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Your essential "tools of the trade" ? / Ten Tools you couldn't live without? Answered

I'm interested in starting to buy some tools to keep around for any things I may want to attempt to build. There are just so many different kinds of tools out there..and they are expensive.

So before buying anything I'd like to know your top ten tools that you couldn't live without (excluding the really basic tools like screwdriver, hammer, pliers, wrench etc.)

Also please share your experience with different brand name tools. Which brands would you reccomend, and which would you stay away from?


As an electrician I have a lot of Klein tools. None have ever let me down yet, and I use the pliers as a hammer almost every day. They are tough, with a lifetime warranty - but a bit pricey.

For hobby and home repair use though, here's my list:

Metal/machine tools:
Grinders - Dremel and angle grinder, one for small work, one for big
Torque Wrench - if you are going to go anywhere near a car or motorcycle, you *need* one.
Full Metric and Imperial socket set, including spark plug sizes
I have an old green Unimat tabletop lathe/mill/drill press that is great. It can fabricate almost anything that will fit on it, metal or wood.

Electronic/electrical tools:
Digital multimeter
Adjustable power supply, preferably with adjustable current limit
Soldering iron
Wire strippers
A good pair of needle-nose pliers
Inductive "chirpy" - it lights up and beeps when you get it near a live 120V wire.
A quality set of screwdrivers including torx, and as many special security bits as you need to take things apart!
Oscilloscope - definately a luxury but once you have one you can never go back

Hot glue gun - my "go-to" adhesive
Jigsaw - I hate jigsaws, but so often they are the only saw that will do the job.
Cordless drill - Ridgid gives a lifetime warranty on the batteries these days, so there is no reason not to go cordless

Silicone spray - A better lubricant than WD-40, and compatible with almost anything that squeaks or needs basic lubrication, like door hinges and rubber bushings.
3-in-1 oil - for things that need oil rather than spray lube. Great for small motors.
Lithium grease - for those other things that need greasing, like assorted bearings, rails and slides.
WD-40/Liquid Wrench - to undo stuck bolts/nuts

Top 10 but not in order of importance:

Barlow Pocket knife,
Soldering Iron
De-soldering iron
Screw/nut set (including screwdrivers, hex & security sets)
Plier set, especially the needle nosed pliers
Digital multimeter w/voltage-res-cap-inductance settings
my Third hand (with magnifying glass)
sheet metal cutter/nipper

One other thing I can not do without, but is not a tool per se`; and that is my "junk box"

thats what I figured, and in what applications do you actually use the voltage-res-cap-inductance setting? Frequently or never? lol

I had a junk box to beat all junk boxes at one time...it was most of my bedroom...so I had lots of spare coils, chokes, and inductors, as well as a lot of unmarked capacitors. The normal meter measures voltage and ohms (thus the name volt/ohm meter), but the other two are not as common. They can be handy if you have a lot of unmarked spare parts however.

Oh! I'm really a beginner at all of this so I didn't realise that res, cap and inductance are actually 3 different settings. Would you mind telling me what Res, cap and inductance is?? or point me to some wikipedia page lol

btw, ohms and resistance are the same thing, aren't they???

Yes, ohms is the "measurement unit" of resistance.

Thus I wrote further up:The normal meter measures voltage and ohms (thus the name volt/ohm meter), but the other two are not as common. , the other two being Capacitance and inductance.

i just checked... mine doesnt measure those. darn. it dows have a non contact voltage check though.

My "junk box" currently takes up: most of two bedrooms, a large woodshed, two vans, a burned-out bus, a '92 Mazda, several small sheds, and various piles and heaps around the property. I'm not really bragging here, this is a bit of a call for help...

All the stuff I use has already been listed so these are just recommendations; A 40 watt soldering iron, not the 30 watt one because it's just not enough juice in some cases, I got a radioshack brand iron and it seems to work just fine and it's less than 10 bucks ;). The Multimeter I use is a Craftsman not a fancy one but it does the daily job: voltage (AC/DC), resistance, current, and continuity; continuity does two awesome things; test LEDs and check if there's contact between two points. A screw driver magnetizer is a must, and I don't think it's listed here. I use a Multipro Dremel for cutting PCB boards and it's just the best! that's it.. A third hand kit is very handy too when doing precise soldering, so owning one wouldn't be a bad idea, or you can build the one somebody posted it here on instructables xD. I hope it helps

I have just been given a new jigsaw and reciprocating saw, plus some bits for my rotary tool - yay for old age!

- Dremel - Soldering Iron with various sized solder - X-acto knife - Needlenose Pliers - Various adhesives (Duct tape, electrical tape, epoxy, wood glue, large amounts of crazy glue, etc) - A nice work bench with a lined work mat to make your stuff on - A good knife, I have a leatherman, but you can use whatever you like - Wire strippers (SOOOO useful) - Start with some hookup wire from radioshack, also get some solid core for your.. - Breadboard (Use this to test circuits before you solder them. That's all i can think of, I work with wood, but I don't think you need power tools besides maybe a DeWalt drill to start you off, I am also an electronics junkie, so most of my list pertain to that. Hope I helped!

Yes it was very helpful. Could you describe hookup wire for me? its not wound is it?

if by wound you mean several small strands of copper wound into one wire, than you would be correct. However it does not work well with breadboards, so i suggest buying some solid core copper wire as an alternative. If you go to Radioshack, just look where they keep all their wire, it should be fairly easy to find.

its either a spool of wire, or short lengths of wire with alligator clips on the ends.

Right now I'm mostly doing woodworking, so here's my list for that: A Table Saw A #5 Bench Plane A Drill (I have a DeWalt 18V that I'm pretty happy with) A good sharpening stone and related jigs A Set of common chisels (at least a 1/4, 1/2 and 3/4) - these should be sharp - the back of your left wrist should not have hair on it! A mallet (for hitting your chisels and knocking pieces of wood together) A solid workbench with a good vise and assorted dogs and hold downs (otherwise you end up stabbing yourself with your chisels and the that is BAD) A decent combination square (don't get the kind with a stamped ruler) A router A set of Cabinet Scrapers - the basic cabinet scraper is like a steel 3x5 card. I'm not sure why people stopped using these and started using sandpaper - maybe they liked the taste of sawdust. The quality of surface you can put on a piece of hardwood with one of these is amazing. More so since you can do it by hand faster than you could with most power sanders.

very helpful! why would you not get a combination square with a stamped ruler??

They're just not as precise as then ones with what I assume is a milled ruler. If you're cutting 2x4's to frame a wall a stamped ruler is fine, but if you're trying to do furniture grade work, where you want things to just fit together with no play, you're only going to be as good as your measurement and layout which is only going to be as good as your tools.

we use power sanders because: 1) sawdust is a great source of dietary fiber 2) its a good excuse to get out our prized power tools and make some noise.

it occurse to me that no one mentionned: ear protectors safety glasses a respirator gloves perhaps no one big on safety

I always wear boots in the workshop but I don't exactly think of them as tools.

EMT= emergency medical technician. the shears are for cutting of all manner of material to get accesses to a wound. this includes denim and hardened leather for motorcycle riding gear.

soldering iron dremel pcb drill bits drill press vise various wire cutters if you can't tell I'm mainly an electronic kind of guy, other things that I uswe but they cost less than 5 dollars each: tweezers hobby knife dust pan and brush A GARBAGE CAN handitak (really useful when soldering to pcb's)

pcb drill bit?? woudnt any small, pointy drill bit suffice?? i have used tiny bits no probleme.

for precision work, I use my tiny pin drill (it is little more than a micro bit handle that one rotates in one's fingers....a piece of aluminum and a tiny chuck).

whats a handitak exactly? I think I may wind up doing alot of electronics stuff...when I find out how XD

i think handitak is a non-conductive and non resinous tape used to hold components in place for soldering.

handitak is not a tape, it a type of reusable yellow putty that can be bought for a dollar at walmart or any other store like that. What I use handitak for is: Holding stuff like resistors and jumpers and small capacitors down to a board so when I flip the board and solder it it doesn't come off. It's also really useful for alligning and holding smd/smt chips. also I can see how you think it's a tape, it's sold in a block that look like 4 strips that you mush up. Regarding PCB bits they are usually higher quality than any drill bit because they have to drill many thousands of holes while they're really thin. I just use them because I can' get them anywhere but online.

ohhh! I actually use handitak to hang posters on my wall to avoid making holes with pins. Very clever alternate use! I'll have to remember that whe I understand enough about electronics to actually build something. Didn't know there was a special drill bit for a PCB either. I'm learning a lot.

you usually cannot use a helping hand on a pcb. either the part is too large, too far in, or just blocked in by other parts. also, the teeth on the alligator style clip of the helping hand can slash the pcb copper.

yeah, but whenever you use PCB drill bits make sure you use a drill press, or a rotary toll used as a drill press because they can break easily. If you have any troubles with electronics, don't hesitate and PM me, I love helping people

I'll certainly remember that! I probably will need help, it will just be a matter of time. Today was certainly an eventful day..so much knowledged gained.

Soldering iron X-acto knife EMT shears (they really can cut through a penny... or your finger) Dremel reciprocating saw, jigsaw, miter saw, with blades for wood, fiberglass, plastic Drill (corded) with bits for wood, fiberglass, plastic needle and thread Sharpie adhesives (epoxy, wood glue, acrylic welding compound, liquid vinyl, E-6000) computer and printer

Multi tool Sharp chisels hack saw jigsaw palm sander machete dremel tol tfrom dremel brand duct tape good tape measure speed square

It's for unbuilding, or cutting raw materials X ] or whacking at sticks tom make pointy end etc...

and keeping industrial spies off your property. lol

Definetly, "You spyin' on me man? swish swish yah thought so BEAT IT!"

i do a lot of computer work so: dremel with accesories utility knife soldering iron ,solder, helping hands, solder sucker screw drivers multimeater (wish i could afford a fluke) cordless drill pliers heat gun/hair dryer rotary grinder ( i built my own) radio

is your dremel actually dremel brand?? and what kind of cordless drill do you have? There are so many brands..Skil, Black and Decker, Ryobi, blahblah..