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    10 Tools to Take your DIY Projects to the Next Level

    Have you too jumped on the DIY bandwagon now that we’re all spending more time at home these days? Or, are you in need of some last-minute Father’s Day gift ideas that will actually get used regularly? If the answer is yes to either of these questions, now is a great time to add some next-level tools to your arsenal, because of course, the better the tools, the easier and more professional a job will look. Follow along for 10 tool suggestions that will take your DIY projects to the next level.

    1. Line Laser Level. We all find ourselves needing to hang pictures, shelves, or televisions from time-to-time. And while a basic toolkit will likely include a bubble level, line laser levels project lines both vertically and horizontally, acting as both a virtual chalk line and a second set of hands. These digital levels are particularly helpful with tricky hanging jobs like stairways, gallery walls, or high stakes projects such as securing a new flat screen.
    2. Cordless Reciprocating SawA reciprocating saw is basically a saw, minus all the elbow grease. This power tool is affordable, accepts different sized blades, and most importantly simplifies and shortens tasks like pruning large shrubs and trees (not to mention saving you a trip to the chiropractor). These saws also work great for demolition projects and making small/tight cuts during renovations. If you’re like me and jealous, yet terrified of your husband’s chainsaw, have a smaller property to maintain, or want to simplify your aging parents’ yardwork, reciprocating saws are an excellent buy.
    3. Power Drill. When my husband and I got married, I registered for my beloved KitchenAid Mixer, and he registered for a power drill; two things we are still using regularly after 10 years. And really, anyone who has ever put together a piece of Ikea furniture deserves a power drill. They are of course more efficient than your typical screw driver set, and also create a firmer and tighter hold, making furnishings, cabinets, and other pieces throughout a home safer and more stable. 
    4. Pressure Washer. Every spring before barbeque season begins, we pull out the pressure washer and spray down all our decking, concrete paths, barbeque, and sometimes even the cars. And just like that, a year’s worth of tough stains such as oil, grease, moss, algae, and pollen vanish, giving our home a fresh face for sunnier days. A pressure washer will even remove loose paint if your planning to take on painting an exterior building. Gas powered pressure washers will provide a more powerful punch, but for smaller houses and condos, an electric washer will likely get the job done.
    5. Shop Vac. You certainly don’t need to a shop to find a shop vac incredibly useful. They are ideal for handling any heavy-duty vacuuming cleanup such as demo debris, basements, fireplaces, garages, or car interiors. Shop vacs operate at a much higher power than a standard household vacuum, and are great for cleaning up messes you don’t really want home appliances to mingle with. Shop vacs come in standard dry models as well as wet-dry versions that can be used to clean up overflow issues such as flooded basement or septic backups.
    6. Voltage Detectors. Ever find an old-looking wire buried in the wall of your house or in the ground outside? Non-contact voltage testers safely detect if there’s any current actually flowing through the line.  As an owner of many old homes over the years, it is (wait for it) shocking how many homes are mis-wired, and it’s always better to be safe than sorry when dealing with electrical issues. Most voltage detectors run less than $20 and have a flashlight function that lights up the screen in the dark.
    7. Outlet Tester. Following on the heels of a voltage detector, outlet testers are also a great home safety tool, particularly if you’ve moved into a home for which you did not oversee the construction. Simply plugging these tools into your outlet will not only display whether or not the outlet is live, but also if it meets proper electrical standards, identifying specific safety issues if not. Mis-wired outlets can also be harmful to expensive electrical devices like TVs and computers, so this little tool, which will run you less than $10, can save you a lot of money in the long run.
    8. Paint Sprayer. Most adults eventually became acquainted with the nuances and tools needed for painting. But what the typical home owner often doesn’t think to buy is a paint sprayer. Rollers and brushes are still a winner when walls are involved, but if your painting projects extend to furniture, trim, or really any surface that is not flat or difficult to get a brush into, a paint sprayer will provide a glossy, streak-free professional looking finish.
    9. Quick-Grip Clamps. Often thought to be solely a wood workers tool, quick-grip clamps are a fastening device that can come in handy for really any project that requires materials to be held in place, preventing both movement and separation. This can include big projects like plumbing and carpentry, but also a range of smaller projects such as crafting, bike maintenance, or simply securing a drop cloth while painting.
    10. Electric Sander. An electric sander is a small power tool with sand-paper attached to the face, used for smoothing out surfaces on various materials. These sanders are most often used to remove paint from wood surfaces, but can also be used on metal or plastic to remove both paint and rust. I recently used ours to refinish an antique bench (hand sanding would have taking me hours with a much less consistent result), and my husband uses it to sand down drywall patches and to spruce up the deck every few years before staining.
    Photo by Lightfield Studios for Adobe

    As the saying goes, “you’re only as good as the tools you use,” so if you’re about to embark on your next DIY project, of simply need a gift for Dear-Old-Dad, consider picking up one of my top 10 next-level tools to add both efficiency and polish to your next project.

    Feature photo by Andrey Popov for Adobe.