May 30, 2007 8:30 AM   Subscribe

ToolFilter: I'm outfitting a new tool chest and looking to upgrade my sorry, incomplete tool sets. Any particular recommendations (e.g., brands) out there for the basic things -- screwdrivers, wrenches, etc. Anything you can't live without in your tool chest?
posted by jgballard to Home & Garden (35 answers total) 20 users marked this as a favorite
Seconding the Sears recommendation. Especially for non-professional use, they can't be beat. Sure, Matco, et c., tools may actually be tougher/better, but they won't replace the flathead-cum-prybar the way Sears will. The Craftsman generic toolsets aren't worth buying, IMO. I prefer to buy the sets of specific tool types (e.g., the large screwdriver set) since they're more complete in their domain, and suppliment that with as-needed purchases. I also shy away from "organizational" doodads unless you're willing to plonk down the (significant amount of) money require to get a spot for everything. My $0.02.
posted by TheNewWazoo at 8:46 AM on May 30, 2007

It sort of depends on what you like doing (and thanks for asking this question, I'm looking to buy a tap set, but aside from craftsman, I don't really know brands).

For me, the one tool I love the most is my automatic wire stripper. It only does one thing, but it does it perfectly every time.

After that, a dremel rotary tool has been the most versatile thing I have bought.
posted by drezdn at 8:50 AM on May 30, 2007

If it's ok to tag on, I'm curious about the craftsman warranty experiences. I have a craftsman rivet gun with broken threads (and therefore useless). It's less than a year old but I don't have the receipt. Should I just try taking it to the store and show them the problem?
posted by drezdn at 8:56 AM on May 30, 2007

If you are going to be getting a lot of use out of your tools, I suggest buying those with rubberized grips. Not getting blisters and calluses is, um, totally manly.

I'm also very pleased with my most recent purchase, a hammer with a shock-absorbing grip. It cost about twice as much (i.e., $20) as a plain ol' wooden-handled hammer but it's pretty sweet.
posted by puritycontrol at 9:00 AM on May 30, 2007

Get a good Craftsman socket set and screwdrivers, and wrenches of the types you need (open, boxed, metric, standard, etc.)
Channel-Lock (blue handles) for various plier sizes.
Vise-Grip for other, locking plier needs.
Leatherman (yes, yes, commence flaming, but it's good for light use around the house)

My DIY-er dad keeps telling me to buy quality, so whatever he has and used for 30+ years that has stood up to his abuses makes its way into my less-used toolbox. Otherwise, what follows are more generic things you'll need.

Good crow/pry bar.
Various wire brushes in different sizes.
Good utility knife/box cutter with plenty of blades.
I keep carpenters pencil, Sharpie and typical writing pen for all my marking needs.
I found a mini-pry bar thats 8 inches or less for small work, and it was too inexpensive to pass up.
Little pen light a nurse or doctor would typically have.
Electrical tape and maybe even a small roll of duct tape if I'm not in my work room. And blue painters tape for quick use.
Glue, wood or Super-type stuff.
Bench vise, if possible.
Magnets in various sizes.
Mini-screwdriver set, like the size you'd need to tighten a screw on a pair of glasses.
Tape measurer - try before you buy, I'm not liking the one I currently have, but my dad swears by his Lufkin.

Part of the fun is shopping for more and adding as you deem fit, but this should be a good start.

And on preview, get a Dremel, too...but I'm aiming for the non-electric handtools.
posted by fijiwriter at 9:01 AM on May 30, 2007

The Wonderbar (mini prybar). It's wunderbar! And a 24"L, 2"ID steel pipe for leverage on your wrenches, claw hammer, prybar, lugwrench, etc.

Also, make sure you have at least three hammers - framing, a lighter household claw and a ballpeen, and always use the right hammer for the job.

Lastly - a pair of goggles (get the kind that are yellow because they work well in low-light), gardening gloves and a supply of rags. They fit tight and keep your hands mostly clean, and can be wiped easily with the rags if they get too greasy. They grip nails well and the hammer hit hurts less with the little bit of rubber cushion. Always wear your goggles and gloves. Even if you're just changing a light bulb. Ok, maybe not the light bulb, but always be safe when you're doing a job.
posted by valentinepig at 9:02 AM on May 30, 2007

What are you planning to do with your tools? The best tool is the one that does the job you need. A chain tool is essential for some people, but if you don't work on bicycles it's useless. You will find that you need to buy certain tools to finish projects, no matter what you buy now.

I do recommend a torque wrench, particularly if you have an aluminum engine block, otherwise you will be tempted to use a regular wrench where you shouldn't one day. Buy safety glasses and hearing protection for the tool chest.

Craftsman is a good brand that generally balances price and quality well for personal use. Know that Sears also sells non-Craftsman brand tools, and these don't have the nice Craftsman warranty. Kmart supposedly now sells Craftsman products, and honors the warranty.
posted by yohko at 9:06 AM on May 30, 2007

Ditto Craftsman, they're 80% of the quality at 20% of the price.

I like to read tool blogs to get ideas of nifty things I might not have heard about.

One thing I can't over emphasize is clamps. You need as many clamps, vice grips, etc as you can unreasonably cram into your workspace.

If space allows, having a second, "disposable" set of some of the very common tools (common socket sizes, wrenches) from a bargain supplier like Harbor Freight or similar for sacrificial purposes.

I have a fetish for unnecessarily manual tools, so I have a swench and a tirfor, but even I acknowledge that they're absurd and only marginally useful.
posted by Skorgu at 9:09 AM on May 30, 2007 [1 favorite]

If you look under "machine shop supplies" in the phone book you will probably find a listing for the tool store that sells to real tradesmen who use their stuff everyday.
At least go to look, it can get expensive.
I use Bonney, Crescent, and Allen wrenches and think they are great but craftsman stuff can be ok too.
If you buy a tap just stay away from carbon steel, use high speed steel only.
posted by Iron Rat at 9:10 AM on May 30, 2007

Irwin quick clamps have changed my life. Get as many as you can reasonably afford. Three or four of a couple different sizes is a minimum.

If you're looking primaily at house repair, beyond the basics: a drain snake, a good putty knife, two or three smallish tapes (but not shorter than 8'), a power drill/driver, a 3' level/straight edge and a roofer's square are come of the most common items you'll need.
posted by bonehead at 9:12 AM on May 30, 2007

As someone who grew up without a handyperson in the house and only took one shop class, I've found this book really useful. The information is 50 years old, but for hand tools it's fine, giving useful information on what tool to use for what job, safety tips, and tool care. It's great whether you're looking to fix a gaping hole in an aircraft carrier or work on your house.
posted by drezdn at 9:17 AM on May 30, 2007

Do not buy cheap taps and dies. THE name is Greenfield and here is a GREAT place to shop
posted by raildr at 9:21 AM on May 30, 2007

I asked a similar question here. A lot of the answers have already been repeated here, but it might be worth a look.
posted by chndrcks at 9:25 AM on May 30, 2007

After a look at the tool area, here are some non-tool supplies that are very nice to have in your toolbox:

sandpaper, pipe thread sealer, gaffers tape, electrical shrink tubing, rubbing alcohol, headlamp, simple green cleaner, rags, paper towels, dust mask or respirator, pen and paper, sharpie, white nail polish

The best odd tool I have is a large set (unfortunately, new types keep coming out) of drivers of various shapes, to fit the screws they put on equipment when they don't want you to be able to remove the case.
posted by yohko at 9:29 AM on May 30, 2007

When you finally break down and decide you need a real ladder instead of a dozen books on a folding chair, spend the money and get a good quality fiberglass ladder. Yes they're about twice what the aluminum ones are, but they're more tolerant of mishandling than wood ones and you won't electrocute yourself as readily as with an aluminum one.
posted by Skorgu at 9:38 AM on May 30, 2007

Yard sales and flea markets, I'm 100% serious.

You'll find crapsman (sorry, sears just ain't what it used to be), snap-on and cornwell tools for not much money at all.

All of these brands offer unlimited transferable warranties on their non-powered tools. (Snap-On and Cornwell (and ingersoll-rand all have warranties for powered and pneumatic tools as well.))

So, ya use 'em and if/when you breaky, you get a replacement for free, and the replacement will be brand new.
posted by TomMelee at 9:41 AM on May 30, 2007

If you assemble alot of pre-made furniture, or do other pounding tasks, I think a rubber mallet is useful to have. Less chance of accidental damage than if you use a regular hammer, and way better than using the sole of a shoe (not that I would know anything about that, of course).

Other than the great suggestions above, the tools I seem to frequently reach for in my toolset are the mini screwdrivers. Not just for electronics, either. I think mine are Stanley brand (black and yellow).
posted by cabingirl at 9:45 AM on May 30, 2007

Partly this depends on your budget. Assuming that cost matters to you, my advice would be to buy better stuff for the things you will use often (for me, this means the hammer and socket set, for example) and buy really cheap, like from Harbor Freight, for the things that you are buying "just in case" or to use once. If you start using those things often, replace with better quality items at that time.

For my level of use, Craftsman is fine for socket sets, pliers, etc -- the warranty is nice to have, but I haven't broken anything yet. I've used Snap-On and other expensive brands, and they are great, but are more than what is needed for my more casual use. Cheaper, off-brand screwdrivers don't hold up -- I would definitely buy Craftsman or better on those, if you will be using them often. I am very partial to my Estwing hammers -- they have a much nicer feel and balance than the crummy ones I used to own. But I've only once broken a hammer, and I've used a lot of hammers, so it is not like a cheap one won't get the job done. Again, buy a better one if you will be using it a lot, or a really cheap one if all you will ever do is hang a picture frame or two.

The advice to wear eye and ear protection (and gloves when you will be handling splintery wood or sharp edges) is really good advice, and bears repeating many times over.

Finally, my real advice would be to start with the minimum, but to make a commitment to always buy the needed tool(s) for a project rather than jury-rigging tools for uses for which they are not designed.
posted by Forktine at 9:49 AM on May 30, 2007

Crafstmen is OK for casual home use with the exception of their screwdrivers. The heat treating is not as good as some of the more expensive ones and can snap if used as either a wedge or prybar. A warantee is useless if you find yourself on a job with a broken tool. Their power tools are OK for limited use. If you use any power tool on a regular basis spend extra for commecial grade. When you do buy Craftsman stuff, wait for them to be on sale. Most eveything eventually cycles through their sales catalogs.
posted by Raybun at 10:03 AM on May 30, 2007

The speed square may be the most overlooked great invention of the 20th century.

Get several hammers, you'll always need a small one or a gigantic mallet for something.

Multi-meters are far more handy than they should be.

Pipe clamps are great, put a few of the connectors in your box, and find some conduit or pipe wherever you are and suddenly you can put a elephant in a clamp, if you need to.

Get a cheap hex set, they wear out quick regardless of price.

Keep old or worn out screw drivers for use as drift pins.

Don't skimp of sockets or a means to keep them organized, this will save your many torn hair follicles in the future.

I also keep an old speaker magnet on a string in my box, I can't tell you how many times this has helped me find a screw on a dark rainy night.
posted by 1f2frfbf at 10:06 AM on May 30, 2007

I have a cheap (sub $25) Black and Decker rechargeable electric screwdriver I use all the time. If you ever think you may install a ceiling fan, light switch or put together furniture or toys, you should get one.
posted by hilby at 10:18 AM on May 30, 2007

A 6-in-1 or 10-in-1 screwdriver (like this) is one of the greatest inventions known to man. Seriously. Someone bought one for me as a gift and at the time I thought, "Aww, how cute." But now it's the first (and usually, only) screwdriver I reach for.
posted by Work to Live at 10:21 AM on May 30, 2007

Xcelite screwdrivers.
Cheap multimeter.

Oh, and duct tape.
posted by MtDewd at 10:37 AM on May 30, 2007

I like my Estwing hammer. They come in various sizes and weights - I'd like to get some smaller ones for light duty, but I keep using the 20 oz wrecking claw hammer for everything. (Wrecking claw rocks. Flatter than the standard curved hammer claw, makes it much easier to get a grip on nail heads or even drive it into softer wood to help pry it out when necessary.)

I am also pretty damn pleased that when I had a chance to buy a circular saw I went with a DeWalt.

I think your best bet is to buy a very basic set of tools and then add on what you need, when needed, at the best quality you can afford. Hammer, pliers, screwdrivers, hand saw (wood and hacksaw), shop knife with extra blades, a wrench and socket set, plus some allen keys - these are all pretty standard tools, and they'll get you through most jobs. You'll also want a good electric drill, and bits for same (screwdriver/socket heads, wood and masonry bits in various sizes). Wireless is nice but a bit more expensive; if you go that route get a well-known brand and keep in mind that many cordless power tools can be purchased individually or in sets with interchangeable battery packs. Drill running low? Yank the pack off of the power saw and keep going.

When you start looking into the less-commonly used tools, don't buy unless you have a need. On the other hand, it also pays to remember that the more specialized tools are made for a reason. A big screwdriver isn't a prybar, and where a hand saw is helpful an offset saw might be the perfect choice... as my dad always says, why use a butterknife when you actually have a screwdriver?
posted by caution live frogs at 10:37 AM on May 30, 2007

Oh, forgot before and wanted to add:

Sears sells their returns to closeout buyers. Example--there is an auction about 30 mins from my house that runs from 7pm until they feel like closing it Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays. They sell exclusively sears and craftsman stuff. Lots of it is unused, some is stuff that they used once and took back, some if it is straight up broken. They always crank it up or plug it in, though. (They sell a LOT of those 50cc chainsaws at brand new or like 5 mins of use, I think people buy the big power tools and then realize that it's too much machine for them.) Anyway, point being that stuff goes at these auctions CHEAP...
Last year there was a guy who bought every socket pack that came up for sale, usually 20 or so pieces each, auction ended usually around $5. He bought $300 worth in $5 increments. My friend bought 4 backpack leaf blowers and a couple lawnmowers for $125 one night. Anyway, I have NO idea how to search for these things, but they're ALL over the place, I'm sure there's one nearby you. The best part is that sometimes they have stuff that the audience doesn't know what it is and it goes CHEAP. Last year they sold a brand new plasma cutter for $150.
posted by TomMelee at 10:37 AM on May 30, 2007

There's not enough love here for Harbor Freight. Yes the tools are poor quality, but they are insanely cheap. If you're not sure about your need for a particular tool, buy it from Harbor Freight. If it breaks, then you can be sure that you're using it enough to justify the cost of a quality replacement. If it doesn't break, then you're not using it that much anyway.
posted by kc8nod at 10:39 AM on May 30, 2007

I've gotta pile on the Estwing bandwagon. I adore my rock hammer, drilling hammer (a short handled 4lb sledge, essentially), and chisels. Oh, and I have an Estwing framing hammer as well. They are solid under very abusive conditions and the grips really damp vibrations without getting blistery.
posted by janell at 10:55 AM on May 30, 2007

The general wisdom is Craftsman is probably best for home use, and generally good enough for most uses, but the "truck" brands(Snap-on, Matco, Mac, Cornwell, etc) are almost always higher quality, but at significantly higher prices. If you use it everyday, probably worth it. I've never had an issue returning broken Craftsman stuff.

As far as recomendations beyond the basics, some ideas:
- multimeter
- small lights of any sort (i've been using a $3 dollar lighted dental mirror alot recently, for example)
- a good hammer for all the "hitting things that aren't nails" stuff. I've got a short handled 3lb hammer I use a lot (sometimes called a "engineers hammer").
- a set of "mini" pliers (diagonal cutters, needle nose, etc). I find these very useful for eletrical work in tight areas (aka, pretty much all electrical work)
- a basic set of files. I have a set of needle files I use all the time.
- a decent cordless drill and driver set
- A good utility knife is kind of self explanatory.
- vise grips
- measuring tools (tape measure, T-square, levels, etc)
- an angle grinder.

Checkout toolmonger or garage journal for more discussions.
posted by alikins at 11:19 AM on May 30, 2007

Ditto Craftsman, they're 80% of the quality at 20% of the price.

This is true. For really important tools, however, you should look to buy better stuff. If you will be turning nuts and bolts, the ratchet is the most important place to pay for quality. I work on cars somewhat frequently, and I love my FACOM ratchet. If I needed it, I would buy this in a heartbeat.
posted by Kwantsar at 11:33 AM on May 30, 2007

For ratchets, wrenches and screw drivers I usually go for Craftsman largely due to the replacement policy. I've had tools abused (such as my idiot friend being too lazy to turn off a breaker and instead short circuiting the circuit with my screw driver) and they've never batted an eyelash. My friends sister used to be a rep for Snap-On, they are impressive but the impressiveness wasn't worth the cost to me.
posted by substrate at 12:38 PM on May 30, 2007

I'll n-th Craftsman hand tools, for general stuff like screwdrivers and socket wrenches; assuming you're not going to be using them every day (i.e., you're not a mechanic or carpenter by trade) they'll probably outlast you, well taken-care of. Probably your biggest concern is that Sears will go out of business and stop honoring the warranty some day. If you're feeling flush, Snap-On or one of the real "mechanics' brands" might be even better, but I think it's probably just overkill, unless you can buy them used at an estate sale or something.

For pliers, everyone should have a couple of real Vise-Grips. (Avoid the crappy Chinese knockoffs.) That's in addition to some needle-nose and electricians' pliers, where the Craftsman ones are fine. (Although Klein would be better. They make great wire strippers and more specialized tools.)

If you can afford it, get a Fluke multimeter for electronic diagnostics. eBay might be a good source for used ones, which ought to be fine.

Estwing makes good hammers and other pounding-instruments; you can generally find them at Home Depot or Sears. You wouldn't think that a hammer was a difficult thing to make well, but trust me, you do not want to be around when one breaks during use.

I would not, however, buy Craftsman/Sears power tools. They don't have the warranty, and they're just not that good. Too much plastic, not repairable, etc. I really like Porter-Cable circular saws and routers, but I'm not professional so YMMV.

I know I'll probably be accused of being a neoconservative Cheney-fellating fascist when I say this, but honestly the best way you can guarantee some modicum of quality in tools is to stick to ones manufactured in the U.S. (or Western Europe). It's not because of any inherent superiority of American manufacturing, but just because the production cost is so mind-bogglingly high in the First World, that anybody manufacturing tools here is probably doing something right, or they'd have gone out of business long ago.
posted by Kadin2048 at 12:41 PM on May 30, 2007

I'm going to go against the grain here. I like making and fixing things, and over the years I've acquired a lot of tools, and that includes mechanic tools, woodworking tools and more recently, a lot of metalworking/machinist tools.

For a couple of decades I felt that I had to buy "quality" tools and that meant buying Craftsman tools from Sears. But I don't do that anymore because:

1) Sears tools are expensive, even when they're on sale. And some of their stuff is just gimmicky junk.

2) The Craftsman guarantee has never been of much use to me. I almost never break tools, even cheap tools. But no matter hard I try not to, I do end up losing tools like sockets; or family members lose them for me or leave them outside in the rain. If you want to experience sticker shock then go price single Craftsman replacement sockets.

Also, a lot of other retailers are now offering a lifetime guarantee on their hand tools.

3) Nowadays, the quality of "cheap" tools is far better than it was five or ten years ago. Of course, there is still an enormous amount of cheap worthless junk out there, but if you're careful, you can buy tools that are just as good, or almost as good, as Sears', for a lot less cost.

I recently put together well equipped, good quality tool sets for each of my daughters for about sixty dollars each. If I'd purchased Craftsman tools it probably would have cost me at least three times that.

I suggest that you stop worrying about brand names, and just shop around and compare quality and prices at Harbor Freight, Home Depot, Lowes, and Sears.

Your choice may come down to having a small collection of high quality tools or a much bigger set of decent quality tools. It going to depend on your budget and what you're going to be using them for.

I recommend having lots of tools, including "the right tool for the job". Don't buy cheap junk, but don't waste money on unnecessary quality either.

PS: I still like Sears for screwdrivers. Also, buy very good quality socket handles and almost anything that has a cutting edge on it.
posted by 14580 at 12:55 PM on May 30, 2007

Klein Tools screwdrivers, pliers, side cutters and nutdrivers are the choice of professional electricians everywhere. Their screwdrivers are incredibly durable and comfortable.

In the vein of working with screws, screw holding screwdrivers make assembling things held together by lots of screws easy. A torque screwdriver is a specialty tool, but one that makes large sheetmetal projects go much faster, as you can drive screws tight, without stripping them or pulling them through sheet metal. Yankee screwdrivers are now made only in the U.K., but they are incredibly useful, particularly if you are driving lots of wood screws in a project.

A lot of people love their cordless drills and screwdrivers, but if you plunk down the bucks for these, get the intelligent battery chargers that can hold cells on maintenance charge without killing them, and put the charger where you'll see it and rotate your spares weekly. The better cordless tools work with higher voltages and bigger battery packs, so don't get less than 18 volt tools. Cordless screwdrivers will have a torque limiting chuck, so you don't strip out screws driving them, but you'll pay more for this feature. If you only occasionally use a power drill, forget cordless, and buy a quality corded drill and heavy duty extension cords.

A principal problem with cheaper sockets and ratchet handle tools is the fit of the sockets on the ball spline that drives them, as they tend to be pretty loose. If you have to make up a rachet, extension, u-joint knucle, and socket combination on an auto maintenance job (pretty standard set up for even pulling spark plugs) all the accumulated "slop" in those connections makes it hard to keep a good "feel" for the fastener or part you're trying to work with. So, better tool sets have closer tolerances in the joints, which translates into fewer slips, busted knuckles, and rounded fasteners. A set of torque wrenches is very useful, if not essential these days, in automotive repair. Even spark plugs have torque specs these days. I recommend click type torque wrenches as more useful than beam types, when you are working on things where you may not be able to see a beam type's indicator.

You should also give some thought to hammers, mallets, and related tools for applying shock forces to fasteners and parts. With nail guns and screw guns becoming common household tools, there is less use of traditional hammers today, and even less understanding of how hammers are made and how they are supposed to work, than ever. You can screw up a project with a hammer faster than with nearly any other hand tool, and no other hand tool properly substitutes for the hammer, when called for. So you need to select good hammers, and choose and use them for the tasks for which they are designed. At a minimum, I recommend that the average homeowner have a 16 or 20 oz framing hammer (the heavier 22 - 28 oz hammers are too hard to control for most amateurs), a 12 oz ball pein hammer, a short handled 3 lb sledge hammer, a 20 oz soft faced, dead blow mallet, as basic tools. You may want to supplement these with good quality urethane or rubber mallets, for non-marring assembly of parts, but even a rubber mallet will mar wood and painted finishes, if you wail on it. Larger, heavier hammers, like long handle sledge hammers might be things you acquire as projects demand.

Chisels are important hand tools to have, and keep in good condition. You'll benefit by purchasing good chisels, and by learning to sharpen and shape them properly. A decent set of wood chisels in sizes from 1/4" to 1 1/2" will be adequate for most home repair, augmented by a seperate set of metal cold chisels in sizes from 1/4" to 1" for automotive and metal working jobs, should suffice. With these, you should consider oilstones or other sharpening tools, if you don't already have them. A dull chisel is dangerous.

Saws and similar cutting tools have moved out of the hand tool category, for most homeowners. That's too bad, because a good crosscut, rip and miter saw are still efficient, useful tools for woodworking, that are a lot easier to carry and use at small job sites than their powered brethren. The big problem for most people in owning and using hand saws, that I think has made their power tool brethern so popular, is the problem of properly sharpening and keeping set on handsaws. Most people prefer power saws, including jig saws, circular saws, and reciprocating saws because they can easily obtain replaceable, sharp blades, whereas with the hand tool, as soon as it becomes dull, they are kind of lost. So, if you're going to benefit with hand saws, get a saw set and a decent saw file, when you buy your saws. Most people also want to have a general purpose hacksaw in the tool chest. And quality tin snips, shears, and utility knives are the difference between doing a job comfortably and neatly, and butchering yourself and the project you are doing. So, choose wisely, and well.

In the realm of measuring tools, good tape measures, rulers, squares, calipers, feeler guages, and possibly micrometers and specialty tools like multi-meters are advisable. At a minimum, a 20 foot tape measure, a framing square, a combination square, a carpenter's level, a torpedo level, and a plumb bob (that doubles as a chalk line), are the basics. To this, you might want to add 6" spring calipers and dividers, a vernier caliper, and feeler guages. If you do a lot of auto repair, a micrometer set is a must.

I consider quality work lights, magnifying glasses, inspection mirrors, and hand microscopes to be important hand tools, whereas others might not. But if you can't see what you are doing, you make mistakes easily. Good, reliable flashlights are a must. I prefer Mag-Lite flashlights myself, but I also supplement these with LED headlamps, stand light, and AC trouble lights, whenever needed. I also think a quality 3" hand held magnifying glass is indispensable, and a 6" arm mounted lighted magnifier belongs on every workbench. Inspection mirrors are essential for many home and auto repair projects.

Whether you consider personal safety equipment in the realm of "tools" or not is a debatable point, I think. Certainly, eye protection, gloves, and dust masks are basic things to provide yourself and others when working with hand tools, but the personal gear need varies a lot with the kinds of jobs you're doing.
posted by paulsc at 1:00 PM on May 30, 2007 [3 favorites]

Some related threads on power tools and hand tools. Also tips from Popular Mechanics and Cole Hardware.
posted by Dave 9 at 2:34 PM on May 30, 2007

If you're near an Ace Hardware, I like them so much more than the home and garden superstores. The people at Ace actually know their stuff, they know where their products are, they tend to have a wider variety of stuff on hand (try finding metric bolts with fillister heads at HD or Lowes) and as an added bonus, Ace-branded tools have a lifetime replacement warranty. I managed to break the reversible screw driver that came with my socket set (I guess that bolt was a little more rusted on than I thought) - took it in, and even though the set it came in has been discontinued and replaced, a replacement is coming in tomorrow, no problems.

Plus, every Ace I've ever been to has had a Grabbeltisch (I have no idea what the English word for that is - basically, it's an Altar of Awesome Random Tools That You Couldn't Possibly Live Without For No Money). And even if you can't find it there, Ace prices tend to be at least comparable to HD and Lowes, if not better.
posted by yggdrasil at 11:39 AM on May 31, 2007

« Older s video to rca   |   Yeah, I'd get free cookies and cakes, but is that... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.