Introduction: Acquiring Tools

Picture of Acquiring Tools

After living with my parents, I have grown accustomed to using my fathers tools when I am working on my projects. Since I have moved out, I realized how important it is to have tools in a house. I will try to compile a small guide on acquiring some tools, please take note that this is a basic guide and will by no means be complete.

The tools you need always depend on what kind of projects you work on. For example, If you work alot on electronics, a basic kit would be composed of a Soldering iron, wire strippers etc... If you enjoy fixing cars, wrenches and a socket set would be more appropriate. I will try to list as many tools I can possibly think of, If I miss anything or you have other suggestions don't hesitate to write a comment and I will add them to the list.

Step 1: Budget / Where to Acquire

Picture of Budget / Where to Acquire

It's always better to invest into a few good tools than randomly buying things just to fill up your inventory. Start buying tools you would see yourself often using. Once you have all the essentials, then you could go ahead and buy more specialized tools or stuff you would use less often.

Keep your eyes peeled for sales, this is when you can find good deals, multi-packs and clearance items that will last you forever at a fraction of the cost. This technique is the one that i am currently using. I am trying to spend the least amount of money as possible and making small purchases over a period of weeks.

If you need a specialized tool that you do not own, ask around, maybe a relative could lend you theirs for a short while, trade schools, high schools and small businesses around your neighborhood might be willing to lend them to you. If all else fails, you could even rent some power tools and scaffolding at certain tool rental companies.

Step 2: Storage

Picture of Storage

First off you will need some sort of place to store all the tools. If you live in an apartment, you might not have enough space to set up a work bench or shop area so you would be stuck storing all your tools in your car or in a toolbox.

Im currently Storing my tools in Toolboxes, I have one of those red metal lunchbox-like ones, a big bulky plastic case with a handle and also a medium sized contractors bag. Mechanics drawers are also a good but expensive option

Here are some links to other instructables on tool storage.

No room:
Tool Box that doubles as a bench!
A 5 Gal Bucket and a pair of jeans for tool storage/
Shopping Cart transformed into a tool cart

If you have room:
Peg Board tool cart
Magnetic tool rack
Build a Work table for your shop
Tank tough Workbench

Step 3: The List.

Picture of The List.

This is a brief list of tools that i have come up with that one would need for a basic to intermediate collection of tools. Remember that you might not need some tools, so don't get them. Whats the point of buying tools that you will never use. If you think of anything else, don't be afraid to comment and i will add them.

Ear Protection
Steel Toed Boots
Face shield
Welding helmet
Respirator (w/ appropriate cartridges)

-Electricians tools

Soldering iron
Desoldering braid
Iron Holder
Heatshrink tubing
Wire strippers
Side Cutters
Circuit tester / Voltmeter
Flux Brush

-Hand Tools
Staple Gun
Bubble Level
Stud Finder
Ball Peen Hammer
Claw Hammer
Bolt cutters
Bench vise
Utility knife
Socket set
Measuring tape
Hand saw
Mallet (wooden or rubber)
X-acto Knife
Wrenches (Metric and SAE)
Crescent Wrench
Locking Pliers (Vise Grips)
Screwdriver sets
Allen Keys
Pliers ( Needle Nosed, Cutters, Side snips)
Pipe Cutters
Chalk Reel
Angle finders
Hole saw kit
Steel square

-Basic Power tools

Sander- Orbit /Belt/Reciprocating
CIrcular saw (SKIL)
Drill (corded or Cordless)
Hole saw kit
Drill bits
Screw Bits
Compound miter saw
Sawzall or Reciprocating saw
Angle Grinder
Dremel (rotary tool)
Impact wrench
Die grinder
Electric Planer
Regular chop saw (for metal)

-Shop Power tools

Drill Press
Scroll saw
Table saw
Shop Vac
MIG Welder
Arc welder
TIG welder

-Air tools
Staple gun
Brad Nailer
Air hose
Impact wrenches

Step 4: Useful Links

Picture of Useful Links


afreeland (author)2010-06-17

dang no love for Sears or Craftsman? ... I always recommend American made tools regardless of brand =)

JmsDwh (author)afreeland2014-08-28

I like American made tools too, but they are very hard to find these days, unless you know a Snap-on dealer. Even Craftsman tools are mostly made overseas now. I like supporting ChannelLock because they are still made in Pennsylvania, but they make mostly pliers and a few specialty tools. American made tools I bought about 12 years ago like Vise Grips and Quick Grip clamps have since been bought up by Irwin for the name and the domestic factories were shut down and shipped overseas. Lately, I like to buy antiques with forgotten domestic brand names like Millers Falls drills and Bailey planes.

onlnagent (author)afreeland2010-06-20

Not all Craftsman tools are American made.

afreeland (author)onlnagent2010-06-20

I know...sadly most of the newer tools they come out with are Made in China...I tried out one set of wrenches that were made in China and they kept slipping off of rusty nuts on my truck, so I took them back and exchanged them for an American made set...Haven't had a chance to use the new set so hopefully they hold up better than the old ones. A lot of older Craftsman tools are Made in America and they seem to last forever..I know that my Grandfather has tools that his Father and Grandfather gave to him and they still work...of course they weigh a ton...but they still work perfectly.

puma b32 (author)afreeland2010-11-22

My construction teacher says the same thing. Old American or West German Tools are the best, at that time they took pride in their product. The best way to find them is to go to old garage sales and refurbish them

pfred2 (author)puma b322011-02-09

A true craftsman never blames their tools :) I get adequate performance out of cheap Chinese wrenches.

backyardengineer (author)pfred22011-09-12

I have lost a lot of blood using cheap tools. I am not saying you need $100 set of open end wrenches but something of decent quality is worth the extra price. But then again I make a living with my tools so I expect more out of them then the average homeowner.

pfred2 (author)backyardengineer2011-09-12

I'm likely a better mechanic than you.

backyardengineer (author)pfred22011-09-13

First off I did not intend to imply you were a homeowner just that I expect more out of my tools then the average homeowner and am willing to pay a little more for them. I have no idea who you are or where you work. But how would you know how good of a mechanic I am, and why would it matter as to the decision of buying good tools.

pfred2 (author)backyardengineer2011-09-13

I don't think you really want to know how I know what I know. But if you really do want to know then I suggest you read everything you have posted and think what all of it may mean to someone else who actually is reading what you're posting. Because right now I'm not so sure you're reading your own words. OK Buster Knuckles? That is only one clue as you've made several telling statements that lead me to the conclusion I arrived at. In a word your entire premise is flawed. Which is to say I've run into your type all too often and here we meet yet again, though for you I'm sure it is the very first time.

So if you'll excuse me I must beg out of this tired matter.

superridley (author)afreeland2010-06-20

All to true. keep track of your old craftsman tools.

from what ive heard craftsman quality is starting to go south. but the ones i got are pretty good, but then again theyre kinda old,

That is very true, their new product does seem to lack some quality. I know I recently purchased a scroll saw but I didn't buy a brand new one...I purchased an older solid one and it works great.

jimbalny (author)2014-01-02

Being an electrician for 8 years and dabbling in electronics and other DIY, I myself have acquired a good collection of tools. I tend to shoot for good quality and durable for the tools I use a lot. For good linesman pliers and side-cutters my favorite are Klein's journeyman 2000 series. They're good for cutting staples and the occasional screw without worrying about the cutting surface being nicked. For wire strippers I've been liking Ideal's Kinetic Reflex T-Stripper, they're comfortable and have a nice slide-lock good for going in and out of a tool pouch. Not very good for cutting 8-32/6-32 screws though (broke a pair doing that), for that Klein's combination (1010) strippers are good which also has most the crimp edges you'll need. Estwing for hammers, ridgid for screw guns. If you buy from home depot or lowes you'll most likely overpay by at least a few bucks, amazon is pretty good for finding deals. Anything from Harbor Freight is going to be junk that is pretty much guaranteed not to last. For this reason I'll only go there for tools I'll only use a few times. For soldering irons Radioshack's junk is okay if you're only going to use it a few times. After going through a few cheap ones I finally did the research and got a Hakko FX-888 adjustable temperature soldering station (discontinued now, the FX-888D is an updated version with a digital temp display). The difference is night and day, gets to soldering temperature within seconds and retains its heat really well, even made me better at soldering. So if you do a lot of soldering it's the way to go.

Professor-Mousedude (author)2013-12-28

Look for estate sales. I have equipped my shop, so far, entirely from estate sales, including a sizeable stash of wood. Many of the older generation of wood workers are passing away, and their families often don't want or need grandpa's old tools, or piles of lumber. Think of it as rescuing tools from the dumpster.
Many estate sales nowadays are posted online with lots of photos, so you can usually tell what is in the house. Get there early, take a number, and get in line, because you may not be the only one looking for tools.

cjs1298 (author)2013-02-06

Impact wrench, Dremel(rotary tool), and spicific clamps (C,F,Spring ect.)

cjs1298 (author)2013-02-06


boomsb (author)2010-06-17

Don't forget about Harbor Freight.

fredellarby (author)boomsb2012-12-27

Harbor Freight is the American pronunciation of Princess Auto.
Toy's 'R Us for DIY'ers

toyotero (author)boomsb2010-06-17

Ditto on HF. Sign up for their mailings (USPA and email) and look for their 20% off coupons (pop mech mag, etc) or just print them online: Be a smart shopper. The tools they sell vary in quality; for something you may use 3 or 4 times, it's worth the lower quality if you pay 10% of what a name brand would cost. - Toyotero.

overblast (author)toyotero2011-10-29

Just be ***super*** careful in what you buy there.

I bought a small sledge hammer. The first time I used it, about the 5th hit, the handle broke and the head went flying down and hit where a friend had been standing a minute ago.

I do buy their stuff, just today I bought 2 of their 12" wood clamps. Hopefully they won't explode or anything........

mbainrot (author)2009-02-12

Nice collection :) Can i suggest some tools :) If you working with anderson connectors allot (high-current DC connectors), its wise to invest in the crimp tool for them, as soldering the barsteds are a nightmare Also for the budding Computer repair person, a anti-static strip, so you can prevent electrostatic damage to components. Also suggestion for those serrious with electrical work. a set of sparky (electrition) screw drivers, mine are rated to 1000v and they come in handy if your mad enough to play with live wires. Also again another tool that is handy is a steel wool soldering iron cleaning thingy, it keeps the iron nice and clean, though you must dip, do not wipe, otherwise it will flick little bits of solder everyware. For people who do networking and stuff, they should have a RJ45 crimp tool (for making patch leads) and a "punch down" tool, for when they are installing network ports Just my 5c

pfred2 (author)mbainrot2011-02-09

What is a "steel wool soldering iron cleaning thingy"? The proper way to clean a soldering iron is with a damp sponge. And yes, you wipe the iron tip onto the sponge.

overblast (author)pfred22011-10-29

The "steel wool soldering iron cleaning thingy" is what you find on the interweb thingy. DUH! :)

pfred2 (author)overblast2011-10-30

I get my sponges to clean my soldering iron tips at the dollar store. Get natural cellulose ones. I just got some plain white ones, they're the best I've ever used.

overblast (author)pfred22011-10-30

Thanks for the advice!

1, I was thinking about getting a HFreight arc welder (the lowest priced model). How is their quality on those?

2, I'll need to repair an old platen press (1890's) where the cast iron handles that hold the feed paper broke at the bolt holes, happened when someone tried to move it by leveraging those arms.

They're about 2" x 2". What is the best way to weld them, Arc welder or flame weld?


pfred2 (author)overblast2011-10-30

I have no experience with Harbor Freight welding machines. What little I've heard has not been good about them, but that is hearsay. I have a Miller. I like it.

I prefer welding cast iron with stick arc weld myself. Sometimes cast iron has to be preheated with a torch before, and even after you weld it to relieve stresses.

I'd have to see it but from how you describe what you need to do it sounds like a big job to me. It doesn't sound like anything for a small welding machine, or a new user to tackle really.

I've done some pretty hair brained jobs over the years myself. Most hold up, ones that don't I do again and try to do more carefully. The beauty of welding is if it doesn't work you can always cut/grind the old work out, and try it again.

overblast (author)pfred22011-10-30

Oh, and I'll probably go to a professional welder for that repair due to the stresses those arms might take. How should I find the right kind of welder to hire?


pfred2 (author)overblast2011-10-30

I've worked for welders, steam fitters actually, but never hired one. When a fitter comes on a job they're made to weld a bead then their weld is X-Rayed and stress tested. If their weld passes they're hired.

I suppose just like any other contractor you could ask them for references, or to see some of their work.

Zaphod Beeblebrox (author)2009-07-24

While I'VE been living with MY father HE has gotten accustomed to using MY tools. AND I'M ONLY 11!!!!!!

My step dad does that ALL THE TIME, too!! It drives me NUTS! I constantly have to remind / tell him to "put it back when you're done!" Usually they end up in our garage though, "put up", but not where they belong. On top of that, mini screwdrivers are used to punch holes in stuff, which ruins them (use an AWL next time, PLEASE!)

overblast (author)pillar 132011-10-29

A really good awl to use is by Lineco, the Heavy duty one (about $10-$15).
Small point, hardened steel. Used for bookbinding.

stephenniall (author)pillar 132010-01-27

if i have a friend over we usually make something like a spud cannon if we get bored and I have to keep telling them how to use a screwdriver and how if you put pvc in a vice tight it will snap .

I dont think i have  a screwdriver that isnt rounded off or a file that hasnt been used as a hammer

it seems that my dad likes my power drill batteries better than his. I don't blame him his are just plain crap.

pfred2 (author)Robot Lover2011-02-09

Sometimes old Ni-cad batteries can be "zapped" back to life. When that fails I've rebuilt battery packs with new cells.

basss (author)2011-06-22

has anyone used a rotozip sabrecut bit in a foredom for cutting sideways in plywood or do they fit

GenAap (author)2011-05-15

In safety something that would be nice to see would be "Knowledge on how to use the tools"(aka, wrench is not a hammer) and "Common sense" both of which are ether free (talking to people who know how to use a wrench, welder, belt sander.) or come with the tool (directions!)

pfred2 (author)2011-02-10

Sometimes I use whizzers so much I finally decided to get a cordless Rotozip style tool just to run a whizzer disc on. So I can just grab the tool off my bench and start hacking! Or deburring, or grinding, sharpening, for when I need that quick abrasive fix.

For the sustained grind session I break out my 9 inch heavy duty angle grinder. I've killed so many 4 1/2 inch ones! I just may have killed more of those now than Dremels. But for the longest time the single tool I've had the most failures with was by far Dremels.

I have 2 B&D RDX mototool knockoffs now along with a Foredom flexshaft tool hanging up on a swing arm and ready to go at all times. Just so I can spread the wear. I'm almost to the point where I have a tool for every bit. Changing them is such a hassle!

Then I have this:

Which I call my rotary tool box. But more often I just break out this:

pfred2 (author)2011-02-09

If you have an air compressor get a proper pneumatic rotary die grinder for it and hang that Dremel up!

JakeTobak (author)2009-01-05

Some dental tools and hemostats can be useful in my experience.

sensoryhouse (author)JakeTobak2009-01-21

hemostat AKA roach clip

pfred2 (author)sensoryhouse2011-02-09

That is about all I ever found to do with them. Once going down the road we had to resort to using jumper cables you should have seen the looks we got!

macmaniac (author)2009-06-17

The bandsaw is seriously the most important large power tool you can possibly have. Combined with a scrollsaw, bench-standing belt sander, router table, table saw, reciprocating bobbin sander and lathe you get A)A very very nice setup and B) what I'm lucky enough to use (It's my dad's since he makes wooden jewellery boxes - (I did the site sorry about the redirect on it the hosting is crappy and also if you're using IE6 or maybe IE7 it looks awful)

pfred2 (author)macmaniac2011-02-09

Most consider the drill the most important power tool. There are a number of ways stock may be severed but you cannot put a hole into something too many ways. And need a proper drill press to really bore accurate holes.

Lftndbt (author)2009-01-06

That is so bizarre!!! I have just returned from my mothers house where she wanted me to take, all my fathers tools he left their when he moved out. The house is about t be sold so I got it all. I am talking lots and lots of quailty tools. Very nice I'ble by the way.

gnomedriver (author)Lftndbt2009-06-25

This was the same with me. I got all sixty years of Dad’s tools. I’ve got a good toolbox already so I made up smaller tool kits for my nephews. The worst part of it was cleaning up his workshop stuff. It was like throwing away part of him. There were all these little gadgets he’d made for things. A rack to hold his fishing waders. A bench to turn his circular saw into a bench saw. Something to unwind and clean his fishing line. Something else to for tying flies. He would have liked Instructables. It’s the sort of thing he was up to.

Woodyto (author)gnomedriver2010-06-22

Lftndbt By the sounds of it, your father is still alive?? I bet he would be proud of his son if you were to return them to him. I know a few guys that have lost everything in separations, they would be grateful. Now I understand I don't know the whole story so I will mind my own business.. gnomedriver I am in the middle of doing the same thing with my deceased fathers shop, I know what you mean by "throwing out a part of him" It has been one of the hardest things for me to do. It has been 6 months and still I am struggling to get it all done. I also was fully equipped with tools before he died, now I have my grandfathers tools that my dad inherited as well as all the tools my dad had as well a my own. It is a bit ridiculous actually, but for some reason I feel I can't part with them. Maybe time will help me with my decision .

nryan86 (author)Woodyto2010-08-25

Sounds like you need to start having some kids

Woodyto (author)nryan862010-08-26

Unfortunately I think you might be right, but I am going to hold off for a few years. Woody

Mig Welder (author)2010-04-05

Face shield
Welding helmet
Respirator (w/ appropriate cartridges)

Electricians tools:
Flux brush ( it's probably a given but still very important ;))

Hand tools:
(More specifically) Ball Pein Hammer, Claw Hammer
Bolt cutters
(Along with pliers) Vice grips
Bench vise
Utility knife

Basic Power tools:
Die grinder
Electric Planer
Regular chop saw (for metal)

Shop Power tools:

Air tools:
Impact wrenches
(The list could go on forever!)                                                        

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