The D.I.Y. beginner’s toolkit

Keen to start on the D.I.Y. path? Here’s our pick of the essentials you need for your first toolbox.

Bunnings magazine, June 2019

The right tool for the right job

Though simple, tackling some entry-level D.I.Y. tasks – such as hanging pictures, putting up shelves, fixing wobbly table legs or replacing handles – is incredibly satisfying and rewarding. And it makes all the difference to have the right tools at hand, including these, our essential picks for a beginner’s toolkit.

What to put in your toolkit

Equip yourself with these basics then get cracking on a D.I.Y. project!

Claw hammer: Every toolkit needs a hammer, to use on everything from the obvious – hammering in nails – to light demolition work, shaping of materials and more. Look for a non-slip, anti-vibration shaft or grip that sits well in your hand and a well curved claw with a deep, fine V, so even small nails can be extracted. 

Spirit level: You need this must-have tool for accurately checking a line or object is level (horizontal) or plumb (vertical). A spirit level is generally an aluminium box or bar structure, which holds fixed vials of liquid marked with lines and containing a large bubble. Hold it against a surface and when the bubble is between the lines, it’s level (or plumb).

Spanner set or an adjustable wrench: Nuts and bolts are a D.I.Y. inevitability. But the wrong spanner can slip and may damage and round off the nut or bolt head. An adjustable medium size wrench (200mm) is ideal if you only want one tool. A spanner set gives you accurate sizing within the range; slipping will be less likely. 

Hex keys: “I’m always going to the toolkit to get the hex keys to assemble or disassemble some furniture,” says Bunnings tool buyer Paul Bailey. Available in various sizes in sets, in metric and/or imperial measurements, these handy devices are an essential piece of kit for almost all flat-pack construction projects.

Retractable tape measure: This is your go-to tool for measuring anything from timber before cutting to working out if that new couch will fit. When extended, the metal measure is semi rigid; a ‘stop’ button holds it in place. The most popular and practical length is eight metres, but you can get smaller (two or five metres) or up to 30 metres.

Timber handsaw: A general-purpose timber saw is a must. Matt Francis, national training manager at Stanley Black & Decker, says a saw’s teeth per inch (TPI), indicates the type of finish it will give you. “A higher number, such as 10TPI, will cut more smoothly; a saw with 6TPI will have larger teeth and give you a rougher cut,” he says. 

Electronic stud finder: Drilling a hole in a wall is a common but potentially risky D.I.Y. task. Pipes and wiring lurk behind walls; hitting them can be disastrous. Missing the timber stud also means holes to patch. A stud finder can tell you where the centre of a stud is for accurate drilling and screwing. Some also warn of live wires in the vicinity.

Combination square: Its rigid and moveable steel blade is at a right angle to the handle, which has a level-bubble and wide faces for positioning against a surface when marking or measuring. It also has a 45˚ shoulder for angle marking. Uses include marking timber for straight or angle cuts, and scribing a line on a long surface. 

Screwdriver set: You’ll always need conventional screwdrivers for their accuracy and control. An extended set will reduce the possibility of damage to screw heads from using the wrong screwdriver tip size. Aim to have at least two Phillips head and two flat-head screwdrivers; ideally, short and long shafted drivers and colour-coded for different head types. 

Circular saw: A circular saw makes larger projects easier and does things like ripping – that is, cutting a piece of timber from end-to-end – with ease. Battery models are useful for many D.I.Y. tasks – just select a model that’s within your existing battery ecosystem – or you may prefer a traditional corded model.

Hammer drill: With a rotating and forward hammering action, this drill makes holes in masonry surfaces (for anchoring plugs or bolts) with ease. “Think about future tools you’re likely to want when buying into an 18V platform,” suggests Paul Bailey. Select a model with a battery that can interchange with other power tools as your kit grows.

Drawing the D.I.Y. line

One of the most important D.I.Y. skills is knowing when you should step aside for the professionals.

  • Anything to do with electrical or plumbing works is extremely dangerous. It’s also illegal to D.I.Y.: you need a licensed tradie for all electrical work and virtually all plumbing work.
  • Anything structural – walls, posts and columns, footings and foundations – will need input from a qualified expert. You may be able to do the work but will likely need professional assessment, possibly plans drawn and potentially even council approval.
  • If in doubt, don’t. Be very honest when you evaluate your projects. If you think a task is too big to be accomplished single-handed or too complex for your skills, don’t hesitate to call in the professionals.

Expert tip: “Find a quality tool belt to hold your most-needed tools, like a hammer, tape measure, carpenter’s pencil, utility knife, 25mm chisel and combination square, as well as nails and screws” ~ Brandt McRitchie, builder

Photo credit: Cath Muscat.

Ozito Power X Change 18V 5 Piece Kit

Tools & D.I.Y. Skills 10 best gifts for D.I.Yers If you know someone who loves to D.I.Y., we’ve got the perfect gift for them. From tools to garage storage, here are some ideas to help you choose something from our wide range.

install hinges and gass struts

Tools & D.I.Y. Skills 5 essential cordless power tools for DIY projects Cordless power tools offer you the flexibility and freedom to work just about anywhere. They’re portable, light weight and easy to handle. Here are our top five cordless tools that will help make your D.I.Y. dreams a reality.

how to calculate square metres 01:57

Tools & D.I.Y. Skills How to calculate square metres Calculating the size of a space is an important step in any construction or DIY project. Learn how to calculate squares metres with this guide from Bunnings.

power of drills

Tools & D.I.Y. Skills Types of power drills and their uses With several power drill types on the market, it’s important to choose the right one for your D.I.Y. projects. Bunnings Tools Buyer Paul outlines the benefits and some project examples for each type of drill in your ultimate power drill guide.

Coregas

Tools & D.I.Y. Skills How to buy gas the easy way Trade N Go Gas makes buying gas easy, convenient and flexible. The team at Coregas share how it works and why you’ll never need to pay for cylinder rental again.

How to restore wooden furniture 03:36

Tools & D.I.Y. Skills How to restore wooden furniture If you’ve got old wooden furniture that’s seen better days, you’d be surprised how easy it is to restore it and give it a new lease of life

garage

Tools & D.I.Y. Skills Seven handy tool storage ideas Keeping your tools safe, secure and in easy reach makes it so much easier to get your projects done. Whether you need tool storage for work or around the home, there’s a huge range of handy options in all shapes and sizes.

Hire Shop at Bunnings 02:03

Tools & D.I.Y. Skills Tips for using a nail gun Framing Guns are suitable for framing, joists and trusses.

home entrance

Smart Home Get smart by setting up a smart home What makes a home smart is the ability to operate wireless and wired devices connected to our home network via a smartphone, tablet or smart hub. This allows you to turn on lights, control power points, operate door locks, stream music to a speaker ...

lounge room with fireplace

Walls Three ways to use decorative wall panelling Make your walls sing with these three projects, starring decorative panelling.

modern entrance door

Doors How to choose a front door for your home First impressions are often made quickly, and tend to last a long time. But with a little bit of help, choosing a new front door should be just as easy.

Venetian Blinds

Windows How to choose the perfect blinds Blinds are a great way to control light, set the mood, maintain privacy and they are ideal for simple clean living spaces. But how do you select the right blind for your home?

How to save energy when using heaters

Heating & Cooling How to save energy when using heaters Keeping warm when it’s cold doesn’t mean you should have to pay big energy bills. Here are some simple hints and tips from De’Longhi that’ll help you keep costs down.

indoor heating for your home

Heating & Cooling The best ways to heat your home With winter on the way, discover the best ways to heat your home, inside and out.

Home security tips

Safety & Security Five home security tips We need to do our best to make sure our family and our belongings are safe when we’re not home. Here are five basic home security tips that’ll give you much more peace of mind.

An in-situ image of a front security door

Safety & Security Secure your home, starting with the front door The front door separates your home from the outside world, so it’s worthwhile thoroughly assessing your layers of security.

Health & Safety

Please make sure you use all equipment appropriately and safely when following the advice in these D.I.Y. videos. You need to be familiar with how to use equipment safely and follow the instructions that came with the equipment. If you are unsure, you may feel it is safest to consult an expert, such as the manufacturer or an expert Bunnings Team Member.

Grave health hazards are linked to asbestos, which may be in homes built up to 1990. Health hazards may result from exposure to lead-based paints in older materials and copper chromium arsenic (CCA) treated timber. For information on the dangers of asbestos, lead-based paint and CCA treated timber and tips for dealing with these materials contact your local council's Environmental Health Officer or visit our Health & Safety page. You can also use a simple test kit from Bunnings to indicate the presence of lead-based paint.
Top of the content