In Animal Crossing, just like in real life, tools can make difficult or impossible tasks much easier. Tools allow you to catch fish and bugs, as well as do some landscaping. Fortunately, basic tools are all very cheap, and can be purchased from Tom Nook's shop. A couple of these basic tools can even help you earn Bells, and if you use these tools correctly, you may nab yourself special upgraded versions.
Although Tom Nook will explain how to use each tool EVERY TIME you buy one, we'll go ahead and give you a breakdown of what each one can do anyway. In addition, we'll tell you how to get the special "golden tools" and what their perks are.
The regular Shovel does exactly what you might expect it to do: dig holes. It can be used to bury or unearth items. It is also useful for digging up tree stumps and dead tree saplings. The Shovel cannot break and costs 500 Bells.
This is the easiest golden tool to get. In order to obtain the Golden Shovel, you'll need to buy a second regular Shovel from Tom Nook's shop. Then, search your town for a golden shiny spot and dig up the Bells inside. Don't cover the hole yet! Bury the second regular Shovel inside, and if done correctly, a gold tree sapling will pop out of the ground. When that sapling grows to full size, you can shake it to release a Golden Shovel! To increase the odds of your tree growing to full height, follow the tips mentioned in the Tree Guide. Of course, you can get as many Golden Shovels as you want doing this trick, but you can't sell the Golden Shovels, and you can't bury them in golden spots to make more golden shovel trees.
The Golden Shovel does the same thing as the regular Shovel, with one exception: every time you dig a hole, you have a slight chance of digging up a bag of Bells. With a regular Shovel, you can dig up Bells only when you see a shining spot on the ground. With the Golden Shovel, you have a slight chance of digging up Bells regardless of where you dig.
The regular Axe can be used to chop down trees. Just hack, hack, hack... and TIMBERRRRR!! Three whacks and you have a fallen tree. The tree will fade away, but digging up the stump would be a nice thing to do, as stumps count as weeds when trying for a Perfect Town. The Axe will break after a number of swings, so make good use of it. This is slightly cheaper than the other tools, costing only 400 Bells.
The Golden Axe requires quite a bit of devotion to your town. In order to acquire this upgraded Axe, you must obtain perfect town status and sustain that status for two weeks straight.
There is a lot of trial and error involved in getting to perfect town status. The only way you can know for sure what you need to work on is to enquire at the Wishing Well, but here are some general tips:
Ensure there is no trash lying around, including in the dump.
Keep the weed count low. Remove as many weeds as possible, and dig up failed saplings and stumps.
Space out the trees. You must be able to walk a complete circle around every tree, excluding trees that were in town when you arrived.
Ensure there are approximately 12 trees in every acre, excluding the acres with the wishing well, the pond, and Acre B-3 which is the housing acre. All of these acres can have fewer trees.
If your town meets these requirements for two weeks, a mysterious figure from the wishing well will give you the Golden Axe. Don't worry about breaking this special tool - it won't even crack!
You can use the regular Net to catch bugs - but not fish! You can press and hold "A" to slow your pace and sneak up on the creepy crawlers. The regular Net costs 500 Bells, and will quickly pay for itself back after you catch all of those valuable bugs!
Catch every bug in the game, thereby completing your encyclopedia, and Tortimer will award you with the Golden Net the following day. The advantage of the Golden Net is that its radius is larger, making it easier to catch bugs.
Regular Fishing Rod
You can use this the regular Fishing Rod to catch fish or whatever else is under the water. You'll need good reflexes to reel them in every time. This tool will cost you 500 Bells, but considering many fish are worth thousands of Bells, it is well worth the purchase.
Golden Fishing Rod
Catch every fish in the game, thereby completing your encyclopedia, and Tortimer will award you with the Golden Fishing Rod the following day. Bad reflexes? No problem! The Golden Fishing Rod will extend the time you have to pull the fish in when it bites.