TOOL GUIDE

We love good tools, and think you should too. Here are some of our favorites.

To submit a tool for our consideration, use the form here.

To see tools and resources that are on our radar but not tested yet, see here.

 
 

Personal protective equipment

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Disposable gloves

A shop essential.

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Mechanic's gloves

Mechanix gloves fit great and come in a wide variety of styles for every working condition.

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Respirator

This Comfo Classic respirator is *way* better than the paper ones most shops stock. Strongly recommended.

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Eye protection

These 3M glasses have detachable side protectors that keep dust and other foreign objects out for good.

 

Hand tools

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Knipex wrench

It's mind boggling to me that I lasted so long on channel lock pliers when these are *so* much better.

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PB Swiss hex keys

Color coding = awesome.

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Headlamp

Having clear *and* red *and* the diffuser is really useful. Always have one of these in your toolbox.

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Benchmade Mini Griptillian

By far the best pocket knife I've ever owned.

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RJ45 EZ crimpers

Making your own network cable changes your life, and using EZ crimpers is the only way to do it.

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Lie-Nielsen small block plane

Probably the most beautiful tool in the shop.

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Bahco hacksaw

Sturdy and comfortable enough to not even need a bandsaw.

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Starrett tap handles

Clean and secure.

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Klein folding utility knife

Secure and great to use.

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Olfa Cutter 300

Great for Kaizen foam layout.

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Wera 7000-series torque wrench

Precise and very user friendly.

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Wera Kraftform Kompakt 25

A fantastic multi-bit screwdriver.

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Utility knife

I've been using these Stanley utility knives for about 15 years, and I can't imagine going back to the cheap ones.

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PB Swiss stubby multi-screwdriver

Little, but really well made.

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Wiha electronics screwdrivers

These come in a variety of tip styles and are comfortable to use over long periods of time.

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Rip hammer

Good for all around work, from hanging pictures to light framing & demolition.

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Hand countersink

*So* handy.

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Packing tape dispenser

Boring, but *so* much better than ripping it with your teeth.

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Knipex cutters

Sharp, precise, and comfortable enough to use all day.

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Wera Security Torx drivers

Color coded & very well built.

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iFixit electronics repair driver

High quality and utterly complete.

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Kai scissors

Really just magnificent.

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Wera Tool-Check Plus

An excellent multi-tool set.

 

Power tools

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Impact driver & drill

There's no excuse for using a drill to drive screws.

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Torque limited screwdriver

If you're doing more than a few hundred, these are key.

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Makita heat gun

Never try to use shrink wrap with a lighter again.

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Festool. Period.

Once you buy in to Festool, it's hard to imagine using anything else.

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Tormek T8 sharpening system

Fast cutting, won't damage your temper, and super consistent.

 

SOFTWARE

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Tulip

Digital manufacturing instructions, powerful analytics

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PartsBox

An excellent tool for small parts management.

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Workflowy

A superior way to take notes.

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Airtable

A powerful, visual, flexible data management platform.

 

Measurement, testing & inspection

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Stabila levels

The best.

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Metric tape measure

Measuring in centimeters and millimeters makes everything simpler.

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Fluke multimeter

Yup.

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PCB tool

Extremely handy, these have template packages & other nice features for embedded design.

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Starrett 4" combination square

Small, precise, and perfect.

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Phone tripod mount

Super handy for video around the shop.

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Non-contact thermometer

Fast and *so* useful.

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Imperial tape measure

Because you still need inches :/

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Mitutoyo caliper

I'm sorry: Digital is just *so* much easier.

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Torque measuring screwdriver

Perfect for specifying assembly values for consumer products.

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1D/2D barcode scanner

Don't skimp - read right the first time, every time.

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PLS180 laser plumb/level

SO many saved hours.

 

MATERIAL HANDLING, STORAGE & LOGISTICS

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Gerstner tool chests

Absolute heirlooms.

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Molded fiberglass trays

For all of your work-in-progress.

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Pelican 1510 case

The most secure way to carry your tools.

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Kaizen foam

A superior way to organize your toolbox.

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Hanging/Stacking parts bins

Make all project work more organized.

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Small parts cabinets

For commonly used parts & deep (ish) storage.

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Shop service cart

Plastic construction is convenient & sturdy.

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Attached-lid bins

So much nicer than old cardboard boxes.

 

Desk & office

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Field Notes

Whether for note-taking, sketching, or to-do lists, having paper around still makes a *ton* of sense.

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Making It

A good desk reference for manufacturing techniques.

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Working Alone

Tricks for lightly staffed construction projects.

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Managing the Flow of Technology

A treatise on organizational design for R&D.

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A paper McMaster-Carr catalog

Good work, if you can get it ;)

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The Mythical Man Month

A fantastic volume on engineering (and general product development) management.

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Mistake Proofing

A methodology for designing errors out.

 

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