10 Invaluable Tools to Have on Hand When Doing Home Projects Alone
It's nice to have an extra set of hands when you're making home improvements, but oftentimes these tasks are a one-person job. These tools make it safer and easier to complete DIY projects solo.
DIY projects big and small are often solitary tasks. Sometimes there’s simply nobody around to lend a hand. Often, even with the best of intentions, an inexperienced “helper” may end up getting in the way.
However, moving bulky gear on your own can be difficult, and you risk injury if you try to lift too much. Plus, fetching and carrying tools can be a frustrating waste of valuable time. In order to help make it easier to handle DIY challenges on your own, we’ve gathered a variety of devices and gadgets designed for improving the efficiency of the solo DIYer.
1. Panel Carrier
Carrying large sheets of plywood or drywall is always awkward, especially for those who don’t have a long reach. The low-cost Stanley Panel Carry is an ideal solution, not only providing valuable extra inches, but also preventing the bottom of the panel from digging into your hands.
It is made from durable plastic with a curved handle that offers comfort and good grip. The high-visibility orange color also means it won’t easily get lost among dust and rubble.
2. Bottle Jack and Stand
A good jack is essential for any home auto mechanic. Once the vehicle is raised by a jack, stands are usually used for safety. The easy-to-use Powerbuilt Unijack is noteworthy in that it combines both jack and secure stand in a single device.
The Unijack has a wide, stable base, and built-in auto-locks to prevent accidental descent. With a load limit of 6,000 pounds and a good range of height adjustment, it can support anything from a compact sedan to a heavy truck or SUV.
3. Hand Truck/Dolly Cart
A good hand truck or dolly lets you move heavy loads and carry supplies in a single trip. There are lots of different hand truck models to choose from, but Fullwatt’s 264-pound folding hand truck is particularly versatile. It combines the light weight of aluminum, with the strength of a steel frame. The handle has multiple height positions, and a tri-wheel setup is superb for climbing steps or stairs. When it’s not in use, Fullwatt’s hand truck folds flat for easy storage.
4. Heavy-Duty Spring Clamps
A simple clamp can often be the additional pair of hands you lack when you’re tackling DIY projects alone. They can be used for everything from holding wood projects while the glue dries, to fixing up dust sheets when partitioning off a work area.
The clamps in MegaDeal’s set of 24 heavy-duty spring clamps are made from durable steel with a rust-resistant coating. They are 6 inches long, with a 2.5-inch opening. Their handles and tips are wrapped in PVC, which makes it easier for the DIYer to get a good grip on them—and reduces the likelihood that the clamps will mar your workpieces.
5. Furniture Sliders
When painting and decorating, it is often necessary to move furniture. Doing it solo can result in painful back injuries, or damaged flooring or carpets.
Furniture sliders are a great help, and are easy to position because you only need to lift one corner of a sofa or chair at a time. These sliders from CO-Z have a tough plastic body that glides smoothly across all kinds of surfaces. Inside, there’s an EVA foam pad that keeps furniture in place on the slider. Each slider can support 110 pounds, making light work of heavy objects.
6. Tool Belt
One of the last things any DIYer wants, particularly when working up a ladder or on a roof, is to climb up and down the ladder to fetch tools, nails, and screws. A good tool belt is the obvious answer to this issue, and there are dozens to choose from. We like the Dickies five-pocket tool belt, which is made from hard-wearing, rip-resistant canvas, with an adjustable webbing belt for comfort. It offers versatile carrying capacity without being bulky and awkward to wear.
7. Mini Drywall Lifter
Drywall should never be installed right at the floor level, because if there’s even slight movement in the wall or flooring, it will crack. However, trying to lift a 8-foot by 4-foot sheet while driving enough screws to hold it in place is difficult to pull off on your own.
A drywall lifter, like this one from Wal-Board Tools, is a cheap and effective solution. It provides the leverage required using foot pressure, leaving your hands free to work. It is made from heavy-duty steel so it won’t bend, and a powder coating gives it a long life.
8. Garden Cart
While hand trucks are very useful, nothing beats a well-made garden cart for real load-lugging ability.
Gorilla Carts are known for their strength, and their heavy-duty steel utility cart has a capacity of up to 1,000 pounds. It also offers terrific flexibility. With sides in place, it’s great for carrying sacks or buckets. With them removed, it provides a large, flat-load bed. Pneumatic tires give this Gorilla Cart all-terrain capabilities, and the handle doubles as a tow hitch.
DIYers often need to work in dark corners, or where there is inadequate lighting. A headlamp, which aims a beam of light right where it’s needed while keeping hands free.
The Petzl Actik CORE Headlamp weighs under 3 ounces yet offers two powerful beams and three brightness levels, which you can adjust with the push of a single button. It runs for up to 140 hours on the unit’s rechargeable battery (or on three AAA batteries). It also has a detachable, washable headband.
10. Jute Twine String
Twine never seems that important until you don’t have any, but it’s a super useful (and cheap) tool that solo DIYers should always have on hand. Twine can be used for temporary holding, hanging, or fixing. It can also be used for laying out paving, decking, or borders. It can even bundle up trash for convenient disposal.
BeCraftee jute twine offers a natural, biodegradable fiber. It is easy to cut and tie, very flexible, and surprisingly strong. Each roll is 328 feet long.
The prices listed here are accurate as of publication on March 11, 2022.