Six Simple Tools Every DIY Craftsman Should Have

While power tools can be the most interesting components in your tool collection, simple hand tools can be just as attractive and perhaps even more important. There isn’t always a powerful solution for every problem you’ll face with every job you need to get done in the store, and having low-tech essentials will make your home improvement projects easier and faster. Here are six of my favorites to get you started.

Spring loaded nail set

It’s not exactly difficult, but a spring-loaded nail set can really come in handy when you need to take care of nails that pop out while sculpting, or finish a project with protruding nails. You place the tip of the nail on the head of the nail, pull back the end, and release. This effective little thing will help keep nails straight without a hammer and won’t leave marks on the surface of the wood. You can get it for about $14 and it will fit in your pocket.

flat rods

While a large cat’s claw or crowbar is a common tool in the shop, a good flat bar is essential when doing any woodwork. The flat bar can be used to correct mistakes when hammering moldings or wood pieces, or to separate glued pieces, and it won’t leave marks on the surface of your wood. To apply pressure on a stripped screw, you can use the notch to pull the nail or the edge of the tool to lift it up while unscrewing it. Using a flat bar to support a heavier piece or wood while leveling the legs is also very handy. At about $15 a set, flat bars can also help pull staples and peel off linoleum.

Specialized pencil.

If you’ve ever had trouble getting your marks aligned when drilling holes for hanging a picture or shelf brackets, a deep-hole mechanical pencil is the way to go. To trace a drilling pattern from one piece to another, this pencil will go into the drilled hole and plunge into the material a few inches, making marking easier. If you’ve ever tried registering peg holes or making hardware holes, this tool is for you. Priced at about $11 for a pack of two, these pocket pencils are a great addition to your DIY toolbox.

Universal tool for wire

If you enjoy working with low-voltage wiring, say to repair LEDs or electronics, a self-adjusting wire stripper and wire cutter is the tool for you. A cleanly stripped wire and an easy cut make it much faster to connect wires. Instead of having to switch between tools and gauges, you can use this pair of combo wire cutters in different sizes and save your hands the hassle of dealing with a dull tool. At around $20 a pair, this is a good bet for wiring projects. (As with any electrical home repair, make sure you only do electrical work for which you are qualified.)

Magnet on a stick

When you are working on a vehicle or appliance, dropped equipment can be a real hindrance. An adjustable telescopic magnet with LED light can be a lifesaver. If your propellers are rolling under the A/C while you’re cleaning the coils, or if you’ve dropped washers in the motor, a magnet on a stick will help. A backlit magnet on a stick is even better. For about $8 you get a tool with a swivel and flashlight that can get into all the hard to reach places.

Equal Spacing Tool

For measuring and marking, there is a tool that can divide the distance evenly. To measure equidistant shelves, mark lines for spacers or paint, or make sure seams are evenly spaced on a fabric project, the evenly spaced tool is your best friend. You can use the tool with any spacing up to the maximum and it will split your marks evenly without requiring you to do any math – just stretch it out and mark where the dots fall. For approximately $13.50, this will be a welcome addition the next time you hang anything with more than one hanger.


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