Best DIY Tools for Beginners

47+ Best DIY Tools for Beginners – Essential Must-Have Guide

Are you looking for a list of the best DIY tools for beginners?  My personal experience of building new houses and remodeling older homes for the last 20 years has taught me what essential tools are really needed for beginner DIYers.

Whether you’re a new homeowner wanting to learn home maintenance, a seasoned homeowner trying to tackle household repairs, or just someone wanting to learn a new skill in building woodworking projects, having these basic tools in your toolbox will save you time, money, and frustration.

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What are the best DIY tools for beginners?

With so many tools on the market, it’s easy to become overwhelmed when you’re just getting started with DIY projects.  These tools are the best tools I recommend starting with for DIY beginners.

The list is broken down into categories – basic hand tools, basic power tools, painting tools, and safety equipment.  I recommend starting with the basic hand tools and safety equipment, and then branching out into using power tools and gathering painting supplies as needed.

These beginner DIY tools can be purchased online, in your local hardware store, or at big home improvement stores like Home Depot, Lowes, or Menards.

Basic Hand Tools

Starting with the basic hand tools is a good idea as they are the most important tools needed and will be used in a lot of DIY projects.

These tools can be used for small projects, home repairs, and just have an unlimited range of uses.

diy tools for beginners

1.  Utility Knife & Blades

This is literally the first tool I’d tell you to get.  I have one in the house, a few in the shop, and even one in my truck console.  During the workday on the construction site, I have one on hand in my tool bag that I wear.

This lightweight and versatile tool is a must-have for any DIY enthusiast.  From cutting through packaging materials to trimming wallpaper, the utility knife can handle a variety of tasks with ease. 

Some of the ways I use this tool are to sharpen pencils as I work, open packaging, cut sheetrock (aka drywall), and even cut some metals like aluminum soffit and even metal roofing.

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2.  Screwdriver Set

If you’re looking for a versatile and essential tool for your toolbox, a screwdriver set is a must-have. Whether you’re a DIY enthusiast or a seasoned professional, this tool set is a necessity. 

With various sizes and types of screwdrivers, it allows you to tackle a wide range of projects. From assembling furniture to fixing electronics, a screwdriver set will always come in handy. It’s a small tool that offers endless possibilities.

Start with a Phillips and a flat screwdriver, which are the most commonly needed.  You’ll be able to tighten everything around the house including loose door knobs, cabinet doors, and drawer hardware, not to mention opening battery covers on toys so you can change the battery! 

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3.  Hammer

The hammer is another toolbox necessity so I recommend this being one of your first tool purchases.

It’s a versatile instrument that can be used for numerous projects, such as hanging pictures or art, building a wooden shelf, or just breaking apart materials.

If you plan to do projects that require a lot of hammering, then I highly recommend getting a hammer with a wooden handle as they are lighter.  

To find the perfect hammer, choose one with a nice-sized head (not too small), ideally 1-2 inches, and that feels good in your hand.

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4.  Tape Measure

When it comes to precise measurements, a good tape measure is an absolute essential tool for any DIY enthusiast, contractor, or homeowner.  

Whether you’re measuring the dimensions of a room, determining the size of a piece of furniture, or even planning a layout for a new garden, a tape measure is the go-to tool. With its retractable, lightweight design, you can easily carry it in your pocket or tool belt, ensuring it’s always within reach.

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Get one that is at least 20 feet in length and check the hook on the end to make sure it’s connected tightly.  Some are loose and you’ll want a tight-fitting hook so you get extremely accurate measurements.

5.  Speed Square

This tool is most widely known for measuring angles and creating straight lines and straight edges. The degrees are exactly what’s needed when you want to draw an angled line for cutting. 

Its triangular shape and built-in ruler make it easy to align against an edge and draw a perfectly straight line with confidence.

Really it just makes quick work out of a project needing lots of measurements and cuts.

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You can also use the speed square to draw long lines across materials for a specific measurement, such as taking an inch off the length of a 2×4.

6.  Level 

Any basic level should do the job, but I suggest getting two different sizes, 4-feet and a 9-inch torpedo.  These two levels should be all you need for projects of various sizes.

Here are some ways DIYers will use a level:

  • Hang Wall Decorations: Whether you’re hanging picture frames, artwork, or shelves, a level ensures that everything is perfectly level, creating a visually appealing display.
  • Install Tiles: Ensuring that tiles are perfectly aligned is crucial for a professional-looking finish. A level helps you achieve precise placement, whether you’re tiling a bathroom wall or a kitchen backsplash.
  • Mount TV or Projector: Want to enjoy the best viewing experience? Use a level to mount your TV or projector at the perfect height, ensuring your screen is straight and level.
  • Build Outdoor Structures: Whether you’re constructing a deck, pergola, or fence, a level makes it easy to ensure accurate alignments, resulting in sturdy and visually appealing outdoor structures in the long run.
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7.  Clamps

Clamps are such a useful tool in so many ways.  Whether you’re a DIY enthusiast or a professional woodworker, clamps are essential for securing and holding materials in place during various projects. 

I use clamps for woodworking projects when gluing or screwing pieces of wood together.  They provide a strong and secure hold, allowing you to create sturdy and precise joints. 

Irwin squeeze clamps are pretty awesome and are available in a variety of spread widths.  I recommend getting at least a 12-inch, if not also a 24-inch for different projects.

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Clamps are a good tool to use as leverage for anything you can’t physically pull together, such as building projects from trim work to framing.  Think of it as an extra hand with serious muscle!

8.  Hand Saw

Even though I have many power tools, I still use a hand saw very frequently.  With its sharp and durable blade, the hand saw is perfect for a wide range of tasks. 

From cutting through lumber for your next DIY project to trimming branches in your garden, this tool can handle it all.  Its compact size also makes it easy to maneuver in tight spaces. 

The 15-inch Irwin is a good one to start with for most people and is a great saw.  This is the exact one I have used for years and still use.

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Pay attention to which side your saw cuts on – front, back or both directions – to get accurate cuts.

9.  Adjustable Wrench

There are so many wrenches on the market so let me make it super simple for you:

You only need two!

You’ll find an unlimited number of uses for these wrenches, from fixing plumbing issues to removing stuck hardware and even mechanic jobs that require removing hardware.

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If you are doing plumbing, you may also eventually need channel lock pliers for bigger fittings.

10.  Saw Horses

Over the years, I’ve used saw horses of every kind – plastic, wooden, metal, commercial, and homemade.  Now I mainly use metal collapsible saw horses because they fold up, are lightweight, and very durable.  One set can last you a lifetime if cared for well.

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Attach your own 2×4 or 2×6 on top so you can make cuts to materials placed on the saw horses without cutting into the saw horse itself.

11.  Stud Finder

A stud finder is useful when you need to find studs in the wall for hanging items that can’t just be hung on sheetrock.  Or if you’re doing a project that requires cutting a hole in the wall – because you really need to know what’s back there before you cut!

The stud finder’s eye range is wide, and you can pass over the area several times to find the center of the stud finder’s eye beam, which theoretically should be on the center of the stud.

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12.  Assorted Screws, Nails, & Other Hardware

Keeping a basic assortment of hardware on hand makes it easy to get a project done quickly.  Plus it’s usually cheaper to buy a package of multiple hardware pieces than to buy them individually.

Here is a good assortment to start with:

  • 1-¼-inch sheetrock screws
  • 2-½” or 3-½” screws for use in most projects
  • Picture hanger with hook and little nail for most decor hanging
  • #8 (2-⅜-inch) and #16 (3-¼-inch) nails for general around-the-house use

If the hardware will be used on an exterior project, such as doors, porches, or decks, then it should be galvanized.

Start saving the extra hardware that isn’t used in other projects.  I have bins in the shop and house for screws, nails, washers, nuts, bolts, you name it, I save it.  I rarely have to buy special hardware for a project!

13.  Pliers

A basic DIY toolkit should have two pliers – a slip-joint pair and a needle-nosed.

Slip Joint Pliers:  Whether you’re tightening nuts, gripping pipes, or holding objects firmly, these pliers are a reliable choice. The slip joint feature allows for adjustable jaw positions, making it suitable for different sizes of workpieces. 

Needle-nosed Pliers:  With their long, slender jaws and pointed tips, they excel at gripping small objects, bending wires, or even reaching into confined areas. From jewelry-making to electrical work, needle nose pliers are a go-to tool for detailed and delicate jobs.

If you plan to do any wiring-related DIY, then you will also want a pair of wire strippers for replacing light fixtures, outlets, ceiling fans, and even car wiring.

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Try to get at least one set of pliers with a cutting edge in the V notch of the pliers.  This will cut wires, cords, packaging trips, and anything that needs something stronger than scissors.

14.  Ratchet & Socket Set

A basic ⅜-inch ratchet and socket set will do pretty much any job you need done.  Just be sure to get a good assortment of standard and metric sockets from 5/16-inch to ⅞-inch standard and 8-mm to 21-mm metric.

These tools are perfect for turning nuts and bolts, working on lawn mowers, tightening up hardware on garage doors, and putting together a swing set.

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If your ratchet & socket set comes with an assortment of hex keys, allen wrenches, and screwdriver bits, then you won’t need to get those separately.

15.  Hex Keys & Allen Wrench

Most modern mass-produced furniture is made with screws that require special hex keys or allen wrenches and not a regular screwdriver.  You can buy multi sets of these tools that include a variety of basic sizes.  

Some furniture comes with the tool, but my suggestion is to get an allen socket set that will fit your ⅜-inch drive ratchet.  This makes putting together store-bought furniture so much faster and easier.

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16.  Tool Box or Storage Bin

Individual basic hand tools can be stored together in a large tool bin.  You’ll be adding tools as you build your skills so you need room to add more tools.  Socket sets and power tools will often come in their own case. 

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17.  Pry Bar

The best all-around pry bar is a flat bar.  A large one (15-inch) and a small one (7-½-inch mini) will cover any needs.

The bigger one gives you more leverage and the small one will get into more places.  Removing trim in the corner, getting underneath siding to remove a nail, pulling nails if you have a wooden handled hammer – you’ll find any number of uses for these tools.

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18.  Outdoor Extension Cord

It’s very likely the tools that need power will not have a long enough cord to reach the workspace you have set up for any given project.  Having an extension cord on hand is a great idea.

I recommend a length of 50 feet and a cord with 3 prongs on both the plug and socket ends.  This should be enough to get you to most places you need to use power.

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19.  Ladder

A good all-around ladder is this 6-foot fiberglass folding ladder.  It will serve most purposes for household and yard use.

For projects that require a higher reach, such as cleaning gutters, working on a roof, or cutting tree limbs, I use this 16-foot extension ladder.  Get one made of fiberglass or aluminum as both are about the same weight.

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20.  Staple Gun

There are several types of staplers or staple guns.  

Manual (Squeeze) Staple Gun:  This type is hard on your hands and hard to squeeze, and usually, a project requires lots of staples.  I don’t recommend this one!

Slap Stapler aka Hammer Tacker:  I use this in many outdoor projects, such as putting house wrap on outdoor buildings.  You swing it like a hammer, but you have to be super careful not to smash your fingers since you usually try to staple right where your other hand is holding.  It drives well but is hard to be precise.  

Electric Staple Gun:  I don’t recommend these because they aren’t usually powerful enough to drive the staples cleanly.  Move on to the pneumatic!

Pneumatic Staple Gun:  This is definitely my favorite staple gun to use because any project I use staples on requires lots of staples.  The pneumatic gun is easy to dial in air so you don’t end up with half-driven or bent staples.  It just works well and is fast.  Pneumatic means it’s powered by air, so check out the Power Tools section for a recommended air compressor.

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21.  Glue

Different glues are needed for different projects, but I can suggest these to stock in your workshop:

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22.  Sandpaper

For a smooth finish on projects, you’ll need sandpaper in various grits from fine to coarse.  Grits 220 down to 120 are all good multipurpose grits for most things.  Step down to 60 grit to grind something.

Note that the bigger the number, the finer the grit, and lower numbers mean a coarser grit.

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23.  Miscellaneous Helpful Items

A few items I have in my toolbag and on my workbench are

  • Pencils – Just regular pencils to mark measurements
  • Sharpie markers – For when a pencil mark might not be enough
  • 5-gallon buckets – So useful for mixing, carrying tools, etc.

Basic Power Tools

When you’ve mastered the use of basic tools and your project needs have graduated to needing a bit more help, then it’s time to move on to these essential power tools.

In my years of experience, I’ve found this list of tools are the best power tools for DIY.  If I were starting over on my DIY  journey, these are the tools I’d start with. 

24.  Cordless Drill & Drill Bit Set

This, along with the impact driver, are the first power tools I suggest getting.  You’ll find hundreds of uses for it.

The driver bits in this set can also be used in the cordless impact driver shown below.

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Consider bundling together a cordless drill and a cordless impact driver for significant savings.  This combo is a great one!

25.  Cordless Impact Driver

Super helpful for any project needing screws or bolts.  Use it in the home, for woodworking, or in the shop.

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I suggest getting two batteries each with 5-amp hour run time.  You’ll be disappointed with the anything shorter!


skilsaw or circular saw

26.  Skilsaw aka Circular Saw

Of all the power saws, this is the best overall to get you started.  It will do many different cuts, including rip cuts, cutting two angles at once, straight cuts, and even notching.

I’ve done framing, cut sheeting for siding, cut roof decking and subfloors, and composite decking with the great all-purpose saw.  You can even cut concrete stone with it with the right blade.

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I recommend a lightweight worm drive with a magnesium base.  Be sure to get the appropriate blade for the material you will be cutting.

27.  Jigsaw

This saw is good for cutting irregular or round shapes or finishing circular saw notches.  That’s really about all I use this saw for.

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table saw

28.  Table Saw

If you’re ripping something and want a nice straight cut, then a table saw is a great tool.  Perfect for precise repeatable cuts.

Jobs like cutting sheeting, making shelving, or building cabinets are much easier with a table saw.

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29.  Nail Gun

My favorite nail gun is a brad nailer that drives 18 gauge nails from ⅝-inch to 2 inches.  It’s lightweight, a great fastener that leaves a small hole.  It’s perfect for trim work and various wood projects where you want a nice finish.

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oscillating multi-tool

30.  Oscillating Multi-Tool

A multi-tool is a pretty useful gadget to have on hand.  It’s great for many things, but I mostly use it for sanding in small corners or spaces and when a straight-in plunge cut is needed, such as cutting a smaller hole in already installed sheetrock or flooring.

This tool is so versatile that it’s become one of my most used.  It makes quick easy work out of cutting or sawing in most spaces.  The user-friendly quick release for the accessories doesn’t require a special tool – just release and replace it with a different attachment.

I recommend getting the cordless battery-operated version since it makes it even more versatile for use anywhere.  The latest project I’ve used this on was cutting tile in our shower so I definitely needed the cordless tool.

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When getting additional accessories for your oscillating multi-tool, make sure that the accessories will fit your tool’s brand.  Most accessories fit multiple brands.

angle grinder

31.  Angle Grinder

An angle grinder is useful for wood, tile, metal, and masonry (rock) projects, as long as you use the appropriate cutting wheel.  

Some recent projects I’ve used this tool:

  • Cutting metal pieces for my 1971 Nova restoration
  • Shaping the wood for the custom console I made for the Nova
  • Cutting landscaping stones for a retaining wall off our back patio
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orbital sander or palm sander

32.  Orbital Sander aka Palm Sander

This tool is the best tool for larger sanding projects.  Sanding porch railings, building a bookshelf, and edging large floor sanding projects are all great uses for this tool.

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I’ve used so many different brands from low to high price points, and the higher dollar brands are definitely better.  In this case, you get what you pay for, although high use of the tool will obviously wear it out faster.


air compressor

33.  Air Compressor

An air compressor is such a handy tool.  

You will need something with at least a 3-5 gallon capacity that reaches at least 150 PSI for use on most projects.  This size will be great for running nail guns, staplers, and airing up tires.

The larger the tank, the more air it holds and the less it has to run.

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Painting Tools

If you have lots of painting to do or maybe enjoy upcycling or other DIY projects that require painting, then you’ll want paint tools on hand.

These are the painting-related tools I use at home and on the job site in my construction job.

34.  Paint Brush

The only paint brush I use is a Wooster 2-inch angled brush.  It’s perfect for cutting in corners and edges.  It’s just the right size for painting furniture or decor projects.

For bigger areas, I cut in with the brush and then use an appropriate-sized roller for the bigger areas.

35.  Power Roller

If you plan to do a lot of bigger painting projects, like repainting several rooms, then a power roller will be worth investing in.

It feeds the paint for continuous nonstop painting, so it makes quick work of a tedious project.  There will also be fewer overlapping lines due to the continuity of the paint feed.

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36.  Rollers

The best paint rollers are microfiber with ⅜-inch nap.  These will be perfect for most projects, including walls and woodworking projects.

Microfiber is best because the fake lambswool material will leave hairs in the paint.

These supplies will be all you need for any project:

To keep the roller frame from loosening when using the extension pole, I use painter’s tape to wrap around the connection to keep it from loosening.

37.  Handy Pail & Liners

For small painting jobs and cutting in, you’ll appreciate having a Handy Pail and liners.  The pail is easy to hold in one hand and has a magnetic strip for holding the brush when needed.

38.  Frogtape

Just one tip here: Frogtape is the best.  You can expect to see some bleed-through with the blue painter’s tape, so just get the Frogtape, and you’ll thank me later.

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39.  Spackle

This is used to fill nail and other small holes, maybe up to ½-inch, in sheetrock.  You can also use it to fill nail holes on painted trim work.

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On painted trim especially, carry a wet rag with you and dab several holes at a time, then take the wet rag to wipe off the excess spackle.  If you don’t do this as you go, then it will show a film.

40.  Wood Filler

Useful for covering up flaws, cracks, or nail holes in wood that you plan to stain or coat with polyurethane.

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41.  Putty Knife

A comfortable 1-½-inch putty knife is just the right size for spackling and filling holes.  For larger projects, such as fixing big holes in walls, you will need a bigger knife.

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42.  Painter’s Caulk & Caulk Gun

Painter’s caulk is used along trip work and in corners where there may be cracks that are too big for the spackle to fill.  In these areas, you need something more flexible, and painter’s caulk is great for this.

The caulk gun can also be used for other household caulking projects.

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Cut the tip of the caulk small at a 45-degree angle.  Once you cut the tip, you can’t go back!  If you have larger cracks, then you can cut it more to reach an appropriate size.

43.  Paint Tray & Liners

You can wash out a paint tray, but if you’re switching colors or have lots of projects or a bigger project to do, then save time and effort by using liners.

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If you need to come back to a project with the same paint, load the roller with paint and wrap it in plastic wrap tightly.  Make sure no air can get to the paint.  This will keep it fresh and usable for even up to a week.

Safety Equipment

While common sense is the best safety equipment you can find, here are a few other tips and safety tools I also recommend.

44.  Safety Glasses or Safety Goggles

Any safety glasses with a front lens that stay on your nose will help keep dust and debris from landing in your eyes.  Finding a pair with side protection is added protection.

If you wear glasses for vision correction, then safety goggles that fit over eyeglasses are available.

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45.  Dust Mask

Please wear a dust mask when painting, sanding, mowing, or when stirring up any other particle that you don’t want to breathe in.

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46.  Gloves

From disposable gloves or rubber gloves for painting to heat-resistant gloves for welding, you can find a work glove for any hand and any project.

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47.  Noise-Canceling Headphones

These noise-canceling earphones are well worth the investment.  All power tools have some sort of sound, and eventually, your ears will revolt against the noise!

There are even Bluetooth-enabled versions, so you can not only cancel out the hurtful noises but also listen to your favorite music while you work.

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What are the most essential DIY tools?

The absolute essential tools any household should have on hand are

  1. Utility knife
  2. Hammer
  3. Screwdrivers
  4. Wrenches
  5. Pliers

These tools will get you started and are likely the most used in any home.

How do I get started with DIY projects?

The best way to get started with DIY projects is to ask a more knowledgeable family member or friend to let you tag along or for their help in doing a project.  Hands-on learning is the way to go.

You can also learn DIY skills by watching YouTube videos and attending workshops at hardware stores like Home Depot.

What’s Next

If you’re itching to get started on some DIY home projects that even a beginner can accomplish, you might find the perfect project from this list on Bob Villa’s site or this one from Ideal Home.

The most important advice I can give is just to get started.  Get the tools, find a project, and you will learn as you go.

FAQs

How do I learn to use tools as a beginner?

Find videos on YouTube for any specific tool or project you’d like to tackle.  Books are also a good resource, as are DIY and home improvement-related TV shows and magazines.  And if you have a friend or family member who has skills you’d like to learn, ask them to do a project together so you can learn!

What are the must-have tools for beginner woodworkers?

The basic toolkit should include a screwdriver set, utility knife & blades, hammer, tape measure, and pliers.  The next item to include would be a drill and drill bit set, as this tool will enable you to do a wider variety of repairs and projects.

What are the most popular home DIY projects?

Some of the most common DIY projects tackled are painting, replacing shower heads and faucets, installing shelving, building storage, and installing curtains.

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Joe Raith

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