What’s in My DIY Tool Bag?

I come from a handy family and have been a DIYer for as long as I can remember. I rearranged my room and sewed my own clothes as early as age 10. As I got older, I was the only girl in my dorm who would ever consider removing the standard dorm room overhead light and installing my own chandelier.

As a DIY blogger, I create for a living, which has allowed me to hone the tools I depend on. I have found over the years, however, that I use a few things almost daily—they seem to make projects just a little bit easier.

diy toolbox

Glues & Adhesives
I have an entire drawer labeled “Glues, Tapes, and Adhesives.” Why? It’s such a huge part of my day to day. Although I typically need something different for every project, the few things I always return to are:

  1. Glue gun. A good glue gun is a must. Not only is the hold extremely good, but it’s pretty forgiving as well. If I mess up, I can wait for it to dry, carefully peel it off, and re-glue. What other glue holds so well and is usually removable? I use it for everything from fixing clothes and jewelry to creating a custom picture frame. It’s versatile, simple, and really fun.
  2. Double stick tape. If I didn’t have double stick tape in my life, I don’t know what I’d do. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been in too big of a hurry to fix a hem, so I use double stick tape until I can break out the sewing machine. But more that that—it’s perfect for framing photos and mounting them nicely or neatly attaching a label to a gift.
  3. Gorilla super glue. Most super glue is slippery and thin. Gorilla super glue is gel-like and holds quickly. It foams up a bit (you have to be watchful of that) but it creates one of the best bonds I’ve seen. I use it for a lot wood projects where I can sand it down and paint it afterwards. I even used it to glue a hand-painted tile border to my bathroom mirror.
  4. Command™ strips. I use these strips, hooks, and hook-and-loop strips like it’s my job—wait … it is. I used a Command™ strip or hook for just about everything that hangs from my walls. With a super old house, we never know what’s behind the walls—drywall over plaster over lathe over brick in some areas—so nailing or drilling into the wall isn’t always a good option. These hooks make it easy to make a quick change in a room.
  5. Gaffers tape. This is a bit of an unusual one. If you’re a photographer, you’re familiar with this amazingly strong, fabric-like tape. It’s one of the strongest tapes I’ve used that can still peel off a wall without damaging it. I use it for adhering temporary decorations to walls (like party garlands) or even for small paint projects. It’s pretty expensive, so I wouldn’t use it in place of blue painters tape for a whole room, but if you have a smaller craft project, I think it works 10 times better.

Measuring and Cutting
I have to admit—I have a measuring tape stashed in almost every room of our house. I even have one in my purse. It’s not unusual for me to sit in the living room, enjoying my dinner with my husband, when I get a crazy idea and need to measure the width of my fireplace—right then—and out comes the measuring tape. But there are a few other devices that fall into this category that I consider a must in the DIY world.

  1. Ruler. I use a ruler daily—as a straight edge for cutting, aligning my handwriting on an envelope, or to actually measure something. Typically, I use a clear acrylic ruler I can see through, allowing precise cuts of paper, cardboard, fabric, or whatever.
  2. Craft knife and box cutter. Speaking of cutting things: a craft knife or box cutter is so much more accurate than scissors. You can cut very small pieces or really nicely along that straight edge we were just talking about.
  3. Self-healing mat. Not only does my mat have measurements along the sides, but it protects my desk from all of the aforementioned cutting I do with my ruler. I break out this mat almost daily. Once you have one, you’ll realize that you didn’t know life without it.
  4. Measuring tape. Did I mention that I measure a lot of things? Once I got into the habit of measuring spaces in my house, my ability to find the perfect piece of furniture or frame size became less stressful immediately.
  5. Scissors. Because, well, who can go without them?

Miscellaneous
Here are my top two random things that I use very often. Here are my top two:

  1. Power drill. This has got to be one of the most invaluable pieces in my tool bag. I use my drill so often that it never really gets put away.  From hanging curtain rods to screwing in a drawer pull to creating something from scratch, my drill never is more than an arms distance from me. I specifically like how mine (the Black and Decker 20v) is so light and compact.  There are often jobs around the house that my husband wants to use my drill because his is too cumbersome.
  2. Wire. I have so many random spools of wire but, even so, I’m quite often wandering around asking, “Where’s my wire?” Typically, I use wire to put together a wreath, make a fresh garland, but also use it to hang art, bind things together, or even as a craft all its own!

So there you have it—the 12 things I use most around the studio and home for DIY projects! I hope you’re inspired to put your own tool box together so everything you need for your next project is at an arm’s reach!

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For more inspiration from Erin, check out her shop and blog at Earnest Home Co.

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