I’ve been very busy lately and have missed a few weeks of the 100 days of Intrigue. In an effort to get back on track, today I’m going to outline the minimalist tool kit – the 10 essential tools that can easily be carried in the back of the truck or kept around the house.
The brands and models listed are simply those which I personally own. Take a look how I select the brand/grade of each tool in this article..
- Multi Screwdriver
Klein 32557 – $18
Klein always makes top quality tools and are famous for their screwdrivers and this screwdriver combines bits, nut drivers and extensions into one small package. Don’t buy cheap screwdrivers – they’ll strip out screws!
- Measuring Tape
Stanley 30-455L – $8
The brand really doesn’t matter, but get something with both imperial and metric that’s 16-25’ long and that has a decent ‘stand-off distance’ (the distance the tape will stick out unsupported). I own the 25′ Stanley and I like it a lot.
Extech MN24-KIT – $20
Instead of touching the wire to see if it’s on, get yourself a multimeter. This little kit has a full-featured multimeter, plug tester and a non-contact voltage tester from a reputable brand name for only $20
- Linesmen Pliers
Channellock 348 – $30
If you’re an electrician, or plan on putting some serious hours on a set of pliers then buy Klein. But for almost everyone else, a set of Channellock 348’s will last a lifetime at half the price.
- Vice Grips
Irwin Vice-Grip 5-10WR – $18
If I had to select only two tools I’d take these pliers and a screwdriver. They’re not a replacement for a set of wrenches or sockets but a good pair of Vice-Grips will get you out of a lot of bad situations. Look for a pair with wire cutters and if don’t cheap out – dollarstore ‘vice-grips’ are not the same; they’ll buckle and twist sideways when you need them most.
- 10” Adjustable
BACHO 9033 R – $35
Many people may disagree with spending $35 on a 10″ adjustable but these BACHO adjustables are unlike any adjustable I’ve ever used. Unlike most, they’re completely rigid and can break stuck bolts without marring. The 9033R is extra-wide (almost 2″ opening) which eliminates the need for a full set of wrenches.
- 3/8 Ratchet & Socket Set + Extensions + Rebuild kit
Gearwrench 80559 – $85
I realize Gearwrench may not be the first brand to come to mind but based on personal experience I’d recommend you take a look. Long-time users may insist on the classics (Snap-On, Proto, Gray etc.) and while their quality is undeniable, Gearwrench, in my personal opinion, provides better bang-for-your-buck than any ratchet set out there.
- Tongue & Groove Pliers
ChannelLock 440 – $19
It’s a toss-up between these and vise grips for the most important pliers! Big fittings, hoses and axle nuts are just some of the uses you’ll find for a decent set of channel locks. There are many good manufacturers of these tongue & groove pliers but ChannelLock has become synonymous with them.
Estwing E3-24BP – $23
Keep it simple! A one-piece medium-weight ball-pein hammer with a rubber handle is the most dependable. Fibreglass, wood or composite handles are lighter and provide better vibration resistance but they’re famous for breaking or coming loose, all while costing more than the one-piece variety.
- Crow Bar/Pry Bar
I didn’t recommend a brand or model because it’s all about personal preference. Personally I really like screwdriver-style bars such as the Gray 73524 but some people like a roll-head or flat bar style.
Last but not least – get yourself a tool box that will hold everything – cheap and flimsy plastic boxes aren’t worth the savings; get something durable. A canvas bag is an excellent choice!