There have been many tools that have helped me over the years and I'm happy to share them with you. Some are free, some are not.

Don't go by the rule that the more you pay for something, the more helpful it'll be, thankfully that's not always the case.

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Leica Disto D2

Sometimes a tape measure is not quite good enough. It's either too short, you spend ages trying to stop it from buckling, or it doesn't retract back in the full way. There is an alternative, in the form of a laser distance measure. These nifty little devices accurately measure the distance between two points by firing a laser. As long as there's a surface to aim the laser at, it will measure that distance. I've used a few and found the Leica Disto D2 to be pretty effective. It's simple enough (and therefore cheap) for all household DIY tasks. I use it to survey gardens as part of my landscaping job too, and found it more than adequate.

Irwin Clamps (300mm)

This size of clamp is pretty versatile. I have 150mm, these 300mm and about 900mm, or thereabouts, I find the 300mm ones to be the most used, and can obviously do the job of the shorter 150mm ones. Larger than 300mm is rarely needed, mainly if I'm building a shed and using chunky timber. My Irwin clamps have been left outside countless times overnight and although they do rust, a little WD40 gets them going again! Occasionally the top clamp detaches itself from the main bar, but a new nut will sort that one, they are about 3.5 years old as I write this. Bargain for the money!

Bosch PFS 3000-2 spray gun

I used this spray gun for a couple of years to spray paint fences until recently using it on my Dining Room. It worked a treat, read all about it here. Not a bad piece of kit for the money. Lasts well too. Easy to clean, very easy in fact. Just unscrew some bits here and there and it takes about 5 minutes to clean it all. All the spray gun parts are hand-tightened back in place and you're good to go. Before you ask, no, the parts don't come undone on their own. I reckon using this sprayer shaved about 45 minutes per room per coat, when compared to rolling the paint on. This was only with mist coats though, but the results were better than a roller could achieve.

Bosch Hawera Drill Bit Set

I'm no connoisseur of drill bit sets but I've had a few in my time. This set (although in a different box) has kept me going for a good while. To be honest, drill bits (if used enough) will come and go. It's more the box to keep them in that makes the difference. Sturdy box, really good range of bits, space to store spare bits, this one ticks all the, erm, boxes.

Bosch Battery Drills

I reckon these drills have got to be my most favorite tool of choice, they're definitely up there. with the best. I cannot begin to tell you how good these are. I recommend buying them both as a set, but I'll break them up anyway:

  • The normal drill with hammer action (GDR 18V-Li). For starters, this packs more than enough punch for everything you need to do. I am yet to come across a task where power is a problem. Even mixing up some pretty stiff plaster isn't a problem for this little beauty, although I wouldn't recommend it. It's the 18 volts you see, the 18V Bosch batteries are very good, and last years, depending on how much you use them that is! Seriously though, one of these will not disappoint. Good balance, weight, grip, feel, longevity, power, accuracy, control. Not one bad thing to say about it, even comes with a little trigger-activated light so you can see where the screw head is.
  • The impact drill (GSB 18 VE-2-LI). OK, so what's an impact drill I hear you ask? As you drive in a screw, the drill makes a slight tapping motion, delivering a force that punches the screw in as it turns. Let's say we're driving in 7.0 x 150mm screws into oak sleepers. The impact drill will only just be able to do this for the full length of screw, providing the battery has just been charged. However, the normal drill would not, it would stop short by an inch or so. It will do it all the way but very rarely, and the screw shaft has a tendency to snap too, very annoying!



Bosch Professional SDS Drill

Couldn't fault this little machine. It's an SDS drill and has a hammer only function, in case you need to chisel out masonry. I've used one extensively in my landscaping job for three years, chipping out concrete fence posts, driving a 6" core through a double skin wall, all sorts and sometimes in the rain. Bargain for the price but don't forget it need special SDS type drill/chisel bits.

Tyzack 13 inch Finishing Trowel

I've used my 14 inch Tyzack for about two years and it's had a good bit of use. It's been left outside overnight, used on tough screed floors and concrete, and it never rusts. If you buy a new one, spend some time smoothing out the edges, as those will be too sharp, especially the corners. Use a bit of sandpaper to do this, it'll create a better finish with your plastering.

Set of Spirit Levels by Stabila

I've used Stabila for years and they've always remained robust and accurate. Left them out for weeks on end with no sign of rust. You may need to buy a 1.2m long spirit level as one doesn't come with this set unfortunately.

Bahco Set Square

This set square is a robust and accurate bit of kit, no rust and remains in great condition after years of use


By far the most useful resource I have ever had the pleasure of using. To be fair, I was at a major advantage when using AutoCAD, because I spent a few years using it in my job, so to me it's second nature. For the beginner, there are so many online forums out there that'll cover everything from drawing a line to printing to scale, all very helpful stuff. I'll probably cover some useful tips and tricks as part of my blog at some point. I used CAD to make my planning application drawings, and to generally plan stuff. For example, I used it to make a scale plan of the hearth I wanted a stone mason to make. I also used it to plan the layout of my downstairs toilet floor and its spot lighting positions.