Disclosure: This post has been updated as of 2016, and contains Amazon affiliate links, so you can pick up the very things I adore myself!
Basic must have DIY tools and workspaces (with sources)
Being a junker type, I actually buy very few supplies. But when we’re talking tools, it’s a whole other story.
Everyone needs basic must have DIY tools. Tools will help you be more productive with much less effort.
The tool topic is a pretty vast one. There are entry level tools, and commercial, and everything in between.
I wouldn’t call myself a beginner builder, as I’ve been playing for about 8 years. I don’t like the cheapest, but I don’t own the most expensive. I’ve used many tools over the years of others to discover which ones I loved the best, and ultimately added to my own collection.
This post showcases the tools I absolutely LOVE, offers the sources on Amazon so you can get them too, and also takes you for a tour into my workspaces, so you can see everything I use.
My choices are also based on the fact that I am a woman. So my own choices deliver power without unneccesary weight.
Makita cordless drill – Find it here
Bosch cordless drill – find it here
If you could only afford ONE tool, hands down, it should be a cordless drill.
What they do
A drill will help you predrill holes so you can avoid splitting the wood, and helps you screw things together.
Cordless drills do many other things as well these days, such as mixing concrete, polishing, etc. It’s all about the attachments you purchase.
Brands I love
I have a Makita which I adore the very most. It’s smaller scale and fits a woman’s hand like a glove.
I also have a larger Panasonic which has great power, but it’s a little too heavy for my liking. I find the Makita does everything the Panasonic does. Basically put… if a tool fatigues you by simply holding it, it’s too heavy for you.
I also have Bosch. They’re a good tool, but a little heavier than Makita. Makita is still my first go to.
Chuck vs no chuck
Cordless drills come two ways… with or without a chuck.
I recommend to get a 2 pack so you have one of each. They are cheaper this way, as well as you’ll have one set up to predrill holes and the other to do the building with. MUCH quicker than changing out the bits constantly.
* a chuck requires a twisting motion to replace the bits – offers more options such as speed options and strength
* a non chuck has you changing out bits effortlessly – easier to use, not quite as powerful
Portable cordless drill tool kit
Makita drill bits – find them here
I adore my Makita cordless drill bit kit.
What I love about it is the fact that you don’t have to go digging around for what you need. It’s like a purse of sorts. Everything is intact and promise me, this kit contains everything for an average build. I’ve renovated my entire home with a kit like this. And as a few bits wear out, they can easily be replaced with no name ones.
These bit kits change over time, so what you see today will vary slightly from the picture.
Tip: The screwdriver bits come in different lengths, which is handy, but I admit to grabbing the long ones first. So if you find a kit with just the long ones, you won’t miss the short at all.
Compound miter saw
Compound miter saw – the one I really want is here!
If you only could have one saw, this would be the one.
Miter saws are one of the safest saws, due to the stability of a table top. You do not have to carry the weight of the blade, but rather, you pull down to cut your wood. Miter saws are the best saws to learn on for beginner builders.
Mine is a very simple Craftsman, which is fine for light duty. But my dream would be to get a slider function. But they are also a much heavier machine. So bear this in mind if you plan to move it around.
Bosch variable speed palm sander – my current fav
I’m head over heels in love with my Bosch variable speed. You can control the speed of your sanding, which is better than having a sander go crazy on you when you want slow and easy.
I also have a Bosch without the speed options, and I rarely grab it these days.
I also have a clamp square type, which I never grab. I’ve always found the sandpaper to be a tricky fit, or they come off. The vibrating can also be hard on your hands.
Regardless of which sander you choose, buy the best quality you can afford. And a bonus if you can hold one in a store and feel it out while plugged in.
Light weight weed trimmer / edger
This is a battery operated light duty weed trimmer that swivels to become an edger too.
Doesn’t spray grass all over you, super light, long lasting battery. It’s fabulous!
Toolbox for just screws
I really love building my own toolboxes out of reclaimed wood. It’s nice to scale them to your desired size.
Storing screws in mason jars is preferred as well. I can be sized, and easily carried around.
As you can see, you really don’t need anything too fancy. Just serviceable.
You obviously need a place to work. But honestly, you don’t need nearly as much as you may think.
I work out of a single car garage that’s decked out with reclaimed finds. Yep, I built my workshop for free!
I’ve found everything from my tables, to storage units, and made things like the pallet tool shelf. The key is to simply organize it in such a way that gives you enough table space to cut and create, and have a few storage solutions around.
Being that I work out of a garage, I utilize this small overhang outside of my garage every time I work.Two sawhorses and a few planks are all that’s needed.
The two sawhorses shown were from Ikea. They are light duty, good enough for the task shown. If you’re doing heavy work, I’d suggest getting something more sturdy.
Sanding outdoors is preferable, plus there’s nothing like good lighting for photography!
And who doesn’t love working outdoors?
I also have a few worktables indoors. Each one was found on the curb!
The table above is worth noting. It had fold up legs, which I collapsed, and instead, built farmtable legs instead.
The reclaimed wood is sitting on a rollable shelf. This enables me to push the table towards me without the weight, if I wish to have my workspace closer to me.
You can find the plans to build this table from Remodelaholic HERE.
I’ve also created my own storage, such as this pallet wood tool holder.
Good hearing protection
Don’t scrimp on good hearing protection. I have a cheap pair and a better pair. I will go out of my way to hunt down the better ones!
Not only are they more comfortable, they block out more sound too.
Mine were $45 in Canada, but the link above found on Amazon is a much better buy.
Other good basic tools / things to have:
Hammers. (I like having a few on hand because I keep losing them!)
Jigsaw – for free hand cuts on smaller stuff
Tablesaw – for long cuts on big stuff
Good eye protection – purchase more than one. It’s a pain looking through hazy glasses… they get scratched and cloudy with time.
A decent dust mask – you get what you pay for here. Better ones offer more protection and a better fit.
Good hand protection – when I work with reclaimed wood, I wear those rubber dipped gloves.
Clamps – holds wood in place.
Worktables – I love this one, but I currently use wooden worktables found on the curb!
Workmate – portable / collapsible worktable that is geared for easy clamping. Fabulous piece!
When purchasing new tools, hold them in the store first, so you can check out their weight.
Wear tighter fitting clothing when working to avoid getting caught in the blades or spinning apparatus.
Tie long hair back.
Get help if you don’t know how to use a tool.
Practice before doing the actual work.
Work outside when you can – less dust to breathe in.
If you don’t know which brands of tools to get, I suggest to borrow from a friend to get a feel for what you might like.
Any tool tips of your own? Feel free to share!