DIY and Crafts

The tools you should have in your DIY kit

From hanging a painting to assembling a shelf, a well-equipped tool kit is essential for all home DIYers

Whether you like it or not, none of us can escape DIY. Maybe that cute chair you ordered online arrives in flatpack form, or perhaps a living room bookshelf has a lean; whatever the situation, there will come a time when you’ll no longer be able to avoid owning a toolbox. “Even if you have no DIY skills, the most basic tool kit will allow you hang that picture that has been leaning against the wall for six months,” our DIY expert Nikki Kettle says, even if you’re one of those people who has managed to convince yourself that a wall-leaning picture is “very French”.

Checklist for success

  • Measuring tape
  • Combination square
  • Hammer
  • Nails
  • Level
  • Phillips #2 screwdriver
  • Flat-head screwdriver
  • Allen keys
  • Power drill
  • Jigsaw
  • Small circular saw
  • Staple gun
  • Paint brushes
  • Roller
  • Putty
  • Pencil
  • Sanding block
  • Safety googles
  • Dust mask
  • Work gloves

Bare minimum

A decent measuring tape is a must – and we mean decent. “Not a $2 one that breaks and measures things 5mm too big or small,” says Nikki. A combination square will also help you to accurately determine dimensions and angles. If you’re in a picture hanging mood, look no further than a trusty hammer and nails. A level is essential here, you don’t want to hang your mirrors wonky and spend the next six months cutting a lopsided fringe.

For screwdrivers, go for a Phillips #2 screwdriver, as their screws are most commonly used in woodworking and furniture. A flat-head screwdriver is always good to have on hand too, as a just in case. If you’re in the mood to assemble or dissemble flat-pack furniture, a set of Allen keys will do the trick.

Power tools

A power drill with a good variety of drill bits is essential for all your DIY needs. In a pinch, you can use an impact driver, which is pretty much a powered screwdriver. A jigsaw is equipped with a blade capable of making curved and intricate cuts, perfect for different shapes and patterns. “I use my jigsaw all the time; you can then get creative with shapes, and it opens up lots of creative doors,” Nikki says. She also likes a small circular saw for manoeuvrable cuts.

From left: Metric tape measure, $39.90 (10m), from Tool Shed, Craftright steel claw hammer, $7.98, from Bunnings, Rockwell Shopseries cordless drill, $94.99, from Supercheap Auto

The fun stuff

If you’re on a current Instagram reel binge of upcycling, you’ll know that there’s some toolbox items that are just a bit more exciting than others. A staple gun is often overlooked, but “great if you want to start using fabric in your DIYs”, says Nikki, such as recovering an old footstool or armchair.

Paint brushes and rollers are great to have on hand for adding a quick pop of colour to something, especially if what you’ve made isn’t exactly showroom ready. Putty and sanding blocks are also good to have in case of any mishaps. Remember, you’re a beginner after all.

Where to save and where to splurge

Splurge: “If you are getting power tools like drills and a circular saw, I recommend going with all battery-operated ones and stick to one brand so one battery can be used across all your tools,” says Nikki. Battery-operated tools also makes them more accessible, provided you remember to charge them up once in a while.

Save: While it’s worth splashing out for batteries, it’s not necessary for the occasional DIYer to have top brand tools. “The no-name brands will do the same job,” says Nikki. A hammer is a hammer, regardless of price difference (but getting a cute pink one never hurts).

Stay safe

It’s always better to be safe than sorry. A good toolbox should have safety googles, a dust mask and work gloves within easy reach, especially if you’re going to put those power tools to the test.


From left: Yamazaki large toolbox, $59.90, from Cravehome, Muuto sketch toolbox, $90.40, from Finnish Design Shop

From left: Vitra toolbox, $79.90, from Citta, Pressed steel toolbox, $149, from Frances Nation

From left: Odd Thing toolbox, $189, from Crushes, Ferm Living Grib toolbox, $169, from Enjoy Store

Words by: Caroline Moratti

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