9 DIY Skills to Learn in the New Year

sewing machine and supplies

The typical DIYer typically has more projects than time. If you’re the type who can’t sit still and wait for the next project, we won’t interrupt you. By all means, get on with it. But if you’re a beginning DIYer, or even a seasoned one just itching to learn something new, take a look at these skills for some inspiration to get you moving on your next endeavor.

Learn to Sew

Quite honestly, this is a big one, and not one that should be taken lightly. Once the sewing bug gets hold of you, you're hooked. If you’re so inclined and ready to take on this dare, it'll become one of the most satisfying skills you can learn, and not just because you're saving money on clothes. Think of styling some fashionable curtains for the living room or bedroom. Or creating some throw pillows for a little couch flair. Even better if you decide to upcycle the pretty fabrics you came home with during your exotic trips—you know, back in the “before” times. Or if clothes really are your jam, try upcycling the old stuff you have into something “new” you’d actually wear. A frumpy old dress can become a trendy skirt. A romper you outgrew due to the Covid 15 can become a shirt. And so on.

hands laying out fabric pattern to sew

Dust off the old sewing machine you inherited from your grandmother and find ways to freshen up your wardrobe or your home’s interior. If you’ve got the desire, but not the equipment, fear not! Many public libraries have jumped on the Maker Space trend and have a variety of tools and equipment for you to check out such as sewing machines, tool kits, baking pans, and jewelry kits, just to name a few!

Basic Car Care

If you drive, you really should know more about it other than which side the gas tank is on. Understandably, it’s easier to simply call someone to help you out when a minor breakdown happens on the road, especially when you’re dressed for work and don’t want to get down and dirty. But consider the car maintenance you could be doing before getting stranded at the side of the road. Oil and filter changes aren’t too difficult, but will require you to get to know your vehicle and the tools needed to perform this task. Inspect the different fluids that could use a periodic topping up. Try changing the windshield wipers. And if you haven't done it yet, for goodness sake, learn how to change a tire. You may never get around to doing it if you’ve got roadside assistance, but you'll thank us if you're ever stranded in an area with no cell reception. Think worst-case-scenario, people!

car engine filter and tools

Patch Your Walls

It’s bound to happen. Little dings and holes that appear from anchoring things into the wall, or occasionally banging open the door without a proper doorstop. Over time, these little imperfections will need to be addressed, especially if painting is in your future. Patching small holes isn’t difficult with the prepackaged kits you can get from the big box stores. Even larger significant holes that go completely through the drywall can be repaired by the beginning DIYer with a little extra effort and materials. Success is just around the corner.

Drilling and Anchoring in Walls

Time to master your cordless drill. This is one of the most useful power tools in your arsenal—or the only power tool if you’re a beginner. It may seem intimidating drilling a larger hole than it looks like you need when you’re installing an anchor, but if you don’t have a stud backing up your screws, you better make sure that screw is secure. Without an anchor you risk it coming loose out of the drywall. A dangerous mistake if you’re anchoring a heavy bookcase, or a very expensive mistake if it’s your new tv attached to a swivel mount. Either way, the results could be tragic.

Fix Basic Plumbing Problems

basic plumbing

Slow draining sinks and tubs are common plumbing issues with easy fixes. They are often caused by hair, soap, and/or other debris that accumulate over time, but by removing the pop-up from the drain you can get at the grime that's slowing things down. Low water pressure at the sink? You've probably got a clogged aerator which can easily be removed and cleaned. A running toilet may be caused by a failure in the flushing mechanism. If you can narrow down the cause, you’ll be able to find and replace the necessary parts. If you discover your issues are more than basic, don't hesitate to get the help of a more experienced DIYer, or even a paid professional.

Sharpen Kitchen Knives

You might think sharp knives are more dangerous than dull ones. Nope. Dull knives require greater pressure when cutting, leaving you increasingly vulnerable to getting hurt. Keep knives sharp by honing and sharpening. Honing involves straightening the blade, while sharpening, well, you know...sharpens. You need different tools for each action, but using an electric sharpener requires just one.

Heating/Cooling System Maintenance

This may be one of the more involved lessons, but a valuable one nonetheless. Some heating an cooling tasks should be relegated to the professionals, but homeowners should be conducting general maintenance on a regular basis. The most basic is to inspect, clean, or change air filters. The frequency depends on how much you use your system throughout the year. A dirty filter leads to an inefficient system that increases energy cost, and could lead to an expensive repair when the equipment fails and becomes damaged. Aside from changing the filter, consider installing a smart thermostat to capitalize on energy savings.

Garden Basics

herb garden in wooden planter

We don’t expect you to tackle the entire front yard as a beginner, but we do recommend starting an herb garden as a first project. If you’re like us, staying home and cooking more often, those fresh herbs are a nice addition of flavor as well as a decorative touch. Herbs are generally hardy and easy to grow, and once you get the hang of them, may inspire you to move on to salad greens and other edibles.

Bike Repair

If you ride on two wheels, a flat will eventually happen. And it’s not like you’ll be traveling with a spare during a casual ride to the park. Knowing how to fix the flat will get you back out on the road a lot quicker if you’ve already got the tools at home. Keep the gears properly cleaned and greased, tires properly inflated, and derailleurs aligned and enjoy the ride!

A little DIY goes a long way! Once you have the basics, you can expand your skill sets over time.