A well stocked toolbox is indispensable for DIY projects and home repairs. Use this guide to select versatile and dependable tools that will help you with a lifetime of projects.
Over at Popular Mechanics they have put together a great guide to stocking a toolbox. You can check out the list here right away or watch the video below to see Roy Berendsohn show off the contents of his well-stocked box:
The Popular Mechanics video and list do a great job covering what to put in a versatile toolbox, we're going to add a few bits of advice to round out your toolbox building skills.
Certain tools are absolutely indispensable and you should buy them before the need to use them arises. A good multi-purpose hammer, a nice screw driver with interchangeable bits, a meaty pair of medium weight pliers, tools like that are handy for so many projects you should never wait around to purchase them. Other tools like a high-tension metal saws or specialty wire cutters or strippers should be purchased as needed for projects. While you use a screw driver or hammer for a huge number of projects, you use a specialty wire stripper for far fewer.
The benefit to buying tools as you need them for projects as opposed to buying a generic and cheaply made catch-all variety pack of tools — you know the kind, the $20-$30 made-in-China all-in-one tool kits with dozens of unbranded and poorly made tools — is that you end up, after several projects, with tools in your tool box that are high quality and purchased as needed. It feels much better to buy a really nice wrench that gets years of service than it does to buy a bunch of cheap wrenches in a kit that just rust away at the bottom of your tool box or workbench drawer.
Since you'll be buying tools individually or in small sets, you can focus on buying well-made tools. Although you might assume the best reason for buying high quality tools would be savings over time, even better than savings is dependability and safety. If you've never had a cheap drill bit snap off or a chisel fracture, you might not have considered the safety element of tool purchasing — if you always buy nice tools you'll never have to. Photo by Batega.
When you're shopping for tools, heft a variety of similar tools in your hand and if there are any moving parts, give them a try. You don't want an adjustable wrench that rattles and wobble or a pair of channel lock grips that don't quite seem to have the whole locking tight thing down pat. Cheap tools are manufactured with looser tolerances and they don't have that tight and snug feel that higher quality tools do. In addition to look at tolerances and how the tool feels in your hand, you want to avoid novelty and over-complication. Don't buy a screw driver with a flash light built-in, a regular screw driver will last nearly until the end of time but a screw driver with a gimmick is more prone to fail. Most tool designs are timeless and don't really need to be improved upon. Shy away from bells and whistles that are just there to justify a higher price tag.
If you purchase tools when they're needed for projects and take your time to select high quality tools, you'll slowly but surely build up a home tool box that has a dependable and lifelong set of tools in it.
Have a tip for building a great tool box? Let's hear about it in the comments.
Home Toolbox Essentials: Skill Set [Popular Mechanics]