More and more these days, I hear about women who have fallen in love with DIY and power tools. There are some incredible bloggers who share their great projects and are so inspiring to me. I, for one, happen to have a thing for power tools myself so this makes me very happy.
I have an Etsy shop where I sell items I personally make with reclaimed wood, so I have found myself using quite a few power tools I never thought I’d lay hands on, much less enjoy! Perhaps there are some of you ladies who would love to make some of the crafts you see around the internet but you either don’t have the tools or are afraid to use them. Well let me be the first to tell you that YOU CAN DO IT! If I can rev up a miter saw or router, anyone can! I was scared at first. I mean, let’s face it, these things are dangerous in a most legit way. But, with a little patience and diligence in learning how to work the tool, it’s not so bad. In fact, once you cut your first piece of wood or route your first board, it’s exciting! It’s empowering! And it’s addicting!
Maybe you’ve told your husband or family how you’d like to start doing some projects but you don’t have the setup or the tools. I’ve compiled a list of tools and items (along with pictures and links to where you can get them) that I think will be a great help in getting you started with some basic projects. These are all things that I have, use and love. I wouldn’t recommend them if I didn’t. Many of these items you can get on Amazon (which I love to shop because of the free shipping for Prime members…especially on items that are heavy and hard to carry out of the store). Another favorite place to get my tools is Harbor Freight. If you have one nearby, you must check it out. They always have coupons and everything has a 90-day guarantee. It’s one of my favorite places to shop. I especially love going in and being the only gal in the whole store…they guys look at me like I’m crazy, but the truth is that I know exactly what I’m looking for (most of the time)! Home Depot and Lowe’s are other options for purchase, of course. Just shop around and you’ll soon find your favorite go-to place for all your project needs.
The bare necessities:
Tape Measure – I recommend a 25 ft. tape measure. This one is heavy duty and should last you for years. I think I’ve had mine for 20 years or more! I keep several around…one for my miter saw area, one for my worktable and one for my toolbox. Oh..and there’s one in the house as well!
Hammer – I highly recommend either a steel or fiberglass handle. I’ve had hammers with wood handles and eventually the break. This is not the exact one that I have, but it’s similar and should work great for you.
Level – There are so many uses for a level…hanging pictures, leveling a washing machine or fridge, checking shelves for level, leveling pavers for a walkway…the list goes on. This is the level I use and I’ve had it for many years. It’s plastic and lightweight, but it will measure horizontally and vertically, which I find myself doing more often than I would have thought. This one is 24″ and works for most projects. I have a 12″ level as well, which I use for smaller projects.
Safety Goggles – These are an absolute must! Even when you’re just hammering a nail, you’ve got to protect your eyes from the unforeseen accident. They don’t have to be anything fancy, but what girl wouldn’t love these pink ones!? I keep a few pairs in case one breaks or gets lost.
Work Gloves – When you’re working with wood it’s always a good idea to wear gloves. Not just to protect from splinters, but to give you a little extra grip when you’re handling projects. These are a little different than mine, but I like that they have gripping fabric and an adjustable wrist band to keep them on nice and snug.
Pink Toolbelt – Yes, that’s right…a PINK one! This is the one I have and it holds tons of stuff! It’s a must have when you’re moving around the workshop or hanging pictures in the house. It will hold your tape measure, drill, hammer, nails/screws, pencil, and more. Plus, you’ll feel bad a&& wearing it. 😉
A few other items you’ll want in your bare necessities include:
- Pencils for marking measurements
- Utility knife for opening boxes, scoring drywall, etc.
- A magnetic bowl or plate to hold screws while working on a project
- Needle nose pliers for pulling out nails, if needed
- Extension cord
- Power Strip – I like to have everything plugged in and ready to go. 🙂
Now for the fun stuff…POWER TOOLS! These are the ones I have and use regularly:
10″ Sliding Compound Miter Saw – This was one of my first power tools and I probably get more use out of it than any of the others, with the exception of my drill. I opted for the 10″ because the 8″ is just a little small when it comes to cutting 8″ boards. This one is very much like mine and it’s a workhorse. You can use it for crown molding, making frames or doing simple cuts. It’s versatile and affordable. I highly recommend having one!
Circular Saw – Before I had my miter saw I had a circular saw. I’m on my 3rd one now, having worn one out and cut the cord on #2! I use this saw to cut plywood, to dismantle pallets and to do quick cuts of wood that don’t require a lot of precision. I have a table saw now that I use for cutting plywood because it does a more precise cut, but I’m always glad to have my circular saw around when I need to be a little more mobile.
Electric Drill – I’ve had battery-operated drills over the years and they’re great for smaller projects or ones that don’t require too much time where the battery would go dead. But when it came time to build a bunk bed for my son, the battery operated drill just didn’t have the power I needed to get those big bolts through two layers of 2x4s. I burned up the motor within minutes and had no choice but to go out and buy a new one right away. That’s when I discovered the POWER of the electric drill. Yes, it has that pesky cord you have to deal with and sometimes I need an extension cord to get the job done, but it is SO powerful and it never loses it’s oompf. In a perfect world, I would have one of each. But for now, this single mom will have to settle with the one. And I’m glad I have the electric version. I got mine at Harbor Freight Tools and there’s a link to it here. If you’re not convinced that a power drill is for you, here’s a great battery operated one…and it’s a great deal right now on Amazon.
Jigsaw – I have a love-hate relationship with my jigsaw. I’m glad I have it, but I don’t like using it. It makes me nervous…that little blade just seems too close to me and too fragile for my liking. BUT, when I need to cut curves or into a corner, the jigsaw is my go-to tool. This one is an orbital jigsaw, which means you can control the blade’s ability to curve. I like that feature. Mine is ancient, so it doesn’t have the orbital ability. When I replace mine I will definitely go with something like this.
Router – I laugh at myself now but I had my router for nearly 15 years before I got up enough courage to use it. It scared me to death and seemed way too complicated. Once I got it going and saw all the possibilities of what it could do, I was hooked. I use it now to give my plaques a nice decorative edge, to create an inset on the backside of frames for the glass to fit into, to make keyholes for hanging plaques and frames, and all kinds of other things that I couldn’t do without it.
Table Saw – My table saw…oh how I respect my table saw. Short story: one day, I was working on several orders that required me to rip some boards down. I had several to do, so I was moving fairly quickly through the process. About halfway through, I finished ripping a board and walked around to the backside of the table saw to remove the boards. I didn’t quite let the blade stop completely before pulling the pieces out. One of them kicked back and threw my hand into the blade, nearly cutting off my index finger. Literally. I rushed myself to the ER with a towel wrapped around my finger, praying that I didn’t lose it. I didn’t know. There was too much blood. Turns out, the blade slivered the bone in two places on my index finger and my nail popped out completely. It was a miracle I didn’t lose the finger. Fifteen stitches later…yeah. Lesson learned: always let the blade come to a complete stop before moving anything anywhere! Now that I’ve scared you half to death, in all fairness, the table saw is a great tool to have around. I use it for ripping boards, cutting plywood and MDF and for cutting boards that are too wide for my compound miter saw.
Orbital Sander – When I first started doing woodwork, I only had a palm finishing sander…which is a great tool to have and I have one. However, working with reclaimed wood, I went through a ton of sandpaper! And then I discovered the random orbital sander. It was as if the sky opened up and angels started singing! This baby cut my sanding time in HALF and I don’t go through nearly as much sandpaper with it. I still have plenty of uses for my finishing sander…being just that – finish sanding. The orbital sander handles my tough stuff…sanding down the rough edges and grain of reclaimed pallet and barn wood. This one is great because it has a sawdust catcher and the sandpaper attaches with velcroo…super easy.
BONUS: If you’re going to be doing any work with pallets, you’re going to have a heck of a time taking them apart without a reciprocating saw. This is a lifesaver and a MUST HAVE for pallet projects. Trust me. A crowbar and hammer are not going to get you very far very fast. The reciprocating saw can cut right through nails and wood and will separate the boards from the base of the pallet in no time. Do yourself a favor and spend the money. They’re not expensive and well worth it. Make sure you also get demolition blades for your pallet dismantling.
There are so many others you can add to your arsenal…these just happen to be the ones I use most. On my list? A belt sander! So tell me, what power tools do you have and love the most…and which ones are you dying to add to your workshop?