Making a Starter Tool Kit: Crafters and DIYers in Small Spaces

Let me give you a quick historical timeline of my diy life:

As a teenager:

- I decorate my room using the decor that was purchased with my parents money. 

- I make new decor and new crafty stuff with random objects I already have laying around. I have no money, so I'm just having fun.

As a college student (a little more money but not really):

- I'm concerned about my various roommates' decor and if it will clash or compliment mine. Selfish, but a real concern.

- I go thrift store hunting and re-purpose old mirror frames, lamps, abandoned fence posts and other paraphernalia with spray paint.

- I begin sawing wood to make a fence post head board. I buy a cheap hand saw at Walmart.

As a young married person (more money but it's all going to some lady named Sallie Mae or to Uncle Sam somehow):

- I need to firmly secure frames and other decor to the wall, so I begin using a power drill, wall anchors, etc.

- I keep sawing away at disposed wood.

- I borrow my mom's power sander for all this wood I keep trying to beautify. At one point, the project got as big as a dresser that we still use.

- I assemble furniture and never have the right the allen wrenches. Gah!

If you are a DIYer or crafter in a small space, such as an apartment or a small home, and you love to personalize your space, chances are you want to try out a few projects that occasionally require tools. You may not be building a park bench in the backyard, but you do want to level and hang a frame, or assemble some bar stools, or sand down a small surface to repaint. But when every project involves another trip to the home improvement store for something that you probably should already have, or have had to borrow time and time again, maybe it's time you begin assembling your own starter tool kit.

This list may not be perfect for everybody, but I'm going to share the basics of what tools have been the most commonly used for me over the past few years. If you're a dad looking to build a new swing set in the backyard, this post is probably not for you. If you're a creative wanting to add some personal touches to your home and need the right equipment, this post just might be of use!


- toolbox : For a starter, you don't need a giant tool drawer system or shed, and most likely if you're in a small space, you don't have the room. Pick a toolbox that is portable. I recommend one that has a deep bottom to store larger pieces like a power drill, and that has an insert top to organize smaller tools.

- hammer and nails : I recommend getting a box of a variety of nails. It will last you multiple projects, multiple years and you won't have to keep returning to the store to purchase just a few more nails.

- manual screwdriver (Phillips head and slothead) : Sometimes you don't need the power drill. Get a Phillips head for the "cross" screws and a slothead for the "straight line" screws.

- power drill and an assortment of drill bits : If you need to drill a whole in the wall, in a piece of wood or some other object, a power drill will always be your best option. Drill bits allow you to drill the appropriate size hole. If you're drilling a hole in the wall to hang something, you may need wall anchors. I did not add wall anchors to this list because many times a purchased product will come with the appropriate size wall anchors. However, there may be a chance when you need to purchase some on your own.

- screws : Like wall anchors, sometimes products come with the screws needed. But I've found myself in plenty a situation where I just needed a simple screw for something. I suggest buying an assortment pack like I recommended for the nails.

- hand saw : Sometimes, you just gotta cut stuff, right?

- sand paper or small sanding agent : You can purchase sandpaper inexpensively at any home improvement store, Walmart, Target, etc. Sanding wood to stain, paint or decorate usually produces a better product, no matter how small.

- work gloves : Because life gets messy.

- level : You can buy one in stores, but we've always used a level app on our phone. Technology!

- adhesive such as gorilla glue or spray adhesive : There are always those random times when you need it.

- allen wrenches : A lot of things require allen wrench assembly. I don't know why. They just do.

- measuring tape

- box cutter

- pliers : Honestly, I don't use pliers that much, and when I do, I don't use them with their original purpose. However, when I work on other projects for church or family, somebody somewhere always needs a set of pliers. I think it's definitely a homeowner basic to have; if you're an apartment dweller, you could probably skirt by without them.

Well, there you have it! Are there any essential tools you use that aren't on the list? Any that you never use? Let me know whatcha think! And have a great DIY week!

Alli ClementsComment