10 Must Have Tools For Building Your Tiny House

Anyone who’s worked on a serious construction project knows how important it is to have the right tools. It can mean the difference between endless swearing and frustration – and sitting back with a beer and admiring your handiwork in the evening. We spent some time rounding up the best tools for the job – tools that will save you time, frustration, and most importantly, help you build a better home.

Ryobi AirStrike Cordless Brad Nailer

Why you need it

Naturally you’ll be doing a lot of nailing, and swinging a hammer can get old real fast. This is probably one of the best investments you can make in order to save time and energy.

The important stuff

  • 18-volt cordless lithium ion battery stores plenty of power
  • No need for an air compressor, CO2 cartridge, or cord
  • Up to 700 nails in one charge
  • Delivers 18-gauge nails from 5/8 inch to 2 inch length

Compared to similar tools like the nailers by DeWalt and Rigid, this one is much smaller and easier to handle. Ryobi has been making a name for themselves over the past decade and continually improving their products. This one is no exception.

Best online price: $330.30

Ryobi Cordless BRAD NAILER 18GA Model P320

Ryobi 18-Volt Li-ion Drill + Saw Combo

Why you need it

Now that you’ve got a nailer, complete your collection of basic building tools with Ryobi’s rechargeable drill/saw package. Now you can handle 90% of your construction tasks without breaking a sweat!

The important stuff

  • Compact 18-volt lithium-ion battery works with both drill and saw
  • Included dual chemistry charger is compatible with many other Li-ion batteries
  • Drill has 24-position clutch and 2-speed gear box for varied torques and speeds
  • ½-inch keyless chuck with spindle lock makes changing bits quick & easy
  • Ergonomically designed circular saw with left-side blade for better visibility

Light weight but high performance, with a battery that lasts and lasts, these are two more quality tools from Ryobi. With a powerful, versatile drill and an easy-to-handle saw that makes quick work of 2×4s, this combo is what you’ll reach for whenever you need to make a cut or bore a hole. The battery recharges in just 60 minutes.

Ryobi 18-Volt Li-ion Drill Saw Combo

Best online price: $89.58

Ryobi 18-Volt One+ Lithium-Ion Starter Kit (2-Tool)

Bostitch Mini Impact Nailer

Why you need it

How are you going to drive a nail if you don’t have room to swing a hammer? You’ll find yourself in any number of tight spots when you’re putting together a tiny house, but Bostitch’s tiny nailer can squeeze into all of them.

The important stuff

  • One-pound nailer that fits in the palm of your hand
  • 360° swivel air fitting lets you position it anywhere you need to
  • Insulating rubber grip reduces vibration while front exhaust directs air away from you
  • Compatible with standard bulk finish, framing and timber nails

Bostitch makes one of the smallest, best and cheapest impact nailers around. It’s great for putting in joist hangers, it’s a godsend for places where swinging a hammer would be impossible or just too uncomfortable (directly overhead, for example), and it’s so easy to use that you may end up retiring your old-school hammer to the toolbox for good.

Bostitch Mini Impact Nailer

Best online price: $32.89

BOSTITCH PN50 Mini Impact Nailer

Makita Random Orbit Sander

Why you need it

Using a sanding block is time-consuming and tiresome even if you’re just building a table or a cabinet. Now imagine finishing an entire tiny house like that.

The important stuff

  • Big 1/8” random orbits at 12,000 orbits per minute sand wood quickly and smoothly
  • Uses 5-inch hook-and-loop abrasive disks for quick changes
  • Self-contained through-the-pad dust collection system with dust bag included
  • Highly durable, with rubber-sealed switch and oversized ball bearing

Makita’s powerful 3-amp sander stands head and shoulders above the competition for ease of operation and fast, non-marking sanding action. There are cheaper sanders, but this one will last a lifetime. The attached dust bag is great for keeping the air clear in small spaces, but if you need to you can hook the unit up to a vacuum cleaner for even better dust removal.

Makita 5-Inch Random Orbit Sander

Best online price: $69

Makita BO5030K 5-Inch Random Orbit Sander

Ryobi Miter Saw with Laser

Why you need it

You’ll need a good miter saw for easily cutting accurate angles both when you’re framing your tiny house and putting in molding. And while Ryobi’s cordless circular saw is great for as-needed use onsite, you’ll want a more powerful plug-in saw for higher volume cutting operations. Plus it makes cutting exact angles a breeze. Remember, measure twice, cut once!

The important stuff

  • Heavy-duty 9-amp motor spins 7¼” up to 5,800 RPM for effortless cuts
  • Exactline laser alignment system shows exactly where the cut will go
  • 9 ball detent stops at 0 and ± 15, 22.5, 31.6 and 45 degrees
  • Handles 2×4s and 3½ inch crosscuts

Another quality saw from Ryobi. The laser guide is bright, dead-on, and shows up on all visible surfaces of the piece you’re sawing. Despite its power, this compact saw takes up just 2 cubic feet of space – a definite plus when you’re working (or living) in a tiny house.

Ryobi Miter Saw

Price: $69.44

Factory Reconditioned Ryobi ZRTS1143L 7-1/4” Miter Saw with Laser Green

Makita Compact Router

Why you need it

Your tiny house is going to have cabinets, right? Kitchen cabinets, bathroom cabinets, storage cabinets… Making them will involve some serious joinery, and to do that efficiently you need a router to create rabbets, dados and dovetails. You can also use it for decorative effects.

The important stuff

  • Powerful 1¼ horsepower aluminum motor with variable 10,000 – 30,000 RPM operation
  • Soft start so it won’t jerk in your hands and ruin the piece when you turn it on
  • Easy depth adjustments with quick release cam lock and rack-and-pinion fine depth adjustment
  • Electronic speed control keeps speed uniform as you cut

This solidly built router is the top choice of professional woodworkers looking for something compact. It’s comfortable to hold, relatively quiet, and has a soft start feature, so it’s a great choice for beginners as well. Powerful enough to handle anything you throw at it and durable enough that you’ll still be doing projects with it years after you move into your tiny house.

Makita compact router

Price: $139.22

Makita RT0701C 1-1/4 HP Compact Router

HomeRight Fine Finish Paint Sprayer

Why you need it

A sloppy paint job can make a perfectly well-built house look like amateur hour, but if you’re just building one tiny one you don’t want to invest in bulky, expensive professional house painting gear. HomeRight’s small, self-contained residential sprayer is a great alternative.

The important stuff

  • Makes it easy to achieve a smooth, even finish on painted surfaces. No more brush marks!
  • Variable flow rate with three adjustable spray patterns so you can use it for practically any painting application
  • Operates at low pressure for precise control and reduced over-spray
  • Easy clean up – just a few minutes

HomeRight’s sprayer is very popular with DIYers for its high-quality finishes, ease of use and low price. It’s everything you need for a professional looking paint job in one small package – you don’t have to buy (or mess with) an air compressor or additional hoses. It works with latex, acrylics, and enamels and has no trouble handling poly/top coats and specialty paints.

HomeRight sprayer


Best online price: $61.08

HomeRight C800766 Finish Max Fine Finish Sprayer

Bosch Compact Laser Measure

Why you need it

As a DIY builder you can’t count on always having a helper around to hold the other end of a tape measure. This ultra-tiny laser measure gives you an accurate distance at the touch of a button – and you don’t have to go an inch out of your way.

The important stuff

  • Precision laser technology with 1/8-inch accuracy up to 50 feet
  • Square base allows easy measurement at any angle
  • Just 4 inches long
  • Simple one-button operation

This is Bosch’s smallest, least expensive laser measure, but it’s still a quality product, and its 50-foot range is plenty for a tiny house. It displays a continuous measurement, and its capture feature lets you save one distance and then go on to take another. The minuscule size and square shape lets you measure from just about anywhere at any angle.

Bosch Compact Laser Measure

Best price: $29.88

Bosch GLM 15 Compact Laser Measure, 50-Feet

Bosch Laser Square

Why you need it

You’ll love this for any task that requires straight lines or right angles, and there are a lot of those when you’re building a tiny house. Think about marking studs, hanging cabinets, flooring, and putting in countertops and appliances, and you’ll see how useful a laser square can be.

The important stuff

  • Projects a pair of perpendicular laser lines up to 30 feet on any surface
  • Alignment guide allows for incremental 5-degree turns
  • Good accuracy of ½ inch at 30 feet
  • Comes with non-marking adhesive so you can attach it to vertical surfaces

Again, a general contractor would probably buy a larger and more capable device, but for the short distances in a tiny house this is really all you need. This model wins respect for its bright laser (which is easily visible even in full daylight) and its true-to-square alignment. It has two built-in bubble levels for accurate positioning.

Bosch Laser Square

Best online price: $28.99

Bosch GTL2 Laser Square

Irwin Wire Stripper

Why you need it

A lot of people find doing the wiring to be one of the most tedious parts of tiny house construction. Having a good tool for stripping, crimping and cutting can remove a lot of the frustration and fatigue.

The important stuff

  • Strips wire from 10-24 AWG; crimps 10-22 AWG insulated/non-insulated
  • Self-adjusting mechanism plus swivel knob for micro-adjusts
  • Includes wire cutter
  • No-slip ergonomic grips let you work for hours without discomfort

If you’ve done any wiring before you’ll be amazed at how much easier it is with this tool. It adjusts automatically so you don’t have to worry about the gauge of the wire – just grip and strip – and has an adjustable stopper so you get the same strip length each time. Good for crimping and cutting too, and the comfortable grips make the whole process a lot less painful.

Irwin Wire Stripper

Best online price: $19.99

Irwin Vise-Grip Self-Adjusting Wire Stripper, 8”, 2078300

Bonus: Beer

Why you need it

No matter how many tools you have, the inevitable hiccup will arise in your building plans. Before, during, or after construction, there’s always a place for a cold brew. Plus it’s a great way to bribe your friends to help you!

The important stuff

  • Stick with a lower alcohol session type beer. Those 8.9% alcohol double IPAs will NOT do your coordination any favors.
  • Everything in moderation. Enjoy a brew with lunch, or for a mid-afternoon snack. Don’t get plastered and start firing nails as target practice.
  • Get enough to share.

There you have it! Do you have any recommendations for “must have” tools that you used to complete your build? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Aug 16, 2016 / by / in ,

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