Beginner DIYer Checklist

DIY, March 10, 2022

Let me preface by saying that tools are an investment. I know they can add up, but once you start creating, you’re ultimately going to save money. I listed these in order of “importance”, so as you get more and more comfortable, you can work your way down the list. Maybe you don’t even want all of them… it really just depends on where you want your DIY journey to take you. Read through my beginner DIYer checklist and see if there’s anything you can cross off your list!

A collage of the top 10 things every DIYer should have. The collage includes safety glasses, a drill, a sander, a miter saw, a nail gun, a level, clamps, a speed square, a jigsaw, and bluetooth ear protection

How did I get into DIY?

Growing up I would sometimes help my dad work on houses he was flipping. I wouldn’t say I necessarily developed any skills while doing so, but it was experience! I mostly did the not-so-fun jobs like cleaning, painting, or tearing down wallpaper. Nevertheless, I grew up in a DIY kind of environment and got to see many impressive before/afters.

While I had always admired my dad’s tool shop when I was young, it wasn’t until July 2020 that I picked up my first tool. (I still consider myself a beginner!) But once I realized how simple it was to use a nail gun, I decided I wanted to try the miter saw. After I tried the miter saw, I wanted to try the jigsaw… and so on! The more experience I had, the more comfortable I felt trying out new tools. I feel confident that if you’re interested in learning, you’ll have a similar experience!

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. This means, if you purchase something from a link I provided, I will receive a small commission. This is at no extra cost to youThank you for yousupport!

Beginner DIYer Checklist

Ten things every beginner DIYer should have

1. safety glasses

I’ll admit that I didn’t take safety seriously enough when I first got started with DIY. Luckily I know better now and it’s always a priority. This is why safety glasses are on the top of my beginner DIYer checklist. Whether you’re cutting wood, sanding, or using any kind of chemicals, it’s very easy to accidentally get something in your eye if you’re not wearing protection. These glasses are my favorite because they’re both stylish and comfortable! Plus, putting them on really sets the tone and gets me in project mode!

Elisha at Our Aesthetic Abode is wearing her stylish safety glasses, #1 on her beginner DIYer checklist, and has a thumbs up!
Once I put my safety glasses on, I can conquer anything!!
2. drill

If you’re doing any kind of projects around the house, you’ll likely need a drill. This is the one I have and it comes with two batteries and a charger. The batteries are nice to have, especially if you plan to own any other DEWALT tools. Get yourself a set of drill bits while you’re at it!

Elisha from Our Aesthetic Abode is using a drill and drill bit to make a pilot hole before hanging shelves in the bathroom. A drill is her #2 recommended tool for her beginner DIYer checklist.
This was my first time using a drill! I was hanging up some simple DIY shelves
3. Sander

If you’re looking to get into DIY, but don’t know where to start, I always recommend trying a furniture flip first! Why? It’s inexpensive, doesn’t require many tools, and it’s great for practicing DIY skills. Most furniture flips require sanding, so that’s why I put this tool 3rd on the list. Sanders are also less intimidating than most tools!

What sander/sandpaper should I get?

We have three different sanders, but I recommend a mouse sander. It’s my favorite because it’s versatile and the triangular shape allows you to get into corners. This is the one I have… it’s very affordable and works great! It also attaches to my shop vac nicely for my favorite sanding hack.

As for sandpaper, I find it cheaper to buy in bulk. You’ll want to have a variety of different grit paper to choose from depending on your project.

A shop vac connected to a mouse sander using a pvc adapter. This is a hack used to prevent dust from getting everywhere when you're sanding indoors.
This is the sanding hack! You attached the shop vac to the sander using a PVC adapter!
4. miter saw

Once I learned how to use the miter saw, my life was forever changed. I promise it’s not as scary as you might think. A miter saw gives you quick, accurate cuts and once you’re comfortable, you can use it to cut angles! This is easily one of our most used tools and I highly recommend investing in one if you’re serious about getting into DIY. This is the one we have and I couldn’t be happier with it. Ryobi makes awesome beginner-friendly, affordable tools.

Elisha from Our Aesthetic Abode is using her miter saw to cut an angle on a piece of trim. The miter saw is #4 of her beginner DIYer checklist
Here’s an example of me using the miter saw to cut at an angle

Pro tip: It’s more about the blade than the saw itself. After about 1.5 with our miter saw, I switched out the blade to this one. You can see a video example here in my IG Tool Talk highlight.

A picture of two different 10" miter saw blade. One is 40 teeth and the other is 60 teeth. There is text that says "the more teeth, the finer the finish! We almost got 80 teeth but it was more expensive so we held off for now"
5. nail gun

Trust me, you’re going to want to add this to your birthday wish list if you don’t have one already! Our nail gun is definitely right up there with the miter saw in our most used tools. It’s perfect for trim work and accent walls… those are personally my favorite kind of DIYs! It’s also incredibly simple to use. I used to think the nails would just shoot right out (scary!), but they don’t, you actually have to put pressure on a surface in order for it to work! Phew!

Elisha from Our Aesthetic Abode is using a brad nailer to install beadboard on her stair landing. This is her #5 recommended beginner DIYer checklist.
I’m using the nail gun to attach beadboard to our landing for our staircase makeover!
7. jigsaw

The jigsaw was very intimidating to me at first, but it quickly became one of my favorite tools. I love the versatility of it- you can cut straight lines, curved lines, and you can even cut out holes for outlets or light switches. This is the one I have and my only complaint would be that the battery doesn’t seem to last as long as my other Ryobi tools. But, it does the job and it’s a great price! Also, as I mentioned before, the blade is very important too. I use these fine finish blades with mine!

Elisha from Our Aesthetic Abode is using a jigsaw to cut out a box for an outlet. The jigsaw is #6 on her beginner DIYer checklist
Here’s an example of cutting out a hole in beadboard for an outlet
8. Speed square

I love this thing! I use it almost every time that I’m marking measurements. The lip along the edge allows you to attach it right against the wood you’re cutting and then you can draw a straight, 90 degree line. The speed square can also help with finding/marking angles and many other things that I have yet to explore!

Elisha from Our Aesthetic Abode is demonstrating how to use a speed square which is #7 on her beginner DIYer checklist. She has it attached to a board and is drawing a line against the straight edge.
8. level

Levels are such an underrated tool, but man are they important! We always had a small level in our tool box, and those are crucial to have as well, but it wasn’t until a year into DIY that I got this guy. Now I don’t know what I’d do without it! It’s been my best friend when it comes to accent walls, installing wallpaper, cutting carpet for my stair runner install, and everything in between!

Beadboard, a carpenter's square, a large level, a pencil, and a sketch for a cut. The level is #8 on Elisha at Our Aesthetic Abode's Beginner DIYer checklist
Sometimes I even use the level as a ruler to make marks! Like I said, best friend <3
9. clamps

Now clamps are something you’ll probably never feel like have enough of, so you might as well start collecting! Clamps come in handy all the time in DIY, especially when you’re using wood glue. They make many types of clamps, but as I mentioned before, I’m still a beginner and I have a lot to learn. What I can tell you is that these trigger clamps are easy to use and they’re the ones I reach for almost every time!

Elisha at Our Aesthetic Abode is cutting a piece of beadboard with her jigsaw. The headboard is clamped to a white folding table while she cuts. Clamps are #9 on her beginner DIYer checklist!
Here you can see I used clamps to hold down my beadboard as I cut!
10. ear protecting headphones

As I mentioned in the beginning, safety comes first! If you’re at the point where you’re using a sander, miter saw, and jigsaw, these will help protect your ears. Not only that, but they’re bluetooth so you can comfortably listen to music or a podcast while you’re working. They’re the BEST and the battery seems to last forever. One last thing you can add to your birthday wish list! 😉

Elisha from Our Aesthetic Abode is sanding down a wall with the sander attached to a shop vac. She is wearing sound proof headphones which are #10 on her Beginner DIYer checklist
Even with the shopvac and sander on, I can still hear my music!

Keep in mind, these are my top 10 recommendations for a beginner DIYer. Surely they will vary person to person based on one’s goals and intentions in regards to DIY. Hopefully you found this list helpful and just know that I’m always available for any additional questions.

Thank you so much for being a part of my community!

Elisha <3

  1. Cristina says:

    Thank you so much for sharing more info about these tools ???? it’s really useful especially when you don’t know where to start!

  2. Dana says:

    Great list! Loving your blog. Your writing style is clear and easy to understand. Like you’re talking to a friend ????

  3. Elisha Kelly says:

    Ahh! You are the best Dana! Thank you!

  4. Elisha Kelly says:

    Yay!!! So happy to hear that! Thanks so much Cristina????

  5. Raj says:

    I visited your site. Very helpful blog. Very nice information for toolkit. Your writing very clear & easy to understand I. I like it’s, iam so happy.

  6. Elisha Kelly says:

    Hi Raj! That is such a nice compliment to hear- thank you so much!! <3

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