Eleven Critical Tools You Need to Stock Your Toolbox
Every time I hang a picture or measure a door, I carefully place my toolbox back in its place: an inconvenient corner in the back of the closet, next to the ironing board, underneath the winter coats, and behind a cabinet. Because I can’t actually see in the closet, the next time I go to take out my toolbox, I have to reach blindly past the ironing board, beneath the coats, and around the cabinet to lug it out. When am I going to learn that I use my toolbox almost every day?
A well-stocked, and easily accessible, toolbox can make anyone’s life a little easier, be she a homeowner, renter, or college student. The eleven most basic tools listed below will put you in the right direction on the path toward complete tool sufficiency.
Not one to overlook the obvious, I would like to point out that the toolbox itself is an essential element of a well-equipped toolbox. My first toolbox was actually a plastic tackle box with a removable tray. It worked like a charm, holding my claw hammer, Phillips head screwdriver and a random assortment of nails and screws. Now I’ve graduated to a fancy toolkit made of molded plastic where all the various tools and accessories snap into a particular place. If, like me, there are certain tools you use once a decade, the molded plastic option at least gives you a clue of whether the missing tool is long and skinny or short and square.
Most often used for driving nails and breaking things apart, the hammer typically consists of a handle and a head. The most essential hammer to have in your toolbox is the claw hammer, which is useful in both driving in and removing nails. Other implements in the hammer category include framing hammer, upholstery hammer, ball-peen hammer, rubber mallet, wooden mallet, and sledgehammer.
Screwdrivers tighten or loosen screws by applying torque. The typical hand-held screwdriver has a head that engages the screw, a shaft, and a handle. Screwdrivers vary in both size and head shape and are identified by the screw heads they are used to tighten or loosen. The most basic screwdrivers are the slotted and Phillips‚ every toolbox should have a couple of each in varying sizes. Additional screwdrivers include: PoziDriv, Robertson, Crosspoint, Torx, and Hex.
Pliers are used to increase gripping ability and leverage. However, within this category, pliers can perform slightly different functions. Cutting pliers sever or pinch off materials. Gripping pliers, as described above, are pretty self-explanatory and include flat nose pliers, round nose pliers, and needle nose pliers. Gripping pliers are the most common variety and are a tool no toolbox is complete without. Finally, crimping pliers are used in electrical work to crimp electrical terminals and connectors.
- Tape Measure
Although tape measures can be made of cloth, ribbon, or metal, most toolbox tape measures consist of a stiff metallic ribbon, housed in a plastic case, which is self-retracting but can also be locked into place. Twenty-five feet is a good, all-purpose length.
A saw is used for cutting‚ the type of material to be cut varies with the saw. A saw consists of a serrated blade, handle, and can be powered by hand, steam, water, or electricity. For your basic toolbox, a relatively small hand saw may be all that is required for minor projects around the home. In addition to the hand saw, back saws have a thinner blade that is reinforced by a steel or brass back. Frame saws stiffen the blade by placing it in a frame. For example, a hacksaw is a frame saw.
- Putty Knife
A putty knife has a flat, flexible blade. Rather than being used for cutting, a putty knife is useful for‚ you guessed it! Scraping and applying putty. Not too much to describe about this simple tool, but I can tell you that it’s handy in many different situations, and one of the most inexpensive tools on the list. Why not get it?
A wrench is used to create additional leverage in turning nuts, bolts, or other stubborn items. The most basic wrench is an open-end wrench, which is a solid piece of metal with a U-shaped opening at one end that grips the sides of a nut or bolt. More advanced wrenches include: a box-end wrench, which features an enclosed opening and is typically used with nuts or bolts that are hexagonal in shape; an adjustable end wrench or Crescent wrench (so called after the original patent holder’s brand name, Crescent Tool and Horseshoe Company); a socket wrench, and the Hex key or Allen wrench.
An awl is a woodworking tool, very useful for starting holes before drilling. Quite simply, the scratch awl is a steel spike with a sharpened tip at one end and a handle on the other. In actual woodworking, a scratch awl is used for scribing a line to be followed by a hand saw or chisel.
- Hex Key Set
In todays world there are so many different types of fasteners that require hex keys in both metric and inch/SAE and also torx, that having the correct wrench to be able to turn these fasteners is critical. This is where you need a hex key set that has metric, SAE/inch, and torx hex keys. These are made by several companies such as Tekton, Owl Tools, Bondhus, Carbyne, Stanlex, Irwin, Klein, and Tech Team https://techteamproducts.com/. The one we like best is the Tech Team model 717 set https://www.amazon.com/Tech-Allen-Metric-Folding-Pieces/dp/B07CV12XQT/ref=sr_1_248?ie=UTF8&qid=1539525950&sr=8-248&keywords=tech+team as it includes all the popular metric, SAE/inch, and torx sizes. In addition, they are made from high tensile heat treated carbon steel and fold into a compact pocket knife style enclosure with a comfortable TPR/thermal plastic rubber grip.
- Pry Bar Set
Pry bars are incredibly handy. They can be used for a wide range of both automotive and around the home repairs and construction projects. They can be used for scraping, for lifting tile, for leveling windows and doors when newly installed, and a whole range of other applications. Pry bars are made by numerous companies such as Tekton, Stanley, Snap On, Mayhew, ANB, Performance Tool, Gear Wrench, and Tech Team https://techteamproducts.com/. The one we like the best is Tech Teams model 707 5pc. Pry Bar Set https://www.amazon.com/Mechanics-Prybars-Chisel-Angled-Rolling-Head/dp/B07CSBZ4ZM/ref=sr_1_11?s=power-hand-tools&ie=UTF8&qid=1540409708&sr=1-11&keywords=pry+bar+set as it has 5 different sizes, each one made from high tensile heat treated carbon steel with a comfortable and functional plastic grip.