We bet a lot of DIY social media accounts and sites make you oooooo, ahhhhh, and dream of transforming your space (“as easy as 1, 2, 3!”). Your eyes light up--maybe you get a couple of butterflies imagining the satisfaction you’d feel--and then it happens:
You recall your aversion to failure. You reminisce about all the good times you’ve shared with your appendages. You remember all the projects that went so, so wrong.
And you think to yourself, “Nahhhh…. you make that. Imma go make a sandwich.”
But here’s the thing: there are plenty of DIY home improvement projects you can pull off yourself with a little research, preparation, and care. Plus, making DIY improvements to your home or even just building a simple piece of furniture can be insanely satisfying. (Plus, if you choose the right projects, DIYing can save you a heap of cash to boot!)
Basic Tips for Success
If you’ve never pounded nails or used sandpaper, do not (NOT) go straight for the kitchen cabinet demolition or start sawing away on a (pricey) stretch of walnut. Instead, get a feel for your tools and materials through small practice projects. Then, when you’re ready to release your inner Joanna Gaines or Brian Baeumler, start in a lesser-used space like a spare bedroom, half bath, laundry room, or on a simple entry bench or end table. You’ll thank us.
Do your research.
Devour tutorials and how-to videos. Don’t just find out what to do; run searches for what not to do. It’ll save you time, energy, and money (and save your dog wondering what all the yelling is about).
Don’t skimp on quality.
When it comes to tools and materials, expensive doesn’t equal best, but ultra-cheap almost certainly equals worst. Invest in the best supplies and tools you can reasonably afford without paying for a lot of features you don’t need. Check consumer and pro reviews and recommendations on several sites before buying (or renting!).
Safety first, kids.
Seriously. There isn’t a person anywhere chatting it up in the ER like, “Took that wood shard right in the eye, exactly as planned. Good thing I didn’t wear those hideous goggles...” Do not be the first. Eye protection, skin protection, hearing protection--all recommended.
Go easy on yourself.
None of the people featured below were born masters of DIY. Like you, they just started -- and they kept going. Sure, this stuff looks easy in the hands of a seasoned pro, but then, so does tying shoes and coaxing the seal off the damn salsa container.
(Notice we didn’t say “opening the cereal bag without it exploding.” We’ll put humans on Mars and not one of them will want to be the first to dig into that new box of Wheat Chex.)
Everything is practice for something else. Have reasonable expectations going in -- including the expectation that you’ll make mistakes and maybe even have to start over. You’ll be following in the footsteps of every DIY expert you admire.
Time for Shi...plap to Get Real
Ready to stop dreaming of all those home improvements and start making them a reality? With advice for choosing and using all those new-to-you tools and plenty of skill-building projects to complete, the DIY experts below offer practical, real-world instruction and tips that’ll make you a circular saw sorcerer.
Bookmark this post and these resources, and you’ll be confidently swimming in the DIY deep end in no time!
The DIY Huntress
If you’d like to try your hand at building things like a desk, a headboard, or even a simple step stool (and a handsome stool it is), Sam Raimondi has the projects to keep you busy for a long time. If you’re feeling crafty, Raimondi also offers tutorials on imaginative wood (and other) craft that’ll scratch that itch. Extra credit: “Tool School” articles that give you the detailed low-down on common power tools. Sam, we love that about you.
Find more of The DIY Huntress on IG and YouTube.
Anika’s DIY Life
Anika Gandhi’s mission is “to inspire, empower, and encourage everyone to fill their lives with DIY -- no matter their experience level!” Awww! She loves all of us!
Anika has you covered, from a “Woodworking 101” section for true beginners (get thee some of that) to tool recommendations and tutorials--and, for email subscribers, even project plans. Check out her YouTube account for a mad rush of creativity: her video library is blowing up with simple wood projects, craft tutorials, and even tips for things like cleaning grout and cutting glass. How’s that for well-rounded?
Photo: Anika's DIY Life
If your inner Tim the Toolman Taylor is threatened by pastels and bunnies, you may be tempted to click and run from Toolbox Divas. Do it and you’ll miss out on a veritable playground of practical and imaginative woodworking projects, from modern farmhouse shelves, desks, and covered garden beds, to all sorts of wood crafts like a serving tray, multi-tier hanging planter, and this easy-to-make wall clock concocted with scrap wood and a hint of colored epoxy.
Timisha also educates beginner woodworkers and home improvement newbs about some basic tools in her Tools 101 series. Knowledge is power, people. (OK, we’re starting to see a theme here.)
IKEA Hackers Limited to all things IKEA, IKEA Hackers shares curated content showing you how to modify IKEA furniture in unique ways--“repurposing, reassembly, upgrade, update, personalisation, or the creation of something totally new.” (After you’ve managed to put it together, that is. We bid you nerves of steel.)
Home Improvement and Maintenance
Now that you have a few resources to keep you busy with projects into the next millenia, let’s talk home improvement and maintenance. This is the stuff that can increase your house’s value and keep it in excellent shape. Like us. <flexes tremendous bicep>
This Old House and Family Handyman have been in the home improvement and maintenance game since the first hipsters judged your grandparents and disco was queen (1951 and 1979, respectively). Think that makes those resources so last everything? Think again.
With all-you-can-read tips on everything from cutting in paint to repairing a screen, or building a workbench and painting your house, these sites offer comprehensive help with… well, pretty much everything. (In return, we’d like to help Family Handyman find a new name. Because 2021 y’all. 2-0-2-1.)
Special mention: This Old House’s DIY Smarts section and Family Handyman’s DIY University. Bookmark This Old House’s long-time host and DIY OG Bob Vila while you’re at it!
This Old House on IG and YouTube
Family Handyman on IG and YouTube
Bob Vila on IG and YouTube
For the Seriously Serious
Finish Carpentry TV
Pardon us while we fan… person. For those who want to learn to do finish carpentry like a pro, we give you master finish carpenter Richard McMurra. His epic skills, clear teaching, and casual approach will help take your skills to the next level.
Sure, there’s probably some stuff here that you will notttt be doing for a while, but the more you watch McMurray get down to business (he takes us to job sites with him - no cute HGTV stuff here), the more you’ll start to think, “Well damn, I actually get this.”
Note: We were not swayed by McMurray’s reference on IG to his daughter teaching cursive to the family dog. (Were not.)
Find Finish Carpentry TV’s website here.
Sticker shock got you down?
We feel you. For the tools you need for your project but just aren’t ready to spring for yet, we give you the Sparetoolz app. Connect with your neighbors, get tools, and still pay your electricity bill. (See? You really can have it all.)