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What Tools Should I Put in my Tool Box?

What Tools Should I Put in my Tool Box?

Like everyone else, I have a toolbox in my garage. Strangely, I have no idea how I got the nice, metal toolbox nor do I recall where most of the tools came from. Undoubtedly some of them were gifts or hand-me-downs from my dad or others who were moving. Maybe they were housewarming gifts. Out of all my tools I remember only buying a drill, maybe a long nose pliers and a set of hex wrenches to fix my bike once when I had a mishap on the road. Looking back, I wish that maybe I had assembled at least a very basic toolbox with quality brands like Wiha or Wera. To help you and maybe your loved ones, we decided to put together a good list of essential and helpful tools from among our bestselling brands to hopefully help you build a toolbox that’s not only affordable, but high quality as well.

1 – Hammer

Of course, one of the most obvious tools everyone needs is a hammer. Most of us get by with your typical claw hammer, and that usually gets the job done. Klein Tools 808-16 is your typical straight claw hammer or if you wanted a curved one, you could go with the 818-16. Both are solid pieces of workmanship that will help you drive and remove nails around the house or on a serious job site. It’s an essential tool you’ll always need, so buy a good one.

2 – Screwdriver

Wiha 77790
Next to the hammer, a screwdriver is probably the most essential tool. Most homes have at least a standard slotted screwdriver and a PH2 Phillips. Most people will do fine with just those two, but even so, you will occasionally encounter screws that are a different size or even a different style. Using the wrong sized screwdriver can cause stripping on the screws or the driver, so using the wrong sized driver is not advised. It might be worth getting a few extra sizes as you can get various size and shape screwdrivers individually or in sets. You can even get an affordable 26 in one set with the Wiha 77790 or other models. With screwdrivers, we also carry precision sizes for any jewelry or small electronics work. Take a look through all of the selections to take advantage of the savings offered by multipacks.

3 – Tape Measure

Hammers and screwdrivers are important things to stock, but something you might overlook, at least until you need it, is a tape measure. It’s kind of taken for granted, but try shopping at Ikea without knowing what size desk you can fit in your office. Good luck building a custom shelf or making a modification in the house without a measurement. Although a shorter one will do the job, it sometimes pays to have a 25 footer like Klein Tools’ 928-25HV. If you know you can get by with a 16 footer, you might want to try the Klein Tools 86615 or the Klein Tools 86216, both of which are a double hook magnetic tape measure. Klein Tools has been in the industry for a long time, so any of them would be a good bet and will likely last a lifetime.

4 – Ratchet and Socket Sets

Felo 0715762055
Another good bet for your toolbox, especially if you do a lot of work on cars, in garages/warehouses or putting a lot of equipment together, would be your standard ratchet and socket set. You can get a set of Wiha 21290 ratchet wrenches which are all insulated. Felo 0715762055 is a 19 piece set with some common sizes and good workmanship. Probably the best one though is Wera’s Zyklopp ratchet. It comes in different styles and sizes, but it’s a great tool because the Zyklopp has really innovated ratchets with their swivel head and other exciting features as can be seen in the Wera 05073260001 or if you want a whole set, you can look at the Wera 05004076001. Another style that’s nice is the WERA-05004078001 which is more of a traditional style ratchet. All of these brands are great, but Wera’s steal the show with their smooth finish and dense feel, but don’t be afraid to try the other brands.

5 – Bits

An essential item for any tool box are bits. Bits go good in various driver handles and in most power drills and impact drivers. Hex bits for a drill or ratchet may be a great replacement for your standard L-keys in certain situations. Torx bits and standard bits are available as well, and since they can inevitably wear out, you may need to keep stocking up. There’s no reason not to have a good variety pack of bits in your toolbox.

6 – Hex Keys

Wera Hex Wrench
Every Ikea set comes with a mediocre hex key that barely fits and barely does the job, so it might be a good idea to have some options besides what they give you. You might also find that having some sort of hex key on hand while you’re biking is also a good move. Where biking is concerned, Bondhus’ Gorilla Grip tools are a nice compact tool with several hex sizes in them. They’re super portable so taking them on a long bike ride is a great idea if you store them in a side satchel or biking pack. If you don’t need something that’s portable, just having a set of hex wrenches around the house can be great. Bondhus’ hex keys are of great quality, they even seem to have copied Wera’s idea for color coding. Getting a T-Handle from Klein or Wiha might be a good idea too. Of course, Wera’s color coded set is something of a show-stealer too.

7 – Utility Knife

One overlooked item that should be in every toolbox is a utility knife. From your standard, tried and true utility knife like the Klein Tools 44100 or the Klein 44130 to something more like a traditional knife in the True Utility TU571, the TU580 or the unique and convenient TU577, once you start carrying a knife on you or with your tools, you’ll never leave home without one. They’re incredibly handy to have for just about any situation. You never know when you’ll have to cut open some packaging material. It probably would do to have a couple in any toolbox in case any were to “walk away.”

8 – Locking Pliers

locking pliers
In one of those industry innovating moves where a brand name comes to mean anything else similar to it, Vise Grips is a specific brand of locking pliers that has come to be applied to pretty much every type of locking pliers that’s even remotely similar. We carry many different locking pliers that will serve the same purpose, and are in fact an indispensable tool as they can be clamped onto something and tightened, then left there as a set of hands while you work on something else. You can get a standard one with the Velleman HP16N or the Aven 10375, or in a needle nose with the Aven 10377. Every toolbox should have one at a minimum.

9 – Pick Up Tools

Pick up tools are great for when you drop something and it lands in some place you just can’t reach. A screw falling into the innards of your PC, for example. Or something rolling underneath the fridge. While there are a lot of options out there, this one by Velleman has mirror to help you see if needed. Elenco makes a similar one, minus the mirror. Both are telescoping and have a magnetic tip making them perfect for screws or other metal objects. If you’re grabbing at a chip or some other object sensitive to magnets, the Eclipse 900-238 uses vacuum power to suck up the part. Unfortunately, it doesn’t have the reach of the others, but is just as useful in close quarters with sensitive pieces. Not necessarily an essential item, but it can be handy, especially if you have butterfingers.

10 – Gloves

Work gloves, sometimes affectionately referred to as “chorns” by certain groups, are an absolute essential in many types of jobs. Anything as simple as yardwork up to electrician or other specialized jobs all benefit from gloves. Klein Tools 40012 are a nice option for very basic jobs that you just need to protect your skin with. The Klein Tools 40016 are made from sueded deerskin gloves which are a bit tough and also feel less like an astronaut glove. There are also a few other different types of gloves, including the 40205 and 40221 for journeymen. Many of the gloves we carry are highly specialized, so take a look at all the options.

11 – Laser Level

I was putting up some shelves recently, from Ikea of course, and with measuring for studs AND for placement to have level shelves, I found it rather frustrating having to hold, then drill and check with a regular level and fix as needed. This would have been much easier with a laser level. I could have just used the laser as my guide for level shelves. The Klein 93LCL works really well, especially with a tripod, to display laser marks on the wall making basic jobs that much easier. Klein Tools 93LCLS takes it up to another level, no pun intended, in that it’s self-levelling and features a plumbspot. This level has been one of our most popular, and it’s easy to see why when you look at all the features it has.

12 – Tongue and Groove Pliers

Knipex Cobra pliers
Working on pipes or jobs where you need a strong grip on something, tongue and groove pliers, or sometimes water pump pliers, are what you need. The bulk of the ones we carry are by Knipex and you can get water pump style, or Knipex’s trademark Alligator and Cobra pliers. Knipex is one of the better brands, bringing German quality and engineering as well as innovative ideas to their tools. If you own some Knipex tools, you’ll definitely feel a world of difference compared to other tools. As we mentioned in our blog about Knipex, the alligators give you 30% more gripping power than other brands and the Cobras make it easier to find the right size for whatever you’re gripping. All around a great addition to this list.

13 – Safety Glasses

This one is a no-brainer. Your eyes aren’t only the window to your soul, they’re also really important to keep safe. All it takes is one little speck in the eye and you’re out until you get that fixed. You need safety glasses, just find the set that works best for you. One of our best brands is 3M and we carry many varieties. The 3M 11524-00000-20 which have yellow lenses, clear ones like the 11328-00000-20 are also available as are some with foam gaskets.

14 – Tweezers

Tweezers are universally useful and come in quite a few different styles, they’re definitely not the eyebrow pickers you might be used to. You can get smooth tweezers like the Aven 18489. You can get curved and tapered tweezers, or very specialized ceramic tweezers like the Aven 18804. There are many more types of tweezers available, so make sure to look through our selection. Tweezers are important to help with removing splinters, holding small and delicate components and much more.

15 – Adjustable Wrench

Adjustable wrenches are great for working on nuts and bolts, and you can use one wrench for multiple sizes. Klein Tools 507-8 is a standard example, the Gedore 1966294 though is a bit more specialized with its phosphate coating and unique design. If you need one to work on live circuits with, Wiha and Knipex both make insulated adjustable wrenches. The Wiha 76290 is a 3 piece set, but they make different sizes individually. For a more affordable one, you can check out Velleman’s line, like the HAW10. This is a tool that’s needed every once in a while, so having one is a good idea.

16 – Lineman’s Pliers

Lineman’s pliers are wonderful tools that are great for any toolbox because they pack several features into one tool. If you use them for work, you already know this. If you don’t, they’re basically for gripping, twisting, and cutting wires, in addition to crimping. You can also use it to ream out conduit. Their versatility definitely has helped them earn their place in every toolbox. All of the brands we carry have lineman’s, but the stand out ones would be Klein Tools D2000-9Neth, Wiha’s 32821 insulated, and Knipex’s 09 02 240 SBA.

17 - Wrenches

Wera Joker Wrenches
You can move bolts and nuts with other tools, but wrenches are definitely your go-to tool for that job. One of the coolest wrenches is Wera’s Joker wrench. You can get them in a four piece, eight piece or 11 piece set. These are great wrenches because they have a smooth metal finish, feel balanced and have a unique feel in that they are light, but also feel dense and strong. Of course, they also feature some of Wera’s signature flash in their design making them a nice showpiece. You can also get sets of combination wrenches from Gedore, Wiha and Klein.

18 - Long nose pliers

Long nose pliers are great for getting in and gripping in small spaces. They’re also great for working in electrical or in crafts and jewelry making so you can bend wires into smaller sizes. Many long nose pliers also feature cutters making it easy to use them for wire work. Wiha has a very basic approach with the Wiha 32621, or you can get insulated with the Wiha 32923. Wiha has also made a unique style with the Wiha 32852 which is sort of a gun-shaped take on long nose pliers. We carry a few other brands, but one of the best non-Wiha types is made by Knipex. You can definitely see the workmanship on even a plain pliers like the Knipex 25 03 125, models like the Knipex 25 02 140 show another level of quality with their tough handles. They’re endlessly useful, so make sure to get some.

19 - Pliers wrench

In addition to tongue and groove pliers mentioned earlier, a pliers wrench is also a nice tool to have. It lacks the teeth of a pipe wrench/tongue and groove so it won’t damage what you’re working on, but it still gives you the leverage you need to grip. This tool really innovates turning, gripping and holding with its easy adjustability. You can get a 3-pack of different sizes, or individually with tools like the Knipex 86 03 125. Be sure to look at all of the available options, as there are quite a few.

20 – Flashlight

Sometimes you need to fix something in a dark recess somewhere, maybe there’s just generally poor lighting or a piece of what you’re fixing blocks your light. The obvious answer is a flashlight or a headlamp. We sell quite a few headlamps, Klein tools 56220, the Pelican 027500-0102-247 2750C LED headlamp, and Coast FL60 are all great products to consider. As far as regular flashlights, there’s quite a few options there as well. Many if not all have a magnet on the bottom so you can mount the light temporarily in a lot of different places. Pelican flashlights are also high quality and really, really bright. Coast flashlights, like the A25R rechargeable would also be handy as it doesn’t consume batteries.

21 - Hearing Protection

Work environments are often noisy, so having something to protect your hearing in the toolbox is also a great idea. Something as small and portable as earplugs will do in a pinch, though they aren’t without their downsides. Still, better than damaging your hearing. Earmuffs, like the 3M H10A Optime will probably do a better job, and feel more comfortable. Again, this isn’t a necessity, but they are useful.

22 - Tool boxes and

Klein Tools Backpack
The last piece to this giant puzzle is the toolbox/carrier itself. This all boils down to a preference given there’s so many options. There’s backpacks, a Klein 5185ORA is a durable orange backpack that might be good for lineman. Klein’s 55603 Tradesman might also work as well. You can also get more traditional toolboxes like the Velleman TG600, or the Elenco C-580. You can get a soft bag by CLC 1579. This is one instance where you’ll have to look at what you need your tool carrier to do. With the many options, it’s important to find the one that fits your need.

So that’s quite the list of stuff, but most, if not all of this stuff will end up in your tool collection anyways, so you might as well take the first step and start getting it on your own, or if you know people want to buy you tools, maybe drop some hints about the excellent brands we carry. We’d also love to hear from you. Did we leave something out? Should we take something out? Any suggestions? Make sure to leave us product reviews for your favorites and tell us about your favorite on Facebook or Instagram!
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