Top 5 Tiny House Tools


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

Circular SawA 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

Chop SawCall 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°.

Hand-Held Drill

DrillCommon 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!


HammerWhat 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.

Table Saw

Table SawThere 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!


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
  • Jigsaw
  • Sawzall
  • 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?

By Andrew M. Odom for the [Tiny House Blog]

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Gregory Smith - December 2, 2015 Reply

You left out the one, literally most essential, tool! A tape measure! A good, 25′ locking tape measure is the most important tool for any project.

The rest of the list was on point. If you’re laying any ceramic tile, though, a tile wet saw is the right way to go, and diamond edge ceramic hole saws make drilling holes for faucets and spouts a lot less frustrating.

GRandall - December 2, 2015 Reply

All of the tools listed above are for naught if you don’t have a quality 25′ – 30′ tape measure.

Additionally you need a chalk line, a spool of string for straightening walls, sawhorses, speed square or framing square with gauges, and a pencil or five.

In lieu of a table saw a quality saw guide will do the job. I recently completed a fireplace mantle where I ripped the larger sheetgoods down using a KREG Rip-Cut saw guide. It was quite accurate and much easier on the back when handling full sheets. At less than $30 a bargain.

dan - December 3, 2015 Reply

Many of the big box stores will rip large sheets of plywood/goods for you at a small or free price. It makes hauling them easier. Delivery of goods/materials is a cheap alternative. Rent tools helps as does tool sharing setups.

I think the kit offered by different tool manufactures mainly Dewalt, has most of the power tools included…the 18 volt kit last for years…

Most little houses lack sufficient storage so a small kit of essentials is necessary…

Bee well;peace….dan

Ericc - December 3, 2015 Reply

2 pair of sawhorses will keep large pieces of materials from flying about and ruining the end of cut because there is no support for the fall-off.
They also make temp tables for seating and food service to generous helpers.
A high quality carpenter’s knife with replaceable blades will have a multitude of uses.

aliceh - December 3, 2015 Reply

A level and a framing square are in my essential tool lists. If you don’t have a chop saw you can use a manual mitre box and handsaw to cut trim.

Kzoodog - December 4, 2015 Reply

The only additions I’d make are my trusty speed square, which I could not be without, and my impact driver which handles longer screws with amazing ease – I used a $49 battery powered type and it served me well. Wouldn’t mind having that sliding miter saw but had no problem finding ways to make a 10″ table top table saw work; built a rolling table for it out of scrap.

Anna D. Pritchett - January 19, 2016 Reply

Build and repair of buildings is difficult task if without the tools necessary. Use tools to help complete the job quickly, accurately and more saving materials.

Rob Simpson - September 14, 2016 Reply

I think circular saw is the best handy tool, used frequently for cutting.
Although, portability is needed sometimes.
Thanks for nice post 🙂

Nicolas - April 12, 2017 Reply

Oh..I thought that the air compressor will not be mentioned, but found it at the end of the article. It is a very useful tool for home and for DIY projects. Good article! Thanks

Joseph H. Ferguson - December 3, 2017 Reply

I’m a commercial trim carpenter, of 20 years plus and have seen and used alot of different saws out in the field. Dewalt saws are the most common ones out there (I don’t really care for there saws, and all of their blades in my opinion are absolute junk), Hitachi saws are good saws, they were very popular in the early 90’s and still common to see from time to time.

Ryan - April 26, 2018 Reply

I guess that the framing nailer is one of my favorite handy tools, It makes my work way faster.
And most of the time it depends on your type of work.
Thanks for sharing

Burt Silver - April 26, 2018 Reply

I like that you mention that sliding compound milter saw. I’ve been thinking of getting something like that for this tree house project that I’m working on. Cutting the lumber would be so much easier and precise if I got a sawblade like that. I’ll have to see what my options are.

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