The Complete DIY Tool List – 15 Gift Ideas and Essentials For People Who Make Stuff
Perhaps you're just getting started in DIY and wondering what are some of the essential tools you'll need to actually start making things.
It's all well and good to scour Pinterest for hours and come up with ideas of what you might do...
But what about when it comes time to actually create?
Do you have what you need to bring that idea or tutorial and turn it into reality?
If the answer is "no" then you're in the right place.
We're going to breakdown what we feel like are 15 near essential tools for every DIY'er. Our focus is to help you maximize your money by specifically recommending tools that are versatile - allowing you to do a lot of different things with a relatively lean set of tools.
Without further ado, let's dive in:
1. Dremel Maker Kit
The Maker Kit by Dremel is an obvious first choice - particularly if you don't already have many tools to begin with.
If you already own half the stuff in the kit, then you'd be better off buying only the pieces you need.
The kit includes the Dremel 200 Rotary Tool, which is one of the classic multi-tools that you probably think of when you hear the Dremel name. The 200 can be used as a router, for sanding, cutting, polishing for a variety of materials.
The kit also includes the Dremel 290 Engraving Tool which as the name suggests, let's you personally engrave projects made of wood, metal, and even glass.
The third main component of the Dremel Maker Kit is the VersaTip butane soldering torch which several different accessories included for wood burning, cutting, and a whole lot more.
If you price out the 3 tools in this kit with their accessories separately, you'll quickly see what kind of value you're getting with the Maker Kit.
2. Siphon Paint Gun
When you're doing wood projects, you'll want to be able to quickly add a coat of paint when needed. For that, I'd suggest taking a look at this simple siphon gun designed to work with small mason jars making it perfect for small projects.
A 3/4 hp tankless compressor is all that it takes to power this guy, which really only has a couple of adjustment options - making it relatively simple to configure and operate compared to more complicated sprayers.
3. Circular Saw
As we've talked about elsewhere, a circular saw is actually a super versatile saw that every DIY'er should own.
If you want a little more sleek and portable version, check out something like the Dremel UltraSaw which is basically a mini-circular saw that can still cut through pipes, plywood, and more but is super easy to handle and control.
For the UltraSaw in particular, you can actually do quite a bit more than you would with your average circular saw, such as surface prep and plunge cuts in tight spaces thanks to the small blade size combined with the 7.5 Amp motor.
4. Tape Measure
Do we really need to go in-depth on this?
If you don't own a tape measure and you're planning to make or fix anything - you've got problems.
The old saying goes - "measure twice, cut once" which is sage advice.
Since you won't go through many tape measures, I'd suggest buying one that is long enough and strong enough to use when you don't have a helper to hold it in place for you.
5. Basic Level
Look, when you make a picture frame out of reclaimed wood a time is going to come when you actually have to hang that picture up on the wall.
When you reach that moment, you'll be glad you have a level - even if it's only a small handheld variety like the Kapro shown above.
When you try to "eyeball it" on everything you hang up... bad things happen.
6. Cordless Drill + Bits
Here's another absolute essential - a drill with a quality set of drill bits. I'd suggest looking for a quality cordless drill like the DeWalt shown above because you can truly take it anywhere without having to worry about running an extension cord.
As you know, a drill lets you screw things into place. Just as important is getting a drill bit set which you'll use to "pre-drill" holes on some of your projects which keeps your wood from cracking/splitting and lets you drill screws much more easily.
This is another one you shouldn't overthink - so we won't spend much time talking about what you can do with a solid hammer.
Like a tape measure, if you don't own one or you own a crappy one - do yourself a favor and invest in one with good balance, a solid grip, and sturdy construction like the Stanley Fatmax Xtreme shown above.
8. Rotary Tool
The very first item in our list was the Dremel Maker Kit which includes a Dremel 200 rotary tool. So if you buy a maker kit, you don't need to buy an additional rotary tool.
That said, I really think every DIY lover should have a solid rotary tool at their disposal. Tools like the Dremel 4000 shown above can do virtually anything - cutting, sanding, grinding, sharpening, engraving, polishing, etc.
Basically, when you are almost done with a project and you need to make some obscure customization to your project you'll be glad you have a rotary tool with dozens of accessories nearby.
If your project calls for wood glue, then you'll probably need some quick clamps as well.
The Irwin set shown above comes with 4 quick clamps (you can never have too many) that will certainly come in handy when you're finishing up your projects and need to hold things into place while glue dries.
If you're working alone, clamps can also serve as a handy assistant when you need to hold something still while you make a cut, drive in a screw, etc.
10. Palm Sander
Your rotary tool will have attachments that work well for detailed sanding, but you'll also need a good palm sander like the orbital Black & Decker version shown here. If you're working with reclaimed wood then you'll want to do a quick sanding across the entire surface as you're getting close to finishing your job.
You can also use palm sanders to smooth rough edges and even give a distressed look to paints and stains.
11. Staple Gun
I suppose this deserves a little disclaimer to say that it's only essential if you'll be using upholstery in your projects - like making new seat cushions or giving new life to your old dining room chairs.
Even if you don't think you'll be tackling projects that involve fabric, having a solid staple gun on hand isn't the worst thing you can do.
In addition to the tiny cuts you'll make with a rotary tool and the rip cuts you'll make with a circular saw, the jigsaw is an affordable power saw that allows you to make more rounded, and intricate shape cuts.
Circular saws will cut your straight lines, jigsaws will cut your more curved lines. The good news is - you can get a very basic jigsaw for not much money at all that will do just fine for most average weekend warriors.
13. Screwdriver Set
If you don't feel like actually having a bunch of screwdrivers in your tool bag, then you'll do just fine with a 15 in 1 ratchet screwdriver like this Lutz version. Simply pull out the bits and change them for whatever your job calls for.
Yes, a drill can drive in screws with power - but having a manual screwdriver is also important for doing some final tightening and working with more small/delicate jobs.
14. Adjustable Wrench
Similar to the mentality of having a 15 in 1 screwdriver, I also prefer to start out with a good adjustable wrench instead of buying an entire wrench set.
For me, it's more efficient and takes up less space - plus, I've been known to misplace some things from time to time. As it goes, I usually am only missing the one size wrench that I need at that very moment.
This is why I just go adjustable and I've got all the common sizes I need to tighten, grip, and more when the job calls for it.
15. Set of Pliers
Having a dependable set of pliers is really important when it comes to basic home maintenance and DIY projects. The needle nose variety let you get into tight spaces and securely grab really small things and the bigger sets let you grip, pull, twist and more.
Hopefully this list has helped you build out your first DIY tool kit.
I highly recommend starting out with the more multi-purpose, versatile tools like the Dremel Maker Kit just because you can do so many things with it in the world of custom DIY and crafting.
If you're not above borrowing, you can be confident that your neighbor has a hammer, tape measure, screwdriver, etc. laying around that you'll be able to use.
They might not have more specialized items like a rotary tool - so it makes sense to own one.
That said, I could make the case that if you're planning to DIY more than once or twice a year you should start making plans to acquire all 15 things on this list.
Best of luck!