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Old 03-23-2012, 08:42 AM   #1
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New DIY'er's basic tools?

Ok, so as I've said in a couple other threads we are moving into our first house next month. Since I've always lived in apartments or at home (where dad's tools are available as long as you "PUT THEM BACK WHERE YOU FOUND THEM WHEN YOU'RE DONE AND THIS IS THE LAST TIME I'M GOING TO TELL YOU!!!") I have very few tools (and a random assortment at that).
I've got like three hammers, some random cheap phillips and flatheads, some kind of wrench thing. My wife has an electric drill that dies after about 1/2 a dozen screws or holes.

What all should I be looking to pickup on sale in the next month?
I know I'm going to need:
A ladder
A "Good" electric drill (but which one, and I can't afford an expensive one but don't want to get ripped off buy getting TOO cheap of one)
Some kind of cutting device?

Basic home maintenance, no special projects yet. But some of the projects I know i'll have right away or soon after are:
Replacing/repairing the attic gable vent screen.
Possibly replacing the gas hot water heater
Installing some under cabinet lights and bathroom light fixtures.

What would the new DIY'er's basic tools consist of?


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Old 03-23-2012, 08:56 AM   #2
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If you are looking for cheap tools find a HARBOR FREIGHT in your area. For a weekend warrior, their stuff works. I use my battery drill alot, HOME DEPOT or LOWES run sales often, I prefer MILWAUKEE tools (thats just me ) It really depends on what project your doing as to what tools are needed, purchase as needed before long you will have everything needed. Good Luck


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Old 03-23-2012, 09:00 AM   #3
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You probably don't need another or better hammer unless you want to build something major. Get some good screwdrivers or one with changeable bits. Cheap ones strip out. Picquik is a decent one for a DIYer. I assume the drill is cordless? What brand is it, maybe a new battery will get you by? I'd leave the gas water heater to a professional plumber, very dangerous if done wrong.
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Old 03-23-2012, 09:17 AM   #4
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I don't buy tools until I actually need them. I also only buy cheap tools if it is something that I won't use very often. I've learned that it is better to spend more money up front.

However, I'll give you a list of things that I'm always using:

hammer ( don't need 3 though :p )
circular saw (I have a craftsman)
cordless drill (get the best you can afford, I use dewault)
screwdrivers (I prefer the kind that you can change the bits, Example:
socket set (metric & standard)
Utility knife (I prefer the pocket knife style Ex:
Tape Measure (a good 25' tape. so many apartment dwellers use junk tape measures)

I know it goes against what I said previously, but Harbor Freight does have some decent stuff. I will buy stuff there if I don't care if it gets broken. Only once have I bought something there and regretted it. However, that item was less than $6 so who really cares.

Oh, and welcome to home ownership! I love it.
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Old 03-23-2012, 09:42 AM   #5
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There really is no such thing as cheap luggage or a cheap tool. Investing in such leaves your undies exposed to all as the airline monkeys toss and break the zippers.

Toward the end of my career I got so much mileage out of my Fein multi-tool. It cost me $500 or whatever with all the bells and whistles. I never used a single tool more, every day in renovating antique homes.

A good solid ladder or two you trust is, I think, the most important thing for a home. Buy such that fit your space.

I have no fear of heights but a stellar phobia when it comes to wobbly ladders. You want to be able to reach things without putting yourself in danger just to change a lightbulb.

A good set of honest to god screwdrivers is a must. Not Harbour Freight or cheap Chinese box store ones. A good drill/driver would be a good investment. And some drill bits. I hate to admit it and I usually shop at tool stores. The Ryobi drills are sweet for the price point. Not sure about the cutting stuff.

I love the concept of cordless but also think I like consistent RPMs for cutting tools like saws and routers. You will need a decent extension cord to power them.

I am trying to separate tools I have from being in the trades from those a normal person might want.

I think an electrical outlet tester worth $15 a good investment. I love colored blinking lights. And I can bring on a sparky to look at them.

You are probably going to need a pipe or even a basin wrench at some point.

I call plumbers or electricians to deal with problems but I accept I am a contractor and not a DIYer.

Wish I had better news but I think you will find the need for tools beyond anticipation. Glad your Father in Law is willing to lend them. I am missing some tools. A simple electrical tester, chalk line and some drywall blades at the moment. Replacement value for all is like $100-200. I have absolutely no need for them at the moment or in the future. But I liked knowing they were there, cleaned and where I left them.

Last edited by user1007; 03-23-2012 at 09:51 AM.
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Old 03-23-2012, 12:27 PM   #6
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Before you buy ANY tools... buy a book (this book)...
it'll be the best $23 you'll EVER spend:

As to the tools themselves (and beyond the very basics) two rules apply:
1) buy the best you can afford or justify
2) buy only what you NEED and only WHEN you need it.

(#2 means every job becomes an excuse to buy a tool)
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Old 03-23-2012, 12:45 PM   #7
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It depends on how much you end up doing. I do a bunch of stuff so my "favorites" list might be different than yours, but here is mine:

Miter saw
Impact driver
Circular saw
A-Frame ladder
Extension ladder
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Old 03-23-2012, 02:42 PM   #8
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First off, DON'T BUY CHEAP TOOLS. They will only disappoint you, hurt you and make you wonder why you ever wanted to DIY.
You may not need the best, but never buy the cheapest. The mid to higher priced stuff at the box stores usually is good. Craftsman is a safe bet.

The tool that defines a homeowner from a renter is a wheelbarrow. Buy a decent one with a pneumatic tire. Spring's here. You'll need some yard tools soon. Start going to yard sales.

A good ladder is a must. Buy a 5' step ladder and one 24-30" high. Don't cheap out.

If you will be doing any carpentry, buy a small tool belt. Learn to put the tool back in the belt; don't set it down. Saves a lot of time and aggravation.

Hand tools?
25' tape
4 way screwdriver
stiff 1" putty knife
carpenter's pencil
utility knife
torpedo level
18 or 24" level
48" level
Chalk line
"toolbox" sized hand saw
nail set
wire stripper
outlet tester
framing square
speed square

Be prepared to buy a new tool every time you do a job. Especially plumbing. Not a bad thing. Just remember that most pros will charge you $100 just to knock on your door. (Not that there's anything wrong with that!!!)
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Old 03-23-2012, 02:48 PM   #9
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Yard Sales! Brilliant. Why didn't I think of that. I've been yard sailing a number of times for other things and I remember there are usually a few nice tools here and there.
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Old 03-23-2012, 04:56 PM   #10
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Have a good 1/2 inch low rpm corded drill for heavy jobs! I use my Milwaukee 1663-20 spade handle (450rpm) for mixing concrete, driveway sealer etc! I even use it w/ earth augers to plant and or mix soil!
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Old 03-25-2012, 09:56 AM   #11
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For ladders, you might want to check out the multi-purpose ladders. That way you don't need a different ladder for working inside vs. getting on the roof. As a suggestion, if you have a choice between a telescoping and a hinged, I'd go with the telescoping. I ended up buying the hinged type and found it a pain to adjust without a lot of space.

Since you're getting stated, I'd suggest looking into some of the sets you'll find a big box stores/everything under the sun stores (like Walmart). If you get a full set of bits, you'll be surprised how often you occasionally pull out some of the non-standard bits.

You might want to grab an oscillating multi-tool if you think you'll need to make small cuts in a confined space.

Finally, while not a glorious as tools. Please get a decent set of safety equipment (gloves, glasses, ear protection, etc.).
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Old 03-25-2012, 11:41 AM   #12
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Yes....yard sales.....but use caution when buying power tools....the tend to be somewhat worn out.

Moving into a new house means lots of other expenses besides is my list of initial must haves' besides what you already have.....

Shop Vac....saves using your wife's vac....and does a much better job

Leaf Blower (corded) - Great for blowing out the dirt in the garage least a 6'....high enough to reach the eves and hang curtins.

Extension Cord....min 14awg at 50' long. I would suggest 2 of them....catch them on sale or at a garage sale...if the ends are worn to replace.

2 12", the other 48"...come in handy for hanging curtins and pictures....

Power Tools....common subject with lots of opinions....the home owner does not need dewalt....your not making a living off them...Harbor Freight is on the other end...but if it only gets used 3 times a year....good value for something that sits in a drawer most of the time.

I am a fan of the combo kits....drill, sawsall, circular saw...all use the same battery and charger. I have all Ryobi...18v....the first drill I bought in 1998....used the dog crap out of it....the final straw was the fall off the roof of the house. I now have 2 drills, sawsall, 2 circular saws, vac, light...all use the same battery....(I have 4 along with 2 chargers)...I've built a 2-story garage and am now doing a 2-stort addition to my house. Good value for the money.

The other power borrow from your dad or buy as necessary.

Notice how I made reference to a lot of the above tools being used for 'house projects'? The reality is that unless your wife feels like the tools are there to support her desires to maintain and/or change the house, it can be hard to get her blessing for any purchases....but once she sees you being a team player, it gets easier and easier....

Organize the garage. When you initially move it, everything gets shoved into the garage while you organize the house. As you figure out what you need and what you need to keep in the garage, start thinking of proper storage for will also make the wife happiers since she won't be looking at a mess....and you will be able to work other words, you don't spend all your time looking for something....

This is a real good web site for garage stuff and tools...

You can hate me later....

Congrats on the house....and enjoy the doubt we will be seeing a lot more of you....
Even if you are on the right track, you will still get run over if you just sit there.

My 2-Story Addition Build in Progress Link ... My Garage Build Link and My Jeep Build Link
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Old 03-25-2012, 12:55 PM   #13
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I thought of three more to put at the top of the list:
Wet/dry vacuum. You'll use it at the end of every job. And more.
A plunger.
Plumber's drain snake. (If you buy it now, you may never need it. If you wait till later, you'll need it when the stores are closed.) Looks like this:

Last edited by ratherbefishing; 03-25-2012 at 12:59 PM.
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Old 03-25-2012, 02:49 PM   #14
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if your just looking for basic stuff for very very minor things around the house all you need is as listed below

tape measure
speed square or combination square
12" level + 24" level
vice grips, channel lock pliers. side cutters
hand saw
corded drill or a cheaper cordless drill

unless your getting into serious projects its all your gonna need.. most of my clients are established in their careers and have wives that wont let them have anything more than a tape measure and screwdriver with my phone number posted on the fridge

when you get to my collection it takes over the living room area along the shed
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Old 03-26-2012, 07:17 PM   #15
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Aside from the basic lists already posted, I would offer the following.

Do not buy tools for the sake of buying tools. Buy them because you will need them and they match your skill set to use them properly.

Example, a manual miter box can work for small jobs as well as a powered compound miter saw. Do you have a long project list? Are you planning changes beyond the basics of painting, cleaning gutters, etc. I think what you will find, you will not have the tool handy, for the specific job when needed, and then purchase as required. It really comes down to how much experience you have, or as you learn more, do more. Good luck with the new house. Whenever in doubt, get a professional opinion or help to play it safe. Some things I can think of include electrical, plumbing, gas, or structural that folks should not be touching comes to mind, if experience is limited.


Last edited by pesos; 03-27-2012 at 08:35 PM.
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