Tuesday, December 10, 2013

The DIYer's Christmas List

One thing I have learned as a DIYer, is that having the right tools can make all the difference!  I don't think my husband will ever forget the day that I asked for a staple-gun for Christmas.  Not perfume, or clothes, or a luxurious bath set - a staple gun, and I was so thrilled to get it!  As a DIYer, owning a few of the right tools can greatly enhance your ability to take on and complete a broader range of projects and make your life a lot easier while you're doing it.  For a DIYer, getting great tools for Christmas can make you feel like a little kid again!  Here's a list of my favourite and most essential tools, starting with the basics:


I've said it before, and I'll say it again:  Owning a sewing machine and knowing how to sew will increase your ability to do amazing things in your home by about 100%.  Knowing how to sew lifts the restriction of being able to decorate only with what you can find in a store. It allows you to tailor and customize the interior of your spaces without paying top price to have someone else do it - and that will make a huge difference to the look of your home! (Learn how to sew with this tutorial: Sewing 101)

When it comes to an appropriate sewing machine for the average DIYer I use the KISS rule (Keep It Simple Stupid).  A basic, entry-level machine is sufficient.  No need to impress with a super expensive, super complicated device.  Unless your DIYer is an expert at sewing, a fancy-schmancy machine will probably just complicate things for them and make things more frustrating rather than easier.

I've owned a few basic sewing machines over the years, and have learned that not all sewing machines are created equally.  Cheap machines can lead to very frustrating experiences.  My favourite machine has been a simple, entry-level Janome.  It cost a little more than other brands of entry-level machines, but has been worth every penny in my opinion.  I would recommend Janome to anyone!


You are going to need some of these guys if you hope to be able to do almost anything yourself.  These are the essentials:

- Hammer
- Measuring tape
- Level
- Square
- Drill
- Screw-driver

A) Hammer:

My Dad is very picky about his hammers and has a whole list of qualifiers as to what makes a "good" hammer. I'm not quite as picky, but have learned that you don't want to cheap out.  A good hammer is a lifetime tool.

B)  Measuring tape:

A DIYer's constant companion.  You will use this in almost everything you do.  I find the longer the better.

C) Level & Square:

These are tools I avoided obtaining for awhile, but soon learned are essential for accuracy and precision.  I have also learned that the more accurate and precise you are - the easier your life will be, the less frustration you will encounter.  Don't skip these guys!

D)  Electric Drill & Screw-Driver:

Again, these are basic, but indispensable tools to have.  I use them on almost every single job I do.

Originally I bought cordless, battery operated tools and was happy with their "go anywhere" capabilities, but frustrated when projects had to be halted because of dead batteries that needed hours to recharge.  I have since learned that the "plug in" variety has it's place.

Don't forget the bits!


When it comes to electric sanders there is a whole pile of them (rotary/belt/clamp/detail/etc) and they're all useful, but I find a simple palm sander to be the most versatile and useful.  I like the ones with a pointed tip, and recently a good friend of mine bought one like this with a ton of attachments to help reach tricky places which made me a little envious.  I would also recommend getting this tool in the "plug-in" variety as opposed to cordless, as it has been my experience that palm sanders can burn through battery power like crazy.


Here it is, one of my favourite Christmas gifts!  I consider my staple gun to be a cross-over tool that connects the sewing world to the construction world.  If you want to do anything with upholstery or even a lot of window treatments and decorating, a staple gun is a must have.  In most cases I find a light-duty staple gun is adequate for most projects, but have recently added a more heavy-duty stapler to my arsenal of tools as well for jobs where the light-duty just doesn't quite do it.

These are the tools that are the next step up which will really increase your abilities in the world of DIY!


I love this tool.  I love this tool.  This was my first power-saw and using it made me a little nervous at first, but now I don't know how I ever lived without it!  If you want to do anything with construction, flooring, finishing work - a standard chop-saw is a must have.  Like the sewing machine, you don't have to go too big and fancy - for most jobs a mid-range brand and abilities are adequate, but I have learned that it is useful to buy a saw that can cut compound angles (for crown moulding and such).  The only downfall with this guy is that you need a place to set it up (not something that is easily stored away in a cupboard).  If you're ready for this it's time to set up a shop of sorts!


I don't use this nearly as much as my mitre saw, but every once in awhile it becomes necessary for wider/longer cuts that my mitre saw just can't do.  It's kind of a free-hand tool which admittedly freaks me out a little bit every time I use it.  Buying one that comes with a good quality, metal guide is a good idea.  The next step up from this would be a table-saw, a place I haven't gone just quite yet.


This is a tool that is kind of useless on it's own, but you need it in order to operate numerous other very useful tools.  Don't go too small with this guy.  Generally the bigger the better (the higher capacity the more tools you will be able to run with it), but again, you don't have to go crazy with it.  A mid-range product is adequate for most things.


These are fun, and make life sooooo much easier!

A) Nail Gun:

This is another tool that I don`t know how I did without before! I use mine mostly for finishing work (trim and such), and have found that a light duty gun with very small gauge nails is best.  It just makes things so fast and easy!  If you`re doing more construction type work, a more heavy-duty gun with larger/longer nails is good.  I'm increasingly finding that it's good to have both!

B) Paint Gun:

This has been one of my favourite new toys!  If you're looking to paint a lot of furniture, cabinets, or highly textured items this is such a great thing to have!  It can be used with any kind of paint, makes painting fast and easy, and gives you a really smooth, professional, high quality finish.  It takes a little bit of practice to master how to use it, but once you get the hang of it, it's hard to go back to painting items any other way.  The main down-fall to this guy is that it also makes a heck of a mess so you'll want to use it in very well masked-off areas, or an area like a well ventilated garage or outside (best really). Generally there are 2 different types: syphon feed or gravity feed.  I find the syphon feed a little easier to hold and work with.

Those are my must-haves and personal favourites!  What are yours?  Merry Christmas and Happy DIYing!!!


  1. I'm wondering what Paint Gun you recommend (or even what you use). I have been wanting a paint gun for so long and already have a compressor and the fixings but don't know what gun to actually use. I've read pros/cons but really just want an honest opinion I know I can trust. Thanks for the great article too!

  2. One very helpful post. It is very important now a days that everyone gets an idea about these things, even just the basics. Thanks for this!

    Patrick Tan

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  4. very cool and funny picture. merry xmas and happy new year!

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