The 10 Tools You Need to Tackle Your Weekend DIYs

published Apr 26, 2021
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Credit: Zoë Burnett

If there’s one thing the explosion of viral DIY trends on TikTok can tell us, it’s that many of us are in need of a creative outlet. From twisting taper candles to faux antique thrifted lamps, do-it-yourself projects seem to be at an all-time high these days.

Whether you’re just beginning to foray into DIY territory or you’re ready to graduate into the “weekend warrior” realm, one thing is certain: Quality supplies are essential to the job. The right supplies can be the difference between an Instagrammable finish or an all-out fail, but they don’t need to be expensive or specialized. Many projects can be accomplished with a curated set of budget-friendly tools, and you can keep them handy for a variety of tasks. Your tools should also cover a range of projects, from repainting a vintage find to hacking IKEA furniture, and be durable enough for the long haul. Here’s your checklist for the 10 best picks that will come in clutch for tackling most of your weekend DIYs.

Credit: Zoë Burnett

1. Paintbrush

True, you can’t paint without a paintbrush, but there’s more to this tool than its intended use. You also need a paintbrush to apply a plenitude of other substances, such as stain, stripper, sealant, or adhesive. Perhaps you want to limewash your brick fireplace, stain the wood on your front door, or strip the finish off a thrifted chair? All of these projects require a paintbrush. A two-inch flat brush is your most versatile option. If you’re using it for paint and primer, the rule of thumb is to always spring for a high-quality paintbrush, otherwise you’ll be picking bristles out of your fresh coat. For jobs outside of painting, opt for a cheap chip brush.

Credit: Zoë Burnett

2. Tape Measure

Perhaps the most utilitarian item on this list is a tape measure, and chances are you probably already have one lurking somewhere in your junk drawer. From determining the size of a room to finding the center point of a wall or marking the dimensions of whatever it is you’re making, a tape measure is an invaluable staple for any DIY kit.

Don’t confuse this tool with the vinyl measuring tape used for sewing — you’ll something that can measure up to at least 25 feet and has a reliable locking mechanism, so you don’t lose your spot. High-quality measuring tapes will also feature a generous “stand out,” which is the length the tape can reach without bending (useful if you’re working alone). And don’t forget to embrace the oath of “measure twice, cut once.”

Credit: Zoë Burnett

3. Power Drill

For everything from simple tasks — like hanging curtains or changing cabinet hardware — to more robust renovation-style DIYs like installing drywall, a power drill is essential. The main considerations to make are whether to buy a corded drill (more power) versus a cordless one (more portability), and what voltage. A safe bet is to choose a cordless drill with at least a mid-range voltage like 9.6V, so you can work without having to be close to an outlet and have enough power to meet the needs of most projects.

Credit: Zoë Burnett

4. Speed Square

Not just a carpenter’s tool, any DIY project that involves making sure your corners are square or your angles are accurate (think: cabinets, picture frames, or planter boxes) will benefit greatly from the use of a speed square. Speed squares generally come in either metal or plastic. The best ones come with a “fence,” or a “lip,” along one side. When you’re using this type of speed square, you can set it on top of lumber to use as a guide for making 45-degree and 90-degree cuts without worrying about it budging.

Credit: Zoë Burnett

5. Miter Saw

Speaking of angled cuts — such as where crown moulding, window casings, or door frames meet at the corners — you’ll need a miter saw to accomplish the task. Having angled corners can make all the difference in giving a project a more polished look. For simple, one-off projects, a $10 miter box and a hand saw will do the trick. But at some point in your DIY journey, after you’ve hand-sawed enough pieces, you’ll realize cutting stuff manually is for the birds. When that hits, you can invest in a decent 10-amp power miter saw for under $100.

Credit: Zoë Burnett

6. Staple Gun

For any upholstery or carpeting projects that you have planned, such as updating the fabric on your headboard or installing a new stair runner, you’ll find a staple gun to be a versatile tool. Staples also serve as an alternative to glue or screws, particularly when working with delicate pieces of wood that are prone to splitting. Staple guns come in manual, air-compressed, and electric versions — but when you’re just starting out, a manual one is just fine.

Credit: Zoë Burnett

7. Hot Glue Gun

Whether your projects fall more on the crafty side or the home improvement side, at some point you’re probably going to need a hot glue gun. From creating no-sew Roman shades to attaching trim around a mirror, hot glue gets the job done fast. Sure, there are more industrial adhesives you can use, but the greatest appeal of using hot glue is that you don’t have to spend hours waiting for it to dry. Glue guns come in full-size and mini versions, with either low-temp or dual-temp settings. It’s a good idea to get a full-size glue gun with a dual-temp option.

Credit: Zoë Burnett

8. Orbital Sander

If you have a labor-intensive project on your hands, such as stripping old furniture, sanding a drywall patch, or re-painting cabinets, an orbital sander can save you some serious sweat equity. A five-inch or six-inch sander is likely all you’ll need to replace a traditional sanding block on most jobs. Be sure to wear a mask when using one, though, since these items can throw a lot of dust and particles into the air.

Credit: Zoë Burnett

9. Utility Knife

For projects that require any kind of precision cutting — like stencils, contact paper, or peel-and-stick wallpaper — a utility knife will yield cleaner results than scissors. With its super sharp blade and pen-like handle, a utility knife can cut through a diverse range of materials, including paper, plastic, balsa wood, leather, or thin sheet metal. Be sure to always keep a few spare blades on hand, as they lose their effectiveness as they dull.

Credit: Zoë Burnett

10. Hammer

Every DIYer needs a hammer in their tool belt. Why? It comes in handy for basic projects and simple constructions, like hanging a gallery wall or building a birdhouse. Make sure to pick a claw hammer (the most common kind) that can drive nails as well as remove them. However, if you’re planning to do a more heavy-duty project, such as demolishing a wall, you’ll need a sledgehammer instead.