For supplies and large project storage - especially items that might be moved multiple times - nothing beats Akro-Mils attached lid bins. They’re sturdy and extremely durable, and their stackability makes them well suited for deep storage.
For general documentation around the shop, nothing is as handy as a smartphone on a tripod. The Studio Neat Glif is an excellent way to hold and position your phone.
In the smartphone era, there’s an ever decreasing need for DSLRs - but in the social media era, there’s an increasing need for documentation & sharing. The Studio Neat Glif bridges these two forces, offering a quick, easy, and secure way to hold your smartphone during product & process shots.
Whether you think you need to or not, you probably should try some FastCap Kaizen foam.
Kaizen foam is divisive. Time consuming to install, it results in a tool layout that’s locked in place and (contrary to its name) extremely difficult to improve down the line.
But its benefits are significant. Delicate tools are fully protected, and it’s painfully obvious when something has been misplaced. It also forces you to think critically about your shop layout, which is often worth the effort.
Regardless of whether you use it throughout your shop, laying out a few drawers in Kaizen foam will be at minimum a meditative exercise - and at best, it’ll revolutionize the way you treat your tools.
We’ve used (and assembled) a lot of stamped metal industrial furniture, and the ergonomics (and ease of assembly) of this WEN 73002 polypropylene cart put it leagues ahead.
Metal carts are unforgiving and hard, making them suboptimal for material transport; this WEN cart won’t mar your delicate parts. Metal carts also tend to lack small containers, which this WEN cart has in spades: In addition to the two main storage areas, there are slots for tools, pens, rags, and even a coffee mug.
With these features - and with its easy-to-assemble design and low cost - this cart is a great choice for any shop.
We’ve tried a lot of mini screwdriver handles, and PB Swiss’s PB-8453 Insider Stubby is the nicest once we’ve ever seen.
Stubby bit holders are extremely handy, and a must-have for any general field tool kit. But most of them are poorly built and uncomfortable to use, resulting in a lot of wasted effort and lost bits. The PB-8453 Insider Stubby keeps its six bit inserts stored securely inside the handle, resulting in a clean appearance. And the handle of the bitholder is coated in soft touch material, making it very comfortable to use.
Of course, the PB-8453 doesn’t eliminate the need for a full sized multi-screwdriver (we recommend the Wera Kraftform Kompakt 25). We also recommend dedicated stubby screwdrivers (Wera’s Kraftform line is excellent) for shop use.
For bicycle work and projects with small machine screws, 1/4” drive torque wrenches are indispensable. We prefer Wera’s A 5 Click-Torque wrenches for their ergonomics, adjustment style, and dual-unit display.
Many mechanics struggle by with American made click torque wrenches (or worse yet, horizontal-scale torque measuring wrenches) for years. Most of these have single unit display, typically lbf-ft, which need to be converted to Nm for metric use. Wera’s Click-Torque wrenches solve this with (duh) dual unit display, and their adjustment method is so clearly superior as to make the competition seem just silly.
The Wera Tool-Check Plus is a fantastic tool kit, capable of a wide range of driving, wrenching, and general field work. It is an excellent basis for any travel tool set.
With 28 bits and 7 sockets, the Tool-Check Plus covers a wide range of fastener types and sizes; anything more and you’ll want an electronics kit like the iFixit Mako. The Tool-Check Plus also includes a mini ratchet (cute!), a small screwdriver handle, and Wera’s Rapidaptor, which allows bits to be quick-changed and installed in a drill/driver.
Note that the screwdriver handle that comes with the Tool-Check Plus is a little on the small side, which is great for portability but can be limiting. We prefer to travel with a Kraftform Kompakt 25, which is larger and mates very well with the Tool-Check.
We recommend the Tool-Check Plus to everyone who asks; it’s an absolutely wonderful tool.
Kai makes an absolutely magnificent scissor - delicate yet sturdy, sharp, and serviceable as all getout. The Kai 7170 6-2/3” scissors are a compact, versatile model suitable for fine work.
Scissors are often seen as an office utility, subject to abuse and common theft. Kai treats them as true cutting tools, to be treated with the same respect as a chisel or straight razor. The 7170 model is lightweight and just a little on the small side, with a fine point and ergonomic, overmolded handles.
When they’re not glued or friction welded together, modern electronics contain a bizarre mix of fasteners; anyone looking to extend their laptop’s life needs what will amount to an electronics skeleton key. The iFixit Mako driver kit is well built, well packaged, and extraordinarily complete.
iFixit is a remarkable company, and the quality of their product teardowns (and repairability ratings) is equally matched by the quality of their tools. The Mako driver kit is a jumping off point for anyone taking electronics repair seriously, and contains essentially any obscure driver you’ll ever need.
The Wera Kraftform Kompakt 25 is the king of multi-screwdrivers. And when used in combination with the Wera Tool-Check Plus, it’s an unstoppable tool for field repairs.
We’ve used lots of multi-screwdrivers, and most of them are ergonomic nightmares. True to form, Wera avoids this: Their Kraftform handle design is a wonder of good design. But that’s just the beginning: The Kraftform Kompakt’s blade design is fantastic, allowing the screwdriver to quickly transform into a bitholder in an electric drill. This, combined with the Kraftform Kompakt’s clever storage system, makes this tool into a de facto bit index.
For extended range, we highly recommend Wera’s Tool Check Plus - an excellent tool in its own right, and one that (when paired with the Kraftform Kompakt) provides an incredible amount of versatility and functionality.
Life is too short for L-key sets that aren’t color coded. Wera’s 967 SPKL/9 Torx/Security Torx L-key set is well made, user friendly, and make it easy to remember which key goes to which fastener.
Torx is a great drive design, and security Torx adds peace of mind to assemblies that may be installed in hostile environments. Wera’s set has the same excellent build quality as their other tools, and their color coding is consistent and highly visible.
We’ve tried a lot of folding utility knives, and the Klein Tools 44131 is the best we’ve found so far.
Folding utility knives are a mixed bag. Many are poorly constructed, with flimsy locking mechanisms and mediocre ergonomics. This knife mostly avoids those pitfalls, offering a comfortable shape, sturdy construction, and very good fit & finish. Its locking mechanism is unique, and engages in both the closed and open positions; we have mixed feelings about this, but overall we’re happy with the design decisions Klein made here.
These keys could not be described as utilitarian (they’re almost shockingly expensive), and there’s good reason to prefer Wera’s Hex-Plus design. But PB Swiss’s hex keys are beautiful, user friendly, and worthy of any shop.