Even if you’ve never made a single repair or completed a craft project, it’s never too late to start. However, it can feel a little overwhelming when trying to figure out where to begin.
Think of it as the incredibly popular ‘Couch to 5K’, a plan that takes the non-runner to short runs and on to a 5K, 10K, or marathon. You’ve got to start somewhere.
We’ve put together a checklist of different ways you can tap into your DIY warrior, and it’s easier than you think.
Be patient with yourself. DIY skills are something that develops over time. Start small, stick with it, and keep challenging yourself. Before you know it, you’ll be taking on bigger and bigger projects.
1. Start Small
You may not think of yourself as a DIY person, but odds are you’ve done more than you think. If you’ve mowed the lawn, tended to houseplants, or cooked a full meal, you’re already a DIYer.
Most commonly, a person has experience in one realm but wants to break into another type of DIY activity. Maybe you’ve never used power tools, or installed flooring, or picked up a paintbrush.
When starting on a new hobby or skill, start small. Say you want to become comfortable with a bandsaw. Start by outlining and cutting a single ornament from soft, thin wood. Then move to more detailed designs or learn to cut a stack of the same shape.
Gardening is another example. Begin with an easy to grow vegetable like carrots or peas. With some success under your belt, you can then move to lettuce, broccoli, zucchini, or corn.
For car repairs, start with the basics, like changing the oil. Then learn how to change spark plugs and wires. From there, you can discover everything about the engine to perform maintenance yourself.
If you’re trying to learn how to sew, start with a basic square pillow and work your way up to clothing or curtains.
2. Let the Curiosity Lose
Much of the time, our minds are our greatest limitation. Stop thinking “I can’t” and start asking, “How can I?”
Take a moment to look at the items around your house. They were all made somewhere. While many were made in a factory, others were made by hand by someone just like you. Chances are, you can make one too.
On a smaller scale, think about the cooking experience. Maybe one day you pull a tortilla out of the bag and wonder what it takes to make from scratch. Looking it up, you realize it only takes a few ingredients, and you can make them yourself.
This is true for many kitchen items we get into a habit of buying. Bread, salsa, marinades, salad dressing, applesauce, yogurt, guacamole, and potato salad are all examples of easy to make foods you may not have considered trying to make yourself.
Now move that thinking to other parts of the house. Got a loose piece of siding? Does the house need to be painted? Do you need to replace a few deck boards?
When you start asking what it will take to do it yourself, you’ll realize there are countless projects that will give you an introduction into DIY projects. In fact, if you think about it, you’ve probably already laid the foundation by swapping out a clothes dryer hose or unclogging the sink or repainting a dresser.
Those projects and small tasks all add up to a toolbox full of DIY skills. Don’t underestimate yourself. Open up your mind to the opportunities in front of you.
Similarly, put a fire beneath your creativity. Once you’ve decided to give something a try, go wild with creativity. Choose the colors that bring you joy, even if they’re not popular at the moment.
Add features to your project that other people may not want or need. Bring in alternative materials or make your project out of upcycled waste. The point is not to limit yourself by what you think you’re supposed to do. Be a rule breaker (but not a law breaker).
3. Scour Resources
You might need some inspiration to get on the right track as a DIY enthusiast. Like we said, starting the process can be a little intimidating. This is often true each time you begin a new project. Before you get started, map out a plan to put your mind at ease.
There are countless resources you can use to gather ideas and get information about how the project should go. Start with the internet. Look for blogs, company websites, and design sites for inspiration. Run a Google search to see what comes up for your topic.
Also look to sites like Pinterest, which makes a business out of inspiration! Of course you'll also want to dig into DoItYourself.com.
Next, dig out the books from home and the library. Whatever the topic, it’s been written about in detail. Find sample projects and step-by-step how-to tutorials for everything from furniture making to baking to crafts, gifts, home improvement, and home repairs.
4. Tap Into Your Passions
Do what you like, and you’ll be much more likely to stick with it. If you have zero interest in learning how to work on your car, but you like making homemade gifts, focus your energy there and let the mechanic take care of the vehicles.
On the other hand, if you love tinkering with engines, pick up your gifts at the store of suffering through DIY style.
Focusing on what you enjoy means you’ll not only have more fun doing it, but you’ll retain information more easily and spend more time invested in it.
Make a list of hobbies and interests if you’re not sure where to start. Chances are, you’ve already dabbled in the topic, whether that’s nurturing a flower bed or creating mosaic-top tables.
Use that combination of interest and existing skills to launch into a new phase of DIY work. Who knows, you might even find yourself with a lucrative side gig or a new career altogether.
5. Learn New Skills
The key to starting, and growing, in the DIY realm is acquiring the skills to complete the task at hand. If you’re going to make a wreath, learn the basic techniques. The same is true for woodworking, metalwork, landscaping, plumbing, electrical, or HVAC work.
You can start with the internet or books. If YouTube doesn’t have a helpful tutorial, turn to knowledgeable friends and family members. You can also take a class through the local community college, home improvement store, county extension office, university, or senior center.
Private lessons might be another option to consider. The point is, regardless of whether you’re trying to learn leatherworking or proper tree pruning, there are resources available where you can find information and support.
6. Trial and Error
If you’re going to delve into something new, you have to be willing to make mistakes. They will happen, and in the end, they are one of the best ways to learn. You can read about tips that might help you out, but until you actually complete the task, you may not understand what they mean.
Once you make a mistake, even if you warned against it, you’re much more likely to remember how to avoid it the next time around.
Whether you’re learning to cut and install base molding, installing a door, or putting in a window, you’ll learn a little something each time. There is no shortcut to learning some of these skills, and trial and error is simply part of the necessary process to get there.
Don’t be too hard on yourself. In fact, you may want to plan ahead a bit with the purchase of extra supplies or at least know where to source more supplies if needed after making a mistake.
7. Recruit Help
Whatever you’re working on, there’s someone with more experience than you. Many times it’s someone you know quite well. See if you can recruit help for some one-on-one training to set you on the right path. Invite your brother-in-law to help tile the bathroom floor.
Bring your mom in to sew curtains or can goods from the garden. Trade babysitting with a girlfriend in exchange for help building garden boxes. Ask your brother for help working on your car. Consult with your botanist friend about plant selection and placement.
Although it’s nice to learn from someone with experience, there are other benefits of getting some extra hands on a project. For example, many hands make light work, so having several people help you fill your landscape with plants or lay irrigation pipe makes the job easier on everyone.
Plus, working with others is socially satisfying. There’s a reason our forefathers got together for barn raisings, and it was about more than extra hands, it was about community.
Of course, not every situation requires many hands. Sometimes you just need an additional person to hold the end of a board you’re cutting or secure one end of the tape measure.
Perhaps you need a little advice on supports for the deck or want to know helpful hints for making clean cuts with a wet saw. You might even be able to find the information you need at the lumber yard, floorcovering store, or home improvement center.
8. Develop a New Mindset
Tackling DIY tasks can become a little addictive. Once you get into the mindset of asking, “How Can I” you might find yourself taking on every task on the to-do list. Armed with YouTube and no fear of asking for help, you can likely manage most of it too.
9. Get the Right Tools
If you need to get by with basic tools for a while, go for it. They often are capable of getting the job done. However, having ‘the right tool for the job’ is the best way to make efficient use of your time and achieve quality results.
This is true in every room of the house. For example, while it’s completely possible to make bread by hand, having a KitchenAid makes the job a lot easier and provides you with the means to make a higher quantity of bread in the same amount of time.
If you need to remove old blinds, you’ll find a manual screwdriver works, but once you discover a cordless screwdriver you’ll see how much easier the task is.
Similarly, while a circular saw may get the job done, you’ll appreciate the power of a reciprocating saw or the detailed cuts of a bandsaw.
Sometimes it’s about speed. Sometimes it’s about precision. Sometimes it’s about safety. Whatever the task, at least be aware of the recommended tools and strive to have them next time around.
Obtaining new tools doesn’t mean you have to run out and purchase all new items. Look into the second hand market via thrift shops or online marketplaces. Head to your local Habitat for Humanity to see what’s on the shelves. Accept hand-me-downs from family and friends.
Keep a wish list in case people ask for gift ideas. You can also arrange to rent tools or borrow them from a neighbor or friends.
10. Be Realistic
While we encourage you to take chances, get outside your comfort zone, and be willing to make mistakes, be realistic about what you can handle. That might mean being honest about physical limitations or understanding you haven’t mastered the joint technique in woodworking.
Whatever it is, get help so you can advance your knowledge and be more self-sufficient next time around.
11. Be Safe
Also understand that DIY projects can cause injury. If you’re working with any type of chemical, make sure to wear the proper kind of protective mask. For sharp, dirty, or toxic materials, wear the proper kind of gloves.
If you’re working with power equipment or other loud tools, add ear protection. Also wear goggles if there’s any chance of something falling, dropping, or flying into your face.
In addition to using safety equipment, make sure you know how to use tools. This is especially true with powered tools. The lawn mower, weed trimmer, table saw, reciprocating saw, and many, many other tools have the potential for great harm if used improperly.
Becoming a DIY person is as simple as completing a task. However, developing DIY skills can be a lifelong process—and we say it should be!
There are so many projects you’ve never even considered. For example, have you thought about DIY Tricks to Revamp Your Lamps or looked into Driftwood Home Decor DIYs?