limited production :: hand crafted :: high performance :: rechargeable :: premium flashlights

This is my blog about creating a startup LED flashlight business. I'm a designer, fabricator, and strategist and I'm passionate about making ideas real. I believe that products are about people, that they should be built to last, deliver real value, and that we need to do a better job than we have in the recent past.

Most of my career has been contract or freelance work and I've crafted products and strategies for both big international companies and startups. I also used to work in the "industry" fabricating special effects for film and TV, along with the occasional hot rod. Bottom line, I love making things.

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Sunday, July 1, 2012

The ultimate home toolkit

I was recently tasked with putting together a home tool kit from scratch. I have a shop full of about every tool you can imagine, but at home, a cobbled together mish mash of tools collected from childhood, from my father, from high school, college, that one time I decided to change my own spark plugs. You get the idea. So, this time it was pretty fun that I had free license to choose the tools I wanted and an hour to kill at Home Depot.

25 must have tools for the home repairman
(and woman, just don't make me say repairperson)
I picked out this kit with the 80/20 rule in will work for 80% of home fix-it situations. The other 20%? Well, you know that's how tools multiply :) So, you'll see that I haven't cheaped out. This set will set you back about $400 bones and you won't find a Leatherman in the group. A friend once said about the Swiss Army Knife: Good for some, great for none. One thing I've learned tinkering throughout my life, at machining school, in a hot rod shop, and two special effects shops...good tools never let you down, bad tools always do. They waste time and time is money. You don't want to waste money do you? 

Read on after the jump if you want to hear me babble on about what I picked out :)

Two obvious things are missing from the set above, adhesives and a socket set. Adhesives, well...they expire. Get em when you need them. The socket set...quite expensive and not really needed for "general" work. You'll know when you do. Remember what I said about tools multiplying?

1) Irwin Bar Clamps: A 12" pair is a good place to start. They clamp stuff! These are particularly good at standing in for "a buddy" when you need a second set of hands to hold something in place. The last thing I used mine for was to hold a new padlock hasp in place while I screwed it to the fence. 

2) Tape, tape, tape. Duct: if you buy the Nashua brand you can even be sure it will tear nicely, no little strings pulling off the sides. Hey, it's the brand that the MythBusters use. Painter's: low tack and good for everything like paint masking, but also handy for labeling boxes and such. Word of warning, it's only low tack for the first 72 hours. After that, good luck getting it off. Electrical: once again you'll find the 3M brand tape is both more sticky, more flexible, and tears better. Teflon: anything plumbing related needs some teflon tape. It stops leaks so that's good unless you like doing jobs twice. 

3) Stanley 16 ft tape measure: They have all kinds of fancy tapes these days but I can't stand the massive cases they put them into. If you need to measure more than 16 feet then you are a construction worker.

4) DeWalt 12V Impact Driver: For home use you don't need more power. Don't confuse this with the 12V drill/driver. The impactor will drill just fine (twice the RPM of a normal drill) and drives screws like a mofo. You know how the drill always slips off the screw head or strips it out? That's cause it's a DRILL, not a screwdriver...I don't care if they market it that way or not. The impactor uses the hammer action to keep the bit seated in the screw head and means you don't have to push on the tool and risk slipping. A five year old could drive a 3" wood screw without a problem. Honestly, it's my favorite tool. 

5) Ryobi Quick Release Drill Set: I don't really recommend Ryobi anything, but this is a decent set. It has 1/16 - 3/8 drills with quick release shanks that fit the impactor. Pretty light duty but these are for home use, not industrial.

6) Gloves: I used to think I was tough and didn't need gloves. My knuckles have the scars to prove it. These are a Kevlar weave dipped in nitrile rubber for grip. They fit close and provide good dexterity...which is my main peeve with gloves. 

7) Ye olde Adjustable Wrench: I know, I know. You HATE using adjustable wrenches because they always slip and loose the width you've set it on right? That's cause your wrench is crap. Get a good one and your worries will be gone. 

8) Channel Lock Long Nose Pliers: nope, needle nose is a different tool. Awesome for plier-ing stuff. I know they have cutters, but they generally won't cut much. 

9) Sharpie: I don't need to say much do I? Get a pack, you'll need em. 

10) Channel Lock Diagonal Cutters: remember how the long nose pliers won't cut? These will. Once again, if you buy a good set they will actually cut stuff without getting dull. The other brand I'd recommend is Klien Tools. They have these at Home Depot but you'll have to look in electrical. 

11) Irwin Vise Grips: These are the modern "fast release" version and they are WAY better than the old lever-release kind. Do yourself a favor and step into 1999. 

12) Irwin Long Nose Vise Grips: These get into places the wide jaws of the normal vise grips don't. One of my favorite uses for vise grips is backing up and nut/bolt where you have to turn one side and keep the other side from turning. Most people use another wrench for that...but you have vise grips don't you? 

13) Irwin Groove Lock Pliers: The modern day Chanel Lock. These have a button you depress to slide the jaws which means you won't be fighting with them because they won't stay in the right groove.

14) DeWalt Quick Release Socket Set: not a lot of sizes but it covers the basic stuff. Especially good at getting old rusted nuts off. 

15) Zircon Stud Finder: okay so you are old school and can find a stud by knocking on the wall and listening to the sounds...but can you also find the live electrical conduit that you are about to drill into? My favorite feature (because I don't like to be dead) is the voltage detector...just make sure you get the version that actually has it. You can also use the tool to double check if you've turned off the right breaker when you are working with household electrical. 

16) Empire Level: you can spend a lot of money here, but you don't need to. I know, iPhone has an app for that...which works long as you don't need anything to be level. This model is simple and has a magnet on one side which is handy if you are working with metal stuff.

17) 7oz Hammer: I know my carpenter friends will laugh at this puny hammer but you'll rarely need more for hanging a picture. Besides, you have an impact driver that will drive 3" deck screws all day weren't really considering nails were you? 

18) 8" zip ties: Get a pack. I like to have a few different sizes on hand but 8" is the most versatile. 

19) Milwaukee all-in-one Screw Driver: Just about any brand will do but please get a decent one. You'll thank me later. The other brand I'd recommend is Klien Tools because they have good electrical insulation. This is the only "combo" tool I'll recommend...because it works. 

20) Husky all-in-one mini screw driver: Same idea, just smaller. Great for opening electronics cases. 

21) Fiskars Shop Shears: Not Scissors, shears! These are big and cut stuff like crazy. You'll mainly need them to open all the packaging these tools are sold in. I've you've never used an awesome pair of scissors then you've been missing out. 

22) DeWalt 18mm Snap Off Kinfe: I don't really care what brand you get but I love these knives. When the blade gets dull just snap off the tip to expose a new part of the blade. Just buy a spare pack of blades so you won't be afraid to snap off the old ones

23) Said Spare Blades 

24) Klien Tools Wire Stripper/Crimper: Makes undressing a wire a cinch. This model can also crimp things like ring and spade terminals if you do any DC electrical work. It's easy to talk yourself out of getting a wire stripping tool. You can just use that utility knife right? The first time you do any electrical you'll be happy you had the right tool. 

25) Wire Nuts: Last but not least, get a small sample pack of wire nuts and you won't look like a chump when you try and wrap up that hasty connection with only electrical tape. You'll want to use the tape to secure the nut, not the connection. 

Whew, that's all for now! What did I miss? 

1 comment:

  1. Hi Jason, this is a really fun post and you've put together a very nice home tool kit. I'd like to recommend a few tools and things I find handy to have around the house.
    - safety glasses (buy an extra pair as they are a must have item)
    - dust mask - 2-pack costs under $10 and they are great when spray painting, sanding, handling insulation, or using noxious chemicals.
    -quality flashlight (of course)
    -can of lube (WD40, silicone spray, nano oil, household oil, etc.)
    - pry bar
    - putty knife
    - pack of assorted grit sandpaper
    - paintbrush - Invest in a quality professional paintbrush, this is one item you should not cheap out on. I bought a few Purdy brand brushes over 15 years ago and they are still in great shape. No matter how good your paint and prep work is, If you use a cheap brush, your work will look like crap. Clean and store your brush properly and it will last a good long time.
    - 25 foot extension cord
    - saw - There are so many different types of saws, it is hard to recommend a certain one, but every household should own at least one saw (power or hand)