The Basic ToolkitA basic toolkit is essential if you wish to tackle DIY improvements around your home. On this page we list some of the main tools you will need along with tips on how to get the best from them. Remember as you proceed with your list of home improvements you will probably require further specialist tools.


Buy a decent set by a well known manufacturer. Cheaper screwdrivers can be jagged and will wear on the ends. You then end up damaging screws which will then be difficult to remove. You will need a set of single slot and cross screw heads. A decent kit will provide all you need of both. When using a screw driver ensure the blade fits snugly in the screw head and keep it straight. Hold the shank to ensure it does not slip as you twist.

Essential Screwdrivers

  • Single Slot – Three or four of these should cover most household screws.
  • Cross Head – Again, three or four of these should do the trick. Be careful to get good quality ones as they are prone to becoming damaged at the end if the metal is too soft.
  • Stubby Screwdrivers – Fat short screwdrivers in both single slot and cross head. Essential for tight corners.
  • Ratchet Screwdrivers – These work by a thumb slider control which will turn the blade clockwise or anti clockwise as desired, thereby saving you energy and ensuring you don’t have to change your grip.
  • Power Screwdriver – Drive screws with electrical drill attachment, with variable speed controls. Useful if you have a lot of screws to fit. Professional models are small, light and well insulated although electric drills often have functionality which will suffice for most DIY people.


Used to create holes in wood, masonry and plastic. Either electric or hand operated. Simple hand drills are much underused these days but are very effective. Although slower they are safer and easier to control and are not reliant on messing about with batteries or electric cables. Electric power drills are cheap and easy to use, however, and useful for hard materials. For both kinds always use even steady pressure and align the drill squarely.

Essential Drills

  • Hand Drill – Gear wheel and drive handle power this medium sized drill useful for simple drilling, mainly on wood.
  • Breast Drill – Bigger version of hand drills and more powerful due to the ability to press harder. Also useful for masonry as well as wood.
  • Electric Drill – General purpose with various functions these days, including screwdriver attachments, reverse gear, sanding and brush attachments, etc.

Spanners And Wrenches

For loosening nuts and bolts. Open ended, adjustable and enclosed ring spanners are all cheap to buy. Spanners are useful for fixing domestic appliances, constructing flat pack furniture and for electrical and plumbing DIY. A pack including an adjustable wrench and a range of open ended spanners is usually adequate for most DIY jobs.

Essential Spanners And Wrenches

  • Open Ended Spanner – Traditional spanner versatile enough to slide on to a nut or bolt from any side.
  • Ring Spanners – Stronger than open ended ones but less versatile.
  • Adjustable Spanners – Particularly useful for plumbing jobs but are weaker and need more sensitive use.
  • Wrenches – Similar to adjustable spanners these come in different shapes and sizes and are used for gripping pipes and rods or nuts. Dependent on the size they are useful for holding pipes while removing tricky nuts with a spanner or for gripping the nut themselves.


Saws are the most versatile cutting tools available in a variety of sizes and types. The size of the teeth affects the types of cut. The smaller the teeth – a finer and slower cut. The bigger the teeth – the quicker more rugged the cut. Check the sharpness of the teeth when choosing any saw – the sharper the better. When using a saw hold it tight and ensure the wood is held in place. Drag it back first to start the cut and then move it back and forth steadily using the whole blade.

Essential Saws

  • Panel Saw – Medium sized all round handsaw suitable for large planks, boards and panels.
  • Cross Cut Saw – Large saw suitable for timber cutting across the grain.
  • Pad Saw – Small saw with a long narrow blade suitable for cutting small holes for key holes, etc.
  • Coping Saw – Similar to hacksaw, but with very fine teeth, for making curved cuts in wood and plastic.
  • Hacksaw – Short handle and D shaped structure with hard, medium sized teeth. Essential for metals and hard plastics.
  • Jigsaw – Handheld versatile power saw with narrow blade suitable for making outlines in floorboards, doors and other timber.
  • Circular Saw – Round revolving power saw blade held by hand and perfect for fast cutting of boards, tiles etc.