The Best Next-Level Tools for DIYers

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I recently posted my recommendations for a Basic Tool Kit for Beginners. While the tool selection might change a little from user to user, and one might add another tool or two to the mix, there is a limit as to how much a DIYer can get done with a basic starter set.

I set out to put together a list of tool kit add-ons, hand tools that can elevate a DIYer’s work and broaden their capabilities.

(Thank you to Home Depot for sponsoring this exploration!)

Husky Dead Blow Hammer ($19.41) – I have posted about this Husky 27 oz dead-blow hammer before, and you’ll see me posting about it again. A dead-blow hammer provides a much different experience than a rubber mallet, delivering a nearly recoil-free strike with greater comfort and control.

This hammer has a very balanced feel to it, and is a good addition to any tool kit. It’s also backed by Husky’s Lifetime Warranty with no questions asked or receipt needed.

Bessey Hand Clamps ($7-9) – Home Depot has a wide selection of C-clamps, bar clamps, and specialty clamps to choose from. I think these Bessey hand clamps, with 4-inch capacity and 3-inch throat depth, are great to start out with, as they’re large enough to hold wood boards and sheet materials to a table or workbench.

That is one of the biggest upgrades a DIYer can make – adding the ability to clamp down wood boards or other materials for easier, safer, and more precise cutting, sanding, or other work.

Dewalt Flush-Cutting Saw ($13.97) – Home Depot carries a large selection of hand saws, such as wood saws, jab saws, hacksaws, and coping saws just to name a few styles. As a fine-tooth pull saw, this Dewalt saw is the ideal choice for cutting smaller-sized wood materials, such as dowel rods. And, whether you’re using dowel pins for a woodworking project or repairing a stripped-out hinge, its flexibility allows you to trim things down flush.

While perhaps not as much of a must-have compared to the other tools here, a flush-cutting saw can sometimes make the difference between a fine-finished project and a DIY hack-job.

Husky Precision Screwdriver Set with Case

Husky Precision Screwdriver Set ($14.97) – A good precision screwdriver bit kit is useful for kids’ toys, battery compartments, and DIY electronics repairs. This Husky set far exceeded my expectations, giving you a solid metal-body driver with fantastic feel, a good selection of everyday, security, and electronics bits, and a compact case to keep it all nice and tidy.

What especially impressed me is that the miniature screwdriver bits are well organized, with clear depictions as to their tip shapes, and they’re also retained magnetically. Pushing down on the bit tips lifts them up for easy retrieval, and bumping the case won’t knock all the bits around.

Klein 4-in-1 Electronics Screwdriver ($9.97) – With Phillips #0 and #00, and slotted 1/8″ and 3/32″ bit styles, this Klein precision electronics screwdriver is a good fit for various household tasks.

If you want something different and less expensive, the Stanley 4-way pen screwdriver ($1.97) has the same slotted bit sizes but swaps a Phillips #1 for the #00.

Mayhew Scratch Awl ($6.97) – If you can only buy one tool on this list, make it this scratch awl. This awl can be used for marking layout lines on different surfaces, and it is also a great way to pierce softer materials or poke small starter holes for screws and drill bits. Don’t underestimate the effect precision screw placements can have on outcome of a project.

StudBuddy Stud Finder on Wall

The StudBuddy Magnetic Stud Finder ($9.97) – The StudBuddy, made in the USA, is one of the simplest ways of finding wood stud locations behind drywall surfaces. Basically, what it does is locate the screws that secure drywall panels to wood framing, and it points up and down along the stud. The StudBuddy is fairly easy to align by eye, allowing you to track a stud up or down to where you want to mount something.

Even if you upgrade to a more sophisticated stud finder or detector in the future, the StudBuddy never needs batteries and can still be used for layout purposes.

Empire 9″ Polycast Torpedo Level ($2.97) – Leveling things by eye is a good way to end up with a crooked shelf or similar types of imperfections. This one is very inexpensive and is good to throw in your kit for infrequent use.

Empire 9-inch True Blue Torpedo Level

If you’d like an upgrade, Home Depot also has an Empire True Blue 9-inch level 2-pack for $8.97.

Other Ideas?

What else would you add to this kit? Maybe a 7-inch rafter square? Combination square? Woodworking chisels?

With this post I sought to focus on a limited selection of tools that offer expanded capabilities and improved results. An awl, for instance, isn’t an essential, but can absolutely have a noticeable impact on many types of projects.

More From This Series

See More: Home Depot DIY Tool Kit Buying Guides

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