When you first arrive on your deserted island in New Horizons, you’ll have nothing to your name, and there won’t be any stores to acquire important tools like shovels and nets. Instead, you’ll have to learn how to make these items, and then craft them yourself using a Workbench. Luckily, after you’ve learned how to make the basic version of each tool, Timmy and Tommy will start selling them – either out of Resident Services or at Nook’s Cranny once it’s available.
How to Get a Fishing Rod
A Fishing Rod can be used along the edge of rivers, ponds, and beaches to catch fish after a fish has dragged the lure under the water.
The Fishing Rod is one of the first tools you can gain access to in Animal Crossing: New Horizons. After you complete the tutorial day on the island and start your first real day, get the Nook Phone and then speak to Tom Nook in the Resident Services tent.
When Tom Nook offers a DIY Workshop, accept his offer, and then bring him 5 Wooden Branches. You can then use the workshop to craft a Flimsy Fishing Rod, which can be used around 10 times to catch fish before it breaks.
To upgrade your Flimsy Fish Rod, you must first pay off your tent bill of 5,000 Nook Miles, and gain access to the Nook Miles Store. You can then purchase the Better Tools recipe book that contains access to the regular Fishing Rod, which can be used many more times before it breaks.
How to Get a Bug Catching Net
A Bug Catching Net can be used to capture things like various bugs and insects, both in the air, on the ground, and on the surface of the water.
The Bug Catching Net is one of the earlier tools you can access in Animal Crossing: New Horizons. After completing the tutorial day on the island, visit Tom Nook and accept his DIY Workshop, and craft a Flimsy Fish Rod. Do this, and he will give you another recipe for the Flimsy Net, which can be crafted out of 5 Tree Branches, and used for a short while before breaking.
To upgrade your Flimsy Net, you must first pay off your starting bill of 5,000 Nook Miles. Once you have access to the Nook Miles store, you can purchase the Better Tools recipe book that contains access to the regular Net, which can be used many more times before breaking.
How to Get a Slingshot
The Slingshot is a tool that can be used to fire upward at passing presents tied to balloons, and can be held down before firing.
To get the Slingshot, you can only find the recipe by purchasing it from Timmy, who sells it for 300 Bells (press R to switch from his furniture selection to his miscellaneous items). While it cannot be upgraded, it will eventually break after many uses.
How to Get an Axe
An Axe has many uses, from cutting wood, to chipping rocks, and even cutting trees down.
To get an Axe, you must first obtain the Flimsy Net and Flimsy Fishing Rod from Tom Nook. When he encourages you to show him any bugs or fish you find, give him at least two examples, and he will reward you with the recipe for the Flimsy Axe and recipes that make use of the wood you can now get from chopping trees.
To upgrade your Flimsy Axe, you must pay off your starting bill of 5,000 Nook Miles. Once you have access to the Nook Miles store, you can purchase the Better Tools recipe book that contains access to the Stone Axe and Iron Axe. Both can be used many more times before breaking, while only the Iron Axe can truly fell a tree after three swings. Both the Flimsy Axe and Iron Axe won’t chop down entire trees.
How to Get a Watering Can
A Watering Can is used to help propagate flowers by increasing the rate at which they bloom, and can be used to create additional flowers that can’t be bought at a store.
To get a Watering Can, you’ll need to first have access to the Net and Fishing Rod by taking Tom Nook’s DIY Workshop. After he comments that he wants to see anything you catch, go forth and catch at least 4 bugs and/or fish, and show them all to Tom Nook, and you’ll be rewarded with the recipe for the Flimsy Watering Can.
To upgrade your Flimsy Watering Can, you must pay off your starting bill of 5,000 Nook Miles. Once you have access to the Nook Miles store, you can purchase the Better Tools recipe book that contains access to the regular Watering Can. This improved tool will allow you to water a wider area in front of you, and hit several flowers each time on either side of you.
How to Get a Shovel
A Shovel can be used to dig up buried items, transplant trees and flowers, and strike rocks.
To get a Shovel, you’ll need to entice the museum curator Blathers to join your island. You can do this shortly after learning how to make Fishing Rods and Nets from Tom Nook, as he’ll ask to see anything you catch. Give him unique 5 bugs and/or fish, and Blathers will call – prompting you to place a spot down for his tent. Speak to Blathers the next day to get a recipe for the Flimsy Shovel.
To upgrade your Flimsy Shovel, you must pay off your starting bill of 5,000 Nook Miles. Once you have access to the Nook Miles store, you can purchase the Better Tools recipe book that contains access to the regular Shovel. This improved version can be used to dig and strike rocks many more times before breaking.
How to Get a Vaulting Pole
The Vaulting Pole is an unbreakable tool that allows you to cross large rivers with ease.
To get the Vaulting Pole, you’ll need to entice the museum curator Blathers to join your island. You can do this shortly after learning how to make Fishing Rods and Nets from Tom Nook, as he’ll ask to see anything you catch. Give him unique 5 bugs and/or fish, and Blathers will call – prompting you to place a spot down for his tent. Speak to Blathers the next day to get a recipe for the Vaulting Pole.
Since the pole cannot break, it does not need to be updated.
How to Get a Ladder
The Ladder is a tool that will allow you to climb or lower yourself to different elevations on the island without having to use a ramp or incline.
To get the Ladder, you must progress through Tom Nook’s tasks of paying off your first loan and building your home, building Nook’s Cranny, and then a bridge to start work on the three villager homes that need furnishing. After placing the lots down, Tom Nook will inform you that one recipe will require use of the flowers atop the island’s peaks, and will give you the recipe to make a Ladder.
The Ladder cannot break, and thus does not need to be upgraded.
When you first arrive on your deserted island in New Horizons, you’ll have nothing to your name, and there won’t be any stores or buildings aside from the few tents. Instead, you’ll have to perform various tasks and unlock different kinds of progression around the island to help certain facilities gain a foothold on the island. Note that aside from Resident Services, you will eventually be able to move any building or home on the island if you pay a certain price, once Resident Services has been upgraded into a building of its own.
How to Unlock the Museum
The Museum is a facility that allows you to donate bugs, fish, and fossils (appraised and identified by Blathers) to an expansive exhibit space that players can tour and explore, alone or with friends. Even Villagers may sometimes appear in the Museum to check out the exhibits alongside you.
Before you can have a Museum, you must first find a way to get Blathers to join you on the island. On your first real day on the island, speak to Tom Nook about his DIY Workshop to learn how to craft a Net and Fishing Rod. Next, bring Tom Nook five different bugs and/or fish as you find them. We recommend giving him the five most common bugs or fish that you find.
Once you’ve given away five critters, Tom Nook will get a call from Blathers, who wishes to join you. Place down a lot for Blathers’ tent somewhere on the island, and wait for the next day for Blathers to arrive.
Once Blathers is on your island, he will require an additional 15 bugs, fish, or identified fossils to gain a permit to build an actual museum. In the meantime, use the recipes for the Shovel and Vaulting Pole to gain access to fossils, which will appear daily in groups of 3-5 in random spots. Combine these with more unique fish and bugs until you have given 15 specimens to Blathers. Once this is done, he will begin construction on the Museum, which will take one day, and then become fully available to explore.
How to Unlock Nook’s Cranny
Nook’s Cranny is the first real shop you can have on the island, and allows you to buy and sell goods with Timmy and Tommy, who will rotate their stock of items (including those you cannot craft) each day, buy Turnips for varying prices, allow you to sell “Hot Items” for double the price, and leave items in a drop box while they’re closed to still get money back the next day.
In order to unlock this facility, you’ll need to first pay off your initial island getaway package bill using 5,000 Nook Miles. Once this has been done, talk to Tom Nook to upgrade your tent to a house (and incur another bill). When your home is complete, enter Resident Services and you will find Tom Nook talking to Timmy about getting a shop open for themselves.
When speaking to Timmy, he’ll ask for your help in getting the building setup, and ask that you bring him 30 of each material: Wood, Softwood, Hardwood, and Iron Nuggets. You’ll need to chop a lot of trees to get these materials, and it may take several days to acquire iron nuggets from all the rocks on your island – and you can also use the Nook Miles Ticket to visit a random uncharted island to gather extra resources.
Once you have given Timmy all the resources he needs, he will give you the building plot for Nook’s Cranny and ask you to place it somewhere. After a day of building, the Nook’s Cranny shop will be open for business.
In order to upgrade Nook’s Cranny, you’ll have to do quite a bit of spending at the store to trigger the building’s upgrade – and you may need to upgrade Resident Services to a building first. We spent around 70,000 bells buying items from Nook’s Cranny before the upgrade triggered – but note that there may be additional parameters in days spent on the island, the state of your house and the Resident Services building.
The first upgraded version of Nook’s Cranny will feature more items for sale each day, as well as an expanded cabinet with custom tools for sale.
How to Unlock the Able Sisters Shop
The Able Sisters Shop is a dedicated clothing and accessory store that you can build in your island, but only after certain parameters are met. The Able Sisters allow you to buy several types of clothing, display or share your own creations, and enter a changing room to showcase many different kinds of clothing in different colors before purchasing them.
In order to build the shop, you must first unlock Mable’s visits to the island. Once you’ve helped Timmy and Tommy build Nook’s Cranny (after you’ve upgraded your tent to a house), visit their new shop to find them talking to Mable, and you’ll overhear that they want her to visit the island and sell her wares.
From this point on, you can spot Mable in the center plaza below Resident Services on a random day of the week, as well as on Saturday and Sunday. Each time she will have a different selection of clothing – but not much, and you can’t try it on first.
However, if you buy at least 5,000 bells worth of clothing and accessories from Mable over the course of her visits, she will tell you upon her next visit that she’d like to open a shop on the island. From here, you can place down the building plot just as you did for Nook’s Cranny, and on the next day, the Able Sisters will be open for business permanently.
How to Upgrade the Resident Services Building (Town Hall)
At its start, the Resident Services Tent offers limited features – a place to craft DIY Items, a terminal to access the Nook Shop and Nook Miles Rewards, and a Recycling Bin (as well as a place to buy and sell items before Timmy moves to open Nook’s Cranny).
In order to upgrade the tent into a proper town hall building, you must take on several tasks for Tom Nook. This starts with paying off your initial deserted island getaway package bill in exchange for 5,000 Nook Miles, and continues once you’ve upgraded to a house.
After helping Timmy and Tommy to build Nook’s Cranny on the island, you can assist Tom Nook in finding new housing for three incoming villagers. After building a bridge to cross the river, place the three housing plots down wherever you like, and check the sign on the lot to see which three interior items need to be submitted, and which three exterior items must be placed around the central plot.
You’ll need to spend time crafting the DIY Recipes you were given by Tom Nook (which include items made from your town’s native fruit and flowers) and complete all three housing plots, after which the new villagers will move in (limited to one per day). Once all three villagers are officially on the island, Tom Nook will announce that the Resident Services will be undergoing an upgrade – which will take a full day, during which you will not be able to access the Recycling Bin or Terminal.
Once it has been fully completed, the Resident Services Building will stand at the top center of the town square. This will also trigger hourly music to begin, and a default tune to play when talking to characters. Inside, Tom Nook will be joined by Isabelle (who will take over daily announcements). Together, the pair will allow you to access new features by sitting down in front of them. There will also be new items available at the Nook Miles redemption terminal.
Tom Nook will allow you to take on a DIY Customization Workshop to alter items you have crafted. He will also allow you to approve construction of bridges and inclines on the island (which will need a serious investment of bells once the foundation is placed). You can also ask to move almost any building on the island to a different location (excluding Resident Services and the Airport), and you will eventually be able to spend money to secure a lot for a future resident to move into.
Isabelle will allow you to change the town’s tune and flag, and if an issue arises with a villager’s clothing or catchphrase, you can reset it with her. Eventually, you will also be able to ask about island evaluations to improve your town’s rating.
How to Unlock the Campground
The Campground is an area you can create that will allow you to receive visiting villagers on your island, where you can then begin to convince them to stay and live in your town – or you can simply talk and trade with them.
To build the Campground, you must have first upgraded the Resident Services Tent into a proper building (aka the Town Hall). Once completed, Tom Nook will have an assignment to increase your town’s popularity to catch a certain someone’s attention. The first step towards this, will be building a Campground.
You will need to build the Campground Construction Kit, which requires 15 of each type of wood, as well as 15 Iron Nuggets, and then place the kit down in an area you’d like to designate as a campground.
The next day, a random villager will likely appear in the Campground (though you may be able to convince a villager found on a mystery island to be the first to visit the Campground). Whichever villager, you will have no choice but to invite them into your town. After that, villagers may appear at the Campground at any time, but can also be summoned using Amiibo Cards at the Resident Services Terminal.
Note that when summoning a potential Villager to the Campground, you may have to convince them to join your town by making DIY items for them, and it may take several attempts, requiring you to summon them back each day and talk to them until they think about moving in and agree.
How to Unlock K.K. Slider
K.K. Slider is a traveling musician who can play songs for your town each Saturday night. However, you’ll need to do a lot of work to get his attention, and it’s generally regarded as the last milestone of progression of your town from a deserted island to a bustling community.
In order to achieve this feat, you’ll need to do a lot of groundwork to build out your island, including the following:
- Pay off your Deserted Island Getaway Package with 5,000 Nook Miles
- Build Nook’s Cranny
- Build a Bridge
- Furnish 3 houses for incoming Villagers
- Upgrade Resident Services to a Building
- Build a Campground
Once these feats have been accomplished, Tom Nook will ask you to improve the popularity of your town to attract the attention of K. K. Slider. This can be done by improving your town rating, which Isabelle can now list for you at any time.
You’ll need at least a 3 Star Rating, and to achieve this will require several tasks on your part. Speaking to Isabelle, you’ll learn that your island will need more resident villagers – at least 7 will suffice, so make sure you put down plots to reserve a space for any extra incoming Villagers.
You’ll also need to make the island presentable, which can be done in several ways:
- Making sure the island has few weeds will go a long way. You won’t necessarily need to remove every last weed just to hit a 3 star rating, but it can still help.
- Plant an abundance of flowers all over the island. The island will only have flowers on the higher points of the island to begin with, so you’ll need to begin planting flowers elsewhere, and watering them to ensure they spread even more.
- Display lots of outdoor furniture and set pieces – including fencing – all around the island. The more vibrant your island, the more appealing it will become. You can use a combination of DIY furniture, and other items sold by Timmy and Tommy, or even Tom Nook. Large items and DIY Recipes are especially helpful in making a statement, so try to make your town stand out!
Keep checking back with Isabelle to see how your rating is improving, and once you hit 3 stars, the feedback will come from none other than K. K. Slider himself. He will then arrive the next day and you will automatically tune into his performance of New Horizon’s Theme Song.
Once the concert is over, you’ll find that K. K. Slider will appear every Saturday evening (excluding the day of his concert) and perform a song for you. If you specifically request a K.K. Song, he will give you a copy of it to play in your home afterwards.
How to Unlock Terraforming
One of the final big features that you can unlock in New Horizons, Terraforming allows you to alter terrain, rivers, and even cliffs using a specific app on your Nook Phone. Using the Island Designer App, you’ll be able to create paths and different ground tiles at first, and eventually unlock more ground patterns, as well as new permits using Nook Miles to add or remove water, and for adding or removing elevation and cliffs.
To Unlock Terraforming and the Island Designer App, you’ll have to get K.K. Slider to perform at your town. This is the standard progression path that Tom Nook will have you on to make your island more popular, and conclude with you building a Campground and getting a 3-Star Rating for your town.
Though you first start with only the ability to create paths, you can unlock more types of paths, as well river placement and cliff placement by purchasing the permits at the Nook Miles Terminal for 6,000 Miles for each.