Anyone who’s looked at woodworking plans in the last decade knows there are some basic tools every DIYer needs: a drill, a hammer, a miter saw, etc. This is not that list.
Instead, this is a list of smaller, innovative tools. Tools that make something really hard into something really easy, or tools that allow me to build something that was otherwise beyond my skillset. The tools that actually change how and what I DIY. That’s what I set this list out to be.
Most of these tools are under $100. Some of them are under $10. All of them are tools I use every day, and absolutely love.
While I do make a commission if you click and purchase a product I recommend, every product on this is list is something I find essential to my DIY work, and consider a quality product; I would not recommend it otherwise.
8 Innovative DIY Tools (To Change How You DIY!)
1. Cabinet Hardware Drill Guide
90% of the time I refinish furniture, I find myself re-drilling holes for new knobs and pulls. Which is cool. New hardware is nice. But it used to make me really nervous (and take forever) for me to drill those holes.
I’d measure. And measure again. And measure again from every possible side, because I wanted to make sure those pulls lined up perfectly if there were multiple drawers. And then, after all that measuring, half the time they would still not line up, and even if they did, I’d look from another angle and convince myself they didn’t line up, because I’m neurotic like that.
This jig completely solves that problem. Set the distances once, and use the jig again and again to drill holes that line up perfectly. I used this jig to add hardware to my entire kitchen, and it made my life so much easier!
One other note: Kreg has produced a similar jig if you’re like me and tend to love their products, but it only measures from one side of the cabinet/drawer instead of two, making it harder to create perfectly aligned pulls. I think the product discussed here is a much better design.
2. Speed Square
This speed square is $3, and worth every single penny. I use is constantly to make sure I’ve drawn perfectly perpendicular lines on all of my pieces.
Additionally, back in the day before I had a miter saw, I used to it make sure my angles were precise before making an angled cut with my circular saw. It is super handy, especially if you regularly make freehand cuts with an circular saw or jigsaw.
3. Stud Finder
Back when I was a kid, my dad used to insist stud finders were pointless wastes of money. He claimed they never worked, and instead used his “tried and true” method of whacking the wall, then drilling tiny holes where he thought he heard a stud to see if he hit it. In case you were curious, he tended to make a lot of little holes.
Fast forward 20 years, and I, as a busy adult, do not enjoy repairing a bunch of little holes because I’m bad at hearing studs. So instead I got this stud finder, and, low and behold, my father was wrong.
This thing is amazing. And by amazing, I mean it reliably does what it claims and finds the stud (without drilling a bunch of holes in the wall). For less than $10. I’m pleased.
4. Kreg Rip-Cut Circular Saw Attachment
Kreg makes such innovative and interesting products that it’d be almost impossible not to have them on this list. This saw attachment is fantastic, in that it allows me to make reliably straight cuts with my circular saw.
If I didn’t have this jig, things like my cabinet extension project and TV lift cabinet would have been impossible for me to build, because I wouldn’t have had the tools to cut the pieces of wood.
If you’ve been eyeing a table saw, or wish you were able to rip pieces of plywood like a table saw does, but don’t want spend x-hundred dollars on a table saw, this is the product for you
5. Pair of Sawhorses
This goes right along with number 4, because if you’re going to be making long cuts with a circular saw, you’re going to want something to support your piece. Back in the day, before I owned sawhorses, I would clamp my wood to two step stools. It was sad and kind of annoying, but it worked. Sawhorses are better.
I don’t have a product recommendation for you, because mine were built (by my father, or maybe even my grandfather; I’m actually not sure) out of scrap wood. Build them yourself, or purchase from a store; either way, they are useful to have!
6. Brad Nailer
This is, by far, the most expensive tool on this list, clocking in at over $100. It is also the most typical “tool” listed. However, it truly has changed how I DIY, so I really couldn’t leave it off. This brad nailer allows me to do projects that otherwise would have been annoying and tedious, such as installing plywood floors, or adding vertical shiplap wainscoting to my living room. It made my small scrap wood wall organizer quick and easy. I really couldn’t DIY without it.
There are plenty of brad nailers on the market, so why this brad nailer, you may ask? Simple: it doesn’t require a compressor. It’s one of the few brad nailers available that is completely electric, so no air compressors are necessary. Additionally, it’s a Ryobi product, which is one of the lower cost tool makers on the market, an added bonus!
7. Drill Bit Extender
This thing is less than $2, but it is so handy! By lengthening the end of your drill, it allows you to easily access small spaces that otherwise would have been difficult with a large drill. Additionally, it just makes driving screws with short bits much easier and more pleasant.
8. Kreg Pocket Hole Jig
It took me forever to break down and get a Kreg Jig, but after I did, I wondered what took me so long.
These jigs are present in almost every woodworking project I find on the internet, because they are just that handy. 100 years ago, pocket holes were hard to make, so woodworkers built strong joints by intertwining the wood on the different pieces (finger joints is an example.) However, those types of joints take skill. Pocket holes are easy, and allow a newbie DIYer to create strong joints without any particular skill.
I’ve used my pocket hole jig on almost everything I’ve built; the TV lift cabinet, coffee table, and monitor riser desk organizer are just a couple of examples. While I have a mini-jig in the $40 range (linked above), Kreg even sells a mini-er version for $20-ish if your budget is really tight. It’s worth it, I promise.
I absolutely love the eight tools listed above, and I know they will make your DIY projects so much easier. Some of them are under $5, and 100% worth the cost. I can’t recommend them enough. If you discovered something new today, go ahead and save this post to Pinterest so that others can find it too!