Six Simple Tools Every DIY-er Must Have

Six Simple Tools Every DIY-er Must Have

While power tools maybe be the most exciting components in your tool collection, basic hand tools can be every bit as enticing, and perhaps even more essential. There isn’t always a powered solution for every problem you’ll run into over every job that needs doing in the shop, and keeping the low-tech essentials on hand will make your home improvement projects go easier and get done faster. Here are six of my favourites to get you started.

A spring-loaded nail set

It’s not exactly sophisticated, but a spring-loaded nail set can really come in handy when you need to take care of nails that are popping out on moulding or to finish off a project that has some protruding nails. You place the tip of the nail set on the head of the nail, pull back on the end, and release. This efficient little thing will help keep your nails flush without a hammer, and it won’t mark the surface of your wood. You can get one for about $20, and it fits in your pocket.

Flat bars

While a large cat’s claw or crowbar is a common shop tool, a good flat bar is essential when doing any kind of woodworking. A flat bar can be used to correct mistakes when nailing moulding or wooden parts and to separate pieces that have been glued, and it won’t mark the surface of your wood. To put pressure on a stripped screw, you can use the nail-pull cutout or the edge of the tool to lift up on it while unscrewing. Using a flat bar to leverage a heavier piece or wood while levelling the feet is also very convenient. At about $20 for a set, flat bars can also help with pulling staples and peeling up linoleum.

A specialised pencil

If you’ve ever had a tough time lining up your marks when drilling holes for hanging a picture or shelf brackets, a deep hole mechanical pencil is just the thing. To trace your drill pattern from one piece to the next, this pencil will fit into a drilled hole and sink through a few inches of material, making marking a breeze. If you’ve ever struggled to register peg holes or make hardware holes, this is the tool for you. At about $15 for a two-pack, these pocket-sized pencils are a great addition to a DIY tool kit.

All-in-one wire tool

If you like to do work on low-voltage wiring projects, say for LEDs or electronics repair, a self-adjusting wire stripper and cutter is the tool for you. A cleanly stripped wire and an easy cut makes wire connections that much faster. Rather than switching between tools and gauges, you can use this one combination pair of cutters for multiple sizes of wire, and save your hands the struggle of wrestling with a dull tool. (As with any home repair involving electricity, make sure to only perform electrical work you are qualified to handle.)

A magnet on a stick

When you’re working on a vehicle or an appliance, dropped hardware can be a real drag. An adjustable, telescoping, lighted LED pickup magnet can be a lifesaver. If your screws roll under the air conditioner while you’re cleaning the coils or if you drop your washers into your engine, a magnet on a stick is helpful. A magnet on a lighted stick is even better.

An equal spacing tool

For measuring and marking, there’s a tool that can divide up your spacing evenly. To measure for equidistant shelves, to mark lines for bracing or paint, or to make sure that seams are evenly spaced on a fabric project, an equal spacing tool is your best friend. You can use the tool at any spacing up to its maximum, and it will divide your markings equally without requiring you to do maths — just stretch it out and mark where the points fall.

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