Ways to use your smartphone for DIY

iPhone utilities apps

In this post I will show you many ways to use your smartphone for your DIY projects.

As a Camera

There are many reasons to use your smartphones’ camera, from taking before and after photos to recording specific details about your project.

Before and after photos of your DIY project is a great use of your smartphones’ camera. You can also record steps along the way to completing your project. As an example you could check out my post on building a cubby house, I only used my smartphone for all the photos in that post.

If you need to pull something apart, using your smartphone to take photos of the parts and how they go together is an invaluable tool. Also taking photos of the serial or part number makes getting the correct part alot easier. Maybe taking a photo of the dimensions of your project would be handy.

Another way I’ve used my smartphone camera is to take a photo of the back side of an object I cannot see due to no room for my head to fit.

As a Measuring tape

Most smartphones come with several utilitiy apps, one is measurement on newer smartphones.

iPhone utilities apps

Opening your measurement app will enable you to measure things when you don’t have your tape measure at hand.

To measure an object:

  • Launch the Measure app from your Home screen.
  • Move the white dot to your start point. …
  • Tap the + button to select your start point.
  • Move the white dot to your endpoint.
  • Tap the + button to select your endpoint.
  • Look at the final measurement located in the middle of the line.

As a level

Another utility app is a level which you get to through the measurement app. This can be handy when you only need a approx level hanging pictures on the wall or getting an idea of where level will be.

iPhone SE level app
Not quite level
Level in iPhone SE
Spot on

As a Calculator

Having a calculator handy is also useful at different stages of your DIY project. From figuring out the area of a slab or floor to how many cubic metres of concrete you need for your slab.

To calculate your area, simply times the length by the width of the area, as an example 3m x 3m equals 9 square metres.

3m x 3m = 9m

Calculating cubic metres is taking the area m2 and multiplying it by the depth, for example a slab 3m x 3m x .1m would equal 0.9 cubic metres.

3m x 3m x 0.1m = 0.9m3

Maybe your at the hardware store and need to work out how many lineal metres of decking you need.

To calculate the lineal metres required for a 3m x 3m deck with 90mm boards, times 3 x 3 and divide it by .093 allowing 90mm for your board and a 3mm gap. This will give you 96.77 lineal metres, now to allow for wastage and offcuts times 96.77 lineal metres by 10%, which is 9.67 lineal metres to add to the 96.77 lineal metres, giving you a total of 106.45 lineal metres of decking required.

3m x 3m x 0.093 = 96.77 l/m then 96.77 x 0.1(10%) = 9.67

96.77 + 9.67 = 106.45 l/m

As a torch

The torch app can be useful when looking into dark spaces in an attic or roof or behind a sink in a cupboard. You can use the camera app at the same time and get a clearer picture that you can see in the dark.

iphone torch app
Iphone torch app
Using an iphone torch

These are just a few ways to use your smartphone for your DIY.

If you have any more ways that use your smartphone for your DIY projects, please email me at thehandymancentral@gmail.com

Can I lay a concrete slab

Lay a concrete slab

You can lay a concrete slab yourself with a few basic tools.

We’ll tell you how to lay a concrete slab in this post.

Before you start

Decide if the concrete slab you want is small enough to be completed by one person or if you require a professional to get the job done.

Concrete slab dug out

Generally slabs up to 3m2 can be done by one person, anything bigger will get away from you and requires more hands to lay the slab properly. Also if the concrete slab requires a specific grade of concrete, a professional is required.

You can do garden shed slabs and small paths easily with no help.

Once you have decided where you want your path or slab, measure the job and calculate how much concrete you will need. As an example if you are going to lay a 3m2 slab, you multiply 3m x 3m x 100mm, which equals 0.9m3.

There are many sites that have concrete calculators you can use to estimate your requirements.

A general guide for deciding which method of mixing concrete is right for you is. Concrete up to 0.1m3 can easily be mixed with bags of premixed concrete you mix yourself. For concrete slabs between 0.1m3 and 0.5m3 consider mixing the materials yourself, using 1 part cement, 2 parts sand and 3 parts stone. Slabs over 0.5m3 should consider getting pre-mixed concrete delivered by truck.

Tools required

  • Metal or wood screed
  • Wooden float
  • Magnesium float
  • Steel trowel
  • Edging trowel
  • Jointing trowel (groover)
  • Spirit level
  • Tape measure
  • Shovel
  • Turf cutter (if required)
  • Mattock
  • Measuring jug
  • Hose
  • Broom
  • Bucket
  • Hammer
  • Timber saw
  • Carpenters’ square
  • Rake
  • Wheelbarrow or concrete mixer
  • Tamper or plate compactor for compacting the base material
wood float
Wood float

Materials you will need:

  • Bags of Concrete Mix 20kg or Bags of cement, sand and stone
  • Lengths of timber for boxing/formwork
  • Timber stakes
  • Clean water
  • Reinforcing mesh (& bar chairs if required)
  • Double headed or clout nails for easy removal
  • Road base or crusher dust to bed slab

Prepare your site

Peg out the area you want to concrete and remove any grass from the area. Dig out the area to the required depth of concrete wanted. 100mm is the usual depth of a concrete slab. As most sites are not level, you will need to work out areas that need building up and areas that need to be dug out. Roughly dig out the area and check your levels.

The easiest way to work out your levels for your slab is to build the boxing for your slab and use this to help find your levels. Boxing for concrete slabs is usually 30mm x 100mm wet pine. Once you have dug out your area, place the boxing down and put your level on it. Raise the boxing in low areas and fill and dig out more if the boxing is to high.

When your boxing is level, secure the boxing onto the ground by driving wooden stakes into the ground next to the boxing and nailing it together. Fill in any low areas in the slab area with sand or crusher dust and tamper down to ensure a stable base for your concrete slab. You can line the slab area with black plastic but it isn’t necessary for paths.

Place your reinforcing wire on plastic chairs so that it is in the middle of the slab thickness and not resting on the ground. Reinforcing wire helps stop concrete from cracking structurally.

Boxed out concrete slab

Mix your concrete

If your using premix bags of concrete, grab your wheelbarrow and empty 2 or 3 bags into it. Dig a well at the front of the wheelbarrow in the materials and tip your water into this well. Then mix in the dry ingredients into the water, continue until all the dry material is wet. Never use to much water as this will weaken your concrete mix. Your better off adding small amounts of water until you get your concrete mix to the right consistency instead of to much from the start.

You can use a shovel, rake or hoe to mix your concrete.

When mixing cement, sand and stone, use a shovel and measure out the number of shovel fulls to get the right ratio. For example, 2 shovels of cement plus 4 shovels of sand and 6 shovels of stone. Another way is to buy the sand and stone already mixed and adding it to your cement.

Before placing your concrete wet the area so that the ground doesn’t suck your concrete dry and gives you more time to finish your slab properly.

Lay your concrete slab

When you have mixed your concrete and are happy with the consistency empty your concrete mix into your boxed out area. As you place your concrete, screed it level to the top of your boxing, filling up any low areas and re-screeding to get it level. Continue filling your boxed area until it is completely filled and screeded level.

You now have to wait for any bleed water to evaporate from the concrete before finishing the slab off. Once the bleed water has gone you need to float the slab with your wooden float to smooth out any ridges from the screeding process. A metal trowel can be used if you want a smooth finish, however this will be very slippery when wet. To provide a textured finish use a broom to give your slab some rough surface.

Use a edging trowel around the whole edge of your slab to compact the edge and give a finished look.

Screeded concrete

A jointing tool is used on large slabs to control cracking. Jointing is usually at 1800mm intervals and generally 20mm deep.

Allow your concrete to dry for a day or two before removing your boxing. Keep your slab moist for 7 days by misting water over it daily. Concrete takes 28 days to fully cure. Don’t walk on your slab for 24 hours but avoid heavy loads on it for 7 days.

Got an old path or slab that needs renovating, checkout this post how to renovate your concrete

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How to clean a paint brush

Clean a paint brush

To clean your paint brush is an easy task.

There are two types of paint, oil based and latex/acrylic. Oil based paint needs turpentine for brush clean up, whereas latex/acrylic paint is water based clean up.

Water based paint brush clean up

First scrape off as much paint as possible from the brush into the paint tin. A paint scraper or a 5 in 1 tool is a good tool for this. Then wipe your paint brush with some toilet paper, squeezing out any left over paint.

When you have got as much paint off the brush as you can, you then wash the paint brush. Warm soapy water in a bucket is the best method. Work any paint left in the bristles with your hands and a brush comb or wire brush.

Rinse your paint brush and check for any paint still present on the bristles. If the bristles are paint free, spin the paint brush between your hands. This will get rid of excess water.

Wrap your brush in the original wrapper if available, if not, wrap it in a paper towel and store flat.

Oil based paint clean up

As with latex/acrylic paint, scrape off excess paint from the brush. Then use toilet paper to wipe and squeeze excess paint from your brush. This may take several wipes to get as much paint out of the brush as possible.

Now put a small amount of turpentine into a glass or tin container about 1/2″ or 10mm and dip your brush into the turpentine. Swill the brush around in the turpentine and then use toilet paper to squeeze out the paint from the brush.

Empty the turpentine into another container and wipe out the brush container with toilet paper. Refill the container with another 1/2′ of turpentine and do as before, swilling the brush around in the fresh turpentine.

Again empty the turpentine into your other container and wipe it out with toilet paper.

Continue doing these steps until the turpentine you use in the first container is no longer becoming tainted with paint.

Give your paint brush a spin between your hands to remove excess turpentine and store the brush in it’s original container, or flat in a paper towel.

The turpentine in the second container that is full of paint should be left for a couple of days. After 2 or 3 days you can recycle the turpentine for future clean ups as the paint will have settled to the bottom of the container.

What type of paint to use for your project
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Drywall hole fix

Drywall damage

Fixing a hole in drywall is a skill all handy people should develop. We’ll show you how to fix damage drywall from a small ding to a large hole.

Before you start your repair, determine what tools and products you will need to complete the repair.

Tools and products

Tools you will require for drywall repairs are Stanley knife, paint scraper, drywall saw, sanding block and painting equipment. These can be added to your basic tool kit, check out our post on basic tools a handyman needs below.

Products you will need for fixing your drywall are plaster or gap filler, drywall tape and paint.

Small hole fix

To fix small holes up to 20mm made by picture hooks or scratches, you’ll only need some filler and spatula plus a small brush and paint.

First sand the hole to remove any protruding edges, rub your hand over the hole to check. Then wipe with cloth to remove any dust prior to adding filler to hole.

Now put a small amount of filler on your spatula and apply the filler with the spatula at a 45 degree angle to the hole. Then hold the spatula at a 90 degree angle and scrap away excess filler. Leave for about half an hour to dry.

Lightly sand the repair once dry and wipe away any dust with a cloth. Apply a light coat of paint to the repair and feather the edges to the surrounding area. It’s better to apply multiple light coats of paint than a single heavy coat.

Quick Tip: 

For pin hole repairs all you need is a bar of soap. Rub the bar of soap over the hole and this will fill until next time your painting and you can use filler to fix before painting.

Medium hole fix

For holes between 30mm – 50mm caused by door handles or the like.

You’ll need a utility knife, sandpaper with sanding block, fiberglass drywall mesh, spatula, filler and painting equipment.

Use your utility knife to remove any torn paper or crumbly edges and the sand the area smooth. Wipe away any dust with a cloth.

Apply a piece of drywall mesh tape to the hole and push in slightly. You may need a more than 1 piece of tape.

Push filler into the mesh and hole with spatula until the hole is completely covered. Smooth filler to remove any excess filler and allow to dry. For deep holes, apply in multiple layers allowing each layer to dry. Feather out the filler 20mm out from the hole.

Using your sanding block smooth the filler and check for any low areas that may require more filler. When repair is flush with surrounding area, wipe away dust with a cloth and your ready to paint.

Apply 2 or 3 light coats of paint feathering out the edges to blend into the surrounding wall.

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Big hole fix

Big holes up to 120mm, you’ll need a piece of drywall, filler, joint tape, 120-grit sand paper, utility knife, drywall saw and paint scraper. Paint and a paint roller and tray.

Quick tip

To make small patches of drywall, use your utility knife to score 1 side of the drywall and then snap the board along the score mark.

Cut a piece of drywall slightly larger than the hole to be repaired, this will be the plug. Put the piece over the hole and make around the piece with a pen. Now saw diagonally into the corners from the hole. With your utility knife, bevel the edge of the square hole to allow room for filler. Check for any obstacles behind the drywall.

You’ll need another 2 pieces of drywall the width of the hole and twice as high as the hole as backing boards. Coat each of these pieces with filler and apply to the backside of the drywall hole each covering a 1/3 of the hole and allow to dry.

After an hour you can coat the drywall plug with filler and push onto the backing boards in the hole, wiping away any excess filler. Leave to dry for an hour. 

Now coat the drywall repair with filler and add tape to the repair, spreading the filler out around the repair. Scrap away any excess filler and allow to dry for an hour.

Once the filler is dried, sand the area with 120-grit sand paper, wipe away dust and paint the repair with a light coat of paint. 

For big hole repairs you are best off painting the whole wall to finish off the repair without a patchy finish.

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How to choose a pressure washer

Pressure washer

How to choose a pressure washer? We’ll show you which pressure washer is best for your job.

What is a pressure washer?

Pressure washers pumps water at an increased pressure and speed of water to clean many different surfaces. A typical pressure washer will deliver 50% more power and use 80% less water than a garden hose.

Water blasters can be electrical or petrol powered, and deliver cold or hot water. Most pressure washers come with accessories such as different nozzles, brushes and detergent pickups.

Water blasters are measured by their PSI (pounds per square inch).

1000 – 4000 PSI pressure washers are good for general domestic jobs. Such as washing cars or decks and washing down siding. Washers in this range are usually electrically powered. Being electrically powered means that you are restricted to places with electricity and the length of your electrical cord.

The next step up in power is around 2500 – 4000 PSI. To get this sort of power the washers are powered by petrol engines. Petrol powered pressure washers are much more versatile than electric models. With petrol engine washers you are able to use them almost anywhere.

Bigger and more powerful pressure washers are over 4000 PSI. Some of these models can also produce hot water to clean tougher stains and chemicals. Models over 4000 PSI are used by professionals for commercial cleaning jobs.

Stanley pressure washer

Which pressure washer is best for you?

Questions to ask yourself are:

How often will you use a pressure washer?  If your only going to use your pressure washer on the odd occasion, maybe hiring a pressure cleaner is your best option. You may want to regularly clean your car or a outdoor deck. Then a electrical powered pressure washer could be the best model for you. Are you going to be using your pressure washer on a daily or weekly basis. A petrol model will be the model for you as these are more suited to commercial applications.

How big a job do you want use the pressure washer for?  The size of the area or job will also help you determine which model is best for you. If your only going to clean your car or have a small deck area, a electrical 1000 – 2000 PSI model would be suitable. Petrol powered washers are better for large jobs such as driveways and trucks and tractors.

What is it that you are trying to clean?   Electrical pressure washers for backyard decks or patios and cars.  For ground in dirt or oily stains a petrol power washer is the way to go. Commercial cleaners will often have pressure washers that heat the water to around 90 degrees Celsius to clean difficult stains without using harsh chemicals.

Do you have access to electricity and water?   Access to water and electricity allows you to use a electrical pressure washer, but this doesn’t mean you can’t use a petrol powered washer. If the area that needs to be cleaned is out of reach of your power cord and or hose, use a petrol powered washer.

RECOMMENDED PSI FOR APPLICATIONS

What’s the difference between PSI and GPM?

PSI is the pounds per square inch of pressure a washer puts out and is the usual method of rating pressure washers. Another measurement that helps determine the power of a pressure washer is GPM which stands for gallons of water used per minute. You get a deeper clean from a pressure washer with higher pressure and more water. Hence the best all round pressure cleaner has a high pressure output and uses more gallons per minute.

For example, you have a large driveway to clean. Using a pressure washer with a high PSI but low GPM will take a lot longer than using a high PSI and high GPM. A pressure washer with 3000 PSI and 4 GPM would be the ideal washer to clean your average driveway.

The PSI is what gets the dirt and grime off your surface, GPM is what washes the grime away.

Accessories

Most pressure washers come with accessories such as different nozzles, brushes and scrubbers.

Interchangable nozzles allow you to apply different amount of pressure to your cleaning surface. Red and yellow nozzles are hard and fast cleaning. Green nozzles are not as hard and white nozzles offer the widest spray. Black nozzles are generally for applying detergent and very light pressure. Turbo nozzles operate in a spinning fashion and increase the cleaning efficiency.

PRESSURE WASHER NOZZLES

Brushes are good for washing your car and usually have a spinning action.

Scrubbers are for cleaning large flat surfaces, such as decks, driveways and roofs.

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Pressure washer safety

Pressure washers exert high forces when in operation. Always use two hands, don’t point the lance at people or animals. Test surfaces to determine pressure required for the job. Don’t blast electrical wires or power points. Keep the nozzle moving to avoid cutting into the surface. Take extra precautions when using a ladder or on a roof.

Don’t use petrol or diesel powered pressure washers in enclosed areas.

Check out my post on How to set up a small workshop

Which pressure washer should you choose?

If you only have small, lightly soiled surfaces around the home, a electric pressure washer is for you. These are light and easy to handle.

You need a petrol powered pressure washer for your larger jobs. The PSI and GPM will depend on the type of jobs you want to carry out.

If you are going into the pressure washing business, you’ll need an industrial model.

I hope this has helped you choose a pressure washer for your specific needs.

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Top 3 cordless drill for the handyman

Cordless Drill Review

We have 3 of the best cordless drills below that we recommend for handymen. These top 3 cordless drills for the handyman will cover any project you wish to complete.

Tips for buying a cordless drill

Number 3
Compact Cordless Drill
Bosch DDB181-02-18V

The third place goes to the Bosch DDB181-02-18V.  It is the most compact and lightweight cordless drill weighing only 3 lbs. The Bosch provides 350 lbs of torque for powerful fastening and efficient drilling. A LED light illuminates dark spaces you may have to need to work in. With a variable 2 speed transmission for heavy duty projects or for speed.

This drill is easy to handle and is reasonably priced. Comes with a battery and charger.

Check out the current price of the Bosch DDB181-02-18V HERE

Tips for buying a cordless drill

number 2
BLACK+DECKER LDX120C 20V MAX
Black & Decker LDX120C 20V MAX

In second place is the Black & Decker LDX120C 20V MAX. The Black & Decker is our choice for those on a budget. The value for the price is excellent, giving you a competent  cordless drill for any task around the home.

Features of the Black & Decker LDX120C 20V MAX include variable speed, keyless chuck, 11 clutch positions and lithium ion power. It comes with a battery charger and 1.5AH battery and LED light.

For those on a budget this is your cordless drill.

Check out the current price of the Black & Decker LDX120C 20V MAX HERE

Tips for buying a cordless drill

number 1

Makita XFD131 18V LXTOur favorite cordless drill is the Makita XFD131 18V LXT.  This drill has a brushless motor allowing for a longer battery life, up to 50% longer per charge. The brushless motor also lets the drill run cooler and more efficiently for a longer life.

There is a 2 speed transmission  and the motor delivers 440 lbs of torque. A 3 AH battery will last longer than the other drills we have mentioned above per charge.

The Makita XFD131 18V LXT is a heavy duty cordless drill that will last many heavy duty projects that you may undertake.

Check out the current price of the Makita XFD131 18V LXT HERE

These are the top 3  cordless drills available currently for the handyman.

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Tips for buying a cordless drill

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Tips for buying a cordless drill

Makita Cordless Drill

Here are my tips for buying a cordless drill.

Tips for buying a Cordless Drill

Cordless drill/drivers are the most used power tool in the handyman’s workshop. The cordless drill/driver is a very handy tool that can be used just about anywhere.

Today I will explain the features of a cordless drill/driver and what features you will need to consider.

Check out our top 3 cordless drills for the handyman review HERE

types of Cordless drills

There are 3 types of cordless drills/drivers, drill/driver, hammer drill/driver and impact driver.

Drill/drivers are for light weight work, occasional drilling and driving into lighter weight materials. Features of a drill/driver are variable speed, clutch or torque settings, forward and reverse motion, keyless chuck and some have small light that shines when drilling or driving.

Cordless drill clutch and functionHammer drill/drivers are for heavier work and can be used for most drilling and driving jobs you’ll need to do. These heavier hammer drill/drivers have the same features as the drill/driver, but also have the hammer feature that helps when drilling into masonry.

Impact drivers are for driving screws and bolts into materials with less force required from the operator.  If you have lots of screws to drive in, an impact driver is the best option for you. A impact driver is better suited for driving screws or bolts as it takes less effort from you and is easier to control how far you drive the screws in.

Check out our top 3 cordless drills for the handyman review HERE

cordless drill batteries

Cordless drill batteryThere are 2 types of batteries used for cordless drills these days,  lithium ion and nickel–cadmium battery (NiCd). Lithium ion batteries are the norm these days with NiCd batteries usually in older models.

Lithium ion batteries offer better power and run time as well as being lighter than the NiCd battery. They are also better for the environment with less harmful chemicals. Cordless drills with lithium ion batteries have a charge gauge allowing you to figure out when you need to recharge you battery.Cordless drill battery level

NiCd batteries are larger and heavier than lithium ion batteries. Another issue with NiCd batteries is they often run out of charge when not used. This can be annoying when you go to use your cordless drill and find it needs to be recharged.

Batteries for cordless drills come in different voltages and Ah (amphere hour). The common voltages available are 12V, 14V and 18V. Voltage is the power rating of the cordless drill. Ah is usually 2Ah or 4Ah and measures how long between recharges,  4Ah will run for more time than 2Ah will.

A cordless drill may say it is a 20V max battery, these are actually 18V drills. The 18V is the average voltage the cordless drill has, but they are 20v maximum voltage.

Check out our top 3 cordless drills for the handyman review HERE

brushless motor or bush motors

The brushless motor cordless drill/drivers are the latest models available. With a brushless motor your drill will be more powerful and last longer than a conventional bush motor. However the cost of a brushless motor will be more expensive and may not be required if you are using it for the occasional project.

speed control

Cordless drill speed controlMost cordless drills have a couple of speed controls. One on top of the drill, a button with 1 and 2 on it. The 1 position is for driving screws in and 2 is for drilling. Another speed control is the trigger, the tighter the trigger is pulled the faster the drill goes.

Cordless drill forward and reverse buttonForward and reverse motion is controlled by a button above the grip that is pushed either to the left or right. When the button is pushed to the right, the drill will unscrew and when pushed to the left drives screws into material.

Check out our top 3 cordless drills for the handyman review HERE

Conclusion

Which cordless drill would suit you?

If you are only doing the occasional job or project a Drill/driver is all you need. These are lighter and easier to handle, and will last for many years.

For the weekend warrior a hammer drill/driver is your weapon of choice. These are able to handle most jobs and are very robust.

If your projects require lots of screws or bolts to be driven in, a impact driver is the best choice.

A handy tip is to buy both a drill/driver and a impact driver, this way you don’t have to swap and change bits all the time.

Thanks for reading my tips for buying a cordless drill, if you have any other questions about cordless drills, please let me know. I will try and answer all your questions.

3 Tips for buying a Circular Saw

Circular saw

 

Skil circular sawA circular saw is one of the most useful tools a handyman can have. Your circular saw will allow you to complete many different DIY projects.

This post will discuss everything you need to know when buying a circular saw.

  • Blade Size

Circular saws are usually categorized by the blade size. The most common size is 7 and ¼ inch blade that can cut up to 3 inch thick materials. These saws have a great variety of blades, which enable handymen to cut all sorts of materials. General purpose blades used for construction work have around 24 teeth. For finer cuts saw blades require more teeth, usually 40.

TYPES OF BLADES

High-speed steel blades are harder than steel blades and stay sharper longer.

Carbide-tipped blades have carbide tips attached to their teeth. They are more expensive than other blades, but they stay sharp much longer than steel or high-speed steel.

Tile-cutting blades are specially designed for cutting ceramic tile. Better tile-cutting blades have diamond-tipped blades.

Masonry blades are made of abrasive material for cutting concrete, brick, cinder block and other masonry materials

 

  • Choosing Corded or Cordless?

These days you can get corded or cordless circular saws. The choice between corded or cordless depends on the jobs you’ll be working on. Corded circular saws are good for reliable delivery of power and cutting. Cordless circular saws are great for convenience as you can use them anywhere even if there is no power on site or extension leads are difficult to use. When cutting tough materials a cordless circular saw will drain your battery quickly. If your projects involve hardwood of any thickness, a corded circular saw is going to be the best option. For small cuts and softwood cutting a cordless circular saw will be the go to tool.

  • Ergonomics

Circular saws look alike, but not all circular saws feel good in your hand. Before buying your circular saw, try it out to see if it feels good in your hands. Controls need to be easy to reach and the saw should feel balanced in your hand.

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How I set up my small workshop

How to set up a Workshop

How I set up my small workshop, for over 30 years, I did not have a workshop for my handyman projects. I used garages and sheds, or even just outdoors as my work space.

A couple of years ago I finally had the money and time to build a workshop. I will tell you how I set up my small workshop and what tools I have bought for the workshop.

Check out our top 3 cordless drills for the handyman review HERE

Find some space

The first thing to do when planning a workshop, is to find somewhere to put your workshop. Many different places are used for workshops, from a stand alone shed to a basement or garage, or even just a spare room.

I choose to build a stand alone shed that measures 20 foot x 10 foot out of Colourbond sheeting. A garage will give you a fair bit of space for a workshop, and basements vary in size but have been utilized as a workshop. Your space will need power also for the many workshop tools you will use.

Why do you need a workshop

Workshops are great for handymen or women, who want to build projects which may take a period of time to complete. Having a workshop enables you to work whenever you want to. Not having to worry about the weather or messing up a clean space or room.

Your own workshop lets you have an area where you can leave a project until you can get back to it, without having to pack it and your tools away each time.

How I set up my small workshopAnother benefit of a workshop is the tools you can have that aren’t portable, for example a drill press, bench grinder, joiners and planers. These tools allow you to build just about anything you can imagine.

This is how I set up my small workshop.

How I setup my small workshop

Layout

The layout of your workshop will depend on the space you have available and the type of projects you will be building.

In my workshop, I have a large mobile work bench in the center that hold a table saw, compound sliding mitre saw and a small router table, it measures 8 x 4 foot  and has castors to wheel it around when required.

Around the walls of my workshop, I have a bench grinder, drill press, disk/belt sander and storage for portable tools and materials. There is also a wood lathe, but I have to take this outside to use as the workshop is to small to accommodate working at the lathe.

How I set up my small workshopA shop vac is used for dust collection, its not ideal but it is better than nothing.

Your layout should follow your building stages, your table saw is usually the center of the work process. A mitre saw is situated along a wall. Drill press and bandsaws require room to move around so allow space around these.

Tools not used often like planers and joiners can be put in areas that are out of the way. But these also need space around them when being operated.

tools for your workshop

There are many tools you may want for your workshop. Such as planer, joiner,drill press bandsaw, table saw, bench grinder, sanding station. If you have a large workshop you will be able to fit these all in, however if your workshop is small, you need to prioritize what is the most useful.

How I set up my small workshopAs previously mentioned I have a table saw, mitre saw, drill press, bench grinder and disk/belt sander. These allow me to complete all the projects I have carried out.

All these tools were not bought as soon as I built my workshop. But over time I have been able to acquire them as needed. The bench grinder and the saws were tools I have had since I built the workshop.

The size of my workshop does not allow space for a planer or joiner, so I improvise where needed.

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Conclusion

Setting up your small workshop will depend on your projects and what tools you will need to complete them.

The size of your workshop will determine what tools you can fit in and the sought of projects you can do.

Start with basic tools like a table saw, bench grinder and mitre saw plus your portable power tools such as hand planer, circular saw and cordless drills.

Check out our top 3 cordless drills for the handyman review HERE

Add to your tools as you require them and buy the best quality that you can afford.

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What basic tools does a handyman need?

Basic tools for a handyman

 

Hammer 

A hammer is one of the most basic tools a handyman needs. With a hammer you can drive in nails and remove bent nails from your work.

There are many styles of hammers for different applications, but a claw hammer is generally the best for a Handyman. Hammers come with different handles, wooden, steel and synthetic. From experience a synthetic handle will last a every long time and won’t break easily or need fixing, I’ve had my synthetic handle hammer for over 30 years.

Other styles of hammers can be bought when you require them for special jobs, but when beginning a basic tool kit, a claw hammer is the best buy.

Power Drill

A power drill will make your handyman life so much easier. These days a cordless power drill is a handyman’s best friend. Check out our buying tips for a cordless drill.

Cordless power drill

You can use a power drill for drilling into wood, steel and concrete. But you can also use it to drive in screws and tighten bolts with the correct adapters.

Your power drill can also be used to grind, sand and polish with the right attachments.

Your basic tool kit will not be complete without a cordless power drill.

Check out our top 3 cordless drills for the handyman review HERE

Screw Driver set

A set of screw drivers will come in very handy for many jobs you will carry out. Screw driver sets have both Flathead and Philips head drivers, of various sizes.

Using the correct size screw driver makes a handyman’s job so much easier. Besides screwing and unscrewing, screw drivers can be used for prying things apart and are a necessity for the basic handyman’s tool kit.

Measuring Tape

Almost every job a handyman does requires some sought of measurement and a tape measure is needed. To cover most jobs you’ll do, a 25ft or 8m measuring tape is the best option.

Measuring Tape

There’s nothing worse than going to measure a job and your measuring tape is not long enough. With a 25ft measuring tape you’ll be able to cover most jobs.

Pliers

Pliers come in handy for many times when your trying to grasp something in an awkward place of that are difficult to grip with your fingers.

Set of Pliers

You should get a normal pair of pliers, and a pair of needle nose pliers when starting out. 

As your build your tool box or kit, you can add vise grips and adjustable jaws pliers.

Level

Levels come in handy for so many jobs that a handyman will carry out, from hanging picture frames to leveling concrete jobs.

4ft Level

You can get many different sizes of levels, but a 4 ft level is the most useful and be used all around your home.

Utility Knife

There are hundreds of utility knives on the market, which one you use will come down to your preference.

Utility Knife

You’ll be amazed how many times you will use your utility knife, from cutting rope or cardboard to using it around your workshop.

Adjustable Spanner

You’ll need a adjustable spanner for all the nuts and bolts you have to loosen and tighten. Used with pliers you can get most nuts and bolts tightened or undone.

Adjustable spanners

I have a small and medium size adjustable spanners, you probably best off getting the medium size to start your basic tool kit. 

Tool Kit 

Another option is to buy a ready made tool kit. These may have more tools than have been discussed so far, but do contain all the basic tools a handyman will need for most jobs.

There are many tool kits to choose from, from different brands names to different requirements.

Always buy the best tools you can afford, as they will be with you for a long time if they are quality made.

Maybe you have a tool you think should be included in a basic tool kit, let us know and we can include it to future tool kit posts.