Must-Have DIY Tools for Home Improvement Projects

DIY projects can be more complicated than expected. When unforeseeable circumstances arise, you need an arsenal of tools at your fingertips. You don’t need a bunch of specialized tools to get the job done right. All you need are these standard must-have DIY tools.

Some projects are best left to a professional, such as some DIY car repairs, roofing, and other repairs you shouldn’t try. But, there are plenty of fixer-upper projects around the house that are easy to do, if you have the right DIY tools.

10 Must-Have DIY Tools

When you lack the proper tools for the job, your project takes longer than it needs to. The right assortment of tools lets you approach obstacles from multiple angles. With these DIY tools, take your home improvement project from concept to completion with ease.

Standard Set of Hand Tools

The most essential thing you need is a set of standard hand tools. These are available for a reasonable price at home improvement stores and from the [Amazon Hardware store]. The must-have standard hand tools for DIYers include…

  • Tape Measure

Every DIYer needs a tape measure. Get one that is hefty enough to take a two-story fall and get bashed around with lumber. And, make sure your tape measure is at least 50 feet long.

  • Hammer

Most DIYers have several hammers. A DIYer uses their hammer for most projects. Whether your tapping in upholstery nails, stripping rusted nails out of old wood or bashing material apart, your hammer is the tool of choice.

A standard hammer, of about 16 ounces, will do the trick. Upholstery hammers are smaller and lighter, and roofing hammers are larger and heavier. It is worth collecting an assortment of hammers, eventually. But, to begin, look for a standard 10 to 16-ounce claw hammer.

  • Phillips’ Head Screwdriver

Manual screwdrivers are critical tools for your DIY kit. An electric drill has difficulty filling into tight spaces, where your manual screwdriver is just fine. The most common screw-head is the Phillips head screw, which looks like a plus sign.

  • Flat Head Screwdriver

The flathead screwdriver is, in every way, the same as a Phillips’ head, except the business end is shaped like a minus sign. Outside of contracting work, the flathead screw is the second most common type of connecting hardware.

You should have an assortment of screwdriver sizes. And, look for a set that comes with square-head screwdrivers and hex-screwdrivers.

  • Wrenches

Wrenches are essential for nuts and bolts hardware. The head of the tool is adjustable, but it still is useful to have a couple different sizes in your toolbox.

  • Pliers

Pliers are a versatile tool, and you won’t regret having a wide size assortment. Be sure the standard toolkit you get has standard pliers and needle-nosed pliers. Small pliers are great for pulling out used hardware from construction materials and walls.

  • Utility Razor

When cutting trim and other materials to size, a razor is necessary for some detailed cuts. A saw can be too much power for fine work. Your razor should be durable and the blade easily changeable.


A level is essential for around-the-house DIY projects, like hanging pictures, mirrors, and doors. Most standard hand tool sets come with a bubble level. Look for a handheld level that includes a horizontal, vertical, and angled level. For larger projects, like pouring cement or structural framing, get a laser-level.

Power Drill

The vast majority of DIY projects will require a power drill screwdriver. You don’t need the heftiest drill on the shelf, just something with enough power. There are lots of different drills to choose from, and good starter toolkits come with a middle-grade power drill. Look for one with at least an 18-volt battery, in order to keep from losing power in the middle of your project.

Impact Driver

After your basic hand tools, the next thing to take your DIY-ing to the next level is an impact driver. An impact driver actively works to apply inward or outward pressure to hardware. It sounds sort of like a rapid-fire nail gun and drives hardware into material like a knife into butter.

Circle Saw

Your handle-held circle saw comes in handy when working on medium to large DIY projects that require materials to be cut-to-size. Table saws are great, but, a good circle saw provides the same accuracy, when on a stable surface. The best circle saws include a laser guide and adjustable cutting angle.

Powered Multi-tool

If there is one tool that you’ll use more than any other, it’s the multi-tool. Your multi-tool is a jigsaw, sander, screwdriver, router, and more.

The head of a multi-tool comes off, and can be interchanged for a wide variety of functions. Depending on the amount of power you need, you can get a corded or battery operated multi-tool.


Clamps are great for a range of uses. Of course, they hold materials together, but, you can use clamps as an extra pair of hands when hanging pictures, leveling fences, and more.

True DIYers should have clamps of multiple sizes and types. C-clamps are good for a tight hold on heavier materials, like 4×4 lumber and metal. Handheld pressure clamps are convenient for holding studs, framing, and other small projects.

Nail Gun

If you are doing any large scale DIY construction, a nail gun will speed up your labor. Look for a nail gun with adjustable power output. Get one that can be used with industrial staples, as well.

Nail guns are available in four types: corded, cordless, gas powered, and pneumatic. Most DIYers use electric powered nail guns, such as corded or cordless battery operated units. Hefty projects are best left to the gas powered and pneumatic nail guns.


A hand-planer is great for shaving down wooden materials for custom angle framing. Small planers are especially useful for trim and door frames. Two-handed planers are used for shaving down larger pieces of lumber.

Set of Taps

Many DIY projects involve replacing old hardware. When bolt hardware becomes stripped from ware, you will need to re-tap the connecting hole. That means, drilling a new set of grooves for the bolt to screw into. Having a set of taps on hand makes a big difference for DIYers working with metal materials, and anything responsible for heavy-lifting.

Moving Forward

After you have the standard must-have DIY tools, consider investing in a table saw and electric pressure washer.

Check out the Garage Craftsman to find out more about home improvement projects and hardware.

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