Essential Supplies For DIY And Renovation

Individual renovation projects will demand specific supplies, but there's some stuff that's always worth having around before emergencies arise. Here's our favourite items which we figure no handyperson's cupboard should be without.

Picture by Joshin Yamada

As part of Renovation Week, we've already covered the absolute essentials you need in your toolbox. This list covers the other half of the equation: stuff that's always useful to have around and make projects go smoothly.

3M Command Strips

We already mentioned these as a tenant's best friend, but even if you do own your own place, it makes much more sense to use these for mounting posters, pictures and all kinds of other items (I attached up one of my household smoke alarms with the velcro versions). They're particularly handy for keeping powerboards in place without damaging the furniture they get attached to.

Blu-tak

I wouldn't use it for posters, but it's handy for keeping wires out of the way, ensuring screws stay attached to screwdrivers, and even for keeping printers running

WD-40

Essential for jammed and squeaky doors, dodgy screws that won't come out, and other DIY challenges. You can also use it to clean printer cartridges.

Superglue

Not strong enough for serious wall-level stuff, but ideal for minor repairs to watch bands, toys, crockery and other items. Just make sure you've got some nail polish remover on hand to remove any that gets on your hands. I personally favour the 10 pack for $2 from my local bargain store; that way, if the lid gets stuck between uses, it's no great drama. Picture by

Tacks

While you need to match nails to the project in many instances, general-purpose tacks are always handy for keeping stuff in place or fast picture hanging off the sides of bookshelves.

Electrical tape

For grouping cables, temporarily holding stuff in place, temporarily fixing shoes, and literally dozens of other projects, which our US colleagues have celebrated under the America-centric name of duct tape

Wooden chopsticks

This might seem like an odd-inclusion, but I bought a cheap packet of these from an Asian supermarket years ago and use them constantly: as paint stirrers when I'm dealing with a small tin, for making small filler plugs, and if I run out of dowels when assembling IKEA furniture.

This list is based on my own hard-won experience and consultation with the rest of the Allure crew; what would you add to it?


Comments

    Electrical tape != duct tape. What you're after is something along the lines of cloth backed tape.

      In my head, they're the same thing.

        Maybe you have to much duct tape covering your brain :D

      Agreed.. Electrical Tape is pretty useless for anything but temporarily insulating electrical connections.

      Duct Tape is stickier, stronger, wider and more versatile.

      Personally, I just flog packing tape from work... it does what I need when I need it.. Not as good as proper duct tape, but has some of the capability/felxibility and the price (when flogged from work) is much better!

    Sorry to jump on you for something that's so small, Angus, but Duct/Duck tape and Electrical tape are not the same thing - except in the eyes of some unscrupulous manufacturers who will sell cheap electrical tape as Duct tape here, for duct tape kinda prices.

    Electrical tape is a plastic - generally vinyl - tape with a pressure sensitive adhesive, generally quite UV resistant, quite stretchy and is often quite a good insulator. It's often colour-coded for different purposes, ie, Black for insulation, Green and yellow stripes for isolated ground, and so on.

    Duct/Duck tape is a cloth tape with very little to no stretch, quite water-resistant, resistant to oil and grease, and generally has much stronger adhesive than Electrical tape. Gaffer's tape is a subset of Duct tape, made to not leave sticky residue, and to be easier to tear into thin strips.
    Also related is Speed Tape, which is actually FAA rated for some aircraft repairs - it's adhesive is crazy strong, and instead of cloth, it's got an aluminized backing.

    As for tips and tricks, I personally reccomend and prefer Nashua 357 Premium Grade Duct Tape - Super strong, great adhesive, lasts forever, comes in two inch by sixty yard rolls, and as a curious random fact, is also the brand preffered by Mythbusters and M5 industries.
    For anything particularly temporary, or if I don't want it marked by adhesive, or to tear any surface materiel off, I'll use Gaffa tape, usually US GAFFA brand, but I'm not particular.

    For anything electrical - wrapping, bundling and marking wires, for example - I'll always use electrical tape. Because that's what it's for. It's right there in the name, come on now.

    Builder's pencil. You only get to cut once, and the thick chunk of graphite means your mark will be visible pretty much no matter the surface. Importantly, pencil can be erased and/or painted over - an advantage over any kind of ink (learned the hard way...)

    String-line (chalked version optional). It's amazing how useful a static straight line is. Chalked versions are the fastest, easiest way to "flick" a practically perfect straight line onto the ground.

    Steel/wooden stakes and twine - whether it's holding a string-line, marking wet concrete or holding up tomato vines, the uses for a half-dozen unobtrusive shafts of steel or wood are practically endless.

    Protective gear. Gloves, sunglasses, goggles, hat, earmuffs - shouldn't need to say it, but there's a reason OHS standards exist.

    Silicon sealant + applicator gun. If it needs to be watertight, applied properly this stuff is the way to go.

    Oh! Also various types of tape:

    Plumber's tape for ensuring threaded plumbing is watertight.
    Electrical tape for electrical cabling, contacts and loose ends.
    Masking tape for masking (duh) while painting, and impromptu labels.
    Gaffer tape ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gaffer_tape ) for adhesive solutions that are meant to last a long time and/or substantial strain.

    Duct tape ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Duct_tape ) is pretty much only useful for its particular design: ensuring an airtight seal on air conditioning ducts. Yes, speaking from experience again.

      Well, that would depend if you're using Duct tape, or duct tape. While Duct Tape(regular cloth-back adhesive tape) is absolutely useless for use on Ducts(even my favorite 357 Premium tape), you can buy specialty tape which is expressly for that purpose, which is also, therefore, duct tape, but it isn't Duct tape.

      Yes, the stupidity of that naming scheme annoys me too.

    Cable ties :) Never forget cable ties.

      +1

      And a jar to put random nuts/bolts and screws into.
      whether leftover from constructing something or recovered while disassembling something.

    I prefer 5 minute Aryldite to Super-Glue it:
    1) lasts "forever" in the cupboard after opening unlike Super-glue which sets inside the tube a few weeks/months after opening.
    2) still pretty quick drying/setting that it's good for a quick repair but not so quick that you can make a mistake and fix something in the wrong spot.
    3) doesn't "melt" plastics like Super Glue can.

    Wooden chop-sticks are useless as a dowel-replacement and for plug-holes - the wood is much too soft.

    If it moves and it shouldn't, Duct Tape; if it doesn't move and it should, WD40; if you can't fix it with either of those, it can't be fixed!

    A more succint list. Duct tape and WD-40. If it moves and shouldn't duct tape. It should move and doesn't WD-40.

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