My Toolbox: Must Have DIY Tools


Must Have DIY Tools

As you know, I’m a bit of a DIY fanatic and I love doing DIY projects around the house. What are my must have DIY tools though? What tools do I use for DIY projects? To be a DIYer, it’s important to have a basic set of versatile tools that will work on an array of DIY projects.

If you’ve followed my blog at all, you know that we’ve given our backyard a makeover, remodeled our bathroom and have completed a bunch of other home improvement projects, and I just like building things!

There is a basic set of tools that I have used on each and every project that we’ve done. I’m going to share with you my must have DIY tools that I use on nearly any project. I’ll also talk about some other important things that I use during DIY projects.

Must Have DIY Tools

Claw Hammer

First in the line of my must have DIY tools is the obvious, a claw hammer. You can’t do much without a claw hammer. But, with a claw hammer you can do a lot! Yes, a claw hammer is great for driving and pulling nails, but it’s also great for smashing through drywall and tile (use safety glasses!) as well as breaking things apart, along with an array of other uses – you know what I’m talking about!

A Claw Hammer; A DIYers best friend

There are different weights of hammers, I have a 16oz fiberglass handle claw hammer. The hammer may be the most versatile tool in your toolbox and it’s a DIY necessity, making it our number 1 pick of my must have DIY tools!

Tape Measure

My second pick is the tape measure. A DIYer should use a tape measure for nearly every project. Okay, yes – we’ve all gotten away with ‘eyeballing it’ a time or two, but lets face it. Get yourself a good tape measure and you’ll have years of perfect measurements for many years to come.

25 Foot Tape Measure

Measuring tapes come in different sizes and styles. Most of us only need a standard 25′ tape measure. However, they do come in shorter versions as well as longer versions. Some use a laser beam to measure distance, which is great if you’re measuring rooms with walls often, but not good for measuring boards and marking lines.

With a tape measure, your projects will come out tight, square and look great! The tape measure is a perfect choice for our must have DIY tools round up!

Ryobi Powertool Kit

This one is my favorite, because it’s the first set of real DIY tools that I’ve ever had. It’s the Ryobi tool kit with an array of different tools, perfect for the DIYer. I got this tool kit when we first bought our house. We have done a lot of projects since we bought our house and this tool kit is amazing! I’ve even used the reciprocating saw for cutting down small trees! (lol!)


Although the least of the reasons that you’d buy this kit; the flashlight is actually amazing. We’ve used it to check out a pack of coyotes spying on us at the edge of our property from 50 yards away. It’s really more like a huge spot light than a flashlight, but still compact. You may not see this as a valuable piece of the kit (at least I didn’t), but it really does comes in handy!


There’s nothing worse than a DIY project that comes out crooked. We are our worst critics, too, so, if your DIY project is just a hair off, you’ll notice and remember it FOR. EVER. So, get yourself a few good levels that you can use on a variety of indoor and outdoor diy projects. I have a 4 foot level, a 9 inch level and a string level.

The 4′ level is perfect for almost any project, it’s not too big and it’s not too small. However, for smaller areas where the 4′ level wont fit, you’ll want a smaller level. This is where the 8 inch level comes in handy, it can fit on stair treads and in tighter spaces where a larger level just wont go. The string or line level is a great tool to have when measuring lines over distances. We used a line level during our patio and stairs installation among other projects.

Levels a DIYer Needs

Having a level line to work with is essential on any DIY project, which is why levels have made their way into my must have DIY tool list!

Screw and Drill Bits

This is more of an accessory, but it shouldn’t go unmentioned. It’s a very important part of any DIY toolbox. Because it’s such a vital part of your DIY tool collection, it lands smack dab in the middle of my must have DIY tools list.

Drill Bits and Screw Bits for DIYers

Screw and drill bit kits come with a variety of different bits that fit in your drill. There are many different kits to choose from, I suggest finding a kit with various drill bits.

The hole drilling bits can be used on different projects, including pre-drilling holes to prevent wood splitting. Some kits come with a countersink bit, which makes a divot in the wood so the screw head can sit flush with the surface of the piece.

You need an array of screw and drill bits, and you need a lot of Phillips head bits. Phillips head bits are best bought in bulk, when your bit starts to wear down is when you start stripping and marring up the screw heads. You don’t want to mess up nice screw heads that will be seen in your finished project, so switch out bits when they start showing signs of wear or start stripping in the screw heads.

Compound Miter Saw

My newest and most cherished DIY tool of all, is the the RIDGID compound miter saw. This makes quick work of all sorts of projects. It allows you the flexibility to cut multiple angles with a quick change of setting. The miter saw is a great tool that every garage or workshop should have!

12 inch RIDGID Compound Miter Saw

A miter saw allows you to set up once and cut multiple pieces with the same angles, yet has the versatility to change angles with a quick setting movement. You can cut everything from picture frame 45 degree cuts to compound angles needed for crown molding and other projects around the house. The 12 inch sliding feature allows you to cut larger boards than regular miter saws. It’s worth the few extra bucks, you’ll love it!

If you’re ready to build and you’re looking to improve your productivity, a compound miter saw is exactly what you need.

Power Sanders

There are several different types of power sanders available and each type has it’s own unique characteristics. Each type of power sander works best on different types of projects. But, you can get away with only having one. I would suggest the orbital sander if you’re going to start your DIY toolkit with just one sander.

RYOBI Belt Sander, Orbital Sander and Sheet Sander

I have three different sanders:

The belt sander is great for removing a lot of material quickly and leveling out large fields of material. It’s great if you’re splicing together boards to make a table top, the belt sander will help you get the joints smooth, quickly.

An orbital sander is a round sander which has a pad that rotates in an random orbital pattern. It also does a good job of removing materials, but it does so in a lesser capacity than a belt sander.

The sheet sander is a vibrating sander which is best used for finishing applications. This is a great option if the majority of the sanding you do is fine finish work, not stripping paint or leveling out surfaces.

Along with an array of various grit sand papers and sanding blocks, every DIYer should have at least one power sander. If you’re only going to get one power sander, I would recommend the orbital sander, as it falls between the sheet sander and belt sander as far as versatility goes.

With the proper sand paper, any of the machines can give you the desired result, from stripping a finish to fine finish sanding. A power sander is a must have for any DIYer, which is why it made our list of must have DIY tools!

Kreg Pocket-Hole Jig

All serious DIYers need a Kreg Pocket-Hole Jig. This is a tool that drills pocket holes into wood, so you can hide your assembly screws. The Kreg Pocket Jig is a great tool for anyone who aspires to build their own furniture or other wood projects.

Craig Pocket-Hole Jig for the DIYer

Hide your screws in pocket holes and your work will look as professional as can be! The Kreg Pocket Hole Jig can be clamped to your work station with the Kreg Face Clamp or you can screw it to your work bench, like I do.

Speed Square

A speed square is a great tool for making right angles and getting ready to cut boards. It is exactly what it sounds like, a square that is fast. You set it on the board, pull the square up against the board and all of a sudden you have a perfect right angle. Draw your line and you’re ready to cut!Carpentry Speed Square

The speed square is probably one of the easiest tools to use in the tool kit. Once you’ve made your measurement mark, you can then set the speed square on the board and draw your line clear across it. You’ll get an accurate square each and every time. You can also use your speed square for drawing 45 degree angles, as it has an angled side as well.

For ease of use, this gets a 10 and also finds it’s way to my must have DIY tools list!

Paint Brushes

Every DIYer needs an assortment of paint brushes. We all use them for almost every project and it’s worth having a few good brushes around. My favorite brush to use is a cutting brush. It works well for cutting lines and angles in rooms or on other pieces.

I’m not too, too picky about my brushes, but I do have a few Purdy brushes and my favorite cutting brush is the Wooster Shortcut Brush. I think Purdy and Wooster are at the top of the pack when it comes to longevity and quality. You’ll want to remember to use natural bristle brushes only with oil based paints, because using them with water based paints will leave them water-logged and will make a mess of your work.

Paint Brushes, Rollers and Supplies

We also keep a few foam brushes on hand for applying clear coats like high gloss Polycrylic for a strong and durable finish. We used Polycrylic in our office when we built the desk and craft area.

Nevertheless, most DIY projects require a finish of some sort, whether it be paint or stain, you’ll need the proper applicators. A nice collection of various size and types of paint brushes is a must have for your DIY tool collection.

Assortment of Hand Tools

Having an assortment of other hand tools is necessary. You never know which tools you’ll need when – I even have a set of tongs in my garage tool kit! No, not for turning hot dogs or chicken on the grill – for grabbing oily rags or other stuff when need be – or reaching behind the workbench to grab that screw that dropped back into the abyss.

Hand Tools for the DIYer

Other things to have in your hand tool assortment would be things like carpenter pencils, an array of screw drivers or a good multi-bit screw driver. Utility knives, pliers, a flat bar, tin snips, a staple gun, and of course safety glasses. Yes, you see a 5-in-1 there, but that gets it’s own mention next.

All these tools come in handy on a daily basis and should not be overlooked when picking out tools for the DIYer in your family. These are just a few of the essential DIY tools one might need to complete an array of projects around the house.

My Top Recommended DIY Tools

That’s my must have DIY tools for your DIY tool collection! I’ve put this list together as they are my most used tools and I consider them essential tools to have on your DIY tool list and in your DIY toolbox.

Bonus: Screw Drivers, Ratchets & Allen Wrenches

This may seem obvious and most of us already have a couple screw drivers. Even so, I think this should be in the list of DIY tools list because screw drivers, ratchets and Allen wrenches are essential. You can usually buy these items in a kit, and that’s how I got my ratchet and Allen wrench set, in a kit. I have collected a good bunch of screw drivers over the years, but if you’re just starting out, you can also grab a kit of screw drivers as well.

If you plan on assembling anything, ever, you’ll want some proper tools. Screw drivers, ratchets and Allen wrenches are a DIY necessity. These sets are essential for working on your car, lawn mower, other tools and especially when assembling things you bring home.

We’ve all been there, trying to assemble something with the cruddy little screw driver-slash-allen wrench they send packed with the item. Forget that, get yourself some good tools. You deserve it! Allen wrenches, a ratchet set and a nice set of screw drivers is all part of an essential DIY tool box and has landed as a bonus on our DIY tools list.

Must Have DIY Tools for DIY Projects

What would add to this DIY tool list?