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Essential DIY Tools for Beginners

Looking after a home has all sorts of home repair challenges, doubly so if you’re redecorating, or moving in for the first time. For the novice, there are so many pieces of equipment, tools, and products available that knowing where to start can be overwhelming. What do you really need to get started with DIY?

We’ve compiled a list of starting essentials for anyone who wants or needs to start a toolbox of their own. This list is a good starting point for minor repair and installation work, aimed at everyday jobs around the house.

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Safety Equipment

You can never go wrong by investing in some safety equipment. Even a few basic items will keep you from injuring yourself unnecessarily, a sound investment considering the price. We’d recommend covering your bases with a few basics. A dust mask will come in handy if you’re going to be decorating or sanding. These sorts of masks are fine for sawdust and plaster dust, but are not appropriate for very fine powders, paint fumes, and other chemicals.

A pair of safety glasses is an absolute essential for anyone looking at doing DIY or putting together a toolbox. Any pair rated for EN166 F (low impact) should be perfectly adequate. Loud noises – especially within enclosed spaces – can be uncomfortable and even damage your hearing. A pair of simple ear defenders is more than enough protection from loud noise whilst using power tools around the home.

Work gloves are an inexpensive way to protect your hands from minor scrapes and reduce discomfort during long jobs. Likewise, a foam pad or ‘kneeler’ is great for protecting your knees whilst working for long periods.

Measuring Up

There isn’t anything more critical to DIY than the humble tape measure. Winging it simply isn’t an option, no matter how keen your eye or steady your hands! Even if it’s just sizing up furniture, your trusty measuring tape is your best friend, along with a simple spirit level for keeping things straight. When you’re lying underneath a counter, screwdriver in one hand, grasping a washing machine hose in the other, the last thing you want is trying to grip a torch between your teeth. A real work light - especially one that stands on its own - guards against fumbles during already difficult tasks.

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Tools

It’s easy to get carried away with the sheer number of different fittings, sizes, and lengths of screwdrivers, but for everyday use a crosshead and flathead set is a sure-fire starting point. Screwdrivers are the most common DIY tool you’ll use, so investing in a decent set will likely see you through hundreds of jobs. Likewise, a solid set of hexagonal or ‘allen’ keys are another toolbox essential thanks to the mass appeal of flatpack furniture. For all the finesse of modern fittings and fixtures, you will still need a simple hammer, and a classic ‘claw’ hammer is a good starting point. Driving nails home and removing them from fixtures and walls, as well as applying leverage where needed, a solid hammer is a lifetime tool. An adjustable wrench is the bare minimum for working with nuts, bolts, and pipework, simply screw to fit, and for pulling, and prising small fittings you’ll want to have at least one set of pliers. Sometimes called ‘retractable knives’ or ‘box-cutters’, the classic Stanley knife is another simple and inexpensive addition to your toolbox. These immensely sharp knives are perfect for all sorts of decorating and DIY jobs, especially cutting wallpaper, carpet, and vinyl, and a basic hand saw or hacksaw set will cut metal, wood, and plastic.

Other Essentials

These items aren’t tools or safety equipment, but trust us, you’ll want these rattling around in your toolbox, no matter how small the project. WD-40 is a general-purpose lubricant, rust preventative, penetrant, and moisture displacing spray that’s the secret weapon of countless machinists, mechanics, and DIY aficionados the world over. It can be used to loosen rusted nuts and bolts, lubricate squeaky hinges, and prevent rust in metal fittings. For quick fixes, a roll of strong duct tape is another essential that you’ll need at some point. Whether it’s sealing, packing, or just a temporary fix, duct tape is a fallback that more than earns its place in your toolbox. Snaps, cracks, and breaks in objects of any material can be fixed with a little super glue so long as they don’t hold much weight. You’d be amazed how often a strong adhesive will come in handy, so a tube or two in your toolbox in never a bad idea.

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