As every enthusiast will be well aware, the concept of DIY is expansive, spanning a range of different styles and applications. There are a ton of different projects individual DIY practitioners can feasibly undertake on their own, and the scope for imagination in the hobby is huge. The sky really is the limit when it comes to what you can put together—or if not the sky, then at least the ceiling in your living room.
But as with any discipline that has a lot of potential for innovation, the DIY projects you can carry out will need different tools depending on the precise needs of what you’re building. Depending on whether you’re just getting started out or you’re a seasoned pro, you’ll have varying degrees of familiarity with the tools of the trade, and it can be a little overwhelming when you’re just starting out to put together your own collection.
The most important thing when it comes to collecting the tools is having a proper storage place to have them organized. If you have to spend 30 minutes searching for the tools that you need for a 5-minute repair, you’ll definitely lose your temper at one point.
That’s why we’ve decided to come up with a list of the most fundamental tools every DIY hobbyist should keep handy. While there is always room for expansion, these items will serve as the basis of your overall tool kit and are more than adequate for handling urgent repair needs in a pinch. Without further ado, let’s dive straight into the list.
1: A Set of Screwdrivers
Screwdrivers are probably the single most important tool to include, especially if you’re thinking about the breadth of application. To see what we’re talking about, take a brief look around whichever room you’re currently in and count up all the things you can see that making use of screws in some way. You might be surprised at just how many regular pieces of furniture use them; so if you don’t have a screwdriver, you’re really limiting the potential amount of projects you can take on.
One screwdriver isn’t usually going to be enough, however. That’s why we recommend acquiring a number of different sizes, based on two main categories. Philips screwdrivers are built to account for the small crosses on the top of the screw, while flat-head screwdrivers work on screws that have a single horizontal slot across the top. A good-sized beginner collection of each kind of screwdriver is a must, whether you’re thinking about sorting out that squeaky door or even pulling off an advanced project like a ladder bookshelf.
2: A Hammer
You’re nowhere without a hammer. Where there are screws, there are usually nails within the near vicinity, and the only way to handle nails is with a hammer. One thing we don’t recommend, however, is stocking up on five or six hammers. This is a common beginner mistake that serves more to clutter up your toolbox than anything, and at any rate, it’s very seldom that you’ll come across situations that require a specific kind of hammer.
It’s better to get yourself set up with a sturdy, dependable, builder’s hammer. If you take care of it (and don’t knock it against another hammer) it should last you a long time into the future; and depending on the amount of time you tend to spend doing DIY work, it has the potential to survive dozens upon dozens of products. There’s nothing very complicated about a hammer, but make sure you don’t leave it out all the same.
3: A Tape Measure
For the third item on our list, we’re branching away slightly from the earlier products. A tape measure won’t be any good for handling the rough and ready aspects of DIY work, like nailing, filing, cutting, or screwing, but it’s probably the most important part of your toolkit all the same. The reason for this is the simple fact that it’s impossible to pull off any project in a professional manner without being able to accurately measure things out.
Just as useful for getting a sense of the general size of the piece as it is for ensuring joints are made with pinpoint accuracy, the humble tape measure should be the first thing you reach for when you’re considering a new project. There are a number of things you should consider when choosing one; we recommend going for one with a case of hard rubber, in order to maximize the durability of your purchase. Make sure that whichever tape measure you eventually opt for, it has measurements marked that will be beneficial for what you’ll be using it for. The more precise the work, the more accurate it should be.
These three items will no doubt be found in every experienced DIY hobbyist’s toolkit already, but it’s always good to get a reminder of best-practice techniques all the same. Beginners often go all out on the ‘practical’ tools—like hammers, nails, and pliers—at the expense of their more ‘theoretical’ counterparts, like tape measures and levels. This can leave them unable to plan a project properly, which never results in a favorable outcome.
One more thing to remember is that you can always resell a tool if you no longer need it and buy the one that you want. It’s better to buy a high-quality one that has been used, than a low-quality one that’s new and cheap.
Do you have a favorite tool that we left off our essentials list? Make a case for your selection in the comments below; we’d love to hear what you have to say.