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The 10 Beginner Tools EVERY DIYer Should Own

The 10 Beginner Tools EVERY DIYer Should Own

When I was in either late high school or early college, my parents and grandparents put together my first toolbox for me. It had all the basics – screwdrivers, hammers, a stud finder…you name it and it was in there.

It was SUCH a neat gift – they personalized it just for me, and I truly cherish it. Think of this post like that toolbox. I wish I could give every single person in this world a basic set of tools and get them started with DIY!

Until I win the lottery (and some serious frequent flyer miles), I can at least get you pointed in the right direction, so here’s my list of basic tools every DIYer should own.

Here’s the thing…in DIY life, there will be many runs to the home improvement store. Probably (definitely) more than you want.

Maybe you’ll even get to know your cashiers by name and ask how they’re doing (not that I spend that much time at Lowe’s or anything)! But there is NO REASON for you to have to run to the store for one of the items on this list.

These are the basics of the basics, nothing fancy or frilly. Make sure you have at least everything here before you even think about starting a DIY project, (depending on the project of course).

You (like most DIYers) have a toolbox containing a bunch of different tools, usually handed down to them by friends and family. But do you have these 10 tools every decent DIYer should have? I've been DIYing for over a decade, and these are my picks for the most basic of the basics tools everyone should own. You can build amazing furniture, fix things around your home, and make big improvements with JUST the tools on this list. #DIY #DIYer #Renovation #Tools #Ryobi #List

Basic Tool #1: Cordless Drill and Drill Bit Set

Why You Need Them

If I could only take one item with me to a remote island, it would be my cordless drill and drill bit set. On the list of basic tools every DIYer should own…it’s number one. I put the drill and the drill bit together because there really isn’t a reason to have one and not the other. I have seriously used my drill on every single renovation or even regular household project I’ve ever done. Even if you don’t like DIY (which…why are you here then?), you need this.

What To Look For

  1. Tool-less bit changer (really nice for switching bits quickly)
  2. Variable speed and torque (I usually keep ours on the slow, high torque setting, but it’s nice to have the variety)
  3. Magnetic tray
  4. Ergonomic grip
  5. LED guide light (though I wish I could turn it on all the time if I wanted to)

What I Have

The Ryobi One+ 18V Drill/Driver with Keyless Chuck and Ryobi 90 Piece Drilling and Driving Kit. I love them. The drill is lightweight, heavy-duty, and has worked flawlessly for what I’m sure is hundreds of hours at this point. And investing in a large set of bits to go with your drill is a great idea – you will spend way more (in gas to the store and for the actual items) trying to piece together what you need.

Where I’ve Used Them

From unscrewing outlet and switch plates, drilling holes to run new wire, to drilling into our subway tile backsplash, during our custom desk build, when we installed door hardware, to putting together all kinds of furniture, etc, etc, etc we’ve used our drill. Every single project, guys. Seriously. It has been there for us through thick and thin, and I can’t think of a tool that I would rather spend long days spelling out HELP in rocks on the beach with.

You (like most DIYers) have a toolbox containing a bunch of different tools, usually handed down to them by friends and family. But do you have these 10 tools every decent DIYer should have? I've been DIYing for over a decade, and these are my picks for the most basic of the basics tools everyone should own. You can build amazing furniture, fix things around your home, and make big improvements with JUST the tools on this list. #DIY #DIYer #Renovation #Tools #Ryobi #List

Basic Tool #2: Rubber and Regular Hammers

Why You Need Them

It doesn’t get much more basic than this tool – hitting things is fun. Plus, if you don’t have a hammer you can’t do simple things like hang a picture or pull out those picture hanging nails when you measure wrong (not that you ever would…you’re perfect!). Having a traditional metal hammer as well as a rubber mallet is actually the perfect combo – when they team up, they can tackle almost anything.

What To Look For

  1. Single piece hammer (not two pieces put together) for the claw hammer and a nice, dense rubber head for the rubber mallet hammer.
  2. Rubber, ergonomic grip
  3. Fairly solid and large (I’ve never needed/wanted a smaller hammer, but am sometimes wishing for a larger one)

What I Have

A basic Stanley hammer, though I definitely intend to upgrade someday when I need something heavier duty. I also have a cheap rubber mallet that has worked just fine for those times that you need a gentler touch.

Where I’ve Used Them

Framing a new wall in our kitchen, installing our new floating bamboo floors, refinishing and installing a runner on our stairs, and many more projects. This is another tool, while not as near and dear to my heart as my drill, that I would never want to give up. It isn’t sexy, but it sure is functional.

You (like most DIYers) have a toolbox containing a bunch of different tools, usually handed down to them by friends and family. But do you have these 10 tools every decent DIYer should have? I've been DIYing for over a decade, and these are my picks for the most basic of the basics tools everyone should own. You can build amazing furniture, fix things around your home, and make big improvements with JUST the tools on this list. #DIY #DIYer #Renovation #Tools #Ryobi #List

Basic Tool #3: Tape Measure

Why You Need It

Every DIYer should own this basic tool. Slanted bookshelves aren’t pretty or safe, and the most important mantra of DIY is ‘measure twice, cut once’. You’ll use your tape measure time and time again, but it’s definitely worthwhile to invest in a nice one with as many features as possible. I’ve used cheap ones and more expensive ones, and definitely prefer the heavier, thicker ones with more features.

What To Look For

  1. At least 25’
  2. Auto lock feature
  3. Magnetic end
  4. The bigger the hook, the better
  5. Long standout (this just means how long it can extend without bending, and the longer ones generally found on the wider tapes)

What I Have

An awesome Kobalt brand one that I picked up on a whim and LOVE. It has tons of features, a decent stand-out, and the auto-lock feature is definitely worth it. Plus, it was less expensive than the competitors.

Where I’ve Used It

Every project. I feel like a broken record, but seriously, I use this thing all the time. SO much so that I actually keep it in my kitchen so I don’t have to trek out to the garage to get it. We used it when installing the new wall in our kitchen, when we installed our new floating bamboo floors, when we installed a runner on our stairs, during our custom desk build, the list goes on and on.

You (like most DIYers) have a toolbox containing a bunch of different tools, usually handed down to them by friends and family. But do you have these 10 tools every decent DIYer should have? I've been DIYing for over a decade, and these are my picks for the most basic of the basics tools everyone should own. You can build amazing furniture, fix things around your home, and make big improvements with JUST the tools on this list. #DIY #DIYer #Renovation #Tools #Ryobi #List

Basic Tool #4: Circular Saw

Why You Need It

Cutting things by hand takes forever, and isn’t nearly as accurate as cutting with a power tool is. We actually built our first bed with only a handsaw and were sore for DAYS afterward. It works, but it just isn’t a good use of time. Circular saws in particular are great for cutting straight lines quickly and consistently, and they make short work of most materials.

What To Look For

  1. Cordless (that way you don’t have to worry about cutting your cord or holding it out of the way)
  2. An easy blade change system
  3. A laser guide to see where you’re cutting that can be calibrated (they tend to drift with time)
  4. An on-board wrench is nice too. That way when I’m changing the blade, I don’t have to go find one!

What I Have

I have Ryobi’s 18V Cordless 6 1/2″ Circular Saw and love it. I only want a larger blade when I’m cutting through thicker materials, but that is few and far between. The grip is comfortable, I feel safe using it, and it cuts clean every time.

Where I’ve Used It

When we framed a new wall in our kitchen, during a few straight cuts for our bamboo floors in our bedroom, and to rip the stair risers when we overhauled our stairs. There are tons of uses for a circular saw, though, and it’s a worthwhile investment.

You (like most DIYers) have a toolbox containing a bunch of different tools, usually handed down to them by friends and family. But do you have these 10 tools every decent DIYer should have? I've been DIYing for over a decade, and these are my picks for the most basic of the basics tools everyone should own. You can build amazing furniture, fix things around your home, and make big improvements with JUST the tools on this list. #DIY #DIYer #Renovation #Tools #Ryobi #List

Basic Tool #5: Stud Finder

Why You Need It

Drilling holes into the wall, or knocking on them, just isn’t efficient or accurate. Plus, it won’t tell you where electrical or plumbing is. Having a stud finder can keep you from nicking things behind the wall you didn’t intend to, and save you time patching drywall later.

What To Look For

  1. Electronic if you can afford it, magnetic if you’re on a budget.
  2. For electronic, a screen to show you where the studs are is great, and LEDs that light up when you come across a stud can be super helpful.
  3. For magnetic, there isn’t a huge difference between products (or a lot of features for that matter), so pick the one you think looks the most rugged.

What I Have

I bought a relatively inexpensive Stanley one a few years ago after one that was passed down to me died, but I definitely want to upgrade to a fancier one when this one dies. This is a list of the basic tools every DIYer should own, so you definitely don’t NEED the extra features (I’ve done just fine with the one I have), but they’re pretty nice to have and will save you time.

Where I’ve Used It

From mounting TVs to walls, to hanging shelves in our kitchen, to hanging heavy pictures, this thing gets a workout and is in an easy to access area of my garage.

You (like most DIYers) have a toolbox containing a bunch of different tools, usually handed down to them by friends and family. But do you have these 10 tools every decent DIYer should have? I've been DIYing for over a decade, and these are my picks for the most basic of the basics tools everyone should own. You can build amazing furniture, fix things around your home, and make big improvements with JUST the tools on this list. #DIY #DIYer #Renovation #Tools #Ryobi #List

Basic Tool #6: Gloves/Goggles

Why You Need Them

The most important basic tool (that EVERY DIYer should own) is a set of safety gear. Safety is really important. Imagine going through life with one less eye, or limited vision because you didn’t feel like putting on your safety glasses…that’s just silly. You only get one body – take care of it (especially around power tools!) It takes less than a second to put on glasses/gloves/safety gear and it can truly save your life (or quality of life).

What To Look For

  1. I like flexible safety glasses that won’t break if they get stepped on.
  2. I spring for the expensive gloves with real leather and a nice interior feel
  3. Quick connect velcro straps to make sure your gloves stay on (or a fast fit elastic band).

What I Have

The gloves I use are actually Mechanix brand (just a brand, not specifically designed for car mechanics or anything), and I love them. We’ve gone through a few pairs in the past few years, but they are seriously tough. The safety glasses were just some from the home improvement store (no brand or anything, I just picked them because they matched my Ryobi tools), and I wish I had bought something without any kind of UV protection or filter – they’re DARK when you wear them indoors!

Where I’ve Used Them

Every project! Even just picking up leaves in our front yard – I did it once without gloves and my hands were completely torn up. We’ve definitely used them a ton during the rewiring of our kitchen and hallway.

You (like most DIYers) have a toolbox containing a bunch of different tools, usually handed down to them by friends and family. But do you have these 10 tools every decent DIYer should have? I've been DIYing for over a decade, and these are my picks for the most basic of the basics tools everyone should own. You can build amazing furniture, fix things around your home, and make big improvements with JUST the tools on this list. #DIY #DIYer #Renovation #Tools #Ryobi #List

Basic Tool #7: Electric Sander

Why You Need It

Sanding by hand is incredibly inefficient, and tough on your body. And if you don’t prep your surfaces before you paint/prime/finish them, the finish won’t last nearly as long. When you’re considering which tools to buy to fill out your beginning DIYer tool chest, an electric sander can cut a project’s time into a fraction of what it would be if you had to sand everything by hand.

What To Look For

  1. Pointed end for detail work
  2. An easy to hold grip because while electric sanders are way faster than hand-sanding, you’re still going to be spending a bunch of time with this little buddy.
  3. Random orbit so you get a super smooth, swirl-less finish
  4. Dust collection options

What I Have

I have the Ryobi Corner Cat Sander, and it’s awesome. The small form factor makes it light, easy to use, and great for getting into small places. It’s pretty inexpensive (I bought it back when I first started DIYing) and I’m definitely thinking about upgrading for some of the big projects I have planned for the future, but so far it has served me extremely well. Even if I do upgrade, I’ll keep this little guy around, since it’s great for detail work.

Where I’ve Used It

Fun story – our half bath on the first floor of our house had a badly applied skim coat of drywall over wallpaper. My mom was able to sand it down in a day or so with an electric sander, but it would have taken years to do by hand. I definitely should have invested in a bigger one back then, but we were TIGHT on cash since we had just bought a home. Thanks for suffering through that, Mom.

You (like most DIYers) have a toolbox containing a bunch of different tools, usually handed down to them by friends and family. But do you have these 10 tools every decent DIYer should have? I've been DIYing for over a decade, and these are my picks for the most basic of the basics tools everyone should own. You can build amazing furniture, fix things around your home, and make big improvements with JUST the tools on this list. #DIY #DIYer #Renovation #Tools #Ryobi #List

Basic(ish) Tool #8: Nail Gun*

Why You Need It

This is the only one on my list of basic tools that every DIYer should own that has an asterisk by it. That being said, if you were to skip one tool on this list, I’d recommend skipping this one. It’s absolutely fantastic and has saved me TONS of time, but it’s also pretty expensive. Worth it, but expensive. While you can drive nails by hand sometimes, a powerful tool can get nails or brads into much harder materials easily and quickly. Not to mention, the finished product is usually much cleaner.

While it’s definitely an ‘advanced’ beginning DIYer’s tool, I do think they should be more widely used, which is why I’ve included it on this list. Attaching boards, trim, etc are so much cleaner and easier to finish if they are done with a nail gun rather than by hand.

What To Look For

  1. The depth you need your tool to be able to drive depends on the project.
  2. I love the LED light on the end of mine.
  3. Safety mechanisms to make sure you can’t accidentally shoot nails through the air and potentially hurt someone.
  4. A low-nail indicator, which is super helpful for knowing when to reload (I used one without this once, and couldn’t figure out why it suddenly stopped working!)

What I Have

I have the Ryobi 16 Gauge Finish Nailer, but you could definitely go with something a little less expensive, depending on the project. I opted for a bigger model since I didn’t want to purchase another one in the future. You can always turn it down, but if the motor isn’t large enough, you can’t turn it up.

Where I’ve Used It

I’ve mostly used this on the stair remodel so far, but it would have been impossible without it. This is also the tool to use if you’re installing any kind of trim or baseboards. I have big plans for the backyard someday that will give this puppy a serious workout (stay tuned!).

You (like most DIYers) have a toolbox containing a bunch of different tools, usually handed down to them by friends and family. But do you have these 10 tools every decent DIYer should have? I've been DIYing for over a decade, and these are my picks for the most basic of the basics tools everyone should own. You can build amazing furniture, fix things around your home, and make big improvements with JUST the tools on this list. #DIY #DIYer #Renovation #Tools #Ryobi #List

Basic Tool #9: Quick Clamps

Why You Need Them

Probably the most overlooked by DIYers, but still basic tool on this list is the quick clamp. Holding things by hand is possible, but dangerous when you’re cutting. And? Sometimes you just need another hand (moms out there, I KNOW you can relate). These are a fast way to sturdy up whatever you’re doing.

What To Look For

  1. A decent amount of clamping force (ours have 300lbs, which is considered medium-duty)
  2. A quick grip release to move the mechanism quickly (no annoying spinning of a clamp forever)
  3. One handed operation for when you’re working by yourself

What I Have

I have several Irwin Quick Grips, and I love them. After growing up using my parent’s old-style twist ones, the quick-change mechanisms are a HUGE upgrade. They’re easy to use, lightweight, and a snap to store. Plus they come in tons of lengths. Maybe I’m weird, but I like all my tools to match…the fact that they have every length I could dream of is a big plus for me.

Where I’ve Used Them

These were super helpful when we installed the hardwoods both upstairs and downstairs to hold boards in place while I cut them. They’re like an extra hand. Now if only I could figure out how to use them to help wrangle my children when strangers are staring at me at Costco. Kidding. Kind of.

You (like most DIYers) have a toolbox containing a bunch of different tools, usually handed down to them by friends and family. But do you have these 10 tools every decent DIYer should have? I've been DIYing for over a decade, and these are my picks for the most basic of the basics tools everyone should own. You can build amazing furniture, fix things around your home, and make big improvements with JUST the tools on this list. #DIY #DIYer #Renovation #Tools #Ryobi #List

Basic Tool #10: Jigsaw

Why You Need It

Inexpensive, agile, and powerful, my jigsaw is easily one of my most used tools, and it makes those tricky cuts so much easier. Anytime you have to cut a curve or a knockout, a jigsaw is indispensable. If you’re going to buy ONE cutting tool, let it be this.

What To Look For

  1. A speed controller to match the material you’re cutting
  2. Variable speed grip to speed up or slow down the blade as you go through the cut
  3. A comfortable grip

What I Have

I have a Skil brand jigsaw, and while it doesn’t have many features, it has history. From what I remember, it was actually my grandpa’s, and now it’s sitting in my garage. Even though it’s corded, lacks features, and has more than a few cobwebs, it still works great. If you were to buy a new one though? I’d recommend the Ryobi T Shank Jigsaw, since it has a lot more features. When (if?) this one dies, I’ll be purchasing the Ryobi.

Where I’ve Used It

If you’ve read my floating hardwood floor installation tutorial, I actually used this thing to rip every single board. Silly. That’s definitely not the use case for a tool like this (buy a table saw!), but it got the job done. If you ever intend to cut something with a curve or strange cut-out, this is the tool to use.

So now you’ve got an idea of the basic tools every DIYer should own. If you’re a DIY newbie and you don’t have ANYTHING, this is the place to start. With the tools on this list, you can tackle almost any easy/medium project, and you’ll feel great building something yourself. And if plunking down the cash for tools intimidates you, just know that they’ll pay for themselves the first time you DIY something and don’t hire it out. I’ve saved tens of thousands of dollars with the tools on this list vs. hiring a pro – they are definitely worth the investment.

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