The Best DIY Tools to Invest In (When You Don’t Have A Workshop)
September 5, 2023
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Although Greg and I have been tackling DIY projects for well over a decade now, we’ve never had (nor felt the need to have) a fully stocked “workshop.” Why? Not only have our various rentals never had much extra space, but we’ve been able to assemble a collection of supplies that…while fairly minimal…allows us to do most projects. Today, I’m rounding up what we consider our “DIY essentials” – the tools and supplies we rely on in order to make pretty much everything you see here on the blog (all of which are easy and practical for anyone to own and store!)
I feel the need to preface this roundup with a quick chat about the type of DIY you do (or want to do). Because the type of projects you like to make will surely influence what kind of tools you need to keep on hand.
If woodworking, carpentry, furniture refinishing, house flipping, etc are your passion, hobby, or job, then you will likely need to amass a wider range of specialty tools and supplies.
But, if you are instead a casual or beginner DIYer (as in, the renter or homeowner who just wants to be able to tackle a wide variety of common household projects…like us!), you can get by with a lot less tools when you choose ones with wider capability and versatility.
Must-Have Tools for DIY Projects
Below are the tools we own and rely on time-and-time again to accomplish almost all of what you see here on the blog. Being able to cut, drill, and assemble a variety of materials with ease is key to taking on DIY projects and accomplishing them without hassle!
Folding Work Table
We can’t say enough about this folding work table by Dewalt. It’s compact, yet delightfully easy to use for all wood cutting projects. If you don’t have space for a larger workbench, this is a perfect solution!
Years ago, I bought Greg a “saw” set that included a reciprocating saw, jig saw, and a few other things. While it’s handy to have the variety, this is the one we pull out for most projects and is probably the only one we really need.
We bought a similar tool when we lived in Japan (almost 20 years ago!) and it’s still the one we reach for over and over. Having just one screwdriver set with interchangeable parts is quicker than rooting through a dozen different handles to find what you need for a particular screw!
Painting rooms and furniture, as well as hanging wallpaper, are very common past-time around here; so I like to keep these supplies on-hand too so that quick projects and touch-ups are always possible.
2″ Angled Paint Brush
I now do all my brush panting with these short-handled angled brushes. I like how they fit in my hand and give me nice clean lines no matter what I’m painting.
Despite my affection for Cricut products, this is one of the best utility knives I’ve ever used. I love the very sharp and precise quick-change blades, which allow me to get straight clean cuts on wallpaper, foam board, and more.
We don’t own this stool, but our friend does; and we borrow it every single time we paint or hang wallpaper. The three-step height is ideal for reaching the very top edges of walls and crown moldings and really just makes any wall job so much easier. We’ll be adding this one to our collection eventually!
Every now and then, I want to tackle a specific project, but we don’t have the right tool for the job. While it can be tempting to just purchase what we need, we’ve become reluctant to invest in larger (and heavier) specialty tools, since we won’t need them beyond the current project or have the space to store them.
In these instances, here’s what we do instead!
Ask around to friends, family, or neighbors to see if anyone has the item you need. Most people are more-than-willing to let you borrow speciality tools and can even give you a quick in-person tutorial on how it works.
If you can’t find anyone with the tool you need, your next best bet is to rent the item from your local hardware store. We’ve used both Lowes and The Home Depot’s tool rental services; and it’s always been easy, affordable, and hassle-free. Just make sure you have a vehicle to haul the equipment, because the trailer rental can add to the complexity and overall cost of your project.
Lastly, if you can’t find exactly what you need, think about how you can get the task done using what you have. There have been many times a table saw would have been preferable for some of our projects. But we just weren’t up for the hassle of finding one, so we opted to use our circular saw instead.
Tools are expensive and bulky. So we try to keep as minimal-of-a-collection as possible, while still retaining the ability to accomplish most projects with relative ease. If you’re wanting to tackle some more ambitious DIY projects but just don’t know what you need, I hope this list gets you off to a great start!