The best power tools for home improvement projects from sanders to screwdrivers
There’s no middle ground with DIY. Get it right — no matter how small the job — and you’re cock-a-hoop.
Get it wrong and heaven knows you’re miserable now. The key is a one-two punch: good prep and the right tools.
FOR QUICK FIXES
Screwdrivers, torches and levellers
First up, you need a jack of all trades. Bosch’s cordless and budget-friendly IXO Classic (from £52.99, adapters from £15.99, bosch-diy.com) is compact and reliable, sure, but it’s also versatile as heck with a series of clip-on accessories that replace the screwdriver base in a flash.
The separately sold DIY adapter tools include a universal cutter for balsa, plywood and PVC, and a slimline drill for wood, plastic and plaster (up to a depth of 5mm).
And once you’ve finished the chores, you can fire up the coals with the BBQ blower adapter and effortlessly open a bottle of vino with the corkscrew adapter. The 2020 edition of the German company’s forerunner device also has an increased charging time, juicing the battery 30% quicker.
Mounting a mega telly? Putting up a bathroom rail? Whatever the job, the BoschAtino (from £49.99, bosch-diy.com) will keep things in line.
The alignment and measuring tool can attach to any wall with its gel pad or pin adapter plate and delivers laser-guided levelling.
You’ll also need to scan for wires and pipes so that when you drill into the wall you don’t rupture the mains — a great tale for the grandkids but not so good for the cash flow.
Wickes has some good options and while the Einhell TC-MD 50 digital detector (£23, wickes.co.uk) won’t blow a hole in your piggy bank, it will certainly let you know what’s behind a wall.
Only replacing a socket terminal? Wickes’ own Mains Tester Screwdriver (£2.40, pictured) detects AC mains voltage while gifting maximum safety, with its sturdy moulded and insulated sheath.
Meanwhile, over at Tinker & Fix, founded by husband-and-wife duo Lou and Edd, DIY is done in style. Goodbye paint-splattered T-shirt, hello vintage overalls.
In amongst the snazzy Allen key sets and pressed Japanese steel tool boxes (phwoar!), you’ll find the Liggoo Light Kit (£40, tinkerandfix.co.uk).
The octagonal torch produces a wide beam pattern perfect for illuminating a work area. It also has three levels of brightness, up to 150 lumens and a multifunctional clip to transform it into a head torch, hanging lantern or luminescent magnet.
FOR FLAT-PACK MAKERS, UPCYCLERS AND CRAFTERS
Assembly tools, sanders, cutters and stickers
There’s a special level in hell for the inventor of the flat-pack. Sure, it’s cheap and democratises the noble art of cabinet making, but you could fly to New York in the time it takes to put together one of those bookcases.
Enter the HexDriver Furniture Assembly Tool (therange.co.uk, £24.99). Simply place the Allen key that comes with your furniture into the chuck and, hey presto, it is now a lightweight powered Hex Key. Take that, super-convenient Swedish furniture.
Another nemesis of the flat-pack is the trend for reclaiming vintage furniture. The drug of choice for many aspirational online makers, there are a few crafty items to add to the shopping to get you started.
A lightweight, compact sander is a must, and Black + Decker’s Mouse Sander Kit (£19.99, therange.co.uk) is ideal for shaving off paint and varnish, cleaning glass and even removing rust. It also comes with a dust extractor and, fitting with the upcycle vibe, it’s cheap as chips too.
Once sanded and treated with primers, how about a gadget to take things to the next level?
The Cricut Explore Family of machines (from £179.99, cricut.com) is a one-stop shop for crafting and cutting materials, while the Cricut EasyPress (from £54.99) works like a hot press to affix your designs to home-crafted cushions or fabric chairs.
Passing on the painting or wallpapering? The larger of the Cricut family can also produce wall decals, aka large stickers, transforming a room with its geometric designs, animal print and even inspirational quotes.
A glue gun is another worthy edition to the craft box and the Wickes General Purpose Glue Gun Kit (£16, wickes.co.uk) is easy to use, quick to heat up and safe as houses.
FOR HEAVY DUTY PROJECTS
Saws, grinders, pressure washers
Whatever happened to Sunday mornings watching The Goonies for the umpteenth time while chowing down a bacon bap, cursing tequila and piecing together the night before?
You bought a home, that’s what happened. Now Sundays are spent prowling rooms with a drill and a rumbling stomach. You need something to sink your teeth into.
You need a project. How about a patio in the back garden? What about your very own work bench? Either way, you’re going to need some heavy-duty kit.
Gtech’s Multi-Tool (£129.96, gtech.co.uk) fits the bill. The oscillating head works with attachments so you can cut, grind, sand, scrape and saw to your heart’s content. Wireless and complete with LED, it’s ideal for tight and dark working spaces.
Need a cut above? A good angle grinder will make mincemeat of metal pipes, brick and stone paving slabs and floor tiles, and the perks of the Stanley Fatmax 18 Volts Angle Grinder (£139, ao.com) also include a removable battery.
After that, you’ll need a clean-down. The Karcher K5 Premium Smart Control Pressure Washer (£479.99, kaercher.com) washes away the work with its maximum 145 bar pressure and app control that’ll adjust the 3-in-1 multi-jet lance to suit the task at hand.
FOUR GREAT APPS TO HELP WITH YOUR DIY
My Room Painter
The Crown Paints app offers punters an easy way to visualise their dream room before splashing the cash. Users simply upload a pic of their space and select colour combinations to get a look at a new scheme in situ.
App free (priced per task), iOS/Android
This connects skilled and trusted work people with those needing help with household jobs, ranging from furniture assembly to fixing a loo. Each ‘tasker’ is reviewed, rated and priced.
The go-to app for carpentry help, this has a digital plumb bob (to verify verticality of lines), a surface level, a bubble level bar, a protractor and a ruler. Once calibrated with your phone, you have a chippie in your pocket.
Home Improvement Calcs
Ideal for your pre-DIY shop. With 250 types of calculator, it can easily help you work out quantities for all kinds of projects, from how much concrete is required to how many slabs you’ll need for the patio.