Another prospective strawbale builder came out to help me on the weekend, and commented that he needed to start making a list of tools he would need. So I thought I’d get a head start on that, and start collating the tools I’ve been using the most.

Some of these will be specific to my hybrid infill building method, some will be biased towards my random skillset. I’ll focus on power hand tools as they’re more expensive and list manual tools separately. I won’t get into my woodwork-specific tools and larger machines, as I can’t imagine non-woodworkers buying larger machines to build a house, and they’d probably get a specialist carpenter in if they have specific timber (ie. ‘presentation’ timber, not framing) requirements.


ToolNeeded forAlternatives, other notes
Circular sawCutting posts & beams to lengthDrop saw, miter saw, SCMS if you have them.
Power drillDrilling bolt holes etcNone, really. Mutliple drills is good if you have them, to reduce the amount of bit-swapping.
Impact driverDriving screws etcPower drill – impact drivers are much nicer to use though.
Angle grinderCutting anything metal – trimming brackets, steel beams, boltsHacksaw
Cement mixerMixing render, any miscellaneous concretingCan be hired


ToolNeeded forAlternatives, other notes
Mitre saw (or CMS, SCMS)Cutting posts and beams to length.More accurate and repeatable than a circular saw.
JigsawCutting metal (eg. the skins of SIPs) or wood, in small spaces or complex cutsAngle grinder for metal, various saws for wood
Hammer drill (SDS/SDS+)Drilling holes for anchors in concreteIf required – normal hammer drills are pretty ineffective in harder slabs. Can be hired.
Staple gunAttaching mesh to timber etcHand-stapler.
I bought an electric stapler, other people use air-nailers
Power planerAdjusting timber for fine angles, making angled surfaces for SIPs etcHand planer?
Recipro saw (aka. sabre saw)Cutting random things, trimming bales, destroying stuffLots of alternatives (basically any other type of saw!) but the recipro has been very useful – and fast! – for specific tasks
Hedge trimmerShaping balesSome people prefer the hedge trimmer, I prefer the recipro.

Hand Tools

ToolUsed for
Hammers – claw, sledgeEverything.
Screwdrivers….driving screws
Chisels“Adjusting” timber for fit and clearance
HandsawsFor where power saws won’t reach
HacksawSmall/fiddly metal cutting