Top Ten Tools for the Do-It-Yourselfer

Top Ten Tools for the Do-It-Yourselfer
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When I had my first apartment after high school I quickly learned that things need fixing and walls needed decorating.  My dad could cook but his idea of home improvement was to pick up the phone and call someone who specialized in the project he needed help with.  So needless to say, all my DYI skills are self-taught.  Over the years and seven homes, I’ve attempted just about everything.  In the 90’s I did quite a bit of home flipping and took advantage of a lucrative real estate market and my ability to see potential with a few cosmetic improvements.  With each home I seemed to take on a new challenge and learned a new skill so by the time I settled into my current homecienda I could fairly accurately list “home improvement specialist” as a skill on my LinkedIn account.  Along the way, I added and upgraded the tools I found to be invaluable.

So today I’m recommending the top ten tools for you do-it-yourselfers.  Now don’t go rush out and purchase all this stuff brand new…you can find great deals at pawn shops, thrift stores and on Craig’s list.  Do be careful though, I purchased a wet saw on Craig’s List and I think it maybe stolen property since the serial number is scratched off.  Oops, live and learn!

There are certain projects I won’t tackle; like anything having to do with electricity.  I had someone comment to me last week that I’d make a good husband because I’m so handy, which got me thinking about the projects I’ve done and the tools I’ve acquired over the years which inspired today’s topic of Top Ten Tools for the Do-It Yourselfer….

10.  Cordless drill.  I use this handy-dandy drill for everything.  I also have an 18V cordless drill for those large projects but this one is my go-to tool.  I only wish it were pink and had some bling on it so when I leave it out it  looks more like home decor.  I don’t care what your skill level is, you need a cordless drill!  [shareprints gallery_id=”3847″ gallery_type=”squares” gallery_position=”pos_center” gallery_width=”width_80″ image_size=”medium” image_padding=”0″ theme=”dark” image_hover=”false” lightbox_type=”slide” titles=”true” captions=”true” descriptions=”true” comments=”true” sharing=”true”]9.  Miter saw.  Ok, you can probably live without this but it’s handy and doesn’t really take up much space on a shelf in my garage.  I use it to cut all kinds of things.  I initially purchased it to make frames to surround the builder grade bathroom mirrors but I’ve never quite gotten to that project yet.  I’ve used it to trim down the legs on my bars stools, to make picture frames, to cut up all the oak trim and casement I removed throughout my home.  I’m thinking about putting up crown molding near the ceiling in the sunroom but that will have to wait until spring.[shareprints gallery_id=”3850″ gallery_type=”squares” gallery_position=”pos_center” gallery_width=”width_80″ image_size=”medium” image_padding=”0″ theme=”dark” image_hover=”false” lightbox_type=”slide” titles=”true” captions=”true” descriptions=”true” comments=”true” sharing=”true”]8.  Electric sander.  There is nothing more boring than hand-sanding and it takes forever to put a dent in your project.  An electric hand sander is easy to use and small to store and will shave hours of manual labor off your woodworking project.  I personally like the orbital sander but I guess it’s what you get used to.  Here’s what I most recently used it on.  I purchased this little piece at a resale shop and sanded off the varnish on the top down to the bare wood and then refinished it with Java Gel….as you can see I also painted it to bring out its sweet personality.  My solid cherry dining room table, chairs and buffet also got the sanding treatment before being painted with Annie Sloan chalk paint.  I’m loving their new personalities.[shareprints gallery_id=”3878″ gallery_type=”masonry” gallery_position=”pos_center” gallery_width=”width_100″ image_size=”large” image_padding=”8″ theme=”dark” image_hover=”false” lightbox_type=”slide” titles=”true” captions=”true” descriptions=”true” comments=”true” sharing=”true”]7.  Level.  I have 3 sizes; a handy 9″ that is great for hanging pictures or in my case this corded wall sconce.  I also have 24 and 48 inch levels and I have to say I use all three quite frequently.[shareprints gallery_id=”3854″ gallery_type=”masonry” gallery_position=”pos_center” gallery_width=”width_100″ image_size=”large” image_padding=”8″ theme=”dark” image_hover=”false” lightbox_type=”slide” titles=”true” captions=”true” descriptions=”true” comments=”true” sharing=”true”]6.  Laser measuring tool.  I LOVE this thing, I can’t even begin to tell you how useful it is.  I find a measuring tape to be one of the most awkward tools to navigate.  It bends in the middle when you have it extended and makes it frustrating to get an accurate measurement.  This treasure was not cheap ($500 bucks) but worth every penny.  The only thing I recommend is that you transfer the measurement to paper accurately…that’s where I have issues….perhaps some underlying dyslexia.  One feature I really like is the timer…I strap the laser onto a telescoping pole, set the timer, get the tool situated in the area I want to measure and then wait for it to shoot the measurement.  Sweet huh?  Particularly helpful for those of us in the window covering industry needing to measure hard to reach heights.  It came in handy recently to measure for the new baseboard I just installed.[shareprints gallery_id=”3856″ gallery_type=”squares” gallery_position=”pos_center” gallery_width=”width_80″ image_size=”medium” image_padding=”0″ theme=”dark” image_hover=”false” lightbox_type=”slide” titles=”true” captions=”true” descriptions=”true” comments=”true” sharing=”true”]5.  Wet saw.  If you have a tile project you’re thinking about tackling don’t even consider the scoring method.  Pick yourself up a wet saw.  It’s easy to use, just messy.  If I can conquer a wet saw, so can you.  The only thing about a tile project is to have a realistic expectation of the time involved.  I tend to think I can get something done in a few hours.  I learned after tiling the back splash in my kitchen that this is not necessarily a weekend project especially if you’re working solo.  Here’s a peek at my subway tile backsplash, the tile inserts in my sofa table and the ledge tile to replace the builder grade tile surrounding my fireplace.[shareprints gallery_id=”3858″ gallery_type=”masonry” gallery_position=”pos_center” gallery_width=”width_100″ image_size=”medium” image_padding=”8″ theme=”dark” image_hover=”false” lightbox_type=”slide” titles=”true” captions=”true” descriptions=”true” comments=”true” sharing=”true”]4.  Clamps.  I have two of these nifty 6″ Mini bar clamps that are perfect for my small projects.  OBF gave these to me for Christmas last year and I squealed with excitement as I dream of all the things I could use them for.  Most recently I used them to hold decorative blocks in place until the glue dried on the leg of my kitchen island.  How many women do you know that get excited to get tools as gifts?  I’m a piece of work, I know.[shareprints gallery_id=”3860″ gallery_type=”squares” gallery_position=”pos_center” gallery_width=”width_80″ image_size=”medium” image_padding=”0″ theme=”dark” image_hover=”false” lightbox_type=”slide” titles=”true” captions=”true” descriptions=”true” comments=”true” sharing=”true”]3.  Pry bar.  Again I have several sizes but the one I use all the time is this small version.  I used it to get a good grip behind that old oak trim before giving it a pry.  It worked perfectly, especially in those awkward corners.  [shareprints gallery_id=”3862″ gallery_type=”squares” gallery_position=”pos_center” gallery_width=”width_80″ image_size=”medium” image_padding=”0″ theme=”dark” image_hover=”false” lightbox_type=”slide” titles=”true” captions=”true” descriptions=”true” comments=”true” sharing=”true”]2.  Bucket organizer.  You can’t work on projects efficiently if you can’t find your tools.  I have mine all nicely organized in a tool bucket equipped with a tool organizer that slides inside and around the bucket.  If you’re diligent about putting everything back in the bucket you’ll never have to be frustrated when you can’t find a particular tool.[shareprints gallery_id=”3864″ gallery_type=”squares” gallery_position=”pos_center” gallery_width=”width_80″ image_size=”medium” image_padding=”0″ theme=”dark” image_hover=”false” lightbox_type=”slide” titles=”true” captions=”true” descriptions=”true” comments=”true” sharing=”true”]1.  Music.  I can’t even begin to imagine working on a project without music and my Bose SoundLink is just the vehicle to deliver the background sound needed to keep me company.  Wireless speakers are the way to go and there’s no sound like Bose sound paired with Pandora and my favorite artists.[shareprints gallery_id=”3866″ gallery_type=”masonry” gallery_position=”pos_center” gallery_width=”width_70″ image_size=”medium” image_padding=”0″ theme=”dark” image_hover=”false” lightbox_type=”slide” titles=”true” captions=”true” descriptions=”true” comments=”true” sharing=”true”]I hope this blog post motivated you to start a project or complete a project you already have started.  For me, every project is trial and error, I learn as I go.  Some things turn out perfectly, others have imperfections only visible by me because I know they’re there, but regardless of the outcome, I tackle the job and finish it.  There’s nothing better than to sit back and admire my DIY project and feeling mission accomplished.

I can proudly say the 2 1/2 year home improvement project is officially completed.  Other than hanging a picture here or there, I am finished and I love how it all turned out and as I said to a friend over the weekend, I may have moved into my home 10 years ago, I have just now emotionally moved in and it feels like home…home sweet home.

Have a great week everyone and don’t be afraid to challenge yourself with a new power tool or home improvement project.

Lynn

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