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10 Power Tools to Get Started in DIY

Hello Friends! As an avid DIYer I am frequently asked about tools and how to get started building and renovating. And since Father’s Day is right around the corner I thought now would be a great time to talk about what I keep in my tool arsenal and what I would buy if I were just starting out as a DIYer. Because let’s be honest, tools can be very expensive and it’s not always easy to know what the right choice is. So let’s get to it and talk about my top 10 Power tools to get started in DIY.

10 Power Tools to Get Started in DIY

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10 Power Tools to Get Started in DIY

If you are new to DIY or you want to get started, choosing the right tools can be a very daunting task. But like everything in life, the work is easier with the right tools. For most of us DIY veterans, we have accumulated most of our tools over time and continue to do so. But if you are starting from scratch, where do you start and what do you really need? Don’t worry, I’ve got you covered ūüėČ 

Corded or Cordless Power Tools? 

For me, this depends on what tool we are talking about. For handheld items like drills and routers, definitely cordless! But for larger items like miter saws and table saws, cordless is not worth the extra cost in my opinion. Not to mention batteries are expensive. 

Should all my tools be the same brand? 

Not necessarily, but when buying cordless tools I do highly recommend the same brand. Many tools don’t come with batteries anymore and they can be quite pricey. They are also usually interchangeable with newer tools and replacing batteries can cost just as much as replacing an entire tool.

Because of this I also don’t recommend buying cordless power tools second hand off marketplace, offer up, or Craig’s List.  A lot of times those tools don’t come with batteries and if they do, you don’t know what condition they are in. When batteries get old, they don’t hold a charge as well and you won’t know this until you use it for an extended period of time.

As you DIY and use tools more frequently you will start to notice some brands are made better and last longer than others. These will become your favorite brands and you will start to unify your collection. 

What is brushless and do I need it? 

When buying cordless tools ALWAYS go brushless! They are more expensive but they are more powerful and last longer. You don’t want to be upgrading in a few years and have a tool graveyard. Trust me. It took me 4 drill sets to learn this!

1 – Compound Sliding Miter Saw 

My compound sliding miter saw is by far my favorite saw in my workshop! I love it because it is precise and doesn’t require tedious setup. Mine is a 12 inch and I highly recommend getting the 12 instead of the 10. You will be able to accomplish larger cuts and will be happier in the long run. Also, the sliding feature  gives you even larger cut capacity. The miter function speaks for itself but the compound function really comes in handy for larger miter cuts and doing board and batten at an angle down stairs. 

Do yourself a favor and save your back and get the stand. I think it was definitely worth the extra money and it has built in stops for making repetitive cuts. Unless you plan to make a custom workbench or rolling station, get the stand, it’s worth it. 

Garrison Street Design Studio - 10 Power Tools to Get Started in DIY

Compound Sliding Miter Saw use: Angled and straight cuts with larger cut capacity. I use mine on almost every project. Our bed, the wet bar, the downstairs hallway, IKEA Rast desk hack, my scrap wood Christmas trees, IKEA wine bar cabinet hack, just to name a few ūüėČ   

2 – Drill and Driver Set

Drill and Driver. Despite the fact that these look close to identical, I promise you, they are not! The drill is used for drilling holes but can also be used with a screw driver bit.  The driver can only be used with screw driver bits and driver heads but this has more torque and is more effective than using a drill in the same fashion. Not to mention if you are working on a project that requires pre-drilling, you don’t have to switch between bits each time which speeds up the process a lot.  

Garrison Street Design Studio - 10 Power Tools to Get Started in DIY

Drill and Driver Set use: Drilling holes and driving screws. I use these for almost every project as well. IKEA Kallax hackour bed, the wine rack, the pool deck, the outdoor dining table,  just to name a few ūüėČ  

3 – Orbital Sander 

The orbital sander. Truth be told, I hate sanding, but it is a necessary evil of DIY. And the only thing worse than sanding with a sander is sanding by hand with sand paper! Trust me, this tool is totally worth it and I use it ALL the time. 

Garrison Street Design Studio - 10 Power Tools to Get Started in DIY

Orbital Sander use: Sanding, obviously. You can purchase different grades of sand paper discs that just velcro on.  I use mine on almost every project. The outdoor sofas, the wine rack, our bed, the stairs, the railing, my DIY Christmas tree collar, just to name a few ūüėČ   

4 – Jig Saw

The jig saw is one of those tools ya just need as a DIYer. It really cannot be replaced with another more basic tool since it cuts out shapes. And it sneaks up on you because you don’t think you need one until you do. Trust me on this, I use it all the time. I actually have a more expensive one too, but I like this one more and it was cheaper. 

The jig saw is unique because it has a small thin blade that moves up and down to cut. By drilling a small hole in your work piece, it allows you to make cuts in the middle of the piece. 

Garrison Street Design Studio - 10 Power Tools to Get Started in DIY

Jig saw use: Cutting out shapes. I used it to cut out sections of shiplap when building my mom’s fireplace, when laying flooring around the vents in the bunk room, and when cutting off a portion of the stair tread that wrapped around the wall. The jig saw made all of this possible.  

5 – Brad Nailer 

My brad nailer is not cordless, but as soon as this one goes on sale, I am buying it! While the brad nailer I have works fine, the cord is always in the way and using it on a ladder can be a bit sketchy. It also requires an air compressor to run so you are really buying two tools if you don’t go cordless. Our air compressor is also really large and not very portable since we need the extra capacity to blow out our sprinklers. This is the one tool I have that I WISH was cordless. 

Garrison Street Design Studio - 10 Power Tools to Get Started in DIY

Brad nailer use: I use this ALL the time, but most commonly for trim like base boards, board and batten, and shiplap. But I have used it for other projects like Marvin’s dog crate, DIY frames, my art ledge, and my towel rack.

Do I need more? 

Truthfully, you can do a lot with these first five tools! These are a great starting point that will get you through most projects in my opinion.  But, I have five more that will make DIY even more enjoyable!

Garrison Street Design Studio - 10 Power Tools to Get Started in DIY

6 – Multi Tool 

The multi tool. This is somewhat of a specialty tool but definitely an MVP.  Mine has several different heads which do different things. It had a triangle sanding head which is great for getting in tight corners the orbital sander misses. It also has a plunge cutter which I used to cut off the stair noses when I replaced the treads on the upstairs and lower level stairs. It also has a circular head which I most frequently use to trim door jams when installing flooring. 

Garrison Street Design Studio - 10 Power Tools to Get Started in DIY

Multi Tool use: The multi tool really has multi uses! From sanding to cutting in unique positions, this little tool does a lot and I use it very often!  

7 – Reciprocating Saw  

At this point you are probably wondering how many saws do you really need? A lot! They all do very different things. The reciprocating saw is much less precise and usually used for things like demo. But it can also be used to cut tree limbs and metal. While I don’t use this tool as often as some of my other saws, it is very handy since you can start a cut anywhere on the workpiece. 

Garrison Street Design Studio - 10 Power Tools to Get Started in DIY

Reciprocating Saw use: This saw has been the star of clean up efforts after many spring snows. I also used it when I made Marvin’s dog crate and used it to cut the conduit for the wine rack

8 – Circular Saw   

The circular saw and I have not always got along. My original is very big and awkward and I was always afraid I would catch the cord in it when cutting. But I got this mini cordless circular saw for Christmas and it is MUCH easier to maneuver! It still has the cut depth for a 2×4 but is light weight. For long rip cuts that are not possible on the table saw, this will also do the trick with a guide. 

Garrison Street Design Studio - 10 Power Tools to Get Started in DIY

Circular Saw use: Straight cuts, long and short. Usually they are best used with a guide but I think a scrap 2×4 and some clamps works just as well and takes just as long to set up. I have not used this saw in any projects I have shared but I used my original saw for my closet door makeover, cutting the retaining wall blocks, and our bed just to name a few. 

9 – Table Saw   

I got by without a table saw for a very long time! Most rip cuts can be done with either the circular saw or the jigsaw. However, I would much prefer to use the table saw because it is more precise and has virtually no setup time with guides. Every now and then I come across something that is too big for my table saw but 90% of the time, I can use the table saw for my rip cuts. BUT this is one of those saws that can be VERY dangerous if you are not careful and it definitely took some practice to get comfortable with it. 

Garrison Street Design Studio - 10 Power Tools to Get Started in DIY

Table Saw use: Long rip cuts. Now that I have a table saw I use it quite a bit. I can now buy larger pieces of lumber that are more cost effective and cut them down at home. I used the table saw for my art ledge, my outdoor buffet table, my mom’s fireplace, the stairs, the bunk room, just to name a few. 

10 –  Router

The router is a newer tool in my arsenal, but it really is fun to work with! I would definitely say this is more of a fun tool rather than a necessity tool. You can really get creative here an make some unique edging and details on a piece as well as joinery. I consider this one as my gateway drug into real woodworking. The rest of the tools listed here are mostly renovation and building related. But this one is for woodworking. I will also say, I cannot imagine this one not being cordless. I would be very afraid of cutting the cord on accident. 

Garrison Street Design Studio - 10 Power Tools to Get Started in DIY

Router use: Creating detailed edging in woodworking, cutting hinge mortises, inlays, and cutting joinery. I will be honest, so far I have  only used mine to make the door on Marvin’s dog crate, but I really want to try more!

How much should I spend if I am just a beginner? 

This question really hits home for me! In the beginning I tried to spend as little money as possible on power tools especially if I thought I only needed it for one project. The problem with that mindset is two fold. 

First, in my experience making do with the wrong tool leads to more work and longer project times. This can often make you want to give up DIY or learning new skills all together. I did MANY projects without a table saw because I didn’t want to spend the money but now that I have one, I can actually get through a lot of projects faster and sometimes cut costs on wood by ripping down my own pieces rather than buying a custom pre-cut size. 

Second, DIY is like a drug, at least for me it is! When I realized what I was capable of, I wanted to challenge myself to do and learn more. The bunk beds, wine room, and my mom’s fireplace are just a few of my recent projects I took on to challenge myself! If you are serious about DIY you will take on more as you get better and improve your skills. 

Are big power tool bundles worth it? 

Sometimes. There are always a few tools in a bundle that I don’t think I would use. I call those filler tools. They are usually inexpensive items they add to the bundles to make it seem like you are getting a great deal but they are less expensive tools I probably wouldn’t buy individually like a flashlight. But on the other hand two tool bundles are generally a great deal. This one is a good deal for four of the tools I recommended above. And if you can swing a bit more, this is currently on sale for a good seven tool bundle

When are the best sales on power tools?

In my opinion, the best sales on power tools are generally right before Father’s Day and right around Thanksgiving for Black Friday. When these campaigns kick off with retailers vary, but I start watching for deals a few weeks before each holiday. 

Garrison Street Design Studio - 10 Power Tools to Get Started in DIY

Compound Miter Saw | Drill & Driver Set | Orbital Sander | Jig Saw | Brad Nailer | Multi Tool | Reciprocating Saw | Circular Saw | Table Saw | Router

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10 Power Tools to Get Started in DIY

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