Our Favorite DIY Tools: A Holiday Gift Guide

Here it is, the much requested post about our favorite DIY tools for all of you folks who are asking Santa for something tool-ish this year (or trying to figure out what to buy a handy guy or gal in your life). None of the items in this list paid us or perked us for the mentions, they’re just actually the tools that we use and love on the regular. So without further ado, let’s chat about the things that help us get ‘er done….

We previously wrote this post about a few things that we pretty much can’t live without (any of which would make great gifts/stocking stuffers), so here’s a quick summary since we’d be remiss to leave them out:

  • a hammer
  • a crowbar
  • a flat head screwdriver
  • a phillips head screwdriver
  • a tape measure
  • plumber’s putty
  • a hack saw
  • a drywall saw
  • clamps
  • liquid nails
  • plumber’s tape
  • a box cutter

  • an exacto knife
  • straight razors
  • channel lock pliers (these are our DIY MVPS, they come in handy for all sorts of things, even stripped screws and rusted pipes)
  • wrenches of all sizes
  • needle nosed pliers
  • a level
  • sandpaper
  • caulk
  • a caulk gun
  • spackle
  • a putty knife
  • painter’s tape
  • high quality rollers (they’re labeled for smooth or textured surfaces – so pick the right one for your walls)
  • mini foam rollers (great for painting furniture and even cabinet doors)
  • paint trays and drop cloths
  • high quality angled brushes (here’s my favorite paint brush ever)
  • an assortment of nails and screws

If you have any questions about the items mentioned above, you can read way more on those specific small-ish tools right here. And for a breakdown of the items in the photo above, there’s this post. And I’d say if you’re staring at the screen saying “I can’t ask for/buy all of that stuff!” a cute gift idea might be grouping things that go together for a common project, like:

  • a level
  • a hammer
  • some picture nails and anchors and screws
  • some spackle and a putty knife (for filling in any mistakes along the way)

Or you could toss together a cute painting kit with:

  • rollers
  • brushes
  • painter’s tape
  • paint trays
  • a drop cloth (heck you could even wrap everything up in the drop cloth and tie it sweetly with twine)

But now let’s move on to the bigger guns – for anyone hoping to give (or receive) something with a little more power. Over the years we’ve tried some heavier artillery on for size…

… and let’s just say that power tools have a way of making us permasmile in that I-am-handy-hear-me-roar kinda way. So here are a few of our favorite staples (along with a quick bit about what we’ve used them for):

      • a miter saw (nice for cutting crown molding and baseboard – but also for cutting pretty much any board less than 8″ wide – it makes quick, clean cuts, both angled or straight)
      • a wet saw (awesome for doing backsplash or bathroom tile – and even cutting patio pavers)
      • a table saw (great for tackling large boards or planks of wood – especially when you need long straight cuts)
      • a reciprocating saw (nice for cutting out old dead bushes – it’s sort of like a mini chainsaw)
      • a jigsaw (good for smaller, not perfectly straight cuts, like demo-ing out the built-in around our old fridge)
      • an electric sander (awesome for refinishing furniture or smoothing any wood you’re using to build something from scratch)
      • a cordless drill and drill bit set (for drilling holes or screwing nearly anything together)
      • a Kreg Jig (for making pocket holes to create tight joints when doing any sort of wood working like building furniture or making shelves)
      • a demolition hammer (for demo-ing out nasty old tile stuck in metal mesh and mortar like we did in our first house’s bathroom – we actually rented one at a home improvement store, which is a nice way to save money if you won’t use something very often – plus you don’t have to store it)

So any of those guys would make for a great gift. After all, a new bathroom/desk/wall o’ frames/kitchen/anything else you can make with those tools is right up there with any other “big” gift – at least according to DIY junkies like us. As for where we store everything, we have three large drawers in our kitchen full of small tools and paint supplies (currently sitting in our sunroom because we have yet to put the kitchen back together/reorganize) and we keep most of the big things (like the miter saw) in the basement.

Speaking of specific products and brands, we’re sure there’s more than one way to tick things off the ol’ to-do list, but here are the companies and some of the actual products that we use in our house on a regular basis:

      • Stanley makes great screwdrivers, tape measures, crowbars, box cutters, and mini sledgehammers
      • Craftsman makes great hammers
      • Black & Decker makes great cordless drills (we have this one)
      • Black & Decker also makes great sanders (we have this one)
      • Frog Tape is the best painter’s tape we’ve ever used
      • Sherwin Williams stores sell this awesome short handled brush that we love for painting trim
      • Purdy brushes and rollers (available at Home Depot & Lowe’s) are great for nearly every painting project (we love a good 2″ angled brush for cutting in & painting furniture and a nice good quality roller for walls & ceilings)
      • We have a Skilsaw table saw and a Skilsaw reciprocating saw
      • We got our wet saw at The Tile Shop
      • Our miter saw is made by Craftsman
      • Sears sells a set of wrenches that we’ve used for years
      • Grip Rite (available at Home Depot & Lowe’s) sells nice big boxes of screws, nails, anchors, etc
      • 3M sandpaper comes in a nice wide range (we like low grit versions, like 60-100, for deeper sandings and high grit alternatives, like 200-300, for smoothing things out for a finished look)
      • Dap Caulk is our favorite brand (we get the white paintable “Premium Indoor/Outdoor Sealant” for most jobs and the “3.0 Advanced Kitchen and Bath Adhesive Caulk” also in white – which isn’t paintable but is ideal for caulking a tub, toilet, or sink).
      • We also love Dap Fast ‘N Final Lightweight Spackle (for filling holes and all that good stuff – more on that here)

As you can see, we don’t have a bunch of expensive DeWalt things – which is a nice reminder that you can gussy up your house without owning a $500 saw (and we also definitely believe in renting and borrowing anything that you can to get the job done). We don’t want this crazy exhaustive list to sound defeating, so remember that we started fixing up our first house five years ago with a hammer, a screwdriver, and a paint brush. Das it. So we don’t recommend trying to grab all of this stuff at once (ack, that would be crazytown). Just think about what projects you might have on your priority list and grab one or two things as you can afford them to make things easier as you go.

Anyway, I hope Santa (or someone else) brings you everything on your list this year! Assuming you were good. If not… well, maybe there are crafts you can do with coal? Oh and we’d love to hear more about your take on which tools get the most use at your house. Do you have any life-changing ones that you can’t live without? Are there certain brands or products that have been especially helpful?

Psst- Once again for the people in the back: no items/companies in this post paid or perked us for the mention, we just genuinely love these tools and wanted to share ’em with anyone in need of some holiday handy-ness. Oh and we announced this week’s giveaway winner. Click here to see if it’s you.


  1. says

    Thank you for this! This will be a BIG help this year.

    I’m actually getting Ye Olde Husband a Dremel Saw-Max this year, and I’m super excited to give it to him! We seem to have all of the necessities we need, so something a bit bigger should be a good draw. :)

    xoxo Linda

  2. Annette says

    What was the grout sealer you used in your old bathroom? And would that be good for doing a whole house – all the bathrooms, kitchen backsplash, and tile floors? We are moving into our newly built house next week and we want to seal all of the grout right off the bat. Thanks!

  3. says

    Great list! And, just a note in case anyone has a generous Santa in their life: those $500 DeWalt saws pretty much rock :) We use every feature on ours all the time.

    • says

      We have three large drawers in our kitchen full of them (currently sitting in our sunroom because we have yet to put the kitchen back together/reorganize) and keep most of the big ones in the basement.


  4. says

    A cordless drill is on our Christmas list this year. I wanted a Black & Decker (mostly because I love orange, is that silly?) but my husband worked at Sears in high school and swears we need a Craftsman. Great to know that you guys love your B&D drill though, so we’ll be good either way!

  5. GatorGirl says

    Where do you store all of these tools? Do you have a shop tucked away somewhere? You could make an interesting post on this!

    • says

      We have three large drawers in our kitchen full of them (currently sitting in our sunroom because we have yet to put the kitchen back together/reorganize) and keep most of the big ones in the basement.


  6. Liz says

    And a partridge in a pear tree!! Lol sorry couldn’t help myself! We love the spackle putty…VERY useful when you’re living in a rental!

  7. says

    This is a great list!

    I would add that for the box cutter/xacto etc, to make sure the handle is made of metal, not plastic. Someone told me this when I was first buying one, I ignored the advice and had the handle snap on me. Not fun.

  8. says

    My hubby would LOVE that pic of yours with all the tools….lucky for me, he has pretty much 2 of everything you have shown! He is a handy guy too :)

    One thing I did pick up for him this year for Christmas – The Drywall Tape Buddy! It was featured on DIY’s Cool Tools. It is a container that holds drywall mud while you feed in the drywall tape…that way when you go to put it on the seams it is already mudded perfectly :)
    He will be excited on Xmas morning!
    Thanks for sharing the goods :)

  9. says

    Clara was totally asleep when you took that tool picture. right? I mean, that wouldn’t last a second in our house.

    P.S. I second the get what you need as you go. We started with the same 3 items (hammer, screwdriver, paint brush) and now have most of what ya’ll do (except for that Kreg, maybe that’s what’s next for us!)

  10. says

    No Kregjig? I was hoping you would mention it and point out which would be the most versatile one (SO many options!!!) for a beginner–pocket system? The whole shebang? Would you mind sharing what is the best bang for your buck on that nifty little tool?

    • says

      The Kreg jig is in the big round up (the second one) along with a power drill and a miter saw! As for the best bang for your buck on the Kreg, we just got the basic $99 version with a few clamps and we love it!


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