If you are going to build your own tiny home there are a few tools that you will need. This list is the basics for what you need for building a tiny home. There are many more that could be used, and I have included 5 at the end that I highly recommend if building a tiny home. If you are not sure if you want to build your tiny home check out the article Tiny Homes, To Build Or Buy.
Without a doubt, you will need a tape measure when building a tiny home. Everything you will do will revolve around getting proper measurements. Whether you are building from plans or planning as you, go you will need to be able to make accurate measurements when building a tiny home.
This is probably not usually an item you would consider as an essential tool when you are building a tiny home. Yet, this tool is essential. A good carpenters pencil allows you to mark lumber for cutting and make notes for dimensions or placement of the structure.
I would recommend at least two squares if not 3. A quick square is great for making cut lines on small items like 2 x 4 lumber and other small items. A regular framing square is around 24” x 16” and is great for making sure walls and other structural parts of your tiny home are square. Finally, a drywall square. Drywall squares are 48” long and make it easy to square off a full 4’ x 8’ sheet of wood. This is great for cutting OSB for sheathing or any other panels you may have in your project.
You will need a way to make sure things like your cabinets, loft (if you have one), and other items are level when building a tiny home. One thing to watch if you are building a Tiny Home On Wheels (THOW), is to make sure the trailer is level during the build. If the trailer is not level then you won’t be able to use a level accurately. I recommend a good 24” level.
Needless to say, you can’t build much of anything without a hammer. When building a tiny home, even if you are using air nailers there is always opportunities to use a hammer. Hammers are need to drive in that nail that just didn’t seat far enough or to drive that 2 x 4 into place when setting a wall.
A utility knife is essential when building a tiny home. You will need it when cutting the wrap for your home or the tar paper for the roof. It also works well to sharpen your carpenter’s pencil.
If you are doing your own electrical, you will want a good set of wire strippers. Getting a good wiring tool will make it easier for you to make all the necessary cuts and connections when building a tiny home. Luckily most tiny homes electrical is fairly minimal so you won’t be needing these a ton. Although, if you choose to install solar in your tiny home you will use them quite often.
A quality wrecking bar will come in handy when building a tiny home. If you make a mistake, and that is inevitable, then a pry bar comes in handy to pull nails or disassemble things.
There is always something that is going to need a socket. Whether it be a lag bolt you are using to pull things together, or bolts that you are using to attach your walls to the trailer on your THOW. When building a tiny home on wheels, it is critical to make sure that the structure is securely attached to the trailer. A basic socket set is a must have.
If you wanted to go really basic you could just use sandpaper and a sanding block. I wouldn’t recommend that. I would recommend at least a palm sander. During the rough framing and things you shouldn’t really need a sander but, if you are going to do your own finish work or cabinets a sander will be fundamental.
When building a tiny home you will want a caulk gun to use when caulking windows, doors, and other openings you cut through the structure. Caulking trimming and other finish work also creates a better finish.
You will need to have at least a phillips and a slotted screwdriver available. I would recommend that you get a set with several different sizes and lengths.
Arguably, you could build a tiny home without a power saw. I could not. When I build I try to use a hand saw as little as possible. I don’t know how people did it when they had to cut everything by hand. I also find that using a circular saw leaves me with a cleaner, straighter cut. This makes putting things together easier.
A drill can serve double duty when building a tiny home. You can use it as drill, or put a bit in it and use it as a power screwdriver. With an adapter you can also use it with sockets to drive lag bolts or turn bolts quickly when attaching your THOW walls to the trailer.
Some people may argue that this tool is optional. I guess it depends on who you are and how you like to build. For me, a jigsaw is an easy way to cut holes through the exterior panels of your structure for windows and doors. You could also use your circular saw for this but I find it easier with a jigsaw.
Recommended Tools For Building A Tiny Home
Although not essential, these tools can greatly increase the speed and efficiency in which you can build your tiny home. When I build, I have these tools available.
Depending on whether you will have running water or not in your tiny home, you may need some tools for plumbing. Most tiny homes are using PEX plumbing. The only real tool you will need for PEX is a quality crimp tool.
An air compressor is required if you intend to use air nailers. A small pancake compressor will work if all you intend to run is air nailers. It will have to work a little bit when running a framing or roofing nailer but will keep up just fine with finish nailers.
I highly recommend a framing nailer. It makes it much faster and easier when building a tiny home. You can use a hammer and pound each nail in by hand but once you have used an air nailer I don’t think you will ever want to do it the traditional way again unless you have to.
A roofing nailer and finish nailers also come in handy when building a tiny home. Also, a pneumatic stapler is super handy when wrapping a tiny home.
When building a tiny home there will be lots of cuts for framing. Although they can be done with a circular saw, a miter saw is even faster and more accurate. It is much easier to make a square accurate cut on a miter saw than by hand with a circular saw
A table saw is one of the staples among my building tools. It works great for ripping lumber to a specific size or cutting panels.
A guide clamp is a great way to get accurate clean cuts with a circular saw when making long cuts across things like panels. I use mine whenever possible to make sure that my cutting is as straight as possible. It make it much easier to build if your cuts are square like they need to be.
Conclusion – Basic Tools For Building A Tiny Home
As the title suggests, this is a basic list of tools for building a tiny home. When I build I have more tools than this available. I do believe that you could complete an entire build though with just these basic tools.
I am sure there are other tools that you feel are essential. Leave them in the comments below.
Dream Big, Live Tiny!
* All the tools listed here are linked to the Home Depot website. There are many options available for each tool. I in no way am recommending the specific tool that I listed. They are here just for informative purposes to show you the type of tool I am referencing and to give you an start on where to look. Do a little research and check the reviews to find out which tool will best meet your needs.