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Tools to get started with DIY projects

Thinking about tackling your first DIY project can be daunting for many reasons, and buying the tools to do so is a big thing that initially held us back from taking projects on.

It felt like a lot of projects require a handful or tools that can quickly add up to the point where we almost considered hiring the project out. Our strategy has been to purchase the tools as we need them and two years into our DIY journey, we have some tried and true tools that we would recommend to anyone getting started with DIY projects.

Michael’s picks

  • Finish nailer — This was the first tool we purchased for our entryway project. We have used it on almost every single project we’ve done since. We have also brought it to friends houses to make minor repairs on multiple occasions. It’s great for any kind of trim project, paneling project, or temporarily fastening jigs together. If there’s a project, there’s a use for the finish nailer. We also love this because there’s no additional start-up cost (air compressor or gas cylinders)

  • Leatherman multi-tool — The Skeletool CX 7-in-1 Leatherman is by far the tool that gets reached for the most often in our household. A pliers, knife, screwdriver, and wire cutter bundled up in one lightweight tool is useful for almost everything.

  • Tape measure — No description necessary, but a tape measure is absolutely essential for any project. In addition to projects, we often take our tape measure to stores when we are purchasing larger items (gotta check to make sure it fits in our car!).

  • Speed square — The speed square is always a good tool to have handy when you need to make sure things are square. Especially helpful if you have any framing to do!

  • Rubber mallet — All the benefits of hammering without damaging your materials. This is a must have if you’re doing any woodworking.

  • Drill — A drill is a basic tool that can do so much. In addition to drilling screws, we’ve used our drill with mixing attachments to mix grout, cement, joint compound, etc. You can also get attachments to use your drill like a power sander, power scrubber, and even to dig a hole in your garden.

  • Hatchet and pry-bar — These two tools are essential if you have to do any demo!

  • Power miter saw — A miter saw is a good option if you have any wood cutting to do. It works as a chop saw and can cut angles. It’s typically less expensive than a table saw, so you can wait to get a nice table saw when you are ready to rip your own wood. Starting with a miter saw and standard lumber sizes will carry you through many basic projects.

  • Bubble level app — Save the $50 you would spend on a proper level and use the free app for a while. It’ll do the job.

Grace’s picks

  • Gloves — A good pair of work gloves are the single item I would recommend purchasing before you move into a fixer upper. Gloves make carrying heavy moving boxes so much easier and they are also very helpful to protect your hands when you get to the demo phase.

  • Paint tray with liners — This inexpensive metal paint tray falls into the category of things I wish I had purchased sooner. Buy it along with your first can of paint and you’ll never need to know the struggle of transporting a full floppy plastic paint tray. The plastic liners make cleanup a breeze.

  • Paint brush — A good paint brush will make all of your painting jobs so much easier. I love this 2” wooster brush for everything.

  • Power sander + 80, 220, and 400 grit sand paper — It is worth investing in a power sander if you have refinishing of any kind in your future. Whether it’s old trim or furniture, sanding by hand is the worst. Trust me. Get yourself a power sander.

  • Ladder — If you’re doing work on a house, chances are you’re going to be doing work on the ceiling as well. A lightweight step stool style ladder is a great option for lower ceilings, or a heavier extension ladder for vaulted ceilings.

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