Unique Tool Filter
June 6, 2012 6:15 PM   Subscribe

What can I splurge on? Tool Edition.

I received a nice surprise gift card from work. I will soon be buying a fixer upper and doing lots of renovating: new kitchen, new bathrooms, lots of new wiring, etc., etc... What kind of tools, less than $25-$50, have been great tools for all sorts of home improvement projects? I already have a fairly good tool collection with the basics and lots of specialty wood working tools, so what else is there that I must have?
posted by Nackt to Shopping (25 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
How about a LED headlamp for those dark corners or times when the power's off?
posted by holgate at 6:18 PM on June 6, 2012 [1 favorite]

Stanley Fubar.
posted by box at 6:21 PM on June 6, 2012

A really good pry bar or three. Prying up molding carefully so you can put it back is a very excellent thing you can do for saving money and the environment.
posted by rockindata at 6:31 PM on June 6, 2012 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: I already have a headlamp, three actually since I backpack, and the Annihilator, which is the Fubar on steroids. What else is out there?
posted by Nackt at 6:37 PM on June 6, 2012

Seconding rockindata.

I also used the Hell out of a cat's paw when I redid my house, especially in laying new hardwood flooring and laminate. Plus, it's called a cat's paw, so it is also fun to talk about.
posted by broadway bill at 6:38 PM on June 6, 2012

Another thing I used a lot was a decent little "mouse" style sander. I bought a good one eventually, and it cost about $80, but it was worth it many times over. I use it a lot still. It mostly helped on flooring jobs, but they're good for tons of stuff. Maybe a cheap one of those?
posted by broadway bill at 6:40 PM on June 6, 2012

Good work gloves and safety glasses.
posted by mhoye at 6:42 PM on June 6, 2012 [2 favorites]

Oh yeah, definitely good gloves. For the $25-50 budget, that's a perfect idea.
posted by broadway bill at 6:44 PM on June 6, 2012 [1 favorite]

posted by box at 6:45 PM on June 6, 2012 [2 favorites]

If you already have one of those rechargeable-battery-pack-based sets of tools, another battery or two and/or a quick charger.
posted by box at 6:47 PM on June 6, 2012

Best answer: Nice Linesman's Pliers? Tin Snips?
posted by true at 7:12 PM on June 6, 2012

Kneepads, a pair of many-pocket overalls, nice heavy gloves.
posted by notsnot at 7:12 PM on June 6, 2012

A nail set.
posted by ryanshepard at 7:18 PM on June 6, 2012

Best answer: I'm just finishing my own remodel of my house/fixer-upper, and did most everything myself (demolition, electrical, plumbing, floors, paint, finish work, kitchen, etc).

Here's a few of my favorite things in your price range that you probably don't have yet:

Carhartt Nail Pouch - it has multiple pockets to hold both tools and nails/screws/etc. Toolbelts get in the way when you're a jack of all trades working on your own house, and you end up wearing a cheap nail pouch anyway.

Carhartt overalls (bibs) - I love mine. Roomy, convenient pockets, indestructible, and easy to change into/out of. Also prevents the dreaded plumber's crack ;)

3/4" x 5' flexible drill bit - You will use this everywhere when doing electrical, and you will love it. It can drill through multiple stacked studs at once (my record I think is 6 - that's 9" of solid wood!), it flexes up to 90deg over its length so you don't need to fit the drill between the studs, and though it's duller than when it started it still bites well. Indestructible and indispensable.

Spring-loaded center punch - Start your drill where you want it every time, no more walking! Also easy to use one-handed. It'll save you from lots of swearing when your holes are slightly off or the drill bit skips.

DIY dust collector cyclone - It really does work. Add a 5gal bucket, then attach to your shop-vac and save yourself the hassle of having to blow out the shopvac filter or replace the shopvac bags all the time.
posted by jpeacock at 7:29 PM on June 6, 2012 [3 favorites]

Leatherman wave or comparable. Nice tools are sweet but lugging around the box sucks. Pulling a stripper out of your pocket and rewiring a wire nut connection without having to go back for your kit is totally worth it.

posted by wuzandfuzz at 8:05 PM on June 6, 2012

Black & Decker WorkMate. Having a solid, adjustable, portable work surface can be extremely helpful.

I could recommend a lot of tools out of your price range that are great, but within your price range, the WorkMate is number 1. Number 2 would be a high quality pair of Channellok pliers, followed (or preceded) by a high quality pair of ViseGrip pliers.

Those are all essential tools for home renovation, IMO.
posted by mosk at 8:06 PM on June 6, 2012

Good, long toilet augur. Friggin low flow toilets...
posted by 2N2222 at 8:11 PM on June 6, 2012

I've gotten a lot of use out of an old-school nail puller my dad picked up at some farm sale.

I assume you've already got a really nice utility knife with a one-handed opener/latch slider, and it's hardly unique, but it seems worth mentioning 'cause I'm sometimes amazed at the crap ones I see people getting by with.

What about a nice chalk line?
posted by brennen at 8:26 PM on June 6, 2012

Honestly, after doing a ton of improvements around the house and buying a bunch of tools, I would suggest buying one or two pairs of really high quality work gloves. I wore through 3 pairs of cheap leather gloves during the last 2 projects we did, and now I'm kicking myself for not just buying something nicer from the get go.

The other thing (if you do any electrical at all) is one of those little wand things you can put into a plug or along a wire to tell if it's hot or not. This makes it really easy to see if the breaker you turned off actually connects to the wires you are about to touch.
posted by markblasco at 10:04 PM on June 6, 2012

A pair of Knipex? I have had many over the years and I am always happy to have them in hand.
posted by From Bklyn at 4:08 AM on June 7, 2012

We can recommend tools all day, but I find that when I get a gift card to Home Depot or Lowe's, it goes into my toolbox. Then, when I'm working on a project and I just can't get it down without [tool], I'll go buy [tool].

I would just hang out to it until you find you really need something!
posted by InsanePenguin at 4:25 AM on June 7, 2012 [2 favorites]

Hammer. It's one thing that is always in my toolbox or tool belt, no matter what the project. I like the Estwing framing hammer. But, there are lots of good options in your price range.
posted by I'm Doing the Dishes at 5:45 AM on June 7, 2012

No kidding: a reusable heating pad for your sore back after a long day.

A 4" drill bit extension. Not the crazy 12" one, but just a liiiiitle longer. (This is a nice complement to the flexible bit, above.)

A Spyderco Sharp Maker for sharpening up the blades and bits that you'll wear down as you work. Dull tools are more dangerous and slow you down.
posted by wenestvedt at 7:18 AM on June 7, 2012

Get yourself a nice hex shank wood drill bit set. Nice when you're doing fiddly DIY jobs with your electric drill. My other favorite tool is a 3 meter aluminum straight edge - so many applications (tiling, roofing, drywall, levelling ...).
posted by rudster at 3:25 AM on June 8, 2012

I just got an extension cord reel, sort of like this one. It makes the cord much more manageable.
posted by zamboni at 7:07 AM on June 29, 2012

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