DIY Buying Guide

Drills

Cordless Drills

Thanks to their lack of cord and lightweight design, cordless drills are highly portable and can be used in places where power isn’t available. Generally, they offer less power than corded drills, making them suitable for softer materials, such as wood, plastic and plaster. And because they don’t offer the same level of power as corded drills, they’re great for beginners. What’s more, many cordless drill can also be used as cordless screwdrivers, which adds to their versatility.

Corded/Mains Powered Drills

For heavier materials, such as thick metal and concrete, mains powered drills are much more effective and easier to use than cordless drills. They offer extra power and torque to get through tougher materials, and should be used by those with more drilling experience and confidence.

Important features to consider:

  • Hammer Action – If your drill features hammer action, then it can tackle tougher materials, such as concrete. Many corded drills feature hammer action as they are designed for bigger DIY jobs. Hammer action is measured in beats per minute (bpm) so the higher the number, the stronger the drill is likely to be.
  • Torque – The majority of drills come with variable torque settings, allowing you to adjust the output power for different tasks.
  • Chuck Type – The chuck is the part of the drill that holds the drill bit in place as it rotates. They’re designed to hold the bit tightly to ensure it doesn’t come loose as you work. Different chucks have a different amount of jaws, and the more jaws it has the stronger the chuck is.
  • Speed – Drill speed is measured in rotations per minute (rpm) and most drills feature variable speed for greater drilling control.
  • Power – Corded drill power is measured in watts (W), while cordless drill power is measured in volts (V). Generally, the higher the wattage or voltage, the more powerful the drill is. Most cordless drills are 18V.

Angle Grinders

Angle grinders are generally used for cutting, grinding and polishing metal, stone and concrete. They are made up of a base unit and a rotating head which is mounted at a right angle. Various discs can be attached to the head, and the disc you choose depends on the task in hand. E.g. cutting discs for cutting, and sanding discs for smoothing. Many angle grinders feature variable speed settings to give you greater control.

Jigsaws

Jigsaws are handheld electric saws that are perfect for cutting shapes and holes in wood (such as chipboard and MDF) and sheet materials. The cutting motion is similar to that of a handsaw, which gives you greater control and allows you to cut in a range of directions.

Important features to consider:

  • Jigsaw Blades – Jigsaw blades are measured by how many teeth they have per inch (tpi). The higher the tpi of the blade, the faster it will cut through material. The tpi number you need depends on the job in hand.
  • Torque – The majority of drills come with variable torque settings, allowing you to adjust the output power for different tasks.
  • Corded or Cordless – If portability and flexibility are important factors for you when choosing a saw, then you should opt for a cordless jigsaw. With a cordless jigsaw, you aren’t restricted to working in areas near a mains power supply and there’s no cable to get in your way. However, the tougher the material you saw, the faster the battery will drain. Corded jigsaws give you less flexibility, but they are better equipped to saw through tougher materials and they never lose power.
  • Power – A jigsaw’s power is measured in volts if cordless and watts if corded. The more power your jigsaw has, the faster and smoother it will cut through materials.
  • Action – The efficiency of a jigsaw is maximised by the ‘pendulum’ action of most blades. This means that the blade moves back a touch before making the next cut, helping to improve cutting speed and efficiency. However, some blades also have ‘orbital’ action, meaning the move from side to side as well as back and forth. This improves cutting speed even further.

Circular Saws

For the accurate and straight cutting of wood and sheet materials such as MDF and timber board, consider a circular saw. They offer greater cutting power than jigsaws, however, they are limited to cutting in straight lines. Angled cuts can be achieved with a circular saw, but only if the saw features an adjustable blade plate.

Various sizes of blades can be purchased for circular saws, and the size of the blade you need all depends on the size of the job in hand. The thicker the material, the larger the blade required.

Circular saws can be used freehand or mounted in a saw table for greater control and ease of use.

Electric Screwdrivers

Electric screwdrivers not only take the time and effort out of DIY tasks when compared to manual screwdrivers, but they’re more precise too. They’re an essential addition to any tool box and are available in both corded and cordless options. Cordless screwdrivers give you freedom and flexibility, while corded screwdrivers give you more power.

Important features to consider:

  • Torque – An electric screwdriver’s rotating force is measured by torque. The higher the torque of your screwdriver, the better is for larger screws that require more effort. Some electric screwdrivers feature variable torque, making them ideal for a range of DIY tasks.
  • Spindle Lock – A handy feature that locks an electric screwdriver’s mechanism in place, allowing you to use it as a manual screwdriver. This is a useful feature for more precise tasks.
  • Reverse Action – Most electric screwdrivers feature a reverse action function, which makes removing screws as easy as putting them in. Taking out screws with a manual screwdriver can be a hassle, making reverse action one of the most useful features on an electric screwdriver.
  • Power – An electric screwdriver’s power is measure in volts, and generally speaking, the more volts a screwdriver has, the more efficient it will be and the more you’ll be able to get done on one charge.
  • Fast Charge Battery – Some screwdrivers use a fast charge battery, which means your screwdriver could be fully charged in less than an hour, so there’s less waiting around.
  • Variable Speed – If you’re looking for an electric screwdriver that will easily adapt to different materials and screws, then look for one with a variable speed function.
  • Exhaust Function – Some jigsaws feature a handy exhaust function that allows you to connect your jigsaw to your vacuum cleaner. By doing so, the dust created from sawing gets sucked into the cleaner, giving you better cutting visibility and reducing the amount of mess in your home or workspace. Some jigsaws even come with a dust bag attached to collect dust.

Sanders

Sanders are the perfect DIY tool for smoothing surfaces and removing paint, rust and varnish. They come in a range of styles for various tasks. Like certain jigsaws, some sanders can be attached to your vacuum cleaner to reduce mess.

Belt Sanders

With their impressive speed and aggressive action, belt sanders are perfect for quickly sanding down large surface areas, such as doors and table tops. They consist of abrasive paper stretched over rollers and some modes can even be secured to a workbench.

Orbital Sanders

With their round orbital action, orbital sanders are ideal for smoothing large areas without scratching. They’re perfect for smoothing plaster and paint between coats too.

Random Orbital Sanders

Random orbital sanders combine the speed of a belt sander with the smoothness of an orbital sander. Their unique random action means they don’t leave swirl patterns and are not sensitive to the wood grain.

Detail Sanders

Ideal for corners and other smaller spaces, detail sanders feature a vibrating head with a triangular piece of sandpaper attached. They’re sometimes known as ‘mouse’ or ‘corner’ sanders and combine the speed of a belt sander with the smoothness of an orbital sander, much like a random orbital sander.

Wallpaper Roll Calculator

Standard wallpaper comes in rolls approximately 10.05m (11 yards) long and 530mm (21") wide.

The following chart will help you estimate the number of rolls you need for a room.

Figures indicate the number of rolls required.

walls - height from skirting
in feet & inches
distance around the room
(doors & windows included) in feet
30' 34' 38' 42' 46' 50' 54' 58' 62' 66' 70' 74' 78' 82' 86' 90' 94' 98'
7ft 0" - 7ft 6" 4 5 5 6 6 7 7 8 8 9 9 10 10 11 12 12 13 13
7ft 6" - 8ft 0" 5 5 6 6 7 7 8 8 9 9 10 10 11 11 12 13 13 14
8ft 0" - 8ft 6" 5 5 6 7 7 8 9 9 10 10 11 12 12 13 14 14 15 15
8ft 6" - 9ft 0" 5 5 6 7 7 8 9 9 10 10 11 12 12 13 14 14 15 15
9ft 0" - 9ft 6" 6 6 7 7 8 9 9 10 10 11 12 12 13 14 14 15 15 16
9ft 6" - 10ft 0" 6 6 7 8 8 9 10 10 11 12 12 13 14 14 15 16 16 17
10ft 0" - 10ft 6" 6 7 8 8 9 10 10 11 12 13 13 14 15 16 16 17 18 19

Protective Gear

Whenever carrying out DIY work in your home, no matter how big or small the task, always keep your health and safety at the forefront of your mind. To reduce the risk of accidents, always use the correct tools for the job, keep your workspace clean and tidy, and wear appropriate protective clothing and eyewear.