better outdoor living at home spring

Basic Toolbox

We all have our lists of DIY projects that we would love to build. No matter if your projects are small or large we all need the right tools to get the job done.

If you are a beginner, you may be curious as to what kinds of tools would be good to start off with. Here is a basic list of tools that will come in handy when building your outdoor or indoor projects:

Hand Tools

Clockwise from top: Screwdrivers, Pockethole Jig, Carpenters Square, Hammer

Claw Hammer – This is a toolbox standard, even though you may not use it that often. Hammers come in weights, like 21 oz or 16 oz. Select one that feels right for you and has a comfortable grip.

Also, air hammers are a great tool to have, but you’d need the air hammer itself, along with an air compressor, so this would be quite a bit more expensive than a standard hammer. A nail being dispensed with the force of compressed air can cause serious injury, so be sure you use it safely.

Screwdriver Set or Ratchet Screwdriver with interchangeable bits – We use the power drill more, but there are times when you just need a hand screwdriver. Select a set for the various types of screws (flathead, Philips, etc.).

Pocket Hole Jig – This tool is not a necessity, but once you use it to build your projects, you’ll grow very fond of it!

Carpenter’s Square – Building projects is all about putting the pieces together correctly, and keeping all the pieces square is essential for a successful project.

Clockwise from top: Tape measure, Levels, Small Clamps

Retractable Measuring Tape – Select one that has a durable case (it will get dropped!) and a good quality sturdy tape (so it doesn’t bend on its own).

Level – a 2 foot level is probably a good size to start with. Also, smaller levels, like around 8 inches come in handy for tight spaces.

Clamps – Using clamps is important to keep wood and other things stationary when working on them.

Toolbox – A toolbox is a great way to organize and store all of your smaller tools in one place. Select a toolbox that is the right size for all of your tools that you want to store in it.

Other handy things: utility knife, wood glue, wood filler, Sand Paper, rubber mallet


Power Tools

Always exercise safety measures when using power tools or any other tool.

Cordless drill, bit sets-screwdriver (left), drill (center), paddle (right)

Power Drill (electric or cordless) – We can’t imagine building projects or installing even a bathroom towel bar or outdoor garden hose holder without this versatile tool. It drills your holes and drives screws with the proper bit.

You’ll need a set of basic bits. Sets typically include bits for all types of screw heads and bits for hex head fasteners. Also, a set of drill bits for pre-drilling. Paddle bits are great for making large openings and for countersink holes.

The power drill is also the tool you need for a pocket hole jig.




Front to Back: Circular Saw, Compound Miter Saw

Compound miter saw or a Circular Saw – Our first choice would be the compound miter saw. It makes cutting wood so easy – blunt cuts and angle cuts.

Learn how to safely use all power saws, before working with them. If you’d rather not use a power saw, have the store where you purchase the wood cut it for you, or have someone you know who is skilled in using a power saw cut the wood for you. Just give them your project cut list.

Router – A router is a wonderful tool for adding architectural detailing to your projects. Router bit sets give you many choices for different detailing. It takes some practice to learn how to use it – practice on scrapes of wood first, to learn the skill of using a router.


Front to Back: Router, Belt Sander, Jigsaw

Belt Sander – If this is within your budget, it sure comes in handy. For the outdoor bench we built we used 2×6 stock for the seat. It was construction grade lumber that had its share of rough spots. By using a belt sander we were able to get the surfaces quite smooth – we would not have been able to achieve this by hand sanding.

Jigsaw – This is what you will need if you want to cut scrolls or shapes into a piece of wood, such as the detailed ends of the overhead cross boards of a pergola. You could use a jigsaw for cutting shapes for some wood crafts, too.

Utility extension cord (suitable for power tools) – Don’t use an everyday indoor extension cord for power tools. They are not made for power tools. They are available in various lengths, so you can select a length best suited to your needs!

Happy building!

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