I’m one of those guys looking for any excuse to buy the latest tools and gadgets to make my workshop complete. Thanks to the computing power of smartphones and tablets, I always carry along a bunch of great electronic DIY tools right in my tool bag (or pocket). Here are some of my favorite apps for DIYers:
Builder’s Helper, Advanced Construction Calculator
(iPhone native; also works on iPad). My Pie Interactive, $14.99.
The ultimate Construction Calculator for EVERYTHING the average homeowner or professional will need. Most calculators like this cost anywhere from $30 to $80 and don’t come anywhere near to being able to do what this one does. It’s great at estimating materials for concrete, block, drywall, flooring, painting, fencing, etc. It’s also a handy tool to keep track of household projects and notes. Can even be used with Dropbox (see below) to save documents related to a project. From simple measurement calculations to full-scale project management, this app has something for everyone.
(iPhone/iPad) 2GB of document syncing/storage with a free account at dropbox.com.
You can use Dropbox to keep all your important project information at your fingertips. Save your pictures, project ideas, notes, Web clippings, etc. into the Dropbox folder on your desktop, and access it from your iPhone/iPad, Android phone or tablet. You can access everything you need from one place. Personally, I use Dropbox to store all the woodworking plans that I’ve downloaded from the Internet as well as every instruction manual for all my tools and appliances. Dropbox can also store and stream music files as well as export documents to be used in other apps, including Builder’s Helper and Noterize (see below).
(iPad Only) Nuance Communications, FREE.
Sketch your ideas, jot down typed or handwritten notes. Start from scratch or import documents, plans or pictures to annotate or edit. Keep projects or notes organized into folders so that they’re always at your fingertips. Works with Dropbox (see above) to import documents.
(iPhone native; also works on iPad). KAD Software LLC, 99¢.
You have eight shelves (joists, banisters, etc.) that you want to have evenly spaced. This app is the answer. No frills, but does exactly what you need it to do. Input the total distance over which the items will span, how many you need and the thickness of the item, and it will calculate the rest. I used it the other day and I didn’t have to do any math -and my shelves looks perfect!
This last one isn’t really an app as much as it is a necessity. When you spend $200 on a phone and $500 on a tablet computer, you just don’t want to leave it unprotected in a busy workshop. I wouldn’t go anywhere near a project or my workshop without my iPhone/iPad safely protected in an Otterbox case. The polycarbonate shell, durable silicone and clear protective membrane cases provide added protection against scratches, dust, drops, bumps and shock. Otterbox is known for protection, and I have dropped and thrown my devices with nary a scratch. Cases can be purchased directly from otterbox.com.
Shane Christopher is a Field Editor and blogger (thegotoguytv.com).