When you purchase tools for a DIY project you obviously have to consider your budget. In my experience, when it comes to buying tools and materials you really do “get what you pay for”.
With that said, you can get some very good deals when the sales are on. It’s always a good idea to keep a lookout for promotional days at tool shops. I recently picked up a DeWalt 18 volt battery drill, a quality laser level, battery handlamp and 1hr charger with a protective carry case for £240. Considering the laser level bought separately would have cost £130, I got a great deal.
I recommend buying tools that carry a British kite mark. Take the time to read the instructions thoroughly so you are familiar with the safe use of the tool. I’m big on safety so always wear the recommended gear such as safety goggles or glasses when doing DIY jobs.
Let’s take a look at some of the gear you need for your DIY toolkit.
The one tool I never buy ‘on the cheap’ are screwdrivers. A good quality set will last for years. Personally I prefer electrician’s screwdrivers for the following reasons:
- They are usually completely insulated
- They typically fit the screwheads better
- The tips are harder and don’t break up easily
From a safety point of view, electrician’s screwdrivers reduce the risk of electrocution should you be unfortunate enough to put a screw through a live cable. Which I regard as a major bonus!.
Other hand tools I buy tend to be of the mid-range price but have a good look around and compare prices.
There are of course numerous 240 volt and battery tools available nowadays and there price varies greatly. For DIY projects you don’t need to spend a fortune as it’s unlikely the tool will be used as much as it would by a tradesman on site.
With battery powered tools you can pay £200+ for a good quality drill with a hammer function. And you can of course buy one for a lot less. The main difference besides the durability of the tool is the batteries they use.
With a good quality tool you will get at least one spare battery and they are generally more powerful, last longer, only take 1 hour or less to recharge and be able to be recharged more often before they start to lose there full capacity.
Again it all depends on your budget, but don’t worry as I said previously there are a lot of tools cheaper and still suitable for DIY, just make sure to have a good look around and ask in the store how good the tool is and is it suitable for your DIY project.
Buy a cordless drill
I would recommend buying a cordless battery/hammer/drill. Aside from paying what you can afford get one rated at 12 volts minimum and preferably with a spare battery. They are an invaluable tool even if you only use it as a screwdriver. The time you can save makes it a very worthwhile purchase.
Corded power drills are okay
If your budget is limited there are plenty of 240 volt corded drills available at reasonable prices.(I WOULD STRONGLY RECOMMEND USING A RCD PLUG/SOCKET WHEN USING 240 VOLT POWER TOOLS).
The downside to using corded tools is less speed/torque control, the power cord itself and the probable use of an extension lead which helps clutter up the work area. Only you know what the job is and if you are unsure which model/make/tool is most suitable, ask the assistants in the store for advice. Even if you end up buying it online (remember, you can’t always trust reviews on sites like Amazon). A lot of people won’t speak to shop assistants or ask questions before they buy, so they end up with the wrong tool .
Another tool I recommend you buy is a portable workbench. I bought a Black & Decker Workmate years ago and it has proved invaluable. I’ve used to much I think it’ll need replacing soon.
Electric wood planer
This tool might not be at the top of your wish list, but the electric wood planer I bought for £20 has saved me an awful lot of hard work and time. Especially when I’ve worked with doors and skirting boards.
Toolbox for storage
A half decent toolbox, preferably with drawers or space for fixings will protect your hand tools, make them easier to locate and keep them from inquisitive little hands. I suggest you buy one bigger than you need at present as they become full up very quickly once the DIY bug bites!
Retractable tape measure
You will no doubt need a retractable tape measure but buy one with a wider tape, e.g. 15 – 20mm. A tape this size makes measuring long distances easier as the thinner ones tend to kink.
A spirit level is usually required for most jobs, two would be ideal, one a small ‘boat’ level around 125mm long and one at around 600mm long. These should be suitable for the majority of DIY projects. When you have chosen your level(s) whilst in the shop put it on a shelf (the shelf doesn’t have to be level) and note where the bubble sits in the sight-glass, turn it around and once more note where the bubble sits in the sight-glass, if its in the same position the level is ok, if not choose another and repeat the test.
Another very useful tool is a cable/pipe/joist detector. They fairly cheap and can save an awful lot of time, money and guesswork. There is nothing worse than putting a nail/screw through a pipe or live cable as things can get messy (punctured water pipe, anyone?) and hiring a tradesman to put it right can be expensive compared to the cost of the tool.
Bits and bobs
Don’t forget to keep a couple of pencils, marker pen, spare Stanley knife blades, insulation tape and other handy bits and pieces in your toolbox. I am the world’s worst for having all the tools and materials ready to start the job but nothing to write or mark out with as the kids have taken the lot!.
Don’t forget, take time to read the safe use instructions that come with the tool and wear the appropriate safety equipment.