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A to Z of DIY tools

A to Z of DIY tools


If you refer to hardware and tools as 'thingy-ma-bobbies' then you need to print out or bookmark this page. You will find a helpful list of A to Z hand and power tools that are used for do-it-yourself and home improvement.


Select the appropriate letter or scroll through the list to find what you are looking for.


 Abrasive stone file
A file used to finish custom cuts on ceramic tile.

Adhesives - see Adhesive section

Adjustable wrench
A wrench with an adjustable head to accommodate various sizes of nuts and bolts.

Allen wrench - Allen key
Hexagonal wrench used in conjunction with screws or bolts with recessed hexagonal heads.

Angle driver
A unique tool that simplifies work in corners and at awkward angles. It holds a driver bit at a 60-degree angle to the bladed. Turning the handle rotates the bit.

Angle grinder
A useful tool for DIY, an angle grinder can be used to cut hard materials, and has various discs for cutting ceramic, stone, masonry and steel.

For the purpose of unblocking residential drains, an auger has a flexible pipe that is fed into plumbed pipes to release a blockage. By turning the handle and pushing and pulling the flexible rod, the blockage is either forced forward or pulled clear.

Automatic centre punch
Allows one-handed operation by pressing down on the tool and a spring-loaded mechanism strikes a blow. More precise than using a hammer and punch.

Awl / Brad awl
Used for precision layout work and general scribing.

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Back saw
Perfect for the fine, accurate cut when using a mitre box. The back saw has a brass or steel spine over the top edge of the saw blade, providing support for the blade and preventing the blade from bending while cutting.

Ball peen hammer
Featuring a hardened, rounded head, it's used for striking cold chisels and punches for general metalwork.

Band or hose clamp
Features a ratchet mechanism that is tightened by turning the screw.

Band Saw
Specialist woodworking machine for cutting curves and detailed wood. The thin blade allows work to be maneuvered easily and accurately along a winding line of cut as well as in and out of tight corners.

Bar clamps
When joining boards that need to be clamped, a bar clamp applies strong pressure.

Basin wrench
Used under sinks to remove and fasten plumbing fittings in hard-to-reach areas.

Bevel-edge chisel
Used by carpenters for fine detailing, also useful for chipping out in wood and board.

Bevel-edge square
Useful when extreme accuracy is required to determine 90-degree angles.

Bevel protractor
Read, transfer and mark angles quickly and accurately with this tool.

Biscuit joiner
A tool designed to quickly and accurately cut matching slots in timber or board that are to be joined. Uses small biscuits to join wood sections together.

Block plane
Manual plane for smoothing irregular wood surfaces and end grain.

Bow saw
Ideal for pruning, landscaping work and sawing firewood. Tubular steel frame with blade-tensioning lever that snaps closed to form a handle. Uses replaceable blades.

Brick mason's hammer
Used for chipping and splitting bricks, masonry tile and concrete block. Forged-steel head with a square striking face opposite a flat, sharp cutting edge.

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C-clamps hold objects in place while sawing or joining. Used with a workbench or table.

Cabinet rasp
With a round and flat face the cabinet rasp removed excess wood.

Designed for accurately measuring inside and outside dimensions.

Carpenter's square
Also know as a builder's square, this tool is used for framing and laying out corners (or frames) to achieve a perfect angle.

Cartridge gun / Caulking gun
Used in conjunction with cartridge sealants, fillers and adhesives. The sealant cartridge fits into an open metal frame that has a trigger mechanism at one end. When the trigger is squeezed a bead of sealant is forced out of the nozzle.

Circular saw
Used to cut timber and board quickly with a straight edge. Useful for when large sections need to be cut. A circular saw can also be used for more accurate cuts by using a guide or fence to make sure that it stays on the correct path.

Chalk line
Postion and then snap the line to mark straight lines on vertical or horizontal surfaces. Ideal for marking tiling lines.

Chisel plane
Features a blade that extends in advance of the body, so the plane can be used to reach the farthest corner of a joint to trim and remove excess glue.

Claw hammer
This two-headed hammer is used to hammer in and remove nails or pins. Available in various sizes.

Cold chisel
A stone-cutting tool that has an integral handle and blade made of steel. The handle is struck by a hammer to cut material. It can cut sheet metal, remove rivets, bolts, nails or cut away ceramic tiles adhered to a surface.

Combination spanner
A combination spanner is a double-ended tool with one end being like an open-ended spanner, and the other end being like a ring spanner. Both ends generally fit the same size of bolt.

Combination square
A valuable tool, equipped with a six inch long steel rule for marking 90-degree and 45-degree angles. As with any square, it's principle job is to advise its user when the two sides of an object are at a true 90-degree angle.

Compass saw
Similar to a coping saw, but more heavy duty. A thin blade set into a pistol-grip handle, it quickly cuts curves, circles and cutouts in wood, plywood and wallboard. Useful for cutting access holes when installing pipes and electrical boxes. A smaller version is the keyhole saw.

Compound mitre saw
Combining a mitre saw, the compound version has a tilt mechanism that allows compound mitre joints to be cut into timber and board. Ideal for cornice, crown moulding, chair and dado rails, etc.

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Continuity tester
This battery operated has two wires, each with a test probe attached. It is used to check for a continuous electrical flow between points in a circuit and to check that a plug in an appliance is earthed. When the tester detects a flow of electricity an indicator light will come on. Some testers will also have an audible indicator such as a buzzer. Always switch off the power at the consumer unit before you begin to carry out any testing with a continuity tester.

Cordless drill / driver
All the benefits of a corded drill, but without a tether. Allows you to work on top of a ladder, on damp ground and without the tangles of a cord. The tradeoff is that a cordless may not be able to handle more rugged work or have quite the power of a corded.

corded drill
A standard corded or electrical drill can be used to drill, sand, polish and a variety of other task with the applicable attachments. Whereas a cordless drill is limited to the power rating, a corded drill can be used to drill into cement and stone with a suitable drill bit.

Corner chisel
Used for cutting clean, sharp inside corners. Perfect for the serious woodworker and tool collector.

Corner clamp
Designed for use on materials that come together at a right angle and particularly useful when making frames or boxes. As the two threaded bars are tightened, pressure is applied to each side of the right angle.

Countersink bit
Used to create a sink hole so that screw heads are flush or below the surface of timber or board.

Craft knife / Utility knife
A knife with a razor sharp blade, often retractable, used for scoring and cutting a variety of materials.

Crosscut saw
Hand saw used to cut across the grain (the width of the material).

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Dead-blow hammer
Strikes blows without damaging the work's surface. The tool's hollow head is partially filled with small metal shot, which reduces rebounding.

Digital rangefinder
Digital rangefingers use laser technology to measure distances, which is displayed on the screen. Some models determine area, volume calculation addition, subtraction, continuous measurement and Pythagoras function.

Dog-leg chisel
Skewed blades are ideal for trimming joint work in furniture making and for undercutting.

Dovetail saw
The most important of the back saws (and one of the smallest). Almost entirely dedicated to one function: cutting dovetails, where a clean and accurate saw cut is the hallmark of fine work. Have three handle designs: closed, pistol-grip and a turned spindle-like handle.

Dovetail square
Lays out and marks dovetail joints with consistent accuracy.

Dowel centres
Used to accurately align dowels when using dowel joints.

Drill press
Extremely versatile tool for hole boring, the drill press bores a variety of holes accurately and easily. It can also sand, rout, polish, saw, shape, grind, sharpen and mortise. Used in both metalworking and woodworking.

Drywall hammer
Designed for installing drywall, this hammer has a milled striking face opposite a hatchet blade. Use the hatchet blade to score the drywall to permit snapping it along the scored line of cut.

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Electronic or Laser level
This tool makes use of blinking lights and a beeping signal to indicate level, plumb, pre-selected and unknown angles.

Electronic Detector
An invaluable tool for any DIY enthusiast. The detector is used to determine the positioning cables, wiring, pipes or studs in walls before drilling.


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Finishing or Random Orbit sander
Random orbit sanders are useful for sanding and polishing large areas for a professional finish.

Flooring chisel (also electrician's chisel)
All-steel tool used primarily for ripping up old wood strip flooring. Used to notch house framing for installing cable and electrical boxes.

Frame clamp
Uses corner blocks and long-threaded rods with sliding speed nuts to assemble square, rectangular and other oddly-shaped work pieces. Ideal for frames and objects with corners.

Framing hammer
For use by house framers. Features an extra-long handle, ripping claw and checkerboard face that reduces glancing blows and flying nails.

Fret saw
And adjustable frame can hold blades up to six inches, which allows you to use broken blades. Similar to a coping saw but with a deeper "throat" which allows it a deeper reach to cut further away from the edge of the work. Great for fine, detailed work.

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Graduated straightedge
Indispensable for scribing perfectly straight lines and checking the flatness of a surface.

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Hand saw
Features a toothed-blade that allows cutting through most timber and board - with some effort. Effective for cutting large, thick pieces of timber.

Hot air gun
Ask any painter/decorator and they will tell you how useful a hot air gun is for removing layer after layer of paint or varnish. Also useful for accumulated layers of wax.

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Insulated screwdriver
Used by electricians as a precaution against electrical shock, the shaft is covered in insulated sheathing with only the tip exposed.

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Jack plane
All-purpose and most useful of all bench planes. Used to smooth rough boards and flatten uneven surfaces.

Used for freehand cutting intricate shapes in relatively thin wood. The jigsaw uses thin blades that allow you to cut very small radius curves. When in use, it operates with little vibration, quick blade changes and easy-to-operate clamps.

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Keyhole saw
A small saw with a short, narrow blade and a tight turning radius. Smaller than a compass saw.

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Laser plumb bob - see Electronic Laser Level

Locking pliers
Adjustable pliers that can be used as a hand-held vice or clamp. They lock firmly onto a work piece. What makes them different to other pliers is the double-lever action of the jaws. Like other pliers, the jaws of the locking pliers are closed by squeezing the handles together; a trigger on the other handle loosens the grip.

Long-nose pliers / Needle-nose pliers
Used mainly for electrical work, but their long gripping jaws (nose) allow excellent control for reaching into awkward spaces. These pliers also have cutting jaws close to the pliers' joint that can be used to cut cable and flex.

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Magnetic bevel finder
A pocket-sized tool that is actually four tools in one: a level, protractor, square and pitch gauge. Excellent for measuring and transferring angles, as well.

Magnetic-tip screwdriver
While sometimes handy for using with small screws, when used to attach metal brackets or hardware the magnetic affect can be frustrating.

Marking gauge
Used to lay out wood joint lines-of-cut. Designed for marking with the wood grain, it scribes a very fine, precise line more accurate than a pencil line.

Mill file
The most common single-cut file. Used for sharpening circular saw blades, draw-filing, lathe work and anywhere else a smooth finish is required.

Mitre Saw
The power alternative to the mitre box, mitre saws are great for basic crosscuts for lumber and trim. Although not capable of bevelled or compound-angle cuts, they are simpler to use, durable and less expensive than compound or sliding compound mitre saws.

Mitre square
Designed exclusively for laying out and marking precise 45-degree angles. An oversized blade accommodates large workpieces.

Mortise chisel
Has a straight, non-bevelled edge, unlike a standard chisel. Designed to take a heavy pounding and prying.

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Nail puller
Has a V-notched tip which slips under the nail head. The long handle provides leverage to pull up a nail.

Nail sets
For use when a nail head is to be sunk below the work surface.

Needle rasps
Tiny rasps ideal for model-making or detailed carving and fitting. Come in varied shapes: rectangular, tapered, triangular, round, half-round and square.


Orbital sander
Don't be fooled by the name - Orbital sanders can be square or rectangular in shape. Use for general sanding over a flat surface.

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Palette knife / Paint scraper
Useful for various applications, these blunt knives can be used as paint scrapers, to apply wood filler, as a putty knife, etc. It's always handy to have a set in your toolbox or workshop.

Essentially a large nail puller and cutter, a pincer is designed for removing brads and small nails.

Pipe clamp fixtures
Long reaching fixtures attached to a pipe, that, once positioned, are tightened by turning a handle. Only pipe length limits capacity. Ideal for joining boards to make wider panels.

Plumb bob
Consisting of a heavy weight and line, a plumb bob employs the laws of gravity to establish what is "plumb" (exactly vertical)

Pry bar
Has a curved blade to fit behind moulding or skirting boards to assist in the removal. The long handle provides leverage to pry the sections apart.

Putty knife
A small knife with a blunt blade used to shape and smooth putty when glazing. Putty knives come in three main types all named after the shape of the blade: spearpoint knife, clipped-point knife and straight knife.

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Quick clamps
A must-have tool for any DIY workshop, the lower jaw slides easily on a bar and locks securely in position under the slightest pressure.

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Random-orbit sander
Also a finishing sander, this sander is excellent for finishing, fine sanding and polishing of projects. Between the weight, the spinning shaft, and an offset thrust bearing the sander produces a random, varying motion that results in little or no scratching across the grain. With this tool you can sand in any direction.

Ratchet screwdriver
The ratchet mechanism is handy for screwing in and removing all types of screws. A screw bit fits into the top of the ratchet shaft and, when turned, the shaft rotates either forwards or backwards.

Reciprocating saw
More of a specialist tool that will chew through most timber and board. Can cut through wood, metal or plastics easily when uses the correct blade. Great at cutting rough openings, cutouts for plumbing and heating ducts and can even prune tree branches.

Right-angle drill
Allows you to reach around a corner or into a confined space to bore holes or drive screws. Great for smaller jobs such as drilling pilot holes or driving screws inside a cabinet.

Portable power tool that uses various cutting and shaping bits for decorative edging and detail.

Round file
Standard file for cleaning up or enlarging holes and shaping tight internal curves. Works on metal or wood.

Rubber mallet
Use these mallets to strike blows without damaging the surface. Useful for joinery, assembling furniture, fitting dowel pins, etc.

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Sabre saw
If you need the ability to follow curved or straight lines, cut metal (as well as plastic, brick, etc. with the right blade) or enclosed holes, reach for this tool. A popular tool, the unique design provides relatively-safe cutting.

Sanding block
Make your own sanding block by wrapping sandpaper around a hand-sized block of wood. Easy to hold, a sanding block is an excellent tool for sanding large areas.

Scroll saw
The scroll saw is used for freehand cutting intricate shapes in relatively thin wood using thin-toothed blades that allow you to cut very small radius curves. Specialist tool used by woodworkers who do detailed scroll work.

Sharpening stone
Blocks of natural or artificial stones used with an oil or water lubricant to sharpen blades of woodworking tools such as chisels and planes. Most are rectangular in shape and come in many grades, from coarse to fine.

Shave hook
Used in conjunction with a hot air gun, a shave hook is shaped to allow it to strip paint from moulded woodwork and flat surfaces. Paint is removed by pulling the shave hook towards you.

Side cutters
One of the best cutting tools to have in your toolbox. Side cutters can be used to cut cable, flex and thin wire.

Sliding bevel square (or T-bevel)
Indispensable for marking, transferring and checking angles. Helpful when marking odd angles and dovetail joints and when cutting a board to fit an existing angle.

Smooth plane
Designed for general-purpose planing; often used after the jack plane for final polishing.

Spanners provide grip for applying torque to turn nuts and bolts. The U-shaped opening grips two opposite faces of the bolt or nut. This wrench is often double-ended, with a different-sized opening at each end.

Speed square / triangle
One of the most popular and versatile layout tools for framing, square and angle finding. Used for framing layout work including wall and roof construction and stairway building.

Spring clamp
Ideal for holding mitred corners as the toothed-jaw grips and holds angled work, irregular mouldings and tough-to-clamp joints.

Spirit level
An invaluable tool for determining level - or plumb - lines on horizontal, vertical or diagonal planes.

Square file
When needing to make a round hole square, this is the tool. The long, tapered profile makes it useful for cleaning up right-angle shapes such as slots and keyways.

Staple gun
Extensively used in home upholstery, you can also use to fasten other materials. Most modern staple guns use staples and pins.

Steel wool
Not to be confused with the kitchen variety, fine and ultrafine steel wool are used with mineral turpentine to remove oily residues, such as wax and oils, from the surface of wood.

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Table saw
The table saw is a useful addition to any workshop as it allows you to rip long planks of wood very easily. This tool is a time saver when cutting continuous setting, such as when laying decking or flooring.

Tack hammer / Upholsterer's hammer
with its magnetized head this hammer is perfect for driving small brads and tacks.

Tape measure
The most important tool for any DIY-er. A basic tape measure is typically spring loaded so when it's not in use the tape retracts into its metal or plastic case.

Tenon saw - see back saw

hree-way edging clamp
Used to apply and repair moldings, decorative trim and edging. C-clamp design with a third screw that applies right angle pressure to the edge.

Torpedo level
Small and portable, no tool box is complete without a torpedo level. Contains sealed vials, each with an air bubble that moves position to identify plumb lines.

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Vise-grip hold-down clamp
Squeezes objects together to promote bonding.

Violin plane
Small plane used for precision finishing and decorative work.

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Warding file
Primarily used for shaping and trimming notches in locks and keys, the tapered profile makes it useful in situations where an ordinary file won't fit.

Warrington hammer
Features a cross-peen head which enables you to start small nails and brads, then finish hammering with the opposite end.

Wet saw
A table saw that uses water to keep the cutting disc cool when cutting tiles, bricks or pavers.

Wire strippers
The V-shaped cutting jaws easily strip and remove core insulation cleanly. There is a screw to adjust the closing gap of the jaws to accommodate different sizes of cable and flex.

Wood mallet
Used with plastic- or wood-handled chisels and for installing dowel pins and assembling wooden parts.

Woodworker's vise
Indispensable for the workshop. A solid investment for a workbench. Has smooth jaws designed to not damage wood.







Zigzag folding rule
Classic woodworking rule that is better for measuring longer runs.


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