twice really is a motto to live by. Purchase a good quality tape. One that is sturdy, accurate and has a good extension. We currently have FIVE!

DeWALT 25' tape with 13 foot stand out (great for measuring things by yourself) $25.99

DeWALT 25′ tape with 13 foot stand out (great for measuring things by yourself) $25.99

Level. Not only is a level great for well, making things level, but I often use mine as a straight edge and saw guide. Invest in a level, as this is a tool that you will have for years to come.

DeWALT 28" box level. (has rubber shock end caps so if you drop it accidentally its not the end of the world!) $69.99

DeWALT 28″ box level. This fella has rubber shock resistant end caps so if you drop it accidentally (like I am oft to do) you wont be running to the store for a replacement. $69.99

Cordless drill. This is the tool that will probably get the most use in your workshop. From assembling furniture to making short work of little projects, a good drill is essential. Make sure to choose a cordless drill wisely. Choose one that has a good battery life, quick charging time, is lightweight but powerful. This is a tool to invest in. Purchase one with a 1/2″ chuck (3/8 is just too small). Also consider your other battery powered tools, and purchasing a line of products that you can interchange the batteries. It means less chargers, and having backup batteries ready when you need them. I am scoping out a new drill (El Granto’s is a bit too big and heavy for me). This Ryobi drill + impact set I have my eyes on.

Ryobi One+ 18V Lithium Drill and Impact Driver Kit $149

Ryobi One+ 18V Lithium Drill and Impact Driver Kit $149

Hammer. A well balanced comfortable hammer will make short work of your task. Choose one that is lightweight but powerful to reduce fatigue.

DeWALT 15oz high velocity hammer $79.97

DeWALT 15oz high velocity hammer $79.97

Pencils. This may sound like a “DUH” item, but when you need one, you can never seem to find one. Buy a few good quality ones and keep them sharp and handy. (Don’t forget a sharpener too!)

Carpenters pencil $0.49

Carpenters pencil $0.49

It also doesn’t hurt to splurge on a fancy tool or two. After trying out this puppy at the Home Depot DIY 101 seminar I am in LOVE. This cordless brad nailer has me wanting to tackle another trim project like our guest room board & batten. Heart <3 …

Ryobi 18V ONE+ 18ga Cordless 2 Inches Brad Nailer $199

Ryobi 18V ONE+ 18ga Cordless 2 Inches Brad Nailer $199

Tips!

  • Home Depot will rip down large lumber for you such as plywood (for a small fee). For big projects, bring your cut list with you and have them cut it for you. A table saw is a big purchase, and unless you’ll be using it a ton, you really don’t need one!
  • You don’t need a truck to get big lumber home! We don’t have a car, and (as you know) build a lot of stuff. We walk home with what we can, but for larger purchases we rent the Home Depot take it home van. For $25 you get 90 minutes rental time, which is plenty of time to get everything home and unloaded.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for help. If you’re unsure on a project, do research and ask for help before getting started. It’s much better to plan and research and get it right the first time than to do a poor job and waste expensive materials. Don’t forget to read the instructions! Packages can often tell you exactly how to get things done. Use resources like sales people at the hardware store, and free in store workshops to help you get the knowledge you need.

*I was not paid in any way for this post. All opinions are my own!

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