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Building a set of tools, need advice

Discussion in 'Off Topic [BG]' started by Balog, Mar 28, 2013.

  1. Balog


    Mar 19, 2009
    Mukilteo, WA
    So after years of apartment living where I either paid someone else to do my vehicle maintenance or went to a friend’s house and borrowed their tools, I’m in a house and looking to get started doing it myself again. I have a few of the basic homeowner tools covered (screwdrivers, allen wrenches, vice grips, hammers, cordless drill, multi-meter, dry wall tools etc) but not much that I can use on a car. So I’m hoping for suggestions on 1. a good basic set of tools I should be getting and 2. what make and model you’d suggest for each type. Uses would be the aforementioned vehicle maintenance as well as general repair and fabrication work. Just thinking of hand tools here, not powered stuff. Here’s what I’m thinking, although obviously there's a lot more…

    Socket set: English and metric, standard and deep well, 3/8” drive.

    Combo box and open end wrenches: English and metric, ideally short throw ratcheting on the box end.

    Channel locks.

    Wire crimpers.

    MAPP gas torch.
  2. Yogi Bear

    Yogi Bear

    Aug 14, 2000
    I would add needle nose pliers, a hack saw and a pipe wrench or two (a big one and small(ish) one). Pipe wrenches have come in handy more times than I care to think, especially if you plan on doing your own plumbing work.
  3. Balog


    Mar 19, 2009
    Mukilteo, WA
    Good call, I think needle nose and lineman's pliers are a must, as well as diagonal cutters. Also, what about a vice? Any thoughts there?
  4. a set of tools for working on electrical
  5. Truktek2


    Sep 5, 2008
    Queens, NY
    You've pretty much got the basics covered. Don't forget 1/4 and 1/2 inch drive sockets (short and deep with extensions and swivels)

    How about jack stands/ramps, jack, oil drain pan. Spark plug socket/gapper and droplight. Maybe a creeper/roll around stool.......radio and cooler.
  6. bassinplace


    Dec 1, 2008
    I know you said you're not looking at power tools, but there are at least two that I find indispensible. One is a drill (which I see you have), and the other is a reciprocal saw. I can't tell you how many times I would have been lost without my sawzall.
  7. fdeck

    fdeck Supporting Member Commercial User

    Mar 20, 2004
    Madison WI
    HPF Technology LLC
    I've owned houses for twenty years, and have accumulated a fair number of tools. But here are some oddball tools that have proven to be incredibly handy.

    Narrow drywall knife, say 1.5 inches wide, to use as a scraper.

    A sanding pad from the drywall department, that holds a half sheet of sandpaper. It's as quick as an electric sander.

    "Wonder bar" mini crowbar.

    IMHO half the battle when working on a house is getting stuff apart with minimal damage, which often just comes down to patience and ingenuity.
  8. elgecko


    Apr 30, 2007
    Anasleim, CA
    Brand-wise Craftsman from Sears or one of the house brands from Lowes or Home Depot should be fine. Sears has a bunch of different starter kits that'll make a good base from which to expand. For the house, I'm always surprised by how much I use one of these:


    For cars, one of my favorite tools is my 1/2" breaker bar/ratchet.

  9. Tituscrow

    Tituscrow Banned

    Feb 14, 2011
    NW England
  10. megafiddle


    May 25, 2011
    Check the screw heads on the car, like the tailight lens.
    You may want a set of torx drivers.
  11. Mike N

    Mike N Missing the old TB Supporting Member

    Jan 28, 2001
    Spencerport, New York
    I already have, somewhere near $50k last I counted. :help:

    For the weekend warrior Snap On is overkill, you'll do just fine with Craftsman and even the stuff from Lowes or Home Depot (Kobalt and Husky) will get the job done.

    OP- Shop smart and you can build a nice tool collection for not as much as you think. Unless you're working on older cars having fractional tools is nearly pointless since you're likely to not use them often. If you still want to have some for that once in a blue moon job I would get some cheap sockets and wrenches from Harbor Freight to keep the cost down. You should also look on eBay and Craigslist for tools... you may be able to find some used name brand stuff at really good prices.
  12. Balog


    Mar 19, 2009
    Mukilteo, WA
    My motorcycle is an '85, and when I get a truck it will likely be of the same vintage. I'm thinking of getting one of the Craftsman starter sets and seeing how that goes. Even if they're not great it'd still be nice to have a backup if I upgrade later.
  13. tplyons


    Apr 6, 2003
    Madison, NJ
    For a homeowner/amateur wrench, you'll be fine with a Craftsman mechanic's set around ~150 pieces. Just make sure it's not the Craftsman Evolve. The Evolve does not come with the no questions asked warranty that the original series of Craftsman does.
  14. Let's see, a good metalworking lathe, a milling machine, a few welders, metal cutting bandsaw, Portapower, 20 ton hydraulic press, air compressor, sandblasting cabinet...
  15. placedesjardins


    May 7, 2012
    If you have a foreign car, then you'll want metric sockets. 1/4" drive wrench and sockets and extensions. 3/8" drive wrench and sockets and extensions, 1/2" drive wrench and sockets and extensions. 1/2" to 3/8" adapter. Metric allen keys.

    An O2 sensor socket (because it has a cutout)
    Spark plug sockets
    1/2" drive breaker bar.

    Needle-nose pliers
    Regular pliers
    Offset pliers
    Torx screwdriver set, maybe
    Wire cutting/crimping/splicing tool for electrical work.
    Magnetic retrieval tool. To pick up bolts and nuts that you drop and cannot retrieve with your fingers.
    Dremel tool with cutting discs.
    Grabit screw removal bit set to remove stripped screws.
    Cheap propane torch kit to heat up rusted bolts/nuts
  16. I'd also jump in on the Craftsman auto tool sets. I went out and got the 400-piece big boy: giant PITA to haul but you can damn near pull and rebuild an engine with it.

    Also, if you have the cash and plan to be working it enough: a decent air tank and compressor, with a matching set of tools. I recently picked up a Husky air compressor and 20 gal tank for $200 new from Home Depot, and along with an air chisel I made short work of concrete blocks while replacing an entire fence.

  17. placedesjardins


    May 7, 2012
    Why stop there? He needs an auto body rotisserie, CNC engine block resurfacing machine, computerized wheel balancer, and Mustang dynamometer.
  18. Impact driver and a deadblow mallet (optionally you can get a compressor and a pneumatic wrench/driver instead of the impact variety), as well as a set of box end wrenches in sae/metric and a filter wrench and oilpan. You might want to look into getting a valve wrench, tie-rod puller, brake spring puller, a set of wheel ramps, and a solo brake bleeder kit.
  19. Balog


    Mar 19, 2009
    Mukilteo, WA
  20. UncleFluffy


    Mar 8, 2009
    Head Tinkerer, The Flufflab
    If you're expecting to use it less than 3 times in your life, rent it. Less than 10 times, get the Harbor Freight version. More than that, buy the good stuff.

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