That message was being worn on a tee shirt at a recent maker fair, and although not everyone’s a dyed in the wool tool collector, it’s true that having the right tools is useful whether you’re doing basic DIY or fine woodworking.
Let’s start with the tools everyone forgets; work holders, that is, clamps and vices. You can never have enough clamps. For anything where you need to hold two pieces of wood together while you wait for the glue to set, clamps are vital. For any workpiece that needs holding securely while you saw or chisel or plane it, you’ll want clamps or a vice, or both.
The next thing people forget is that they need to measure and set out their work. There’s a huge range of measures, from micrometers that can measure the thickness of a metal sheet down to a tenth of a millimeter to tape measures and Vernier gauges. Setting out is much easier when you have a marking gauge that can set a line parallel to the edge of a board, or calipers and dividers for transferring measurements from one piece to another. You’ll also want a good set square to check that all your corners are right angles.
Carpenters say “Measure twice, cut once.” Mess up your measurements and you could have a shelf too big for your alcove or a counter that’s too small for your kitchen island.
A Dremel is a useful tool if you have small jobs to do. With a multitude of different accessories you can use it as a sander, metal cutter, saw, drill or carving tool. It even has table saw and router accessories. Think of making doll’s houses or working on jewelry, that’s the size it’s meant for.
If you’re hanging anything from pictures to radiators, it helps to have a stud finder that will show you where the solid struts beneath your drywall are located. A good one will stop you drilling into your electrics, as well.
You’ll need a drill. Cordless is definitely best – no more worrying about whether your cable is long enough to reach the right spot. And you’ll need a good set of drill bits – it’s generally easier and cheaper to buy a set than to buy individual bits each time you need a different size.
A circular saw is one of the most useful DIY tools for cutting plywood or OSB sheets or solid wood. But if you only do a small amount of DIY you may not need power tools at all. Japanese pull saws, which cut as you pull them towards you, are easy to use and often come with exchangeable or replaceable blades.
When you’re buying tools, remember to buy tools that suit your size. If you have small hands choose slightly smaller tools, if you have arthritis choose tools with ergonomic handles.
And if you’re doing DIY in the house, invest in a really good vacuum cleaner. You’ll need it!
But first, look on Vipon to see how much money you can save. There’s a Dremel half-price at the moment – will it still be there when you get round to looking?