Part of the pleasure of owning a home is being able to carry out different DIY jobs without the need to call in a tradesman. Of course, there will always be jobs that you don’t have the expertise or knowledge to do by yourself, but there is a myriad of different tasks around the home you can do.
Before you start tackling any DIY project, you should make sure you have a basic set of tools. There are some essential items that you’ll find you use time and again.
An adjustable wrench is a vital piece of kit that is suited to many tasks. No matter the size of the nut or bolt you need to fit, the jaws on an adjustable wrench can be altered to handle the job.
A claw hammer or nail hammer is an essential tool for someone who does DIY. It’s used to drive nails into and remove them from wood. The hammer has a head, usually made of steel and a handle that is often coated with rubber to improve the user’s grip. The v-shaped claw on the back of the head is used to remove nails and other fasteners from wood with a lever motion. For heavier work, you’ll need a framing claw hammer and for lighter work, a finishing claw hammer.
You’ll need a screwdriver set so that you can fix a range of different size slot-headed screws and cross-headed screws. Alternatively get a ratchet screwdriver with interchangeable bits, so that you have one tool that covers all screws.
A drill is also essential. Most people like the convenience of a cordless drill, but you’ll get more power with a corded one. If you choose a drill/driver, your ratchet screwdriver will spend more time in the toolbox.
Locking pliers can be used to fit and grip objects firmly, effectively giving you an extra hand when doing a job. They are designed to be locked closed and provide stability while an object is being worked on. They can also be used to loosen a stubborn bolt by locking the pliers into place and then turning them, rather than just trying to turn the bolt itself.
Combination pliers can be used to grip in place, turn or pull out a variety of different kinds of nails. The two handles are hinged together and connected to a toothed jaw that grips the object. Combination pliers have different functions and many come with a wire cutter located near the jaw.
A handsaw is always useful for small projects. You can get the ones with interchangeable blades or buy a hacksaw instead.
When you’re hanging pictures, you want to get them straight. That’s where a torpedo level comes in handy, but there are numerous other DIY occasions when you’ll need to check that a surface or angle is level, including checking the alignment of joints when constructing a wall or floor. Traditional models have a glass vial or bubble, but you can also get laser torpedo levels too.
Small, but useful, bits and pieces
Cable ties are used to secure a group of separate wires or cables. The ties have a ratcheting system so that they can be tightened without damaging the individual wires. Cable ties come in a variety of sizes and colours, ranging from about 4 inches (domestic use) through to 48 inches (industrial use). These come in handy when you have to pass a bundle of wires through a narrow opening or if you want to tidy away the wires so that they don’t represent a tripping hazard.
How often do you have to work in a confined and badly lit space? When you’re trying to do work in behind a bath panel, for example, a torch in the toolkit can really make your work a lot easier.
An awl is useful for starting off nail or screw holes, and marking where you’re going to put them. You can also use an awl to find studs in studwork or the joists in ceilings.
Once you start doing jobs around the house, you’ll soon realise it’s a good idea to have a tape measure that lives in the toolbox.
For stretching a canvas or a simple upholstery project, or even fixing up the outdoor Christmas lights, you can’t beat a staple gun for speed and convenience.
Your toolkit will grow as your DIY experience and projects develop, but having the tools listed above will mean that you can start and complete most small-scale projects without needing an extra trip to the hardware store.