OK let’s talk TOOLS! Man anyone who knows me well will tell you I Love em! And not just certain tools either, I love them all! Maybe it’s a manly-thing…I don’t know, I just can’t get enough of these things!


You got a have ’em man…and your going to need a nice assortment of them yourself. You can buy them, rent some of them, borrow them from friends and family, but your going to need most of the tools on this page at one time or another during your basement finishing project.

Now don’t freak-out…your not going to need them all at one time! You can acquire them as you actually need them down on the basement finishing job site.

There’s a few of the tools you will need for almost every stage of the project , so I’ve put together the “Tool Belt Essentials” list of tools first. These are the tools I always have in my tool belt no matter what stage of the project I working on…here’s what ya need in your Tool Belt:

The rest of the tool categories below are listed in natural order of progression that you will need them on your basement project. I did this so you can just purchase the tools you “need next” keeping you from having to purchase all of your basement finishing tools all at one time!

So here we go…

Basement Project Tool Belt Essentials:

Hammer (Straight Claw model)

Hammer-Husky-20-oz.-straight-clawEven though I use air framing and air trim guns to do the majority of my framing and trim work I still carry my hammer in my belt at all time. Your always “Tapping” and adjusting wall placements, occasionally pulling nails and counter-sinking nail heads when framing so this is always a needed tool when framing your basement.

You’ll also be using it a ton during the mechanical stages (electric, HVAC, and plumbing stages). Yep you guessed it, you’ll also need it for the drywall and trim phases as well! This tool just needs to be you tool belt buddy at all times.

I prefer the (straight claw!) Husky 20 oz. straight claw hammer as my weapon of choice!

Tape Measure (25′ Professional model)

Probably the most used tool you will pull out of your tool Stanley-FatMax-25ft-Autolock-Tape-300x225belt is your tape measure.

Buy a good tape measure, not a flimsy cheap-no-name-tape…but a professional, 25′ or even 30′(my favorite) tape with a nice thick wide steel blade and American standard numbers in 1/16″, 1/8″, 1/4″, 1/2″ and 1″ increments…none of that damn metric stuff on the tape no-one can read even if your standing on your head.

I recommend the 25′ or 30′ Stanley FATMAX  tape measures…best tape on the market for your money.

Carpenters square a.k.a. “Speed Square”

This is another tool you’ll be using extensively during speed-square-300x160several stages of the basement project. I prefer the Aluminum version of this square because it keeps the weight of my tool belt down a few pounds! You’ll be pulling this guy out of your pouch during the Framing, Electric, Plumbing and Trim Stages quite a lot.

Utility Knife

418-192.01_s500_p1._Vf8173b41_2-300x122Another must have tool belt essential tool, the utility knife is used in  some way during every single stage of the basement finishing project. I prefer the models with the “sliding-hiding” blade for safety reasons.

Whether I’m sharpening my carpenter pencil, stripping wires, cutting insulation, etc., it’s a tool I want close by all times…so it has earned a full-time spot in my tool belt. Stanley makes the knife I use all the time check it out.

Nail Punches

This is just a handy tool to have around! I use these for a variety of tasks, not just for “punching nails”. Nail punches are great for Starter holes for screws, removing knock-outs from junction boxes and electric boxes, center “punch marks” for drilling holes in sensitive locations, and about a dozen other uses. They’re just another nice tool-belt-buddy!

Chalk Box

chalk-boxHere is the tool that makes building perfectly straight walls every single time a reality! Man there is no way you could possible build a straight…say, 25′ ft. wall with out following a chalked line on the floor and ceiling. I use mine on every single wall I build, even a short 3′ or 4′ wall is getting a chalk line from my chalk box. Just fill this tool with powdered “chalk” , and I recommend RED CHALK, stretch the chalk-line tight and “Pop your line” wherever you need to place your walls.

Carpenter Pencils

carpenter-pencils-300x161Notice I said “Carpenter” pencils…NOT # 2 school pencils, there is a HUGE difference in the construction of these types of pencils. Carpenter Pencils have THICK rectangular lead inside them that resists breaking every time you draw a line on a 2″ x 4″ or the concrete floor! The # 2 pencils for lack of a better word, simply SUCK  for contracting purposes. Get yourself 1 dozen you’ll need em all before the project is completed. They sell for about $00.15 a piece at Home Depot all day long.

Plumb Bob

plumb-bob-300x300During the Wall Framing stages of your basement project the Plumb Bob will be your good friend! This guy will make darn sure your walls are perfectly “Plumb” from floor to ceiling 100% of the time. Although it’s only used  primarily during the framing stage of the basement project, it’s such an IMPORTANT tool that I have it in my belt at all times.

There are few other uses for this tool that I demonstrate in my training video series.

Below is a quick video I shot about my essential tool belt tools:

Basement Framing Tools (Walls, Ceilings, Soffits, etc):

Ramset (Power Actuated Nail Driver)

ramset-300x139My God I love this tool! This about as “manly” a tool as you can possible get. You’ve got a 22 to 25 caliber smoking load slamming a steel piston into a hardened steel pin driving it through the wood framing and then into basement floor concrete and even solid steel basement columns and beams.

The tool requires hearing protection, eye protection and ample testosterone levels to operate safely. In other words…this tool don’t mess around bubba! But all that manly stuff aside, this is one of the coolest, funnest, most functional tools to operate. You’ll be using this for fastening all your walls to the concrete floor mostly, but it will also fasten walls to steel columns and steel beams if needed. Too cool! Home Depot got em!

Air Framing Nail Gun

air-framer-gunAnother must have for the real basement finishing DIY’er. Forget about the nail apron, 16 penny framing nails and claw hammer your grand father used! Basement framing has changed man…and may I say for the better as well. No longer must you “smash” your fingers to a pulp in your attempt to hand-nail an entire basement framing project together.

Just load the nails into this gun…press it to the wood…pull the trigger and BLAM it’s nailed into place! It’s the way to go and you should heavily consider the purchase of this tool. I’m liking the Porter Cable Framing Guns that shoot the “clipped-head” 3 1/4″ framing nails.

Pancake Air Compressor

air-compressor-253x300You can’t operate you air framer or your trim nail guns without an air compressor. You can purchase a decent model for about $150.00 at Home Depot. You can also find some good air-gun/compressor “combo bundles” where they bundle the air compressor and the framing gun together for a killer deal. So look for these bundles before you purchase your Framing Gun and Air Compressor separately.

I use a 150 psi Porter Cable Pancake style compressor for all my air gun applications.

Power Miter

power-miterCommonly known as a “chop box” in the business, this tool is used extensively during the framing stage of the project. You will be using this to cut all of your wall 2″ x 4″(studs) to length before inserting them into your new walls. You can cut straight through your framing lumber or cut any angle from -0- to -45- degrees for the trickier framing techniques I talk about in the Basement Framing Video Series. This is a MUST HAVE tool for Basement Framing in my book.

I like the Dewalt 15 amp double bevel 12″ blade model for right around $190.00. Home Depot item.

2′, 4′, 6′ Levels

You can’t frame correctly without using your levels at some point or another. I’m using them all the time when framing. I use different size length levels for different applications so 1 size does not fit all situations. You really should have a complete set (2′, 4′, 6′ lengths). You don’t need to spend a fortune on these, you can get levels as inexpensive as $25.00 that will do the job you need them to do.

Framing Square

Framing-square-300x300This square is specifically made for framing and is the large 90 degree square that is 24″ x 16″ in size. This is used to “square-up” your wall layout lines in the beginning stages of the framing process. The square will make darn sure your inside and outside wall position lines are perfectly “Square”, something that has to be 100% correct…100% of the time or your framing job will suffer the consequences of being out-of-square…in other words crooked.


SledgehammerUse this baby for adjusting and moving “stubborn” positioned framed walls into their correct permanent location. I like the 10# Pound version. It’s heavy enough to knock the wall around, but not so heavy that you give yourself a hernia! Sometimes you need to smack-em-around a little and this tool is so handy to have down on the job!

Electric Tools:

Wire Strippers

wire-strippers-300x300The most used tool for electric projects. You’ll use this tool to prep all of your electric wires to make all of the connections to your outlets, switches, breakers, light fixtures and so on. This tool will cut your wires to length as well as “strip” back the plastic casing on the wires to neatly expose the copper wire inside for connections.

I recommend the Klein brand wire strippers, for my money they are the best strippers.

All-in-one multi-purpose Electrician Screw Driver

multi-purpose-screwdriver1-300x300Switch from a flat-head screw driver to a phillips screw driver in 2 seconds with the multipurpose screw driver.
This “electricians” version comes with a rubberized handle grip for grounding protection from shock. I like the Klein model best…It’s a Home Depot item. Use this driver for tightening terminal screws on outlets, switches and breaker installations.

110/220 Volt Voltage Tester

voltage-testerFor testing contact-voltage at outlet locations, switches, “open circuits” this little tool acts as a safety device letting know if any given circuit your about to operate on has “Live” current flowing through it and what voltage your dealing with. An inexpensive tool that you should always have around during your electric stage of the basement project.

Non-Contact Voltage Tester

non-contact-voltage-testerThis another form of voltage tester that does not require you to “touch” any open circuit wires or terminal screws to determine whether or not there is “LIVE” electricity in a wire or electric device. Great if you want to work on a certain wire(tap-into-it, or cut into it) and need to know if there is electricity present before you begin work on it! No need to see exposed copper wires to find this out either, you just hold the devise up close to any electric wire in your home and the devise will detect whether there is any type of  110 volt or 220 volt electricity present in the wire!

Safest way to work on any wire in your home by far! If the devise beeps and light-up there is electricity present and you will need to turn off that wires circuit before working on that wire.

Plumbing Tools:

PEX Ring Crimp Tool

pex-crimp-tool-300x150PEX plumbing system is the “new wave” in residential plumbing. More Builders and Re-modelers are turning to PEX for it’s strength, versatility, and cost factor (way cheaper than prehistoric copper pipes!) This “Crimp” tool is used to connect most all PEX water lines to the PEX fittings. You need to own this tool if your using the PEX water supply system.

PEX Water Line Cutter

pex-cutter-300x232This is another inexpensive tool made to work with the PEX water supply system and is simply used to “Cut” the PEX water line to size for you! Ridiculously easy to cut PEX water lines. PEX is the least expensive, strongest made, SIMPLE plumbing system that any new comer could ever hope for when it comes time to tackle the plumbing phase of your basement project!

This tool cut’s PEX water line like butter!

High Speed Electric Drill

electric-drill-300x204A good high-speed electric drill is a must for plumbing projects in the basement. This tool will be used extensively for drilling the holes through your framing for your new water lines to be routed through. A 3/4″  to 1″ hole should be drilled to run your 1/2″ and/or 3/4″ PEX water lines through any wall framing or ceiling joist framing to get your water lines from point A to point B.

Drywall Tools:

Drywall Knives

drywall-knives-300x250A complete set of drywall knives is needed to finish your drywall seams (butt joints & tapered joints), inside corners and outside corners. There are several size knives that you should purchase they are the 6″, 8″, 10″, 12″, 14″. Each size knife will produce a wider and wider path of drywall joint compound applied to all your seams and corners. “Practice makes perfect” when it comes to finishing drywall. Checkout the 5 video “Drywall Hanging & Finishing” video series for a complete training in the drywall department.

Drywall “Mud” Pan (Stainless Steel version)

The drywall mud pan is the devise used to hold the joint mud-pan-300x225compound you are applying with your knives to the drywall seams and corners. I prefer the “stainless steel” version as opposed to the cheaper plastic mud pans, they are much easier to keep clean during the drywall project and will last a lifetime! This is a Home Depot tool. These pans come in different lengths as well. I prefer The 14″ pan so any size drywall knife will fit inside of it.

Drywall Saw

This is a very simple tool to use and inexpensive as well. Used to “saw” through the drywall to cut-out outlet boxes, switch boxes, access opening, etc in the drywall.

Sanding Sponge and Sanding Pole

sanding-sponge-150x150Both of these items are used for the sanding of the joint compound. Once the proper amount of joint compound (aka “Mud”) has been applied and 100% dried, you will be sanding-pole “sanding” all of your drywall seams and corners using these sanding devises. Sanding drywall can be tricky and an experienced touch is required.

Drywall screw gun

drywall-screwgun-300x199A drywall screw gun is the way to go for a professional installation process. This tool kicks some serious DIY butt when it comes time to hang your drywall on project. This tool makes life so much easier and drywall project flow so much faster than “hand nailing” all your drywall! Awesome tool and very affordable.

 Trim Tools:

Trim Compound “Rail” Miter Saw

10-trim-sawThis is the “Bad Boy Toy” of the entire trim stage of your basement project! There are so many manufacturers and different models of these saws on the market to choose from. This tool will be used to make most of the “cuts” for all of your base trim, window and door trim, stairway banisters, wall built-ins, chair-rail, crown molding, etc. and is a must-have if your planning on trimming your own basement.

I like the Dewalt 10″ 15 amp, Duel bevel, sliding compound Miter Saw Model #: DW717 ($450.00 Home Depot), this bad boy kicks some serious trim cutting bootay! There area less expensive models of this type of saw on the market at half the price that will still get the job done such as the Dewalt 10″ 15 Amp Single Compound Miter Saw Model #: DW713  ($219.00 Home Depot).

Trim Nail Air Guns

Trim-GunI use nothing but “Air” to install by trim! I have 2 trim guns that I use extensively they are my 16 Gauge trim gun and my 18 Gauge brad nail gun. There is no better way to approach fastening your trim than trim air guns! They sink the nail head nicely requiring no nail punching or hammer-work! It’s the only way to go come trim-day!

Table Saw

table-saw-300x225The use of a portable Table Saw is somewhat of a luxury, as most of what this tool will do for you can also be done using a standard circular saw. But…the Table saw is a precision cutting tool that will “rip” lumber to any size with laser-like precision, where-as the circular saw is a much more difficult tool to operate for precision “ripping” of lumber. Again you can spend $200.00 all the way up to $500.00 for this tool, the cheaper versions will still get the job done! I always go for the “Big Boy Toy” and get the more expensive model (more options and better built).

I like the Dewalt 15-amp 10″ Table saw model #: DWE745 ($299.00) Home Depot.

Cope Saw

cope-sawIf you want to trim with the Big Dog you will need to be using a standard Cope Saw. This sweet saw is what separates the men from the little boys when installing base trim, chair-rail and crown moldings. Coping trim is not hard…but it takes a little practice to get -it-right. I have a cool video on coping that is part of the Basement Trim Video Series where I teach you how to cope trim like the Pro’s.

Circular Saw

circular-saw-300x240Here’s another must-have tool. This is a multi-purpose tool used during the framing and the Trim phases of your basement project. Used mostly to cut different size lumber and plywood in a straight line, this tool will be getting used a lot during your basement project. I like the Dewalt 15-amp 7 1/4″ Model #: DWE575SB ($139.00) Home Depot. This is a tough work-horse of a saw…love mine!

Honorable Mention Tools:

Shop Vac

shop-vacAlthough not classified technically as a “tool” this devise is a nice addition to your projects gadget arsenal! I can’t stand an unorganized messy job-site, so I’m use my Shop Vac daily to “suck” saw dust, drywall dust, and other job debris up off of my job-site floor! Beats a broom for keeping the dust-levels down on your project. In my book you can’t do a construction project without a shop vac. Clean-up is a big part of any basement project, and I like to do it on a daily basis! My shop vac’s are always running down on my jobs.

Electric Jack Hammer (RENTAL TOOL ONLY!)

jack-hammer-251x300This tool is without a doubt the “baddest bitch on the beach”! Used primarily during the drain-line installation phase of a basement bathroom project to “jack-up” the concrete floor for drain-line and sewage ejector installations, this tool don’t mess around! It cost on average $1,500.00 to purchase, and because we are only going to need it for a few hours (1 day rental) there is really no need to buy it! We rent this tool on about 75% of our basement jobs for 1 day for about $65.00.

It’s worth it’as weight in gold though when it comes to tearing up the concrete floor for our basement bathroom projects. We show you how to operate this tool in our basement drain-line installation video (Plumbing Part 1).

Cordless Drill/Driver combo pack!

ridgid-cordless-drills-300x200Luv-em, luv-em, luv-em…JUUUUUST LUV EM! Man these two cordless screw guns are used so much on my job-sites that I would be lost without them. Both have distinctly different uses.The regular screw gun for installing and removing screws from hardware(door knobs, handrail, outlets, switches, towel bars, etc.) And the cordless Impact Driver for tougher screwing situations like driving 3″ to 4″ nails into solid wood like it’s going through “butter”…just a sweet  loving tool baby, you’ll want one, you need one! The combo pack I like is the Ridgid  ZRR96862SB 18 volt cordless lithium-ion drill/driver combo kit ($149.00) Home Depot.

Basement Designing Computer Program

Home-Designer-Suite1-300x300Want to design your basement and create  cool professional 3D Images of your entire project? How about creating a “working” floor plan to use during your basement project? Well you should! Designing your basement is just as important a stage of the overall basement project as the framing through to the trim stages are! Before you ever plug in the saws and radio you need to have created your Design and Floor Plan in which to build from. Without the proper Design and Floor Plan you will be building “blind” and aimlessly, Like a ship on the ocean without as rudder, wondering around down there with no clear-cut destination…not a good thing!

May I recommend my personal designing and floor plan creation software program…It’s call Home Designer Suite and it’s made by Chief Architect. This program is simple to use and has incredible graphics. Watch your finished basement come-to-life in amazing 3D images and impressive floor plan views.

Know whether or not your going to “like” your new finished basement BEFORE you drive your first nail! You can purchase this product from a number of online vendors (Google it!) or at most “Big Box” electronic Stores (Best Buy). I’m using the 2012 version but the new 2014 version is the same with a few new whistles and bells added-on.

Video I shot using this Home Designer Suite Program below:

Eye and Ear Protection

eye-protectionYou will want to purchase yourself a decent pair of eye protective glasses as well as some type of construction worthy ear protection! These two safety items are a MUST down on the basement project. The good lord only gave you 1 pair of eyes so you need to make sure you have them both after your basement is completed!

ear-protection1I like the regular-old clear safety glasses that you wear just like pair of sunglasses. They’re cheap to purchase and are located in the Tool Section at Home Depot.For my hearing protection I like the ear “Muff” style ear protection because when I’m not using them to work in the basements they double as my Gun Club shooting range ear protection! You can also purchase the cheaper disposable “ear buds” that you roll-up and stick directly into your ear-hole…these work good but I can’t stand the way they feel in my ears!

Well I think that pretty much covers the main basement finishing tools! I’ve most likely given you a lot to digest with this list. Again, only acquire these tools as you actually need them down on the job site.

If your studying my training videos to help you with your project, you will see which tools I’m using for each stage of the basement project as I need them…this will show you exactly what tools you need to have and when you them for your project.

Good luck with purchasing your tools! I’m always here if you have any questions about your basement project! Just leave me a comment below and respond the same day!


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