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Cheat Sheet: “Don’t get caught without these!” 5 Tools You’ll Wish You Weren’t Missing From Your Kit
If you’re a regular Bob Villa, it’s likely you already have a toolkit that contains what you think are essentials to your trade. If you’re new to the DIY space, you’re probably still working on your collection.
No one wants to risk not having what they need, but no one ever wants to spend money on the stuff they’re never going to use either.
However, whether you’re a seasoned hobbyist or you’re just beginning your journey, there are some tools you won’t want to live without. If you don’t already have them, you’ll wish you did. They’re essential to so many of your DIY projects that you’ll wonder how you ever lived without them.
These must-haves are for every handyman (and woman), and we’ll tell you why!
What most people don’t realize is that chisels are hugely multifunctional. Sure, you can use them to carve intricate details into your woodworking projects, but you can also use them for many other things.
For instance, you can handcraft dovetail or mortise joints for cabinets or furniture. You can apply these joints for integrating pieces and neither have any mass. Chisels are the perfect tool for this kind of cutting.
They’re a smaller tool than a dovetail jig or a router, so they’re portable and easy to store. You can saw off waste between tails and pins, and then use your chisels to clean up the edges for a more snug fit.
Chisels can also take the place of a table saw when you need to create a half-lap joint. Just sketch a shoulder line with a marking knife, then use the chisel to dig the waste wood out of the joint.
You may also find that they’re useful for timber framing when creating tenon or mortise joints. You can use them for adding framing joints to wooden boats as well.
These chisels got their name because they were commonly found on the benches of woodworkers. They’re the most popular type of chisel, and one you don’t want to be caught without. They’re incredibly versatile and can do nearly everything.
They’re excellent for shaving lumber for rough framing or for cutting out joints in your wood cabinets.
They may have a straight edge or a beveled edge, but the beveled edge is the most common because it has better balance and is easier to use. The straight edge is thicker and heavier, so it’s more suited for carving large pieces of hard material.
As a side note: if you’re into carving, you may want to look into combining your chisel set with a dremel tool for maximum awesomeness!
If you’re making cabinets, these chisels are specifically designed for tenon and mortise joints, hence the name. While a bench chisel could accomplish these tasks on occasion, it can’t withstand the constant pounding of frequent mortising.
If you create mortise joints quite often, it can cause the handle of your bench chisel to mushroom, and it can also chip the blade, which is why the mortise chisel was invented.
These chisels are much bigger than a bench chisel, thicker, and heavier, making them the perfect tool for carving martises in even the hardest of hardwood.
You can get smaller mortise chisels, known as sash chisels, that are better suited for complex mortising because they’re less bulky.
Equipped with long, thin blades, paring chisels can handle making smaller, more complex joints for finish woodworking. They produce precise cuts that are made by the power of your hand. Excess pressure from any other tools will remove too much material.
Paring chisels can be used alone, but they’re typically used in conjunction with a bench or a mortise chisel. Typically you carve a rough joint with a bench or a mortise chisel and then refine it later with a paring chisel.
Stanley 16-150 chisel set
This is a great overall bench chisel set that could function as a beginner set or as a durable quality set for an experienced woodworker. It comes with three pieces of varying thicknesses for different sizes of projects.
The beveled blades are constructed from a lightweight but durable heat-tempered carbon steel to ensure the best sharpness. However, if you find they dull over time, they will take to sharpening with a stone.
They’re also coated with a protective, rust-resistant coating so you can enjoy them for years with regular maintenance and proper storage techniques.
They feature black plastic polypropylene handles which are tough and durable. Some don’t like the look and would prefer wood, but wood will sometimes wear out more quickly.
The handles also absorb enough shock to make their use a bit more comfortable than some others, especially during hard or long projects.
Drum sanders are essential for every DIYer’s shop because they’re designed with two drums mounted onto a moving belt. It’s a high-capacity sander that makes it easy for you to insert your board into the sander while it does the rest.
They’re used for surfacing boards and finishing them in preparation for furniture building or cabinet making, although you can finish your boards in any way you like and for any type of project.
It’s a great way to sand a large board rather than doing it by hand. Drum sanders are often confused with wood planers, but a wood planer can actually remove large quantities of wood whereas a drum sander will simply even the surface entire board to the same thickness.
Drum sanders are often large, heavy, and built for industrial use, but a few manufacturers have begun to produce lighter versions of them that fit nicely in home workshops. You can pair these drum sanders with band saws and routers to create furniture and other DIY projects on your own.
SuperMax Tools 19-38
This particular drum sander is the perfect option for both commercial and individual use because of its powerful motor and its price point. It comes with a 1 ¾ horsepower TEFC motor, but you only need 110V of power to plug it in.
The conveyor motor gives you 43 inches/lbs of torque and can run at a max speed of 1740 RPM. It also features a 5×19 inch extruded aluminum drum, making it lightweight, but durable.
While your lumber can’t exceed a thickness of four inches, you can set your minimum stock thickness at 1/32 inch and you can process 38-inch long pieces in as little as two passes.
It comes equipped with what SuperMax calls INTELLISAND technology. This feature automatically adjusts the conveyor speed to accommodate the current load to prevent damaging your material or burning.
It also comes with a flatness guarantee and a two-year warranty. While it’s a quality machine at a great price, the only downside is that it only handles thin stock, so it’s a tool better suited for beginners.
If you’re a more experienced woodworker, you’ll want to look into something a bit bigger. It also features a longer, more difficult setup process than other drum sanders, which can be frustrating for those just starting out.
When it comes to getting exact measurements, a tape measure simply isn’t going to cut it. Many DIYers have come to find that having a good set of calipers around is invaluable to their process.
While manual calipers have their own place, digital calipers are the most common these days. They measure in very small increments like 0.0005 or 0.01. When building things like cabinetry or furniture, these precise measurements are very helpful.
In addition to taking measurements, calipers can also be used to find the difference between two objects by zeroing the display along a scale and then measuring the increment. Some calipers can even switch back and forth between standard and metric units or upload readings to your computer.
Mitutoyo 500-196-30 6” AOS
Here’s the best digital caliper on the market today, thanks to its durability, small measurement capability, and features. It can measure a range of 0.0005 to 6 inches both inside and outside and also includes step and depth values.
The LCD display will show you inches or millimeters and you can choose absolute or incremental readings in either the imperial or the metric system. If you need to compare readings on custom ranges, you can zero the device.
It also includes an advanced onsite sensor and the electromagnetic inductivity helps with dirt, oil, and water resistance. The durable, stainless steel body is damage resistant so you won’t hurt it if you accidentally drop it, and it comes with a carrying case so you can store it properly.
It’s a versatile tool that’s easy for beginners to use while still offering all of the tools that an experienced DIYer needs.
If you have your own garage or shop, and you haven’t made room for a table saw yet, I’m not really sure how you’re getting by. This is a must have. It offers precise cuts, so your finished product looks professional.
Table saws are built into their own table with a circular blade that appears from below the work surface. You simply place your board flat on the work surface and slide it into the blade, and it will cut the board precisely.
Woodworkers appreciate table saws for their incredible accuracy when cutting straight lines, but you can’t cut curves with them. The table contains a mechanism that guides the wood against the blade for safety and accuracy.
While rudimentary versions of table saws only cut straight lines, advanced table saws allow you to adjust the height or angle of your cut so you have a lot more flexibility. There are more possibilities for types of cuts with these table saws.
Ripping boards and performing cross-cuts, two functions that every DIYer does most often, is a lot easier with a table saw than with any other type of saw. Even beginners should be able to figure it out.
Table saws come with sawdust disposal systems, which is really nice for keeping your shop clean. As you operate the saw, the vacuum picks up dust and deposits it directly into the dust compartment.
They’re easy to maintain, but they do occupy space and because they’re stationary, they’re difficult to move. You’ll want to make sure you put it in the right spot the first time, because once you get it set up, you won’t want to move it.
However, if you do invest in a table saw, you can also get extra blades that allow for other operations, such as dadoing, which is useful when creating very specific cuts for your DIY projects.
Shop Fox W1819
This 3 horsepower motor and 10-inch table is powerful enough to handle most DIY projects. It’s easy to assemble and it’s great for beginners and experts alike. It’s a quality tool that offers durability and performance.
It’s built with a cast iron table and wings, heavy cast iron trunnions, and a triple belt drive. For your safety, it’s equipped with features like a blade guard assembly that has anti-kickback pawls and a clear polycarbonate shield.
These safety features allow you to see the blade work while you’re cutting but it protects your hand from touching it. It lifts as you push the piece into the blade, but maintains consistent contact with your workpiece throughout the cut.
This particular table saw also has a flip stop on the miter fence that proves very useful for longer workpieces. You can flip it out of the way for longer pieces and put it back down to make additional cuts at the desired width.
The blade tilts so you can cut left by up to 45 degrees. This works for cutting chamfers or bevels. Just loosen the blade tilt lock and turn the handwheel to position your blade at the angle you want.
The table saw also comes with a spreader on the blade guard assembly and a riving knife at the backside of the blade. Both work to prevent the workpiece from pinching the blade, which can cause kickback.
While it comes with some pretty great features, it’s also pricey, so it’s an investment, but it’s well worth it.
Sawhorses are some of the most versatile necessities for DIY crafters and builders of all types. Having a good set of sawhorses makes all the difference in the world when it comes to DIY projects in your home, garage, or shop.
Sawhorses are a lot like a workbench. They’re designed like long planks with four legs and they’re typically made of wood, metal, or plastic. The beam forms an A-frame and they sometimes have additional features like foldable hinges, adjustable legs, or carrying handles and straps.
You can buy them from the store, or you can use your other DIY tools to build your own. There are an infinite number of uses for sawhorses. They’re handy and versatile, but one of the best things about them is that they’re portable.
If you just need a place to put your tools while you’re working on something, sawhorses can go with you wherever you are. They’re steady and stable, and they’re easy and fuss-free.
If you want to use a set of them as a permanent workbench solution, it’s easy to stretch a piece of plywood, OSB, or MDF across the top and make a table. It’s temporary, easy to disassemble and move, and can be as permanent or as versatile as you need it to be.
If you’re working on tall projects, sawhorses can serve as temporary scaffolding solutions. Just so long as your sawhorses are designed to hold the weight, you can use them to reach high areas and set up a place to access the tools you need while you’re up there.
Measuring and cutting
One of the primary reasons people use sawhorses (and where the name came from) is for measuring and cutting. They provide a stable frame and space for you to set boards so you can accurately measure them and then use manual saws or things like a circular saw.
Any free saw that doesn’t come with its own bench can be paired with sawhorses to give it a versatile workspace for measuring and cutting. You can even use them as a solid surface for drilling or hammering.
You can sand on them, paint on them, assemble projects on them, or do any other DIY project you need to do. They really are an all-purpose tool for your garage that makes almost everything easier.
When it comes to which sawhorse is best for you, you have a lot of options, and I’m not one to tell you which one you should buy. I’ll just tell you that you need to look at all of your options before you buy one.
Metal sawhorses will be the strongest, but they’re also the heaviest. If you need to stand on it, build scaffolding solutions, or support more weight, these are great solutions.
Wood sawhorses are very durable as well. They can be heavy, but they offer a more traditional look and are preferred by many crafters simply because of their classic style.
Plastic sawhorses are generally the lightest and the cheapest. They also come with the most features, like collapsibility. However, they don’t support as much weight as the others, so if that’s a consideration for you, you’ll want to think twice before purchasing one.
Much like the table saw, a drill press offers certain advantages over a free drill, or a hand drill. It can offer much more power and precision. There are two types of drill presses: floor standing models and table top models. You can also get cordless varieties.
No matter which you choose, when it comes to boring holes in either metal or wood, you’ll want to have a drill press for all of your DIY projects. You simply can’t put a price on these professional-looking touches.
This drill press is easy to use, but it also looks nice. It’s a floor-standing model with a 4-inch stroke, which means you don’t have to pull the handle very far or very hard to bore your hole. It makes drilling much easier for you than you might expect.
It offers speed adjustments from 280-3300 RPM, which is more than most other drill presses can do. It also has a built-in work light and a high precision laser that gives you even more precision.
The spindle taper accepts bits ranging from 1/12 to ⅝ inches, which is a huge range, and the chuck takes a key that resides in the convenient onboard storage compartment, so you won’t lose it.
The worktable is made of cast iron, so it’s ultra-durable, and it can pivot 45 degrees in either direction for precise angles.
The digital readout will display the current RPM, which will also help increase your accuracy.
Answer: Even though we’ve already reviewed plenty of tools you don’t want to live without, there are still plenty of basic tools you need to have before you can get into the more advanced tools like saws and drill presses.
You’ll need to make sure you’re equipped with a screwdriver set, a tape measure, several hammers, duct tape, a flashlight, pliers, a utility knife, wrenches, and a handsaw.
Answer: There are several brands that are trusted among professionals and DIYers alike. If you’re looking for tools, stick with brands like Dewalt, Craftsman, Milwaukee, Bosch, Black+Decker, Ryobi, Stanley, Husky, or Kobalt. If you have a brand you use and like, that’s great, but these are some of the best brands out there.
Answer: If you prefer hand tools rather than power tools, you can still use many of the same brands, but there are a few others that offer quality hand tools. Channellock, Snap-On, Lenox, Klein, and Estwing are a few of them.
Completing Your Toolkit
If you’ve been dreaming of completing your collection of tools, this is your year! These essentials should already be in your shop, and if they’re not, you need to remedy that right away.
Even if you don’t know how to use them, you’ll quickly learn that you can do so much more with them than you ever thought possible. They’ll elevate every aspect of your DIY projects and leave you wishing you’d have bought them years ago!