Renovating doesn’t just have to be for tradespeople. I’m here to tell you that you may not even need to hire one to complete a large portion of your home projects. You’ve probably thought “DIY Renovating just isn’t for me, I don’t have any practical skills!” Well let me challenge you in saying that maybe you actually do. I’m not a qualified tradesman – the only difference between me and you is that I gave it a go the first time. And then the next. Sure, I’ve botched up almost everything at least once. But they say that every mistake is a lesson. So often I want something done and I just don’t have the confidence to do it, so I procrastinate and it doesn’t ever get done. I recently pinched myself and just went ahead and did it. I bought the materials for a new timber, horizontal slat fence and built it from the ground up – pun intended.
You have to have the patience and be a little bit particular about keeping things straight and level. For this, there are a few absolutely must have measuring tools:
– Tape Measure and Pencils – The obvious ones, and the most used. Buy a sturdy tape measure as the flimsy ones can be frustrating.
– String Line: Literally a rolled up piece of long, fluro string. Once you have measured your heights, you pin the line up tight and you know that it is right, assuming both ends are (and that it isn’t caught on anything)
– Level/Straight Edge: any post you install in the ground needs to be level on all sides (you only need to check two of them). Any horizontal beam, or capping should be checked to. Check before, check during, and check after.
– Square: A square comes in many forms, and adjustable or not, the purpose is to give you a perfect 90 Degrees or 45 degrees from another side. Use the square to pencil in any cut line.
– Chalk Line: Maybe not absolutely necessary, but it sure makes things easier. Essentially works the same as the string line, except you can “flick” the line to leave a nice straight mark on any surface/s.
And some must have good quality power tools:
– Drill: My personal favourite tool. I have gone through a couple of crappy drills that didn’t have the power to get the job done. If you’re renovating an old house, you absolutely need an 18v drill. The cheaper 14v vaults can cope drilling through the dense wood. If you’re going to splurge on one tool, let it be a nice 18v cordless drill combo. Something around the $200 mark can get the job done for a DIY tradie.
– Circular Saw: I should probably take my own advice here, as my current saw is so bad it’s frustrating. It doesn’t help that the blade is blunt and seemingly bent too. I actually use my drop saw for anything that I can do, but you need at least one good power saw to make cuts straight and easy.
– Belt Sander: Maybe not everyone’s first pick, but I also seem to do a lot of old timber restoration, for both furniture and outdoor feature fencing. The belt sander isn’t for fine detail, it literally tears through whatever you put it to. I even use it when I probably should use a planer (alas, I don’t have one). Some times your cuts will be off, or just rough. The sander makes pretty easy work sorting that out.