I’m so excited about this post! I am going to share the top tools to get you started in DIY. I’m a big fan of starting slow with only the necessities. As you progress in skill, your DIY Tool kit can grow as you become more comfortable. I am going to walk you through some of the basic tools you need to get professional results on your projects. If you have ever asked yourself “what tools do I need to start woodworking?” you will enjoy this post.
Notice I didn’t say “Top Power Tools To Get You Started”! Basic hand tools are essential to quality professional work. I also don’t run and buy the most expensive version of each tool. I tend to base that decision on how much this tool will get used and how critical it is to the project at hand. I will also have some suggestions for tools that can be easily rented for specific projects.
Scroll on down to my top tools to get you started in DIY. I am going to break it down into categories to help explain the importance and answer your question of what tools do I need to start woodworking?
What Tools Do I Need To Start Woodworking?
Measuring, Leveling and Marking
Don’t even think about cutting a board to size with that fancy miter saw unless you have good measurements, level lines and marking tools. Everyone starting a DIY tool kit should have a quality tape measure. I list my 2 favorite sizes below.
A level is also a critical tool. Use a level to make horizontal and vertical lines and plumb. I like to have a few different sizes. But the most critical sizes, in my opinion, are a 4′ level and a small 6″ torpedo level in your tool belt. If you have a few regular levels, a laser level is a great upgrade!
Speed Squares, Carpenters Square, Framing Square are all tools used to mark straight lines for cutting and or layout. I listed the most common speed square below.
*PRO TIP* – If you are working with another person try to have a tape measure and pencil for each person!
- Stanley Fat Max Tape Measure 35′
- Stanley Traditional Tape Measure 25′
- Johnson Level 4′
- Johnson Torpedo Level
- Bosch Professional Laser Level
- Swanson Speed Square
Drilling, Screwing and Fastening
Most projects include some type of fastening method being used. Below. A good screw gun is critical to your DIY tool kit. You can get the best value by buying a Drill/Impact Combo Set. Once you are ready, a nail gun and compressor combo is a great addition. I recommend a 16 ga. and 18 ga. nail gun.
Another handy method of fastening is using pocket screws. A pocket hole jig is needed for this type of joinery. I recommend a Kreg Jig listed below. This tool will bring your DIY skills to another level.
There are numerous types of saws for different projects. I will list a few must haves when tackling a renovation or DIY project.
Miter Saw– This is used to cut wood boards down in length. Its great for fine wood working and trimwork. They can rage anywhere from $100 to over a $1000. A sliding miter saw will give you a bit more cutting capacity but it is not a necessity. In general you want a “compound” version which can tilt the blade in one direction. I have always used Dewalt for my miter saws. Here is a great entry level saw below.
- Dewalt 12″ Compound Miter Saw
Circular Saw – This is a hand power saw that can be used to roughly cut boards, rip large sheet of wood in straight lines. It can also be used with a guide to achieve straighter cuts. I am a big fan of the smaller battery operated circular saws.
Jig Saw- This is a hand power saw that can be used to cut curved and straight lines. It is not as powerful as a circular saw but it is great for cutting shapes.
Table Saw – Making precise straight cuts in large sheets of plywood and material is essential. One option is a table saw. A job site table saw is create for cutting large sheets down to size as well as repetitive smaller cuts. Dewalt Makes a really great job site table saw.
Track Saw- A track saw is a guided circular saw that can make prices cuts in large sheets. It works great if you don’t have the space for a table saw.
Sometimes it’s just not smart to purchase a tool you will use once. There are some tools that are too large to store and extremely expensive. Renting helps keep you motivated to finish the task as you need to return the tool to avoid additional rental fees. Here are some typical rental tool/projects.
- Tile wet saw for bathroom renovation and tile projects
- Pneumatic floor nail gun/staple gun for flooring projects
- Large drills for mixing concrete
- Diamond blade wet saws for cutting concrete
- Large ladders and scaffolding
For more of my favorite tools and recommendations be sure to check my “Shop Dans Tools” page. Remember to be safe and always wear hearing and eye protection.