So you’re thinking about starting your DIY journey? That’s awesome! We’re so glad you’re here and can’t wait to tackle this DIY life with you. Let us know in the comments what the first project you hope to tackle is!
Before you get started, you’ll need some basic equipment. And by basic, we mean anything beyond what you probably already have in your junk drawer (a screwdriver, hammer, tape measure, etc.). We’ve broken down the essential tools for every DIYer below.
The ONLY tools you need to DIY
Want to build magazine-worthy furniture and decor? The Essential Tools Roadmap will show you what tools you actually need to complete 95% of DIY furniture and home improvement projects (it’s not as many as you think!).
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A drill is truly a staple for nearly all things home DIY. From building furniture to securing things to the wall, your drill is almost never going to leave your side in the DIY world. We haven’t tried out many drills, so I can’t speak for them all, but we have a Dewalt 20V Max. Dewalt is a lifetime brand. They are built to last. We prefer to invest up front to save later, which is why we chose Dewalt. But, whatever brand you choose, it’s a good idea to be consistent. The batteries generally can be used across tools and it’s nice to always have one battery charged up and ready to go when you need it.
2. Kreg jig
The miraculous kreg jig. Seriously, this thing is a staple when it comes to building DIY furniture. It allows you to create pocket holes which hide your screws. We use it on every furniture project and is a must for any DIYer. The type you get can depend on how often you plan to DIY. Believe it or not, we used the cheapest version (the $19 Kreg Jig Mini) for YEARS. We just upgraded to the Kreg Jig K4 Pocket Hole System at the beginning of 2019 and we love it. No, this is not an ad, it just saves so much time. The clamp is built-in and you can do 2 holes at a time without repositioning. If you’re committing to the DIY life, we highly recommend the Kreg Jig K4 to make your life easier, but it can all be done with the Mini.
Oh clamps, how underrated are you? Clamps are a life-saver. They keep things in place (and are 100% necessary if you decide to invest in the Kreg Jig Mini), but they do so much more. Clamps come in handy when you’re gluing things together to ensure that the boards stay together.
And if your boards are warped or something is out of square, clamping overnight can work wonders. They won’t solve every problem, but they always make a difference. Your forearms will thank you if you invest in a nicer brand. We use Irwin Quick Grip clamps and are big fans. Having a variety of sizes is nice, but you can always get the larger sizes and use those on almost anything.
Wish you could build magazine-worthy furniture and decor without a workshop full of expensive tools? Get the Essential Tools Roadmap and find out which tools are essential to DIY and which 3 tools you should start with.
4. miter or circular saw
Your local home improvement store can get you started with some of your starting cuts for DIY projects, but you always end up needing to cut some pieces at home. You can get either a miter or circular saw since they can accomplish many of the same cuts, however, they both have their specialties. Our personal preference (if you only want one) is a miter saw. It’s easier to handle and makes cutting angles a breeze (and I’ve really been into angles lately). But, the miter saw takes up more room and is a higher up-front cost than a circular saw.
A circular saw is able to make similar cuts, but angles are more manual and likely less accurate since you have to measure and draw the angle yourself. One major pro of the circular saw is that you can cut things (like plywood) that are longer than the saw blade. If you are planning on cutting longer boards, we’d highly recommend the Kreg Rip-Cut Circular Saw Guide.
5. Safety EQUIPMENT
Okay, this is more than one item, but it’s so important. Never attempt to do a DIY project without the proper safety equipment. For any projects involving cutting wood, using power tools, or sanding, you need safety glasses and earplugs.
Masks are needed when sanding and staining (you don’t want to breathe in wood dust and fumes). And last but not least, you should use gloves while staining. Plastic/latex gloves are just fine for that.
You thought we were at the end of this list, huh?
Well, we wanted to throw in some bonus tools that will make your life easier if you think DIY will be something you keep up with.
You can sand everything by hand. In fact, we sanded a lot of our first projects and furniture by hand, but if you’re going to make DIY a thing, we highly encourage investing in an electric sander. You will save so much time and you’ll be able to get things smoother than you would’ve by hand.
Three cheers for saving your knees and spending less time crouched down on the cold, concrete garage floors! Sawhorses fold up and can be stored, meaning they take up way less space than a work table. We’re living that “we can barely fit two cars in our garage” life, so we need all the room we can get.
This is another tool we didn’t invest in for a long time. Once we decided to do a shiplap wall, it was a must. I can’t image how long it would’ve taken to put up that wall without it. Now, we use it on all our accent walls.
We’ve started using nails more on DIY furniture as of late, but 90% of the time you won’t need it. It’ll make your life easier (and probably safer if you’re like me and are terrified for nailing your finger), but generally, you’ll be able to nail by hand if needed.
That concludes our list of essential tools for DIYers. If you’re looking for a few more fun items, check out our gift guide for DIYers.