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What essential tools should I include in my dorm room toolkit? Answered

What are the obscure, but essential tools that you can't live with out? I'm building my toolkit for my dorm room (and for the rest of life) so I need suggestions!



DUCT TAPE! Cardboard, Altoids tins, maybe some string, deck of cards (not essential), electrical tape, Philips screwdriver, pliers, rubberbands, and more.


8 years ago

Thanks everyone for their input! I'll be putting together my kit in the next 2 weeks before school starts. I'll be sure to post the final build! (I've already got some interesting additions to it! Thanks again for the help!

A good multi-tool is also a must for any tool kit. Portable and versatile. Great for those everyday quick repairs such as tightening up a loose screw or bolt up to hacking off a foot should you find yourself stuck in a bear trap (itty bitty saw... might take a while). The point being they are small enough to fit in your pocket and can handle most small repair jobs, and in a pinch can be extremely useful. You can find one at pretty much any department store such as Wal-Mart or Target. They range in price from $5 up to several hundred $$$. Don't really need the higher end but remember you get what you pay for. Leatherman and Gerber both make excellent tools for a reasonable price.

Got myself a Skeletool awhile back...ammazing!

For the dorm room, you only need a few tools. You're not going to be renovating, and you're not going to be doing much woodworking. You aren't allowed to do anything at all to the room beyond hanging pictures (if that), and most dorms forbid power-tools in the rooms no matter what you're use them for.

Here's my take on what you'll need for the dorm. I've included a lot of things that seem unnecessary, and you can probably live without some of it... but the kit will get you through nearly any problems you'll encounter at school or in an apartment:

-At least one decent multi-bit screwdriver. Look for something with a comfortable grip and sturdy construction. Avoid gimmicks like built in flashlights. I recommend the Piquiq brand which comes in a few different sizes and can be found in many hardware stores in North America. You can usually get their three-piece set for less than $20.

-A set of jeweler's screwdrivers. Get a cheap set because these little things WILL get lost. Look for something with at least a few unusual bits as well as the usuals. Get a 30ish-piece set for less than $20. Most handy if you've got a thing for messing with your electronics, but also great for changing a watch battery, fixing glasses, etc.

-A basic hammer. Nothing fancy needed here, and I've always preferred an ordinary wooden-handled hammer anyway. Go for a smaller hammer if you only plan on hanging pictures, get a regular-sized hammer if you plan on using it to do real work later on. Stanley is a good brand with decent prices, but there are lots of good budget-priced hammers out there. Drop by a hardware store and pick one that feels good in your hand. Less than $20 for a brand name. $10 or less for a bargain hammer. Make sure the head of the hammer is securely attached to the handle, no matter what brand you pick but a little tiny wiggle is ok. Hang a picture or tap a few finishing nails into a small project. Very handy, even when you use it wrong.

-Two utility knives with snap-off blades. One with the small size, and the other with the larger size. There are hundreds of brands of these on the market, and a lot of them are junk so spring for an Olfa (the best i.m.o.) if you can find it. Richard is a decent low-cost brand which is often found in paint stores. Again, avoid gimmicks. The most important thing you need to know is if the locking mechanism works well or not, as a utility knife can become dangerous if the blade is going to slide around while you're using it. Good knives can be around $10-20 each. Cheap, "disposable" knives can be found for less than a dollar, but be sure to buy something that seems sturdy. Add a self-healing cutting mat from the dollar store, and while you're there get a metal ruler for cutting straight lines. Smaller utility knives are good for light-duty applications like trimming photographs or opening packages. Larger utility knives are good for harder work like cutting lots of cardboard

-A measuring tape. You probably already have a ruler for school, but a measuring tape is much more useful for around the house. Get a 16' tape for good versatility. Choose one that has a sturdy housing and a tape that slides in and out easily. Bennett is a good budget brand you can find for less than $10 and I recommend theirs over any of the name-brand tapes out there. If you can't find that brand, go to the building supplies store and ask what brand the clerks and outside staff use around the shop. You could skip this one during college, but you'll need it one day and it's the kind of thing you can make uses for.

-Pliers. For around the house and crafting I find a pair of long-nose pliers more handy than a pair of linesman's pliers, but both tools have their place. Locking pliers (aka vice grips) are also super-handy. Get one or a set, but avoid the bargain brands. Look to spend at least $7 each for basic pliers, and at least $12 for a good pair of locking pliers.

-An adjustable wrench (aka thumb-wrench). Pick a smaller-sized model for your toolbox. Most of the nuts and bolts in the house will be small anyway. Go for something that opens up to 1" or 1 1/2" Brand isn't an issue, but make sure it operates smoothly and won't jam or work loose. Spend less than $10.

-Scissors. A usable, general purpose pair of scissors can be found at the dollar stores or in an office supply store. Make sure they open and close smoothly and that the blades don't wiggle. Look for one with a metal screw at the pivot so you can tighten it if it works loose. If you're using it routinely for cutting fabric or any other specific task, spend some extra money and get the right kind for the job or at least a good pair of general purpose ones. Less than $5 for cheap ones, $20+ for quality ones.

-Sewing notions; A pack of needles, a roll of white thread, a roll of black thread, and a roll of transparent thread, a few safety pins and any spare buttons you find. That should get you through any wardrobe fixes you may need. Each item in the kit should be a dollar or less, and you can save money by starting with a pre-made kit from a dollar store and adding a few of your own extras. Also highly recommended is this, http://www.dealextreme.com/details.dx/sku.1352 , but keep in mind it is cheap for a reason and needs constant attention.

-A soldering iron if it's allowed in your room, and only if you're working with or fixing electronics or jewelry. Get a scrap piece of plywood or something to use as a work surface. $15 for a basic 30w iron. Another $10 for a safer stand.

-A toolbox that holds everything. I like the ones that double as a step-stool, which you can find for $20-$30 if you look hard enough (mastercraft and rubbermaid brands). You might like something different, but small plastic toolboxes and even small plain steel ones are all quite cheap so go look and see what you like. You can even use your imagination and just use a plastic tote, a tacklebox, a backpack/messenger bag, shoebox, etc. Just pack your tools in it neatly and avoid putting the heavy or sharp ones on top of the ones that might break.

-A plunger. If your dorm room has a bathroom, this is a must even if you never have to use it. It's an insurance policy against one hell of a mess. $10-$15.

Anyway, that's all I can think of for tools. Craftier folks need more gear, and less DIY-prone folks need less. Use your best judgment and buy only what you can afford and might actually use. Pick up a few fasteners and adhesives too, usually as needed. Here's what you should probably keep on hand.

-A package of assorted picture-hangers and hooks (if hanging pictures is allowed in your dorm). Buy a pack at the dollar store. A few extra finishing nails and small screws would be a good addition to this as well.

-Thumbtacks. Buy a pack at the dollar store or office supply store.

-Scotch tape, packing tape, duct tape (or Gorilla tape).

-Twist ties. Get a bunch from a pack of trash bags.

-A package of superglue. Rather than one large tube, get the pack with several tiny tubes so you don't lose your entire supply when one dries up.

-Craft wire. Use it wherever you might use a twist tie, but also can be bent into whatever shape you need to become a tool or a piece of art. Dollar stores carry rolls of it often at 2/$1.

What kind of work are you planning to use these tools for? Automotive, electronic, wood working, construction, metal working, jewelry making?

I'm looking for the most all around kit. I do a lot of electronic work, bike work, and just general hacking and building.

A powerful magnet can come in handy for a lot of things (inc. "magnetic fishing") and they don't take up a lot of space. L

Get something like this. Good for most repairs and projects. something like this started my tool collection


Buy the best you can afford - buy cheap and you will buy many times over. But buy good and you risk your stuff being nicked or borrowed and never returned. I have bought many cheap saws and got fed up so I bought a very good saw which got broken by someone who was jealous in an 'accident'. Then invest in various marking tools to identify those tools as yours, and get a good tool box with the best lock you can afford. You need to be thinking in terms of $30-50 for the lock and $100 for the box. Then you need to be able to secure the whole thing against something that doesn't move easily. For example I had my locked tool-box chained twice; 1 to the bed and 1 to the desk as I was not allowed to drill holes in the wall. Then never lend them out. No excuses, they're yours and that's final. Don't buy a tool on a whim: research it first - there are plenty of tool-users fora (forums) such as metalwork, woodwork, etc. Keep purchase receipts in a drawer in the tool-box. You be pleased you did when your tool dies one week before its guarantee expires. Regardless of the tools you buy, get a can of WD40 (oil/lubricant) and spray the appropriate parts of your tools - this is esp good if its going to be a long time between uses. By definition, essential tools are not obscure (your Q). But having just come out of Uni I can't understand what tools you need as the accommodation do pretty much everything except drill holes, so think of:measuring tapes/rules, spirit levels/straight edges, clamps, it goes on. When you buy consumables, buy only as much as you are going to use as it will go off (ie glue). Good luck ;-)

Great advice! It would be rather easy for me to get a screwdriver snagged from me when some kid down the hall needs to open up some gadget, so tagging my name on them is a great call. By obscure tools, I meant tools that I may not have ever heard of. Thanks for the help!

seriously, don't tell the kid down the hall what you've got - sometimes ignorance is bliss and this is one of those times - it's taken me 40+ years to learn this and you'll do yourself a favour to learn it now.

I meant to put "accommodation team" (first line,last para)

Japanese wood saws. Good chisels. Sharpening kit. Soldering iron Torq bits