Shark Tails turned one a few days ago, and I can’t believe the year has flown by so quickly! Even though it hasn’t been that long, looking back on some of my very first posts and projects are akin to discovering and re-reading the diary you kept in junior high: absolutely cringe inducing (except, as my dear friend Gill pointed out, the blog has photo evidence).
In honor of my little blog’s birthday, I thought I would share with you all the top ten tools (both power and non-power) that
- I find myself (as a beginner) using over and over again,
- have given me the best bang for my buck, and
- are the least intimidating to use and start out learning with.
*Note: I am not sponsored by any of the brands recommended below: all tools I’ve linked to are ones I have personally used and love.
- Speed Square: Learn it, live it, love it. Checking for square is an integral part of even the most basic of building projects and you’re going to want one of these little babies around. It comes in very handy for drawing a straight line across common boards, and has a ton of other uses, as well.
- Level: I myself have three levels: one standard, one super long, and one teeny tiny mini level that is actually adorable. I think starting off with a standard level is fine and you absolutely should use it. I am guilty of just wanting to “eyeball” stuff but it has bitten me in the ass so. Many. Times. Don’t be a lazy idiot like Ally, use the level.
- Measuring Tape: And not just any measuring tape: invest in a good one. You don’t want anything flimsy and you want it to be durable because you will drop it a lot. I really like this one.
- Clamps and Sawhorses: Clamps! You can never have too many because you never seem to have enough. Get a variety of sizes, and wait for them to go on sale so that you’re not spending your rent money on something so boring. They come in handy for everything. I’ve lumped sawhorses in as well because if you’re like me, you don’t have a dedicated “workshop” with a nice big work table (clamps and worktables are like peas and carrots). I make my own by placing a piece of plywood across two sawhorses when I need a space for building, painting, crafting, etc. The saw horses I have are Master Craft and I love ’em. Matt got them on a crazy sale too: $11 each! (God bless you, Canadian Tire.)
- Hammer, screwdriver set, carpenter’s pencil, putty knife, safety goggles, and work gloves: I realize I am jamming a bunch of things into one here, but these are all very basic tools that you should have on hand, and aren’t that expensive to accumulate. Also, you can never, ever have too many carpenter’s pencils…you heard it here first.
Ok! Now onto the fun stuff!
- MITER SAW: I capitalize this because hands down this is the power tool I use the most (aside from my drill) and it was so easy to learn once I overcame my fear of saws. I LOVE IT!! They are so versatile, and if you start building I can guarantee you will be using it for almost every project you undertake. Mine is a Ryobi 10″ Compound saw that I stole from my Dad and I LOVE it, but I would really like to someday upgrade to the 12″. Some of the projects I’ve used my miter saw for are our breakfast bar, bed, and dining room table.
- Compact Circular Saw: I got my mini circular saw last year to rip the planks for our plywood floor since I was not comfortable using the large circular saw or table saw. It is the best money I have spent and I’ve used it a ton more for ripping long pieces of wood: I prefer it to the table saw for thinner boards (it can cut up to 1″ thick material) since I am much more accurate with it. It is the coolest little saw and a great stepping stone to a larger, heavier circular saw.
- Electric Drill and Bit Set: You need one, preferably cordless. The one I have is a super old Black and Decker, but it is still working great so I haven’t felt the need to upgrade! I use my drill on the daily. Sometimes I just stand in the middle of the kitchen, revving it and laughing maniacally until Matt is pleading with me to STFU.
- Kreg Jig: This technically is not a power tool, but it’s used in conjunction with a power drill so I think it fits in this list. Learning joinery with the Kreg Jig has been the best investment of my time thus far. I have used it for almost every build I’ve tackled since getting the R3 system from my parents for Christmas last year. This year, I got an upgrade to the K5 system and I am super, super pumped. The R3 is a great starter for beginners, though, and I will still get a ton of use out of it depending on the project. This is a great article that might help you determine which jig is right for you. Kreg is an amazing company and I cannot recommend them enough!
- Jig Saw: I will admit I haven’t had mine for long (my Grampie gave me one for Christmas!) but I don’t know how I’ve gone so long without one — I can definitely think back to more than a few instances that would have been seriously uncomplicated if I’d had one of these little guys. This is the one I have, and so far, so good!
There are a few things I use that aren’t listed, but my goal is to try and help other beginners know what the best investment is when purchasing a new tool. Also, try and remember that this is my personal opinion based on the kind of projects I like! You should certainly do your research and see what other people out in Internetland consider to be their must haves, as well.
As always, any questions or thoughts, drop them in the comments! Are there any tools that you guys use and love that didn’t make it on to my list? Let me know!