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Best tools for Instructables authors? Answered

What should a basic generalist workshop contain? 

Say you were starting your workshop from scratch and, knowing what you do now, had to purchase new items to kit out the space. What would you avoid? What would you insist upon? 

I'm looking more for general philosophies of tool-buying than outright brand names, but I'll entertain the notion of brand fidelity as a heuristic for purchasing trustworthy tools. I intend to use the answers given here to help purchase prizes for upcoming contests.



Best Answer 4 years ago

This is just my opinion:

1. Avoid buying combination tools, they rarely do any of their jobs well.

2. A good set of basic hand tools: Screwdrivers, Spanners, Socket set, Saw for wood and metal, hammer, A good solid marking out square, a good tape measure - I would suggest get one with a wide tape such as builders use. A good steel rule, A craft knife with replaceable blades, a pack of pencils (your going to lose about 1 a day!), Painters tape (masking tape), A reasonably long something with a straight edge for drawing long lines I use a 1 meter length of aluminium strip. Range of Glues, tapes and a first aid kit.

3. Power tools - I have quite a few but find the most used are: Skill (or sabre) saw (jig saw), Circular saw (because mine has a table to make it into a bench saw - it also has a tungsten carbide blade that will cut steel.), Cordless drill actually I have 2 and often use both, 1 with a drill and 1 as a power screwdriver, power impact screwdriver, Belt sander.

4. More permanent power tools that are costly but useful: Drill press (bought mine 2nd hand), band saw, metal work lathe, angle grinder.

Much depends on what sort of medium your going to mainly working with, metal or wood. Many wood working tools can be made when you have the basic hand tools (see


Even metal working tools can be made for a fraction of the cost of buying. "nd hand is always good and gifts even better, make friends with people who may help you in this area.


4 years ago

I'm really surprised nobody else has mentioned a compound miter saw. That is the last tool in my shop I would get rid of, and the first I would buy if I were building a new shop. It's tempting to go cheap, but avoid it. Cheap tools aren't good, and good tools aren't cheap.
Also, you can never ever have too many clamps.


4 years ago

What ever I can find at garage sales lol. I also go around my local town on large garbage pickup day. I've got a saw, drill, dremel, all sorts of stuff people throw away. In the end depends on what you want to do. Maybe favorite a few instructables and compare what tools they used and go from there. Make a list of need it, want it and look at what you can afford.


4 years ago

This is a really hard question, because most winners will already have the basics.

Once you have the basics, that's when you start to specialise - is your workspace going to be for electronics, woodwork, papercraft, textiles, metalwork...?

I know it would be more work, but I think you should ask four questions of the finalists of a bunch of contests, in this order:

● What is the next tool you need to buy for your workshop?

● If you had $25-$100 spare, what tool would you buy "just because" (go browse a catalogue if it helps to answer this)?

● What is your dream tool?

● What is the general theme of your workshop (woodwork, electronics, none)?


Having said that, I would like to "one up" my tools. Drill -> pillar drill, hacksaw -> grinder, coping saw -> scroll saw, jig saw -> band saw, a larger vice etc.

A new portable workbench would be nice.


Answer 4 years ago

I forgot to answer my own questions:

● A heat gun.

● An axe and a parang

● A laser cutter

● Generalist.


4 years ago

I think the bigger bench-top tools are what people tend to not have. Bench top drill presses, quality vices, wood lathes, band saws, routers, scroll saws. etc. Things that are useful but typically not entirely necessary make good prizes. I can drill holes with my cordless so I can't justify a press right now but it would be really nice and handy to have. Things like that.

The one tool that I never knew I couldn't live without is an automatic center punch. Small and simple but once you've used one you'll never want to drill a hole without it.


4 years ago

a good general work shop

a self healing cutting mat with measure marks

craft knife

tin snips

wire cutter/stripper

hot/low temp glue gun

soldering iron with stand

neo magnets

needle nose pliers

set of screwdrivers


vise with anvil block

rotary tool with press stand


super glue

paint brushes

set of metric/standard sockets

locking utility knife

a bucket

assortment of sand paper

tape, electric ,masking , duct



measuring tape

19 volt drill

this is a good starter set up can make most projects with this

avoid plastic clamps, dollar store tape and glue, battery operated screwdriver,


4 years ago

If you want to get prizes for a contest then get gift cards to places like Granger. Then people can buy what they need. It's better to buy tools as you need them then to build up a bunch of tools you never use.