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5 Tools Under £5 You Need In Your Kit

5 Tools Under £5 You Need Now

Having now owned a rather extensive DIY supply kit, I thought it was about time I shared some of our favourite tools (and not-so-favourite tools - coming soon...) that we think every toolkit needs.

This list was really hard to narrow down if I'm honest and we've tried not to choose tools that are too task specific. These are all tools that we use relatively often and genuinely find useful. I haven't bothered with stuff like screwdrivers and hammers, 'cos lets face it - if you don't have the bare basics, you probably don't have any interest in DIY and you most likely aren't even going to be on this site.

So, let's get to it!

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1. Set-Square / Combination-Square

A set-square, or otherwise known as a combination square is probably the one most used tool in our toolbag! It has a variety of different uses, from simply just being a handy ruler and spirit level to checking and ensuring cuts are perfectly square.

Combination Square Review

Sounds a bit meh? It totally isn't! It's the only tool you can guarantee to always have a perfect 90-degree right angle on it. It means when you draw a straight line with it, you can guarantee it is straight to the degree. Simply place the 'body part' flush against the top of the wood and use the ruler to draw the line. And voila, it will be 90-degree perfect straightness every time.

How to use a combination square

It also allows you to check straight cuts, which is really useful as power saw's like the mitre saw can go out of calibration over time. Even if that's just a few degrees, it can make a big difference to the overall result of whatever you might be building. With a combination square, you can check the blade is perfectly aligned and there's also a 45-degree angle on the tool for those too!

using a combination square to check right angles

Aside from checking angles, the metal ruler can also 'lock' into place, which means if you need to translate a certain measurement onto multiple pieces of wood, you can ensure this is done with consistently perfect and without any error or slip-of-the-pencil, so to speak.

You've probably seen us use this tool countless times throughout the blog and that's because we genuinely use it all the time! We used this tool alone for marking up and fitting our kitchen handles and I used it more recently when fitting feather edge boards on the shed to ensure a consistent overlap.

If you don't have one, I highly recommend spending a fiver, you probably won't regret it.

2. Paddle Mixer

How often do you find yourself mixing stuff? Cement, mortar, tile adhesive, paint, you name it. A paddle mixer attaches to a drill (in the same way a drill-bit would!) meaning it mechanically spins and does the hard work for you. It speeds up the prep-work no end, ensures your mixture is better and more thoroughly mixed and generally, it just saves you the arm work.

paddle mixer for plaster

We now have two of these, one specifically for plaster (a little more expensive - this is the one pictured above) and a cheaper £5 one for everything else. We've used ours so many times, most recently for mixing up some self-levelling compound which we used on the Pantry floor at Grants parents house.

using a paddle mixer with self levelling compound

For heavy duty use (i.e masses of batches of a mix, like plaster for example) then we'd recommend investing in an SDS drill to use with it, otherwise, over time, excessive use will burn out a normal drill. However, for smaller and lesser DIYs like tiling and mixing up odd bags, you can attach this to any drill, and it's perfect for the job.

3. Stripping Knife / Filling Knife

Okay, so technically I'm cheating here and mentioning two, but roll with me on this one...

A pack of filling knives is seriously invaluable in your toolkit! I know this is pretty basic and obvious, but I also know so many people who just use bits of thick card or those plastic thingymabobs you get with some of the posher fillers. They're OK, but if you have more than one or two odd holes to fill, I highly recommend buying proper filling knives in a few different sizes.

what filling knife should I buy?

When it comes to patching wobbly walls, dodgy areas of plaster, or bigger holes, you'll soon discover how much better a having proper knife will leave the job first time around. I recommend a wider knife (often called a jointing or taping knife) for large areas of spreading and smaller ones for holes. Filling knives are also really handy for mixing up small batches of tiling adhesive and mortar and they're also really useful for scraping away old caulk, sealant, paint or wallpaper.

using a taping knife to fill walls

Now whilst many filling knives are multi-purpose for stripping as well, I wanted to mention something slightly different which is even better for stripping. You can't use it for filling, but if you have lots of wallpaper to strip - then a scraper is the tool for you.

It's much sharper with actual blades and does a 100x better job at scraping than a filling knife. Obviously, care needs to be taken if you plan on using it around surfaces that are prone to scratching or gauging (like wood), but this will make wallpaper stripping an absolute doddle. It's still under £5 and I can vouch for it being a worthwhile buy!

using a wallpaper scraper on walls

4. Nail Punch

I love hammering nails - I just find it strangely therapeutic. Anyone with me?! If you have any kind of woodwork to install which requires nailing, then a nail-punch is another well worthwhile buy.

close up photo of a nail punch

Essentially, it allows you to recess a nail beneath the surface so the head is fully hidden. Not only does this look better, it means there's less chance of the nail raising up over the years (if you have old floorboards, you might know what I mean!) and generally, it just gives a more professional finish.

Nail punches are usually bought in a set of a variety of sizes to correlate with the size of the nail you need to recess. Once recessed, you can also fill over the nail with filler so you would literally never know it was there.

how to use a nail punch

Nail punches can also be used for marking out a hole for drilling into. This can often help with surfaces where the drill often slips away from the centre you're trying to drill. For a fiver, we think it's an all-around good buy to have!

5. Jabsaw

We had so many tools we deliberated over for number five, but we think the Jabsaw is worth a mention. It's also known as a keyhole saw, or drywall saw, but this is basically a mini saw for making holes in plasterboard or little jobs in hard to reach places. 

fat max jabsaw in use

It's kinda like a cross between a knife and a saw since the tip of the saw is much like a knife and is used for 'jabbing' (as the name suggests) to make holes through plasterboard. It's super useful for cutting holes in the ceiling, or even in the wall for new electrical lining boxes. It can also be used for cutting plastic pipes and cuts in woodwork, particularly where space is limited.

when to use a jabsaw

For £5 and a small tool that comfortably fits in a toolbag, we really like this one!

So that's the five DIY tools that we recommend buying under the £5 mark. It was quite hard to narrow our list down, but I think these are our most-used tools at least. I'd love to know if you have any to add - we're always on the hunt for increasing our never-ending tool supply!

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5 tools under £5 worth buying

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