If you're a do-it-yourself'er, you know that inspiration can come from just about anywhere. And when that inspiration hits, you want to be ready to plan, work, and finish your ideas. Fortunately, your Android device can give you a hand in your ventures. But what apps should you consider? Some are dedicated specifically to DIY projects, but most are little more than image galleries with zero how-to instructions. Most DIYers want more than pretty pictures. For that, you turn to apps ready to instruct you or help you solve common DIY problems.
Let's dig into the Google Play Store and see what we can find to help make your DIY projects easy from start to finish.
Note: This article is also available as an image gallery and a video hosted by TechRepublic columnist Tom Merritt.
At some point during your project, you're going to have to look up instructions on how to do something. Instead of turning to Google, your best instructional tool might well be WikiHow (Figure A). Here you'll find more than 180,000 instructional articles on topics from first aid, cooking, technology, emergencies, and much more. You will find yourself facing a conundrum during your project. When you do, you want WikiHow at your fingertips.
Of course, you could always opt for the WikiHow website, but that page isn't exactly optimized for mobile devices. The WikiHow app offers a great interface that makes it easy to search, browse, contribute, and bookmark. Once you find a howto you need, click on it for easy-to-read instructions.
2: Unit Converter
There have been many DIY projects when I've needed to convert some unit to another. For that, I've turned to Unit Converter (Figure B). With this app, you can convert temperature, weight, length, speed, currency, volume, time, area, fuel, pressure, energy, storage, luminance, current, force, sound... and a good bit more. This is truly the one-stop shop converter you will need for any DIY project.
The free version of the app does contain ads. You can purchase the Pro version for $2.99 USD to remove them. Unit Converter has a great interface that makes conversion incredibly quick and simple.
3: The Home Depot
It's a rare occasion when I recommend a retail chain app. In this case, however, The Home Depot (Figure C) is one you will actually get a lot of use out of. Every DIYer will need to research and purchase products. In the case of The Home Depot app, you're looking at a possible 900,000 products to search.
The Home Depot app offers a well-designed interface that allows you to quickly search for items. It also offers a store layout so you can navigate to what you need—and you can even zoom in to see more detailed layouts. Search for an item, check to see whether it's in stock, and add it to your list or to your cart. The app is free and doesn't contain any ads. It is, after all, an ad in and of itself.
4: Smart Tools
If you're looking for an all-in-one toolbox for Android, Smart Tools (Figure D) is it. With this handy app, you can accurately measure length, angle, slope, level, thread, distance, height, width, area, sound, vibration, and more. The app also includes a compass, metal detector, flashlight, magnifier, mirror, and unit converter (although the Unit Converter app is much better for this task).
The app isn't free (it'll set you back a whopping $2.99 USD), but is well worth the price of admission. Note that although the length measurement tool is quite simple to use, measuring distance does take some time to understand (it's based on AR tech and trigonometric functions).
5: Handyman Calculator
No matter what your project is, most likely you are going to need a calculator. Of course Android has a built-in calculator, but you'll want something with a more robust set of features. That's where Handyman Calculator (Figure E) comes in. This app features calculators for cutlist, square footage, cubic footage, feet and inches, 3-4-5 rule, aggregate, air conditioning, amps to watts, angle conversions, arc length, aviation fuel, block mortar, BMI, board foot, brick, capacitance, carpet, and quite a lot more. In fact, you'd be hard-pressed to find a calculator with more relevant calculations available.
The app is free, but you can purchase the Pro key ($4.99 USD) to get rid of the ads. Note: The ads do tend to get in the way of this wonderful app. Give it a try and if you like it, definitely spend the coin to jettison the ads.
What Android apps have elevated your DIY game? Are there certain tools you wouldn't consider doing without? Share your recommendations with fellow TechRepublic members.
Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website jackwallen.com.