My Top 10 Must Have Tools for DIY!

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There are a few tools that are must haves to really be able to create/repair or build when you are into DIY at home.  Even if you are just starting out, there are tools that you have to have to get the job done.  

Other tools you can add as you go.  I will go through the ones that I think are must have tools here so that you have an idea of where to start.

I also added a free printable below so that you have it on hand as you build your toolbox!

If you have been at DIY for a while now, I have also included tools on here that I have added as I grew and started to learn and do more!


I am extremely lucky to have my dad as my mentor.  Not only has he taught me the skills to know how to DIY and run a smooth home, he inspires me to push my limits of creativity. 

I love that I don’t have to call in a repair person every time something in my home breaks down.

Watching my dad when I was little was fascinating to me. He would just stare at something and with in minutes seemed to how to make it work (most of the time work…  lol)

Nothing was ever impossible, simply a challenge!

Puzzles became my way of looking at life.  If someone told me that I couldn’t do something, I heard, find another way.

house puzzle

As I grew up, I realized that some people really hate this way of thinking.  They would look at me as a “know it all” or “over achiever”… 

It was weird to want to strive for so much and yet people look at you like you were doing something wrong.

Anyway, it took me longer than I would like to admit to learn how to NOT let those people get to me and I hope that this blog will give you confidence to do all the amazing things that you want to do!


I write about my journey in that struggle over on my health blog, if you want to read more, you can find it here.

After all, this line of thinking was monumental in my career as a healthcare teacher, as a mother and wife.

It in a large way this growth mindset defines who I am.  My husband still makes jokes about the “Bob Wilson look”. lol…

This is a particular look that my dad gives (and apparently so do I) when people tempt our ability or aren’t sure we can figure something out.

When my dad taught me about puzzles, he taught me about problem solving and when he taught me problem solving, he taught me confidence.

I am forever thankful for that confidence and I hope that I can teach my children the same gift!


A stocked tool box is critical for the DIY person. Nothing sucks more than being in the middle of a project only to realize you don’t have the screws that you need or a Philips screw driver on hand…

Lets break down the must have tools to get you started or add to your collection:

  • Drill
  • Screw driver set
  • Skill Saw
  • Hammer
  • Assortment of screws and nails
  • Measuring Tape
  • Variety of tapes
  • Gyprock knife
  • Putty KNife
  • Wrench
  • Level
  • Pencils (seriously…. this is a must)


Got to have a good old hammer! You can get a crazy expensive hammer like the pros have but they are flippin heavy and you don’t have to spend that kind of money to have a good DIY hammer.

You do want to look for around the 16 ounce weight and make sure it has a good claw for removing those stubborn nails.


You can’t own a home and not own at least a few screw drivers in my opinion. Everyone should be able to do the basic task of tightening a loose door knob without having to call in the expert…

Pick up a variety pack at the hardware store so that you have the type and size that you need for any job!


Get an adjustable wrench that you can use to tighten or loosen nuts or bolts.

Gyprock Knife

The everything knife! I have used this for cutting wallpaper, cutting out putty or silicon, drywall and anywhere else I may think of using it.

Putty Knife

If you are wanting to try doing dry wall then you will need a putty knife. You can use it for Spackle or wallpaper and I even used it for epoxy a few times and it worked perfectly!

These come in lots of sizes and I have 3″ up to 12″ long now in my tool room.

Needle Nose Pliers

I like locking pliers or  is locking pliers or Vise-Grips.  They are adjustable, have a lever to lock and give you the needed force for the job you are working on. or a stripped screw.

Needle-nose pliers have a long nose, hence the name. So good for so many thing and an absolute must have. They come in handy when you least expect it.

Tape Measure

You have to have this! Seriously… you cannot eyeball anything when building.

The measuring tape works like a retractable dog leash in a sense, as far as , you can lengthen/push in the button to hold at that length/and retract. It is as simple as that really

You can get 12 and 25 foot long tapes. The pros usually have the 25 foot long ones I find. Really, just ,make sure you have one. Dollar store even will do in the beginning.

Screws and Nails

I have never appreciated all those nails and screws sitting around my dad;s place so much as I do now.

They were everywhere and he was always asking us kids to sort them into small containers… Seriously, it was as bad as being asked to sort socks… I hated it as a kid.

You will want to build up your collection so when you are at the hardware store picking up something grab some screws. Honestly, you will need them and they will get used at some point so don’t worry.

Pick finishing nails on the first trip and next time grab spikes or drywall screws.

Nails are made from all sorts of materials, stainless steel, copper, aluminum etc. They can be zinc plated or galvanized or maybe a different type of metal. They can be coated with a layer of vinyl or phosphate which is used to help with durability and hold.

There are indoor and outdoor nails. The outdoor ones are typically galvanized or sometimes referred to as dipped. The idea of being dipped is that it makes them resistant to the climate changes and so often zinc is used to dip the nails in. Stainless steel can be used for the same reason but you will pay more for stainless steel dipped versus zinc dipped nails.

You absolutely have to use hot dipped nails for outdoor use because of the treated lumber. If you don’t and skip this step, you will end up with corroded nails that looks really bad and don’t hold up.

Screws vary in size and in type. You can get screws that are met for wood or drywall or various other materials.

You can purchase packs of screws for when you are starting out and that is a reasonable way to go. I recommended using this list as a reference and building upon that as you go:

  • Finishing Nails.
  • Galvanized Nails
  • Vinyl Sinkers.
  • Galvanized Nails.
  • Drywall Screws.
  • Outdoor Screws.
  • Nails of various sizes

Various types of tape

  • Electrical Tape: I literally just finished rewiring my outdoor lights using electrical tape. After I stripped the wire back and threaded the wires together, capped it, I was able to wrap them in electrical tape. This insulates the wires, used for safety and prevents fire as well.
  • Plumber’s Tape: I learnt about this when we redid our bathroom shower. I called in my go to contractor (aside from dad of course) and he helped me out on this one. I don’t do anything that involves potentially leaking in abundance on my own… lol I needed plumber tape for the shower head seal and lucky I had some!!!
  • Duct Tape. Who doesn’t have duct tape in there home… lol It is used for almost anything and we even use it for kids projects around here.
  • Painter’s Tape: Honestly, I know that some people say you have to get the expensive stuff but I never do and it works great!


This one seems obvious but it is probably the most widely used, must have tool that you can get!

I happen to have a favorite brand but mainly because it is the line that my dad has passed down to me. lol…

The idea of sticking to one brand is based in the battery. If you use DeWalt drills than a Makita battery will not fit.

That way it is just easier to stick with the brands that you choose. The other bonus is that the DeWalt battery that I use for my drill also fits my skill saw.

Replace the drill bit with a screwdriver bit, and you can drive screws much faster than you could with any hand-held screwdriver. This is useful when you have to put in a lot of screws in a short time. You’ll reach for your drill/driver when you need to replace a light fixture, repair drywall, or build anything from a bookcase to a doghouse.

You can get cordless drills and that it was I recommend. It is just convenient.

The 12-volt cordless drill is really nice. I use the impact drill so much more than the regular drill now that I have tried it. It is fast and light!


This doesn’t have to be fancy. I grabbed one at the dollar store when I first started and it worked perfectly for what I needed.

Basically, a level has a bubble in it and when you place the level either vertically or horizontally along the object you are straightening, the bubble should be in the center.

I use a level for everything. It sucks to hang a picture or spend all that time building a cabinet and then take as step back and realize it is crooked.

Levels come in various sizes and you want to aim for a short and long one so that you have one for various types of jobs.

Some opt for the laser levels but these are not necessary to get the job done and if your goal is affordable, I can think of other tools I would want first.


Pliers, aka Adjustable pliers or Channellocks are a must have and not used as often but certainly needed. I find I look for them for anything plumbing related….

Pliers are what you use on nuts, bolts or anything that needs a solid grip like a pipe. They come in all different sizes and I personally recommend you buy a pack so you have options.

If you really only want to buy one then go for the 10″ as it is said to be the most versatile for various tasks. Go for the ones that have a nice padded or easy to grasp handle for both comfort and leverage.

Some pliers will have tongue and groove type adjustments and others you find will have a button that you can push, either work fine.

Circular Saw

This one of my most used tools. I was lucky that dad gave me a DeWalt lately that he no longer needed. I had a very old model for ever though that lasted me well.

I’ve used my skill saw for decking, flower boxes, outdoor sectional, headboards, beds and even trim!

There are various companies that makes circular saws and if just starting out you can go with the more basic model but I admit I noticed a huge difference once I upgraded to the more expensive models.

You can purchase either cordless or one with a cord. I personally always go cordless. It may not be quite as powerful but the chances that I am working by an outlet at all times are almost non.

Sidewinders and Worm-drive are the 2 types of saw that you will see on the market.

Sidewinders have the motor mounted on the side. They tend to run on the cheaper side and are often lighter, which is nice if you struggle to hold the saw.

Worm-drive has the motor behind the blade. This type often is a bit heavier and typically will cost a bit more as well.weigh more and cost more. They are definitely more powerful and can be used for more. Many DIY do not need to go this advanced but it can also be nice to have on hand when you really need it.



This is my baby. It is in use ALL the time now. I have a 10″ Mastercraft but I REALLY want the 12″ DeWalt like this one

Mitre Saw
I would LOVE this
120V MAX Corded / Cordless 12″ Double Bevel Compound Sliding Miter Saw


I didn’t have one of these for the longest time and finally realized how handy they are once I brought it home.

Final Thoughts

As you add tools to your tool box and your tool box turns into a tool room or area, you will want to expand on your skills as well. I have a few go to places where I learn and develop skills that I have listed HERE. Watching videos, asking friends to help you out, taking a class are a few examples that can really boost your skill set and confidence.

I have started to add bigger, more expensive items to my collection. This has made it so much easier when I get inspired to do a project. I don’t have to call up my dad or a friend to borrow a tool or track one down that I can rent.

Obviously, if you only plan to do a couple small projects, then don’t go out and purchase these items because there are stores that rent tools out that you can call.

Safety should ALWAYS be your first priority. If you chop off a finger, life is going to be that much harder. My dad chopped off 3 of his fingers using a saw so I am serious about this and have seen what can happen first hand.

I would love to hear from you. Which tools do you use most often for DIY? Do you have any other must have’s that you would add to this list?

My Top 10 Must Have Tools for DIY!

Tammy Seed

I am a passionate, goal oriented girl that loves DIY home projects and sharing with others how they can create and build easily as well!

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