Doing your own repair jobs not only saves you loads of cash, but it also feels fantastic. The task done, you delve into a nice herbal tea and admire your work. The sink doesn’t leak anymore. The table leg doesn’t wobble. Finally, that shelf in the closet no longer leans against the wall, having fallen months ago, but rather it is back up and steady under a mountain of hatboxes. You get the picture. Fix that stuff, and you get the glory.

So, then, undoubtedly  you are looking to become a real do-it-yourselfer. The beverage, the applause, the pats on the back — you are imagining it all happening right in your own living room. Well, let me show you how to get there.


Gotta Gear Up

First things first, you’ll need some tools. Now, we are not talking a Tim Allen Home Improvement power collection that causes ape-like grunting, but you can’t very well show up to a sink-fixin’ with just a mallet in your hand.

There are several sources we can go to for how to build a good but simple toolkit, from an adequate toolbox — this shows you mean business — to what exactly to fill it with. Here are some suggestions:

As for me, I like to use a five-gallon bucket for my “toolbox,” and in it, I keep a claw hammer, a handsaw (for wood) and a hacksaw (for metal and plastic). I like a good hefty pair of pliers for pinching and cutting, a crescent wrench (for nuts and bolts), a pipe wrench (you guessed it—pipes) and a vice grip. A small collection of screwdrivers is a must. A couple of clamps (like these) are good for hanging over the side of the bucket, possibly one day holding something in place.

A tape measure is a must, and a small level is mighty handy, as are a few pencils. A knife of some sort, I like old crappy steak knives—hey, what the hell does a vegan need them for?—but a utility knife or one of those hand multipurpose Swiss Army type things does the job. And, my one suggested extravagance is a drill with a can of bits, including Phillips-head bits and frequently used sizes. Lastly, I keep another can full of screws, nails, bolts, brackets and braces that I collect from various projects—you’ll use them eventually.


Other possibilities for the bucket are tape (duct, electric, masking and Teflon), various types of glues, some gloves, safety glasses and a little sandpaper. Depending on what sort of madness you’re into, painting supplies might include a roller, a few brushes and a tray. Of course, if you’ve got a yard, you’ll need your basic shovel-y type stuff, in case you need to move a tree or dig up a pipe.

How-To on Tap

It’s all well and fine to show up on site with your bucket (or toolbox) of toys, but they will do you little good if you don’t have a game plan. And, don’t feel ashamed if you don’t know the solution instantly; very few people do. Luckily, there are great sites, some with quite catchy names, that will ease you into DIY, show you the ropes and help you look the pro. Just visit the folks on the following list for great tips and even ideas for simple projects to wow unknowing onlookers.


  • The Art of Manliness: Geared as an online gentleman’s cigar room, with links to varied manly (often useless, often really cool) skills. Unofficially, I’d say women are more than welcome and might even get a giggle or two (along with us) at the silliness.
  • DIY Network: More about the business of DIY, this site has how-tos, project ideas and advice columns. It’s an easy site to use, with searchable content and information for every room of the house.
  • Lifehacker: You may not get the exact thing you are looking for here, but often what you get will be better. I put in “how to hang a closet rod” and got a crazy list of organizing ideas to chew on. One of the beauties of DIY is being able veer off course.
  • The Family Handyman: A very practical approach to getting those repairs done. This site breaks it down to very basic, super sensible, and walks you through it. And, fear not, there are pictures of handy women fixing stuff, too.
  • Great for home repair type stuff, but will also take you out into the garden for some pruning and fence building. Not to mention, they have safety tips and guides for using your tools. And, you can celebrate by submitting your project.

The rest you must find deep down inside of you. It takes courage to give it a go, but the rewards —savings, sense of accomplishment and, again, the celebratory beverage — of fixing something yourself are well worth the risk. Plus, it impresses the hell out of people.

Image source: M338/Wikimedia