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Best Tools for DIY: Easy Tool Buying Guide

Best Tools for DIY at a Glace

Tool typeOur Top Recommendation
Cordless Power DrillRyobi P1817 18V ONE+ Lithium-Ion Cordless 2-Tool Combo Kit
ScrewdriverAmartisan 10-Piece Magnetic Screwdrivers Set
Adjustable WrenchCrescent 4″ Adjustable Wrench
PliersCRAFTSMAN Pliers, 6-Piece Mini Set with Pouch
HammerIrwin General Purpose Hammer
Measuring TapeKomelon SL2825 Self Lock 25-Foot Power Tape
JigsawRYOBI One+ P5231 18V Lithium-Ion Cordless Jigsaw
LevelCraftsman 9″ Torpedo Level

Best Tools for DIY

Best Tools for DIY

DIY is a fantastic thing to get into. Done right, it saves you a considerable amount of money and is a really cool hobby. Finding the best tools for DIY, however, can be difficult at the beginning. There are so many brands, tools, variations, and stores that the choice can become overwhelming very quickly. In this article, we cut through to nonsense and discuss the best tools for DIY, what they are used for, and give some recommendations on where to buy them

If I was beginning my tool-buying journey all over again, the first thing I would do is go to my father’s tool shed and take as many unused tools as I was allowed. Come to think of it, I still do this! Those old-school hammers and chisels are seriously awesome tools. But this approach will only get you so far! Inevitably you’ll need to buy some of your own tools if you want to have the best tools for DIY.

Each of the tool types I’ve selected is an important part of my tool arsenal. And while the brands may be different from what I carry, I only ever recommend products that I would happily use myself.

1) Cordless Power Drill

To get the best tools for DIY, you should start out with a quality cordless power drill. I’ve got a whole shed full of tools, and I use my cordless drill much more than any other tool. You can use a power drill for most DIY projects and jobs around the home because it is useful for both drilling holes and putting in screws. But nowadays drills are even more versatile! There is an enormous range of attachments for your drill bits, like paint mixers, metal shears, sanders, and soil diggers. Having a cordless power drill opens up a whole new world of DIY possibilities.

If you don’t currently have a cordless power drill, you have a brilliant opportunity to set yourself up for a successful tool-buying journey. When it comes to battery power tools, you should choose one brand of power tool and stick with it. That is, once you’ve got your cordless drill, you will then buy the same brand of impact driver, circular saw, jigsaw, etc.

That’s because the batteries for these things are so darn expensive, you’ll actually be buying most of your other tools ‘skin only’. In other words, once you’ve got your first battery-powered tools and batteries, the follow-up tools can be bought without any batteries. This will save you an enormous amount of money down the track.

Ryobi P1817 18V ONE+ Lithium-Ion Cordless 2-Tool Combo Kit

The best cordless power tool brand for you will depend on your budget and expected level of use. But if you’re reading an article on the best tools for DIY, let’s assume that you’re going to be using your tools for occasional DIY use. In that case, I highly recommend choosing the Ryobi 18v One+ system for your tools. For me, they offer the best balance between quality and affordability. Plus, they have over 260 products in the same line.

I wish the 18V One+ Series was out when I started my tool-buying journey. Because I would have loved to have started with this two-piece kit for less than $100 (at the time of writing.) For a ridiculously low price, you get a cordless drill, two batteries, a charger, a bag, AND… an impact driver! My favorite tool of all time!

Benefits of Cordless Drill and Impact Driver

Impact drivers are like cordless drills on steroids. They’re not as good for drilling holes, but they’ve got so much power, that driving any type of screw or bolt is an absolute breeze. Using these two tools together makes any job quicker and more efficient. For example, let’s think about fixing multiple screws into something. It’s exhausting to regularly change between drill bits and screw bits (which you have to do when you just have a cordless drill).

But having an impact driver means you can drill holes with one tool, and fix screws with another. It sounds simple but having these two tools is the only way I’m able to finish any jobs at home with two little ones running amuck.

For me, this combo is a serious no-brainer for those wanting to get started with DIY. For the price of two tools, two batteries, a charger, and a bag, you’ll still have change left over compared with buying a Makita impact driver.

But before you pull the trigger, there is a couple of things to consider first. The batteries are quite small, and it may help to upgrade to some 4.0 or 5.0 Ah batteries. Also, these tools are not trade-quality. This means that the tools will struggle if you are using them all day, every day. Kicking them off the roof of a house is not a good idea either. But this is the trade-off with buying affordable tools.

2) Screwdriver

Screwdrivers are used for installing or removing screws. Crazy huh! After you purchase your cordless drill, a basic screwdriver is the next best tool for DIY. They’re great for anything from changing batteries in electronics to adjusting door hinges, to large building projects.

Amartisan 10-Piece Magnetic Screwdrivers Set

I like this 10-piece screwdriver set from Amartisan. They have 5 Phillips-head (cross-shaped) screwdrivers and 5 slotted (straight) screwdrivers, all of different sizes. This set has a professional cushion grip and has impressive reviews on Amazon; all for a great price!

Klein 11-in-1 Multi-Tip Screwdriver

While I prefer to own a screwdriver set, you can also have all of your screwdriver needs met with a single tool. A multi-tip screwdriver is very convenient and saves lots of space. In the case of the Klein 11-in-1 Multi-Tip Screwdriver, you store the unused bits on the handle of the tool. As discussed in our Torx Screwdriver Buying Guide, Klein is one of the world’s leading manufacturers of quality screwdrivers. So, you know that this tool will serve you well!

3) Adjustable Wrench

Wrenches are great to tighten and loosen pipes, nuts, and bolts. Most professionals and serious DIYers will have full sets of wrenches, each wrench with its own fixed size. These tools are great to have when working on your car or larger construction projects but are perhaps overkill for those new to DIY.
Instead, just like with screwdrivers you can save space and money by buying a single tool. An adjustable wrench has an adjustable head (crazy!) that allows you to fit a whole range of different nuts and bolts.

Adjustable wrenches can be a little tedious to use, however, especially if you buy a cheap and nasty one! The adjusting grooves are often too large, which leads to lots of wobble in the head. This makes it difficult to grip onto things properly. So, spare yourself the headache and spend a little more on a quality adjustable wrench.

Crescent 4″ Adjustable Wrench

This Crescent 4” adjustable wrench is made of alloy steel, has wide jaws to allow for more sizes, and a tension spring to stabilize the head. That means there is no wobble in the head, allowing the tool to grip onto surfaces without having to adjust all the time.

4) Pliers

Pliers are used for getting a strong grip on different objects. They are useful for grabbing, bending, and twisting different things. You could even call them the tweezers of the DIY world. Pliers come in a huge range of sizes and shapes depending on their purpose. Unfortunately, unlike wrenches and screwdrivers, there is no way around the need to have a range of pliers. But we’ve found the next best thing, a full set of pliers with a bag, at an affordable price!

CRAFTSMAN Pliers, 6-Piece Mini Set with Pouch

These Crafstman pliers are made from alloy steel, are drop-forged, and have comfortable grips on the handles. I’ve been collecting pliers for many years, and I still don’t have as many pliers as what comes in this great little set.

5) Hammer

The humble hammer is one of the world’s oldest tools, yet still essential to have when assembling the best tools for DIY. Hammers are great for driving and removing nails, as well as shaping and bending metals. For more information on hammers, check out this article. Walk into any hardware store and you’ll be shocked at the number of different hammer types available. Because there’s so much variation between their uses and the types of jobs, there is no ‘best hammer’ for all jobs. That is why we have picked out one good quality, general-purpose hammer.

Irwin General Purpose Hammer

This hammer from Irwin (a great brand btw) has a nice soft grip for ease of use. It’s also made of fiberglass; while it’s not as strong as steel, it does give less vibration and is also more cost-effective. This is a great starter hammer, and for most people, it’s all you’ll ever need!

Benchmark – 3 Piece Hammer Set

If you’re after a few different hammers, we’ve found another great deal! This 3-piece hammer set contains a rubber mallet, regular rip claw hammer, and a chipping hammer to boot! Alternatively, we’ve also found a bargain if you’re wanting a variety of hammers! This hammer set from Benchmark has a rubber mallet, a rip claw hammer, and a chipping hammer as well!

6) Measuring Tape

Measuring tapes, or tape measures, are flexible rulers contained in a handy little box. These things are awesome for measuring all sorts of stuff, and the tape recoils at the flick of a button. One of my earliest memories was getting yelled out by my grandfather for repeatedly pulling out his tape measure all the way, and watching it slide across the floor. Good times!

When I crack out my tools, the tape measure is usually the first one out and the last one back in. Tape measures are straightforward tools, and you don’t need to spend much at all. But it is important to buy a tape measure without any play between the ruler and the end-piece. If there is movement, your measurements won’t be consistently accurate. Usually, tape measures are best purchased in person so you can check this, but in the case of the Komelon self-lock power tape, you don’t need to bother

Komelon SL2825 Self Lock 25-Foot Power Tape

This unbelievably priced tape measure has averaged 5 stars over more than 12,000 reviews on Amazon. I’ve never seen anything like it for such a cheap tool. Seriously, for the price and consistency of reviews, you cannot go wrong here.

7) Jigsaw

At some point in your DIY journey, you’re going to need to cut some wood. Now, of course, you can go ahead and start collecting handsaws and hacksaws, and you’ll get a lot of good use out of them. I’ve got a bunch of them myself and they’re great. But nothing beats the versatility and speed of a jigsaw. For further reading on the wonders of the jigsaw, head on over to our best jigsaw article.

RYOBI One+ P5231 18V Lithium-Ion Cordless Jigsaw

There are thousands of fantastic jigsaws on the market. But, because we’ve already told you to go out and get started with the Ryobi 18v One+ series, then the Ryobi One+ P5231 18V Lithium-Ion Cordless Jigsaw is the one for you. But if you’re running a different brand of battery, just buy whatever jigsaw is compatible with those. That is, as long as you’re using a reputable brand!

8) Level- Best Tools for DIY

A vital part of DIY is making sure your project doesn’t actually look DIY. All too often, however, the DIYer lets themselves down by not having the tools essential for a professional finish. Small details, like making your project level, go a long way to making a successful DIYer. While some professionals skip the levels and just eyeball their work, this approach is not appropriate for most DIYers. That means that levels are among the very best tools for DIY. To be honest, it doesn’t matter if you want a normal spirit level (box level) or prefer to go with a laser level, just get one!

“A vital part of DIY is making sure your project doesn’t actually look DIY”

The Tool Guy

To begin with, a simple spirit level is the best option.

Craftsman 9″ Torpedo Level

This Craftsman 9” level is a great little tool as it is accurate and fits easily into most tool bags. There are three level gauges, allowing you to measure vertically, horizontally, and at 45-degree angles. There is a magnetic edge which is helpful for use on metal, and it also has rubber caps at either end! This means that the level will maintain its accuracy even after you drop it from the top of a pergola. (Oddly specific, I know! But this happened to me with this exact level. It still works great!)

Just a word of warning on spirit levels. In my experience, there is actually quite a lot of variation in the accuracy of the levels. For that reason, when buying high-end spirit levels, it’s usually best to buy them in person after testing them out.

How do you test a spirit level?

Testing a spirit level is really very easy. Simply lay the spirit level on a flat surface and look at where the bubble sits. Then, flip the level over and look at the same bubble again. If it sits in the same place each time, the level is accurate. If the bubble shows a different reading, pick another one!

9) Safety Equipment- Best Tools for DIY

Finally, it’s important to look after yourself when working with tools. I come from a long line of men who have lost fingers because they haven’t had the right safety equipment. As you can imagine, slicing your finger off with an angle grinder is a pretty rough experience.

Fortunately, buying safety equipment is a breeze. Get yourself some of the following:

  • Gloves
  • Earmuffs or bag of disposable earplugs
  • Safety goggles
  • Sturdy boots

Conclusion- Best Tools for DIY

Getting the best tools for DIY doesn’t have to be difficult. In this article, we’ve covered some of the basics, but if you get the DIY bug, then I promise you’ll be looking for a whole lot more in the near future. I’ve included the best recommendations I could find for each product online. But in case you decide to buy your tools in person, we’ve also put together a handy little tool buying shopping list; for free! Click here to take a look.

And as always, if you need any tool buying advice, or you have any questions about a tool you own, let us know!