Old House Gift Guide: All the Tools We Love

December 12, 2020

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I'm Heather, an Old House Lover, DIY Addict, Gardener Wannabe, and Crazy Dog Lady. I have renovated historic houses for over 20 years now with an emphasize on preservation over a quick flip. Now, I take great joy in teaching others the ins and outs of the renovation world.

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With Christmas just around the corner, I thought it would be fun to put together a shopping list. These are all the tools we love for all of my fellow old house rehabbers.

Renovation Tools We Love

These are some of the tools we use time and time again. I’ve also listed a handful of unique tools that make those quirky, old house out-of-the-ordinary repairs, just a little easier to conquer.

All the Tools We Love:

  1. Oscillating Multi-Tool: This is hands down my favorite tool. I call it the Zippy Zoo, so often so that the guys know exactly what I’m referring to. It’s helpful for all sorts of small cuts in really hard to reach places. It also has a ton of attachments for odd cuts like under door trim or other hard to reach places. Tip: Buy your blades in bulk to save money because you’ll go through multiple blades quickly.
  2. Nail Pullers/Pliers: If there’s one thing in abundance during a renovation it’s nails. This tool makes it much easier to pull old nails out and the handles provide great leverage.
  3. Nail Gun: Go ahead and splurge to get a cordless finish nail gun and just thank me later.
  4. Level: Since essentially nothing in an old house is ever plumb, level, or square, a level is a must. We suggest a set with different sizes.
  5. Chisel Set: A sharp set of chisels is helpful with old door and window hardware. I also use mine for a bunch of random small jobs that often times dulls the sharp edge. So, I settled on one sharp set and only use them as they should be. And then I have a second set for other tasks.
  6. 3/4″ Flex Putty Knife: Learning to glaze windows has been one of the best skills I have learned for old house renovations. And having the right knife is essential. This small flexible putty knife allows you to get just the right angle and to apply the right pressure when reglazing windows and is the perfect width for glazing.
  7. Reciprocating Saw: Also known as a sawzall, it’s used for just about everything in both the demolition and rebuilding phase.
  8. Skill Saw: Aside from the obvious uses of this saw, you can also pair it with the sawzall. In doing so, you don’t necessarily have to have a table saw to get the job done.
  9. Laser Level: As mentioned above, nothing is ever plumb, level, or square. The laser level is especially helpful for leveling projects such as kitchen cabinets, flooring systems, and shower doors.
  10. Cat’s Claw/Nail Pull: Similar to the nail pull, this small tool is part nail pull and part crowbar. It is helpful in tight spots especially with trim removal.
  11. Palm Sander: So many things need to be sanded down when renovating an old house and this will do the trick. Be sure to go ahead and buy the large packs of sanding paper in different grits as well.
  12. 5-in-1 Knife: My painters use this more than just about anything and it’s super versatile.
  13. Contour Gauge: Love this tool! There are so many odd spaces where trim needs to be cut around or perhaps replicated. Or maybe you need to notch out a tile around the doorway. Either way this is super easy to use and does the trick every time.
  14. Square: If there’s one thing you can count on it’s that almost nothing is square. Well, this.
  15. Small Hammer: Okay so I do sometimes get made fun of for my tiny little hammer. But, the guys also ask for it more times than they’ll admit. It’s great to use in tight spaces and for things such as driving finish nails into old trim..
  16. 6-in-1 Screwdriver: Super handy for so many reasons and includes 2 Phillips bits, 2 flathead bits, and 1/4 in. hex shaft. It cuts down on the number of screwdrivers you need.

Biggest Tip: Many of the tools I use the most are cordless so that they’re easier to use. I would also highly suggest choosing a brand you love. You can then purchase a kit that has a tool (or multiple tools), a battery, and a charger. This way you can then begin to purchase tools in the same set to save money.

Hope this helps you find the perfect gift for your renovation junkie. Merry Christmas!

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