Kristi’s Top Five Must-Have Tools

If you’re going to DIY, then you must be prepared. Yes, that means putting some money into tools. But tools can be expensive, and if you’re a DIYer, chances are you’re needing to do things as cheaply as possible for one reason or another. So, there’s no extra money to throw away on tools that will seldom be used.

Trust me…I understand that completely.

So here are my picks for my top ten must-have tools for any DIYer. And in most cases, there’s no need to purchase the top-of-the-line. Leave those for the professional contractors. For the DIYer, generally a medium-range tool is just fine.


This is the exact one I have. It’s a Ryobi 3/8 inch drill, WITH a power cord. The cost is just under $30.

A power drill is an absolute must, along with a good set of screwdriver bits and drill bits. And while I’ve seen most other women recommend a cordless drill, I much prefer a corded drill. That way I never get caught unprepared with a dead battery, and corded drills simply have more power.  I started out using a cordless drill, but since purchasing this corded drill, I’ll never go back to cordless.


I actually don’t think I could live without my miter saw!! Well, okay…that’s a bit dramatic. But in reality, it’s probably the tool that I use the most frequently. The one I have is a Ryobi 10-inch miter saw with a laser, which set me back $119.

And let me tell you, that laser is worth its weight in gold!! Wait…that wouldn’t be very much. Well, you know what I mean. Now that I’ve used a miter saw with a laser, I’ll never go back!


While most of my tools are simply necessity, my orbital sander is just pure FUN! I have this Ryobi 5-inch Orbit Sander, which runs just under $40.

I guess it would be more accurate to say that this is the sander that I HAD. Yes, I’ve burned right through another one. Perhaps this is the one tool that I should consider purchasing in the “professional contractor” category.


Most people are shocked to find out that I have one of the most basic, inexpensive sewing machines money can buy. Heck…the only thing cheaper would be one of those tiny things made for children to teach them how to sew! But my machine is quite the powerhorse, powering right through several layers of fabric at a time. I have the earlier model of this Kenmore machine, and I paid around $120 for it.

I know a lot of people are scared to sew, but really…this is the least intimidating tool I’ve listed yet! Sewing a straight line is one of the easiest things in the world. AND…sewing a straight line is all you need to know how to do in order to sew pillows, draperies, tablecloths, and so much more for you home. This little machine will save you a BUNDLE of money!

Are you surprised that the final “top five” tool is a paint brush?!  I actually am a little surprised myself.  I thought through some others…some pretty important ones…electric staple gun, circular saw, jigsaw.  Yes, those are all important, and if I were making a longer list, I’m sure those tools would find their way onto the list.  But my Purdy paintbrush and I…we’re inseparable.  And notice, this is the only one listed where the BRAND NAME made it into the title.  That’s because the brand makes all the difference in the world.  I would never use another!

My brush of choice is this Purdy XL Dale 2 1/2 inch angled sash brush, which can be used with latex AND oil-based paints. It runs just under $12. And if you take care of your brushes, these things will last forever!!

So those are my top five choices. Did any of them surprise you? Are you surprised that something else didn’t make the list? It really was close on some of them, but I know that when it comes to DIY, these are the ones I personally find the most useful.

So you other DIYers…what tools would be on YOUR list?



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  1. Great list!

    I'd add a hammer and jigsaw to my own list. Sometimes it's easier to bring the saw to where you're cutting and a hand held device can be a wonderful thing. And you can cut shapes with it too! Ok and then there's the sawzall with a longer blade… ah! I've totally failed at the 5 tool rule. Can't do it! 🙂

    Re: the cordless drills, I've found them to be not all alike. I personally love Makita and mine came with two lithium batteries. Lithium holds a charge for MUCH longer than regular batteries. And I've found the Makita line to be extremely powerful for it's size. It fits into a woman's smaller hand perfectly. I'd tried others and they felt too big, clunky and no pow behind them. For anything cordless, two batteries are a must!


  2. Donna, I've actually never even used a sawzall!! But definitely, if this were a "top ten" list, the jigsaw would definitely be on there.

    fmgarman, I PROMISE that that's a simple sewing machine!! All of those stitch settings can be intimidating, but in reality, I only ever use about three of them…four counting the buttonhole setting. But I use one setting for about 90% of the things I make.

  3. I have all of those and more. Add the sawsall for sure, It can get in places other saws can't go. Also the battery-operated screwdriver is a must!
    I'm still sewing on my graduation present from high school long before you were born. The older ones with metal parts can't be beat.
    Now get to work and make something!

  4. Ooookay, I'm DEFINITELY gonna have to try this sawsall thing! And wow…another tool I've never tried…a battery-powered screwdriver!

  5. I'm sooo glad you posted this list! I was just thinking yesterday about what power tools I would like to get. I was actually considering the sander you listed, but I wasn't sure if a cheap one way to go, but now I know it looks like it works pretty well!!! Thanks! Although, I do agree that an electric screwdriver is a must!! Especially if you're going to be re-doing your kitchen cabinets (learned THAT one the hard way)!! lol

  6. Ooookay, I'm DEFINITELY gonna have to try this sawsall thing! And wow…another tool I've never tried…a battery-powered screwdriver!

  7. Any true DIY’er needs a router. I guess there are many different levels of being a “do it yourself” kinda person, but for the wood workers, routers are the most important. Whether you’re using it for a stool or for stair cases, routers will definitely get your goal accomplished. I think you should probably write a post about DIY safety, considering i’ve gotten slightly hurt using some of these tools previously.

  8. I was just wondering how you store all your tools and if you and your husband share your tool storage space? The reason I ask is because I am the handy one, yet he has most of the tools but neither of us have ever been consistent enough to store tools well. The ones we have are scattered all over the house and garage and we can either not find what we need or we don’t even know what we have (or actually, I don’t know what HE has since he’s got all of them haphazardly stored in the garage). There is something appealing to me to have my own tool storage area because my goal is to get rid of the cookie-cutter feel of my house this year and I love the idea of having what I need in one place and being in charge of knowing what I have and what I need. I guess this is a long, rambling way to ask if you’ve ever done a post on tool storage?

  9. You spoke about a spray painter earlier. Now I can’t find it. Do you mind telling me one more time? I remember the paint container was a jar.

  10. Hi Kristi,
    A while ago you had posted about buying a tool set, I can’t remember what it was exactly, but I remember it was set and you thought it was a bargain. It was a couple of months ago, maybe when you were working on the living room. I was wondering, if you can remember what I’m talking about, could you please tell me what it was. My husband and I just bought an older home and he works a lot so looks like I will be venturing into DIYing on my own (with a 2yr old!) for the firs time ever! I’m a little nervous and I want to start off with the right tools. Thanks!

    1. That was my Porter + Cable 6-gallon air compressor that came with two different nail guns and a staple gun. I got it at Home Depot for $199. They do still have them, but they’re something like $269. The price I got was a holiday special at the end of last year. I’d still recommend it. It’s a great set!