Just like with any good book foreword, we believe it is important for you to know who writes the content on this website…

Trying desperately to finish a job late one evening, I popped into a well-known DIY store for a length of timber. When I asked a young assistant where they kept the 4 x 2 he looked at me in bewilderment. I explained I was looking for timber which was 4 inches wide and 2 inches thick or loo mm x 50 mm. He told me where the timber was kept but said he had no idea if they had any that size.

It occurred to me that, if the store did not train its staff in the purpose or details of the products it stocked (and I knew exactly what I wanted, and what I wanted it for), then members of the general public must be wandering about in the store for hours and still not be sure, even after purchase, if they had the right tools and materials for the job they had planned. It certainly explained the many bemused faces scanning the backs of the cards the tools were stuck to.

I realised I could answer most of the questions the public had, and would be able to point them in the right direction for the tools they needed and the materials required.

That’s why this website was born; to offer completely free DIY help and advice to all ‘handypersons’ in the UK. Our aim is clear, if it isn’t on this site, just ask us and it soon will be. In the coming months and years we aim to cover all aspects of DIY. It’s a daunting, and sometimes thankless task, but if it means nobody ever has to be bewildered in a DIY store ever again, then we’ll have done our job!

DIY can be hugely rewarding and many exciting projects can be undertaken which, if done by a professional, would stretch your budget a little too far.

The best results, however, will always be obtained with a careful, organized approach to the jobs you plan to do. A little research, using books and the Internet, on the best tools to use for your project will pay dividends. Even something as simple as using a screwdriver that is too small for the screw can result in a slip and a scratch across an expensive surface.

Building materials can be expensive. Some time spent drawing up a detailed plan of the item you wish to produce will enable you to work out exactly what you need. This will reduce wastage and can save you another 30 per cent of the cost!

Timber is the most common material used in DIY and also one of the most expensive. It comes in standard lengths so, if you are making a timber frame, for example, for a wall cupboard or rabbit hutch, you will need to cut several different lengths from the timber you have bought. Spending a little time working out which parts of your frame to cut from which lengths could drastically reduce the amount of wood you might otherwise waste. It’s no good trying to cut a standard 5.1 m length of timber into lengths of 2.3 m, because you will waste 0.5 m of timber each time. It would be much better to order lengths of timber that are 4.6 m (another standard length). Similarly, consider whether you have the right size and type of drill bit for the holes you may need to drill. An entirely different type of drill bit is used for masonry from that used for timber and steel, and they cannot be interchanged.

Using the right tools and materials, together with a well-researched plan, can make DPI both great fun and very profitable. Getting it wrong by rushing in can cost a fortune and put you off for ever!