Richard Burr reveals his must-have toys.
Now, I’m a builder who’s grown up in a household full of builders, so I have always had access to just about every type of tool you could possibly think of.
Often when I’m at my mates’ houses, they’ll ask me to have a quick look at whatever DIY problem they’re tackling (you know who you are, fellas!), and I’ll ask to use their hammer, screwdriver or spanner – and just get a blank look from them.
So for their (and your) benefit, here’s my run-down of 20 essential items everybody should have in their toolkit…
1. A toolbox
I know, we’re kicking off with a pretty obvious one here, but losing all your tools at the back of a cupboard or down the back of the ‘man drawer’ is a proper pain in the backside. So get a box – you won’t regret it.
Preferably a claw hammer that you can remove nails with, lift floorboards or use as a mini crowbar. And a 4lb lump hammer for doing the heavy work (just don’t drop it on your foot).
You need two Phillips screwdrivers (big and small), two flat-head screwdrivers (big and small), a set of tiny screwdrivers (like you get in a Christmas cracker but more hard-wearing), and a set of Allen keys, as you’ll always lose the free Ikea ones and you never know when you’ll need them. You could also bypass all these and just get yourself a multi-bit screwdriver set – it makes a great housewarming present and you can also load the bits into a cordless drill.
4. A cordless drill
Preferably with a hammer drill setting. You will use this for almost every DIY job you have to do.
5. A Stanley Knife (and spare blades)
Stanley knives are brilliant. Blunt Stanley knives are rubbish. Whether you’re just sharpening a pencil or doing cuts on kitchen lino, you must have a sharp Stanley knife with a retractable blade.
You need a panel saw and a junior hacksaw. If you’re feeling ambitious, get yourself a coping saw too, but make sure you have extra blades as they snap easily. A panel saw comes with 45 and 90-degree angles to help your carpentry.
7. Wood chisels
You need at least an inch chisel, a half-an-inch chisel and an 1/8-inch chisel. These will come with blade covers. Do not lose them or your chisels will go blunt. These are precision tools for carpentry and you’ll need a decent sharpening stone too.
8. Cold chisel and a bolster
These are two invincible friends. Just try getting floorboards up without them.
9. A tape measure
Don’t get a flimsy one. Anything with a broad tape is going to be much more useful, and ensure it’s at least 5m long.
10. Head torch
Most DIY jobs need two hands, so get a head torch or you’ll be sick of holding a normal torch between your teeth in the cupboard under the stairs.
11. A set of pliers and an adjustable spanner
You can get pliers sets everywhere, and they are so useful. You should have at least a set of combination pliers, long-nosed pliers and a set of side cutters. Make sure you have new pliers with insulated handles – no raiding your dad’s old tools for these ones, or you might get a nasty shock.
12. Neon screwdriver
This is a mains detector screwdriver and a literal life-safer. When you’re using them, always make sure you use it on something that will give you a positive test, just so you know it’s working.
13. A stud/cable detector
This will save you drilling into cables and helps you find fixings on stud walls.
14. Screws, plugs and nails
Most shops sell fixings kits with a combination of all of these. Just make sure you get sets with compartments, or you’ll waste time searching for the right ones.
Bit of Google research while I'm writing some building stuff and realised why no one knows how to use a saw these days 😂🛠 pic.twitter.com/2eClRYbJlf— Richard Burr (@RichardPBurr) August 1, 2017
15. A spirit level
Go for a metre-long one, as it’ll come in really useful for marking lines on walls for shelves, for example. If you have room, get a boat level too.
16. A scraper
Whether you’re stripping wallpaper or mixing up two-part filler, this will come in really handy. Just don’t hit the handle of it with a hammer or you’ll ruin it. The same goes for your screwdrivers.
Quick grips or G-clamps, you’ll find you use these for so many jobs.
18. Electrical tape and masking tape
Useful stuff. Don’t be without it.
19. A workbench
Carpentry is one of the most common (and most satisfying) DIY jobs. The best thing about a workbench is that no one’s going to shout at you if you accidentally drill a hole through it or stab it with a chisel (sorry, Mum!).
20. PPE (Personal Protection Equipment)
As my Dad says: “It’s all fun and games until someone pokes their eye out!” From personal experience ending up in Moorfields Eye Hospital, get yourself goggles and USE THEM, no matter how uncomfortable they are. You’ll also want a face mask and gloves too.
There you go. There are plenty of other toys you can get if you’ve got the DIY bug, and the state of my garage is testament to just how many you can cram in, but these ones will set you up nicely for hundreds of different jobs. The problem is, now there’s no excuse not to do them!