Skoolie Conversion Tools: What You Will Need
Published June 14, 2018

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So you just purchased a used school bus? Awesome news, friend, you have reached STEP ONE of living tiny!

But now what? What happens next?

For anyone with little to no carpentry/construction experience, starting a school bus conversion can be scary. 

We were in that EXACT position last year when found ourselves with a shiny old shuttle bus. We didn’t know where, what, or how we were going to do what we wanted to do.

If this sounds like you, keep reading! If you already know what you are doing, comment below with your own suggestions.

Apart from all the planning and doing, there are some VERY NECESSARY things you will need before getting started on your conversion.
Enter: TOOLS!

Skoolie Conversion Tools

We talk a lot about budget building. Utilized previously owned resources to build your home is both environmentally and economically conscious.

When it comes to tools, there are a TON of resources for you to get what you need. From tool libraries, to Craigslist, to friends, there is certainly an abundance of tools around.

When converting our bus, my father generously allowed us to use his tool collection as we started to gather our own. It saved money on the front-end and kickstarted our project.

However, there comes a certain point in every person’s life when they need their own tools…and need to keep them.

Therefore, if you have the BUDGET and the DESIRE to have your own skoolie conversion tools, here are our suggestions.

But what about minimalism? For us, minimalism is owning what you need and nothing more. We own many tools and use them all. They add value to our life and to our projects. Therefore, we can justify owning them. The tools we recommend for you in this post are tools we either own or have used. These are the necessary things you will need before starting your bus project.

Power Tools

These are the power tools you will need for any building project.

Skill Saw (for most cuts)
Sawzall (for demo and tough spots)
Power Drill 
(for drilling holes and screws)

For these three tools, I use and highly recommend for beginners (and intermediates like me) the Porter-Cable 20v Kit. The 20v batteries are powerful and last a long time. The tools are built well and are great for lugging around in small spaces (like a bus!).

Jigsaw (for more precise cuts, like a puzzle)

The jigsaw I use is the 5 amp corded Black and Decker. It does a fine job but isn’t anything special.

Miter/Chop Saw (for angular cuts and easy board cutting)

A miter saw/chop saw is a HUGE time saver. While you can do miter cuts (angular cuts) with a skill saw or jigsaw, it does not compare to the ease of using a miter saw. We don’t own our own miter saw as they are heavy and bulky, but I highly recommend purchasing or borrowing one. The miter saw we’ve used in the past which is AMAZING is a Makita Cordless. It is expensive but so nice.

Random Orbital Sander (for sanding surfaces)

A random orbital sander vibrates and spins in a circle so that it makes completely random motions. This is great for finishing as it avoids the common sanding marks from a traditional sander or hand sanding. The sander I have used in the past (but currently don’t own), is the Porter Cable 5-Inch Sander.

Angle Grinder (For metal and rust)

I don’t know of a single used school bus without rust or exterior blemishes! An angle grinder is a must for anyone wanting to grind out the old metal and either 1) weld new surface or 2) Bondo a new surface (for smaller issues). The angle grinder I use is the Porter Cable 4.5 inch.

Hand Tools

These are the basic hand tools which are necessary for any project. You most likely know what these are! If you don’t, each one is linked to Amazon. As Amazon affiliates, we receive a small commission if you click through and make a purchase (at no extra cost to you).

Tape Measure
Speed Square
Framing Square
Hack Saw
Straight Edge
(Socket) Wrench Set
Caulking Gun


While we are suggesting and recommending all of these skoolie conversion tools, we are NOT teaching you how to use them. There are many great resources online for you to learn how to use each of these tools and for what occasion.

The BEST possible way to learn how to use tools is to have someone help you in person. There are a lot of great people out there who do this for a living.

As always, be safe and have fun!

Comment below if you have anymore personal tool suggestions for converting a school bus.

Want to see what we created with these tools? Check out this post!

School Bus Conversion Kitchen

Interested in more DIY Skoolie Conversion Articles? Check out these.

Skoolie Conversion Electrical
Skoolie Wood Stove Installation and Review
How to Paint a Bus

As always, BE WELL!
Riley & Cece





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