The best tools for DIY

Many tools are quite versatile and What's The Best has put together this big guide to the best necessary tools for undertaking DIY projects.

Best tools for DIY

by Chris Williams |
Published on

Welcome to our big rundown of DIY tools - the only guide you'll ever need. Here, we address every important hand and power tool and accessory you need for home DIY projects. We also explain certain tools, which brands you should trust, and what features to look out for. Let’s dive straight in.

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Home tasks

There are so many projects and tasks the home DIYer can do, you’d need an encyclopaedia to list them. The fortunate thing is that while the number of tools you need to undertake your DIY jobs may be vast, you don’t always need a specific tool for a specific job. Many tools are more versatile than you may realise.

We've created a list of fundamental tools that will allow the DIYer to complete most tasks. Depending on what things you undertake at home, some tools on our list will be useful to you, some not so much.

Trustworthy brands

One of the most important things about buying tools is getting quality ones. As DIY tools are generally pricey things, it’s well worth investing in gear that will last. It actually ends up being cheaper in the long run.

For DIY power tools, trustworthy brands include Bosch Green and Ryobi. If you do lots of DIY jobs and want something that's more heavy-duty, brands such as Worx occupy a middle ground between DIY and trade-level gear. Meanwhile, some of the trade brands like Makita have decent entry-level gear that isn’t super expensive.

Power tools

Best DIY power tools
©Photo: Unsplash

The general rule with DIY power tools is this: avoid cheap tat because it’s more expensive over time, heavy-duty trade tools are usually overkill, and you want something with enough power to undertake a range of jobs without strain. Now, it’s just a case of knowing which ones they are.

Drills

Power drills

From putting up a shelf to building a pergola, you’re going to need a drill. There is a lot of cheap tat around that we suggest you steer clear of. But equally, there's no need to necessarily delve into heavy trade tools from Makita or DeWalt either. For around the house, projects and jobs, see our recommendations below.

Best DIY Drill Kit

Bosch Green tools are at the top end of power tools designed for home use. They use high-quality components that filter down from Boschu2019s Blue trade tools, but at a significantly lower cost.

This 18V cordless kit makes for a great DIY option. The drill itself has plenty of punch from its torquey motor and its range of modes means it’s suitable for not only suitable for screw driving and drilling, but also light impact drilling into masonry. The two 1.5Ah Li-ion batteries, charger, and hard case set are super for this price. If you have other Bosch Green tools, the batteries are, of course, interchangeable.

Read our article on the best cordless drills under £100.

Best heavy duty DIY drill

The Worx Slammer (excellent name) combi drill is quite a beefy unit, like you'd get with a trade-level drill. But it's comfortable to use and possesses impressive credentials. The 60Nm of torque makes quick work of timber, steel, and masonry. However, it can also tackle small jobs in reinforced concrete (up to 13mm). Drilling into solid concrete is something usually reserved for large, two-handed hammer drills.

You don't have to worry about wearing down the brushes either, because the Slammer is brushless. For heavy-duty DIY jobs, the Worx Slammer drill is ideal for all jobs except those in tight or awkward places.

Best compact drill

Milwaukee is a trade brand with class-leading cordless gear, and this drill is classed as a trade tool. But weu2019ve included it for a reason. Unlike the bigger 18V trade units, this is a much smaller, lighter, and cheaper 12V tool. Despite that, it has more power than the Bosch drill above, thanks to its reliable, compact Powerstate brushless motor.

It still bears a proper hammer function for masonry and a full-size 13mm chuck, but it can be used in tight spaces too. Therefore, this Milwaukee kit is going to be exactly what you’ll need for almost any DIY circumstance. Inside the hard case, you get a charger and two long-lasting 6.0Ah Li-ion batteries that will give you extended run-time.

For most of the drill bits youu2019ll need, the Bosch 70-piece set will do very nicely. Well-priced and typical Bosch quality, it has bits for all materials and circumstances, including spade bits.

Sanders

best sanders
©Unsplash

Hand-sanding is great for finishing and for those tricky-to-reach places, but an electric sander is better for everything else. Your most versatile option is the random orbital sander (the one with round sandpaper). It's easy to use with one hand and leaves virtually no scratch marks. They're good for almost anything other than the extremes of fine finishing, and the stripping savagery of a big, two-handed belt sander.

The way to get the most from orbital sanders is to move over the surface slowly and lightly in little overlapping circles.

Best DIY Sander

Bosch Green is back. This 125mm corded random orbital sander is all youu2019ll ever need. It has a punchy, but impressively smooth, 270W motor; a dust extraction attachment; variable speed; and a mere 1.5kg weight. From sanding to polishing, the PEX 300 AE can do it.

Top Value Cordless DIY Sander
Black and Decker BDCROS18 Random Orbit Sander
Price: £89.95 (2 x 1.5Ah batteries)

www.tooled-up.com

Understandably, you may wish to go cordless. With a battery, the Black + Decker unit weighs about the same as the Bosch and comes with built-in dust extraction as well. It too uses 125mm sanding discs. The price advertised is for the kit with two 1.5Ah batteries. A kit with two 2.0Ah batteries is also available and singles too.

Saws

Best power saws
©Photo: Getty Images

One of the most universal saws you can get is a reciprocating saw. Looking somewhat like a futuristic shotgun, it’s a mighty useful thing for trimming tree branches, cutting plastic drain piping, or through nail-embedded wall studs. It’ll rip through the cord, too, so be careful.

For most jobs, the Einhell will be ideal. A 650W motor is grunty enough for wood up to 150mm thick, or 10mm steel. At 2.8kg, itu2019s comfortably light and, of course, the price is very attractive.

If you intend to undertake more serious jobs, it would be wise to consider something with a bit more beef u2013 above 1000W ideally. That way, itu2019ll deal with thick tree branches or timber repeatedly without exhausting itself. This Makita unit has exactly these qualities for a good price. At 3.3kg, it is a little heavier than the Einhell but the ergonomic grip and low vibration makes it comfy to hold. It is capable of dealing with wood up to 255mm thick and joy of joys, comes with a carry case.

Best Value, Quality Blades
Irwin Tools Reciprocating Saw Blade Set, 11-Piece

Rrp: $32.32

Price: $20.89
Alternative retailers
Walmart$25.00View offer

Quality blades make all the difference to the performance of a reciprocating saw. This set gives you a range of blades suitable for wood, metal, and plastic.

Top All-round Work Gloves
DEX FIT Work Gloves
Price: $13.99
Alternative retailers
Walmart$12.99View offer

A good pair of gloves helps to soak up the vibrations, which makes using the tool far more comfortable.

If you have finer jobs to do and arenu2019t an amateur arborist, jigsaws are easy to use and surprisingly versatile. Itu2019s not just plywood these guys are good for, but metal piping, plastics, and even fibre cement, if you really want to.

Ryobi’s 500W jigsaw is a great all-rounder for a DIY price. It’s got enough punch to cut up to 75mm-thick wood, and 6mm steel. At 1.8kg, it’s light and easy to operate with its rubber grip. It’s well thought out too; it has a cutting guide to help you follow a marked line and a system that clears sawdust as you cut.

Grinders

Best angle grinders
©Photo: Getty Images

Of the power tools we’ve covered, this is the one you’re probably the least familiar with here. Yet, an angle grinder is probably the most versatile tool as well. Depending on the type of disc you attach, an angle grinder is good for sharpening tools, polishing, cutting (concrete or ceramic, for example), removing rust or paint, and even sanding and carving wood, to name but a handful. Therefore, if you're into your proper DIY and regularly undertake projects, having a little angle grinder in the garage is a great idea.

For a basic little grinder, this is all you will need. The 115mm Einhell grinder doesnu2019t use big discs but for around the house jobs, thatu2019s a good thing. Itu2019s light at under 2kg and 720W gives it plenty of power for most things. To aid versatility, the grippy handle can have three positions (either side and top) from which it can be attached.

A note on cordless power tools

If you wish to get started on the cordless gear, by all means, do, because cordless tools are brilliant and getting better. Before you take the plunge, investigate each brand and decide what tools you need or want and which brand does the best ones for you.

The reason for this is that once you buy a cordless kit with batteries and chargers, you’re effectively committing yourself to that brand because it’s extremely expensive to swap. Batteries and chargers fit all tools of a certain brand, but brands don’t share battery and charger compatibility.

Brands whose cordless range is extensive and worth investing in:

Black+Decker (budget end of DIY)

Bosch

Milwaukee (12V range for DIY)

Ryobi

Worx

Hand tools

Best DIY hand tools
©Photo: Unsplash

Hand saws

There are plenty of jobs that where a hand saw is better than a power one - little, quick tasks, or finer ones that don't warrant setting up the power tool or aren't suitable for it.

A trusty handsaw is a must if you ever do anything to do with timber. This Stanley FatMax is a quality saw that will last you and make quick work of tasks. The fine teeth (11 per inch) are three-sided and are truly sharp. You'll pay a bit more for this than some others, but youu2019ll thank us later.

If you have a property to maintain and have quick pruning jobs that donu2019t warrant getting out the reciprocating saw, itu2019s handy to have one of these. Either handheld or on an extension pole, Bahcou2019s classic pruning saw is ideal for any pruning task.

A hacksaw is an optional and handy piece to have too for getting through metal and plastic. Replacement blades are easy to acquire and inexpensive.

Screwdrivers

Stanley Screwdriver Set, 6 Piece
Price: $54.77

If youu2019re going to have any tools at all, itu2019d better be a set of screwdrivers. This well-made six-piece Stanley set has the essentials: three sizes of Phillips, and three of Slotted. These screwdrivers arenu2019t insulated but do have a cushioned grip and magnetic tips.

Bosch 46-Piece Screwdriver Set

Rrp: $28.98

Price: $26.95

A good alternative to standard screwdrivers is a set like this, where you can fit whichever bit you need. And this set has all the bits you need: 32 screwdriver bits of all standard head types and sizes and 12 nut setters for hex-head screws. There's even a magnetic holder, too.

Spanners

Best DIY Spanner Set

A set of reliable spanners is just as important as screwdrivers. This 25-piece set is made of chrome vanadium steel and has everything you need from 6mm to 32mm spanners.

Best DIY Socket Set

Socket sets are certainly faster than spanners, although a good set tends to be a bit more. This one from Bahco is a u00bc-inch and 3/8-inch set. It has a chrome vanadium plating for corrosion resistance and durability. The carry case wonu2019t fall to pieces either, which is nice.

Pliers

Best DIY Plier Set
Draper Redline Heavy Duty Pliers Set
Price: $30.48

Pliers are another critical addition to your DIY tool collection. Draper is a huge name in the tool business, and its Redline set is ideal for home use. The set includes the basics: combination pliers, long nose pliers, and diagonal cutters. The jaws are made of hardened carbon steel with soft grip.

Levels

Best classic level
Stabila 90cm Level
Price: $56.33

For putting up shelves or picture frames, a trusty level is a must. Stabila is the level guru, and its basic 90cm level is ideal for all eventualities. Two vertical and one horizontal vials, and with shock-absorbing end caps, itu2019s guaranteed accurate for 10 years.

Bosch Laser Level Quigo
The best DIY gadget ©Photo: Bosch

For putting up paintings, and tiling, or any task that needs precise levelling, consider a laser level. This Quigo unit from Bosch is superb for DIY tasks. It has a simple cross-line laser with a working range of up to 12 metres, and a levelling accuracy of +/-0.8 mm per metre. The green laser lines are crystal clear on walls even in bright rooms, and the tripod (adjustable between 37 and 110cm) is a great addition.

There is a clamp you can opt for instead of the tripod, which means you can fix the level to a wide variety of objects to suit the scenario. It’s super easy to use and a really handy piece of kit to have. It uses two AAA batteries, which are included. Naturally, there are more complex units for trade use, but for around the house you won’t need those, and this is such a good price.

Best DIY Laser Level

Vices and clamps

If itu2019s worth getting a bench vice, itu2019s worth getting a good one. This 100mm vice from Stanley is made from cast iron and the hardware is chrome-plated for corrosion resistance. Screw it in place, and you wonu2019t need another one. The perfect size for DIY use.

Clamps are a necessary item if you want quick and clean cutting or sanding, or anything where a third hand is needed. Irwinu2019s 150mm Quick-Grip clamps are a favourite among tradies and DIYers alike because of their fast squeeze-grip clamping, hardy build quality, and attractive price. Comes in a pack of two.

Crowbar

For prying and levering, a quality crowbar comes in handy surprisingly often. This one from Silverline is made from hardened and tempered carbon steel.

Measuring tools

Best DIY tape measure
OX Tools Metric/Imperial 5m Tape Measure
Price: $27.30

There's nothing worse than a floppy tape measure. Ox Tools knows what itu2019s doing and its five-metre tape measure will stand the test of time. We love this one because it measures in imperial and metric units. It can extend rigid to an impressive 2.8 metres, and the blade has a tough nylon coating.

Dewalt DW033-XJ
©DeWalt

If you want to go a bit more hi-tech with measuring, or need to measure longer distances, a laser measure is so easy and accurate. This simple unit from DeWalt measures up to 30 metres with an accuracy of +/-3mm. It’s a good price compared to others and you get DeWalt quality – which you usually have to pay a handsome sum for. The LED display is easy to read (gives metric and imperial) and the functions are intuitive. It runs on two AAA batteries, not supplied.

Best value laser measure

Hammers

A quality DIY hammer

Estwing makes some seriously good, but also seriously pricey, hammers for pros. However, its 16-ounce Surestike hammer gives you the quality without the frightening price tag. We particularly like the large D-shape face which helps make hammering easier. The head and shaft are solid forged for strength and durability and it has an injection-moulded hand grip.

Sealant gun

It’s just another one of those things to have. Applying tile grout, or silicone sealant, or adhesives, or caulk? You need one of these.

For a reasonable price, Ox Toolsu2019 simple skeleton gun is an honest, quality product. There's little on it to go wrong, and what there is, is made properly. It's able to take up to 400ml cartridges and is ideal for any job, big or small.

Other useful DIY tools

We've covered a lot so far. Yet, we've included a few other tools that you may need for forthcoming projects.

Gallery

Additional DIY tools

Draper Metric Hexagon Key Set1 of 8

Draper Metric Hexagon Key Set

A 10-piece set that usually comes in handy when then the flat-pack furniture turns up and the supplied hex key is rubbish.

Araldite Standard Epoxy2 of 8

Araldite Standard Epoxy

The undisputed champion of strong glues. For use on all materials.

Irwin Snap-off Knife3 of 8

Irwin Snap-off Knife

A quality knife from Irwin. Features a self-locking slider and comfortable grip.

Stanley Knife4 of 8

Stanley Knife

A quality knife from Stanley. Features an auto-load blade change and comfortable grip.

Rapid Staple Gun5 of 8

Rapid Staple Gun

A powerful, well-made staple gun made in Sweden that has a wealth of uses and will last a lifetime.

3M Scotch Duct Cloth Tape6 of 8

3M Scotch Duct Cloth Tape

A classic. Need we say more?

Stanley Tools FatMaxu00ae Waterproof IP53 Toolbox7 of 8

Stanley Tools FatMax Waterproof IP53 Toolbox

A tough toolbox with rust-proof latches. The V groove on the lid allows you to use it as a sawhorse if needed.

Starrett Try Square8 of 8

Starrett Try Square

Made to tremendously high standards. This Starrett Try Square is perfect for marking and measuring right angles and at 45 degrees. The length is 200mm.

WHAT TO READ NEXT:

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The best cordless screwdrivers

The best impact drivers

Chris Williams is a contributor to What's The Best. He also writes for CAR and Parkers.

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