The only seven DIY tools you need to own

Most fears behind tackling basic DIY tasks arise from not having the right tool

All tooled up: Having the wrong tools will lead to a botched job, taking twice as long as it should.

All tooled up: Having the wrong tools will lead to a botched job, taking twice as long as it should.


We are all confronted with minor maintenance and DIY issues from time to time and it’s nice to be able to tackle these without calling out a professional. Nobody wants to call an electrician to change a plug, or a plumber to unblock a sink, but a worrying UK study found that the male skillset is changing and jobs that our fathers and grandfathers would have readily tackled, are now more likely to be given to a specialist tradesman.

Results showed that 51 per cent of men couldn’t wire a plug and only one in five could fix a dripping tap. When it comes to flat-pack furniture only one-third of men are confident they could put it together competently, and six out of 10 men would call in an expert to unblock a toilet or sink.

In my opinion, what puts a lot of people off, is that they may have tried once and failed because they were poorly equipped. If the time and inclination are there, the “how to” can now be easily obtained from the internet. So armed with the will and the YouTube tutorial, the only thing that stands in your way is having the right tools to deal with it.

With the rise of Aldi and Lidl’s bargain basement discounts on tools, there isn’t a garden shed in the country that hasn’t benefited from their deals. But will you really use that router table or angle grinder? Unless you are a fairly serious hobbiest or DIYer then I would say probably not, but there are some tools no shed should be without to help you in your quest to overcome these common maintenance issues. Having the wrong tools will lead to a botched job, taking twice as long as it should. Having the right tools will get a good job done quickly and you will hopefully enjoy the experience to boot.

So what are the must haves for the home DIY toolbox?

1. First up in the arsenal has to be a battery-powered screw gun. Most DIY jobs involve putting a screw into something, be it into a wall to hang a picture or into wood to steady up a flat pack. A screw gun will have the job done before the kettle boils and leave you looking and feeling like a pro.

2. A decent drill is also helpful. Again battery-powered drills are now very good and extremely handy but are maybe a bit pricey for home DIY use (€450-plus), but you can get really good plug-in ones from €100. Get yourself some nice Hilti 6,7 and 8mm masonry bits and you will be out art-shopping every weekend to show off your picture-hanging prowess.

3. A good handsaw is also a stalwart. There is not one tool to make a skilled tradesman look more like a struggling amateur than a dull handsaw. Do yourself a favour and change it more often than you think you should. It will save on the muscle burn when you try to cut that plywood for a ramp for the kids.

4. An electrical phase-testing screwdriver is another must have. Any small electrical job will involve one of these, and is the perfect tool for checking a plug or rewiring a plug with the advantage of letting you know if a wire is live or not by means of a small glowing light. Also keep a few spare fuses. If an electrical appliance isn’t powering up, then it should be the first thing you check. A fairly new-looking Dyson landed in one of our skips one day, and a labourer brought it home. The next day he said all it needed was a new fuse in the plug and it was perfect. Nice find.

5. An adjustable plumber’s grip and plumbing spanner will sort out minor plumbing issues such as dripping pipe joints and leaking taps, with the grips generally quite universal.

6. While we’re on plumbing, it’s also good to have a plunger close to hand at all times. They really do work a treat and are much gentler than those bottled acid unblockers.

7. And don’t forget smaller essentials such as a selection of screws and wall plugs. A hammer of course and a tape measure and spirit level will be useful compliments. Some products like wood glue, WD-40 and 3-in-1 oil will then complete the set.

Tooled up like that, DIY maintenance can become a pleasure even for the most impractical of us and you may just save that Ikea chair before it lets you down.