Building a tiny house or a small house or even renovating a pre-existing house is no easy feat. Can it be done? Absolutely. Ask the hundreds (if not thousands) of living folks who have already done it. It is fairly obvious though that none of these projects in the last 50 years were completed without the use of some very important tools that extend beyond the hand plane, the claw hammer, and the saw. In fact, it is hard to imagine in the last 10 years one of these projects being completed without a compressor of some size and a few key pneumatic tools. Always choose the right tools for the job and building a tiny house is no exception.
Hand-Held Circular Saw
A circular saw is perhaps the key ingredient to this construction stew. It is simple to use, is easily portable, and rather affordable. Available as a corded or cordless tool, the circular saw cuts wood for framing, trimming out, dados, and a mix of small and long cuts. It is truly a universal tool. Change out the blade and your circular saw can cut stone masonry, glass tiles, plastic, and even metal. Prices range from a very affordable $50 Black & Deckers to a high end Bosch at $429. Keep your eyes open though as most yard sales will have one or two of these saws just looking for a new home!
Sliding Compound Miter Saw
Call it what you will but the sliding compound miter saw is a chop saw and it is the essential tool to have on hand. The sliding compound miter saw or chop saw is the workhorse of tiny house construction. It doesn’t just hinge to make the cut, but either hinges-and-slides or just plain slides. The advantage is that much thicker and wider boards can be cut and offers unsurpassed accuracy in cutting angles on most commonly sized lumber, boards and moldings. A “slide” saw can be adjusted to cut straight 90° cuts or angle cuts such as 15, 30, 45°, or 75°.
Common sense should have this item as a “hand-held corded drill” because they are more powerful, have more torque, and last indefinitely. But when job-site power (read: electricity) is at a minimum sometimes battery powered tools are more efficient. Cordless drills should be reserved for smaller, more isolated jobs, leaving the corded for larger jobs. A corded drill can also allow for paddle bits, diamond tip bits, hole bits, orbital sander attachments, auger bits, and more. The drill is essential indeed!
What may seem like a no-brainer, choosing the right hammer can mean the difference between sore forearms, bent nails, and midday fatigue. Hammers are typically divided into a few categories: curve claw, rip claw, framing, shinglers, drywall, ball peen, bricklayers, and rubber. For general construction a 16oz. to 20oz. curve claw is just fine. But for framing up a tiny house or small domicile, a larger, 19oz. framing hammer is ideal. It is longer, heavier, it has a ridged hammer face with a slightly flatter claw.
There is no other way – no better way – to rip larger sheets of wood than a table saw. Whether it is a tabletop mount or stands on its own platform, a table saw is perhaps the most used tool on a job site. It is important to note though that a table saw will only be as good as the blade will allow. Using a powerhouse table saw with a cheap blade will yield cheap results. Don’t skimp on the blade!
OTHER TOOLS TO NOTE
While the Top 5 is by no means all you will need/want or an exhaustive view of tooling options, it is a basic guide to essential tools used in a tiny house build. Other tools that come in a very close second and should be considered are:
- Portable Air Compressor
- Framing Nailer
- 4ft. level
- Finish nailer
- Volt Meter
…and the list goes on.
In fact, help Tiny House Blog create an essential tools list. What is the one (or ten) tools you feel are essential to a tiny house build?