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Important non machine tools to have?

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Aaron_W

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#1
As I read threads here, watch videos etc I continue to see misc tools bought up. Since they are general tools and not specific to any machine, they seem to be overlooked in the many I'm buying xyz machine, what should I get with it threads.

Some like sockets and wrenches are likely assumed to be owned by anyone contemplating a more complex tool like a lathe or mill. Others are common tools, but not quite so universal. An example in my case, I find myself looking at a variety of hammers. I have carpentry hammers, not metal working hammers.

Then there are specialty tools, probably nice to have for most, but not critical unless doing work that requires extreme precision or specific techniques. I've been following the various surface plate and lapping plate discussions currently ongoing (I didn't even know what either of these things were a week ago) and these seem to fall into this category. Many of the measuring tools also probably fall into this range. These are tools you tend to buy when you need them.


So if you were starting from scratch to build up a basic kit of general metal working tools for your shop, what are the most important tools you would want to start off with. As I'm sure this could be a long list feel free to shorten to a top 5, 10 or 20 as fits the stamina of your fingers. You are also more than welcome to write a dissertation about the perfect beginners tool kit, you will be guaranteed at least one reader (me).

And remember non-machine specific, although basic machines you feel should be in any shop that has a lathe (drill press, grinder etc) and machine tools like drill bits used in many machines would be appropriate to include.


Just to get things rolling and to reduce redundancy as I suspect everybody would list these, I'll suggest:

3/8" drive socket and ratchet set, metric and SAE, minimum sizes 1/4" / 6mm through 9/16 / 15mm, more is better

Box end wrenches, same sizes as above

Small 6 foot tape measure

Power drill and drill bits 1/16 to 3/8 (1/32 steps) (those of you in metric land substitute for metric sizes as appropriate)

Asst screw drivers, Phillips and standard

Allen wrench set (1/16-1/4" and 1.5mm - 7mm)


Without this minimum selection of tools, I would not have been able to even assemble most of the toys I've bought so far.
 

chips&more

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#2
Sorry, I cannot list all the stuff in my garage. It would take me years to list it all:eek:.
 

Aaron_W

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#3
Sorry, I cannot list all the stuff in my garage. It would take me years to list it all:eek:.
That's why I threw in the top 5, 10, 20 whatever you feel comfortable with.

What are a couple of your go to tools that you would be lost without that people might not think about when they are starting out.
 

ch2co

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#4
Coffee pot to make things keep running.
Beer refrigerator for recovery after long day.
 
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In this day and age... a fast computer with a fast internet connection.
 

RJSakowski

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#6
If you plan on doing any machining, you should have the full fractional drill bit set, 1/16 to 1/2 by 1/64ths. Among other items would be a hack saw and files. For measuring a caliper capable of reading to .001" or .01mm and a steel rule. I like the flexible rules reading to 1/50 inch in six inch and 18 inch lengths. A machinist's square in 8"length, scribes, dividers for layout. A dial indicator and/or test indicator and stand. A 0-1" micrometer is useful but not necessary depending on the work you're doing.

This will get you started and the list will grow.
 

Silverbullet

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#7
There's not enough memory on here or mine to list every tool and machine in my shop. Let alone parts and tooling . It's an accumulated yearly for forty plus years along with inheritance and gifts . But to start you do need a good set of mechanics tools . Wrenches up to at least 1 1/4" sockets the same, ball pein hammers 8oz up to 32oz . Screwdrivers , torx and Allen wrenches pliers , vise grips. C clamps . The list goes on forever but to start this list should help . Get metric counterparts also
 

Nogoingback

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#8
Here are a few things in no particular order:

Combination square (Starrett or equivalent) . Couldn't be without one.
Hammers, obviously. I seem to use my dead blow hammer more than any other so I would include that.
Calipers, dial or electronic plus at least one Indicator.
Drill press.
Belt sander. Never realized how useful they are until I got one. Use it all the time.
As far as drills go, I'll go out on a limb and say if I were starting today from scratch I would buy a set of screw machine
drill before I'd buy jobber length. The only time I need long drills is when I'm drilling 2 x 4's. Shorter drills are stiffer
and do a better job. But of course in the end a set of each would be good.
 

ThunderDog

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#9
I'm only addressing things that relate to machining. As other have said, tools are acquired over time. I assume one owns socket sets, hammers, screwdrivers, pliers, etc. I consider these basic hand tools that cross-over to a variety of trades.

These are my top five (machinist related,/ultra newbie/what I found useful when I bought my first lathe) tools:
6" Digital caliper (It doesn't have to be digital.)
Dial indicator
Micrometer
1-2-3 blocks
QUALITY set of drill bits in increments of 64ths. (I already owned drill bits, but they were butchered from my days working as a plumber and in the construction field.:black eye:)

Bonus:
Calculator (Yes, this is basic and obvious. I now have a couple old cheap ones stuck to my garage cabinets with double sided tape. So handy to know where it is when I need it.)
A good quality printout of a drill chart/tap chart with conversions. (Stuck to the cabinet door beside that calculator.:grin:)
Adjustable Wrench (Yes, this is basic. But, I use it almost EVERY SINGLE TIME I'm working.)
 

wrmiller

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#10
I currently have in my 'shop':

Air Compressor
Parts Washer
Two 40" Craftsman toolboxes full of hand tools (too many to list here)
A Foredom flex-shaft hand grinder (sturdier version of a Dremel)
A small blast cabinet full of medium glass beads.
A 3-piece Kennedy tool box with measuring stuff (DIs, DTIs, calipers, mics, gauge blocks, pin gauges, etc., etc..) and lathe/mill specific tooling (too many to list here)
A 72" hand work bench
A iMac computer hooked to my WiFi (the one I'm typing on...)
Coffee pot
A 6 1/2 x 10" metal cutting bandsaw (Griz G4030)
Two grinders with various wheels
Two granite plates

Still to get:

Larger blast cabinet
AC/DC TIG welder w/accessories
A small combo sheet metal brake/shear

It's not a lot, but I manage. :)
 

ThunderDog

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#11
I currently have in my 'shop':

Air Compressor
Parts Washer
Two 40" Craftsman toolboxes full of hand tools (too many to list here)
A Foredom flex-shaft hand grinder (sturdier version of a Dremel)
A small blast cabinet full of medium glass beads.
A 3-piece Kennedy tool box with measuring stuff (DIs, DTIs, calipers, mics, gauge blocks, pin gauges, etc., etc..) and lathe/mill specific tooling (too many to list here)
A 72" hand work bench
A iMac computer hooked to my WiFi (the one I'm typing on...)
Coffee pot
A 6 1/2 x 10" metal cutting bandsaw (Griz G4030)
Two grinders with various wheels
Two granite plates

Still to get:

Larger blast cabinet
AC/DC TIG welder w/accessories
A small combo sheet metal brake/shear

It's not a lot, but I manage. :)
:grin big: Sounds like you're barely surviving. :grin big:
 

wrmiller

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#12
:grin big: Sounds like you're barely surviving. :grin big:
Hey, I got blindsided/laid off into early retirement. I gotta have something to do with my days. :D
 

mikey

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#13
Aaron, I'll contribute but how about at the end of this thread you compile a summary and see if the mods will make it a sticky. This comes up often enough that it should be one.

Safety Glasses and hearing protection.

Marking out:
  • Magnifiers as required. This is more important than you might realize, even for young guys with young eyes.
  • layout dye (a Sharpie is a good substitute)
  • a sharp scribe (I prefer the Starrett 70A steel scribe so I can sharpen it easily; the 70AX and BX are carbide but harder to sharpen).
  • sharp prick and center punches and know how to use them.
  • Hermaphrodite calipers are useful, as is a dial caliper that you don't mind abusing for layout work.
  • A height guage for more precise layout is useful but for general use a small surface gauge is often handy; I use a beautiful Starrett 56B with a 6" Starrett scale often. Use these tools on a surface plate as they are intended.
  • An optical center punch can be useful but parallax makes it difficult to be accurate; skill with a sharp prick punch is usually just as accurate as an optical punch.
  • You need a small brass hammer to hit punches with - make your own.
  • You should also have a good, hardened combination square and an accurate protractor (I like the old style Starrett C493B).
Lathe
  • Good light - LED is cool, bright. I like the Aurora from Woodturner's Wonders. Light makes you safer and more accurate.
  • Wrenches and hex keys tailored to your lathe. I have these tools dedicated for use with the lathe so I don't have to go find the set they came with when I need them.
  • Dedicated indicator holders for use with the 4 jaw chuck or checking run out. Make these.
  • Lathe tool height gauge - make one that is on the exact center height of your lathe. One of the most used and useful tools in your shop. I also use it to align my threading tools; I butt one end of the gauge to the chuck and the other end to the side of my accurately ground tool and the 60 degree tip is quickly set. I abhor using a fishtail for this job.
  • A small tray to contain all the tools in use at the lathe. Stupid? No, not really.
  • Good turning tools and whatever it takes to keep them sharp - grinders, hones, etc.
  • Calculator - get a solar powered one so the thing works every time you use it, which is often.
  • Thread micrometers or 3-wire set, dial calipers/mics, a stainless or brass brush and compressed air are all needed for thread cutting.
  • A really, really good first aid kit, and know how to use every item in it. Keep this stocked at all times.
Mill
  • Same thing - specific wrenches and stuff you need for the mill, light, etc.
  • Good dial and dial test indicators and holders as required.
  • Small dead blow hammer to position vise and work pieces. I like the Wiha 18oz.
  • Spindle wrench from Luminar if it suits and a drawbar wrench.
  • A good clamping set to lock stuff down to the table, rotary table, etc.
  • A small 1" screwless vise that will hold small work pieces. It goes in your milling vise and can be angled as required. Mine has a V in the jaw to hold small round work.
  • Angle block set - import is fine.
  • Tilting angle table is really useful. I much prefer using this over an angle block set so the work piece is clamped solidly and square in the vise while its surface is cut at an angle. You will botch up fewer jobs with this table. The Sherline tilting table will hold the rotary table and allow you to do stuff that is not usually possible.
  • Square and Hex collet block set - very useful for simple indexing jobs on round stuff.
General
  • Screwdrivers - buy JIS (Japan International Standard) screw drivers and bits - they do not cam out. You can buy good ones from Vessel Tools and others. The tool bit sets from Chapman are good, too.
  • Hex Drivers - I suggest Bondhus - more precise, sized more accurately and tough as hell.
  • Pliers - try the NWS pliers from Lee Valley Tools. You might not think pliers are important but they are.
  • Precision Tweezers - very handy for many jobs, including pulling splinters out of your hands on a near daily basis.
  • Torque wrenches and torque screwdrivers if you don't have them. The best are from Precision Instruments and Sturtevant-Richmont. SR makes a really nice little inch-pound screwdriver torque wrench that is useful.
  • Fire extinguisers
That's what comes off the top of my head and I'm sure I missed a bunch. The most important item is the first aid kit. If you can, keep a cell phone on your person when working in the shop; if you go down or are caught in a machine you need to get help.
 

Dave Paine

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#14
QUALITY set of drill bits in increments of 64ths. (I already owned drill bits, but they were butchered from my days working as a plumber and in the construction field.:black eye:)

Bonus:
Calculator (Yes, this is basic and obvious. I now have a couple old cheap ones stuck to my garage cabinets with double sided tape. So handy to know where it is when I need it.)
A good quality printout of a drill chart/tap chart with conversions. (Stuck to the cabinet door beside that calculator.:grin:)
I purchased a cheap 115 drill bit set. This was a bad decision. Some of the drill bits were not sized correctly. I ended up getting a decent quality 115 drill bit set, so the other now gathers dust.

I also find a calculator very useful in the shop. I purchased an HP 32S "scientific" calculator several decades ago. I now keep this in the shop. I use it often. It is not solar powered, but the battery is going strong after many years. I wonder how many folks can still remember how to operate an HP calculator with RPN (Reverse Polish Notation).

I recently got a drill/tap chart. It is mounted on a door, not next to the calculator, but in easy view.

I would add to a list a good and quiet shop vac. I have a Fein shop vac I purchased at least a decade ago. Fein and Festool make quiet vacs. Sadly my model is no longer made. Fein now only sell a smaller model. I will not be happy if mine dies since I will not be able to replace it.
 
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ttabbal

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#15
@mikey ... You mean I shouldn't use a 5lb mini-sledge to hit punches with?!?!? It makes such nice deep punches though!! :D

You guys are making my wallet cry out in terror with all the tools I'm going to be looking for.

I've got a simple scribe, but I think I will make a sharper one as an early project when I get the lathe set up. Maybe like the one ClickSpring shows in one of his videos. Easy, but useful.

For drill presses... Clamps, and vise grips. Having the metal part grab in the bit and start spinning and/or flying randomly around the shop is not a fun experience. Don't do it. Or so I'm told, I wouldn't do that.... *wanders off trying to look innocent*
 

Eddyde

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#16
Aron, It would be helpful to know what kind of projects and what size machines you'll be working on? Some of your choices seem a little small, but if you are only going to build small items that may be fine.
 

FOMOGO

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#17
I will add a few of the more subjective items. Good tunes, a sense of humor, and a sense of irony. Mike
 

mikey

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#18
@mikey ... You mean I shouldn't use a 5lb mini-sledge to hit punches with?!?!? It makes such nice deep punches though!! :D

You guys are making my wallet cry out in terror with all the tools I'm going to be looking for.

I've got a simple scribe, but I think I will make a sharper one as an early project when I get the lathe set up. Maybe like the one ClickSpring shows in one of his videos. Easy, but useful.

For drill presses... Clamps, and vise grips. Having the metal part grab in the bit and start spinning and/or flying randomly around the shop is not a fun experience. Don't do it. Or so I'm told, I wouldn't do that.... *wanders off trying to look innocent*
I have a little brass headed hammer that is only used for punch marks. The head is mounted on a stainless steel shaft that inserts at a 5 degree angle; this allows the head to come down square on the end of the punch so I don't push the point off my lines. It has a beautiful Tiger Koa handle made to fit my right hand. Works good, and certainly gooder than a 5# sledge when marking out!

Have you seen the Kreg Bench Clamps? Pretty nice. They auto-adjust for height and you can adjust the clamping pressure. I made T-nuts to fit them that fit the T-track on my drill press table and the clamps are easily positioned. Having the clamps there means I usually use them, which is safer for me: https://www.kregtool.com/store/c29/bench-clamps/p390/3-bench-clamp/
 

Cooter Brown

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#19
A Brain
 

whitmore

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#20
I continue to see misc tools bought up. Since they are general tools and not specific to any machine, they seem to be overlooked.
I once remarked that my swiss army knife (super tinker, if it matters) was useful, but what I really
wanted was a swiss army stick. All the sizes, shapes, colors, ready to flip out and use...

bamboo chopstick - for probing (whittle end to best shape)
kebab skewer - for fine probing
toothpick -for grease application
Popsicle stick - for epoxy prep and application
slats- yardstick, paint stirrers
shim wedges - singles to steady rounds in vise, pairs for adjustable parallels
shim wedges - scraper
2x4 scrap - soft vise jaw
2x4 scrap - drill press table saver
2x4 scrap - shim stock for coarse work
tongue depressor - shim stock for fine work
4x4 block - customizable pencil/scribe/scale/forcep stand
endgrain butcher block - gasket/shim/pattern cutting substrate
 

Wreck™Wreck

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#21
Hammers are special, one does not use a claw hammer in a milling machine equipped with a direct read out as this will cause the electronics to fail in disgust, only a "brass machinist hammer" with an exquisitely knurled handle will work, the machine will know the difference.

Combination wrenches that have Bridgeport forged into the body are superior to those without such markings, while it is true that most any common hand tool will work those that are specific to machine work uniformly cost more yet make the user feel better about their choice.

Hope this helps
 

Ray C

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#22
Hand files. Machinist, jeweler and riffler types.
 

jcp

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#23
Many of the jobs I do in the home shop (and did in the job shop I spent 31 yrs. in) could not have been accomplished without the oxy/acy torch and an electric (mig, tig or arc) welder.
 

MikeInOr

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#24
Just to get things rolling and to reduce redundancy as I suspect everybody would list these, I'll suggest:

3/8" drive socket and ratchet set, metric and SAE, minimum sizes 1/4" / 6mm through 9/16 / 15mm, more is better
Box end wrenches, same sizes as above
Small 6 foot tape measure
Power drill and drill bits 1/16 to 3/8 (1/32 steps) (those of you in metric land substitute for metric sizes as appropriate)
Asst screw drivers, Phillips and standard
Allen wrench set (1/16-1/4" and 1.5mm - 7mm)
Glaring items I see missing from your list:
Decent safety glasses that are good enough that you will actually wear them!
Square, machinist or an accurate combination square.
Calipers
Dial indicator - and holder
Center Transfer punch set
Punch set
Brass punches - for knocking metal around without maring
Brass hammer
Dead blow hammer
Clamps
Parallel set - I have 1/8" set and doing ok so far.
Pliers, Needle Nose pliers, wire cutters, wire strippers, flush cutting wire cutters, crimp tool.
Multi-meter
Big box of disposable rags
Files
Vise Grips
Hex bit set - HF selles a big set with the security bits in them which is really handy when you have an odd fastener that you don't have a driver for.
Precision / Jewelers screw driver set
Bench vise
Hacksaw - saw can be cheap but don't cheap out on hacksaw blades!
Crow bar
Hand drill

For some of these (Punches, hammers, some clamps or even screw drivers) harbor freight works fine. Tools that have joints or move like pliers, wire cutters, clamps, wrenches I feel it is best to buy Husky / Channel lock / other decent quality brands or better. HF can make some really crappy pliers that are miserable to use. I think for calipers and a square it is worth it to buy a top name tool because they get used so much and it is hard to maintain accuracy with some lower end of tools.


I am sure many members have been acquiring tools all their lives and just have these tools... But for someone just starting out I can see how a list of basic tools would be useful. Garage sales / estate sales are often a good place to find good tools at reasonable prices.

A Come-A-Long and a hand truck can come in awfully handy. An angle grinder is close to a required tool for me, so is a bench grinder.
 
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Ben Nevis

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#25
A 4 1/2" angle grinder (or two or three) is extremely handy. I have three of them, one with a cut off wheel, one with a grinding wheel, and one with a sanding disc. Saves having to change wheels.
 

Ulma Doctor

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#26
if i were going to make a basic kit for a hobbyist shop it would at least include these items- sorry if they are redundant to other posts
in no specific order...
6" and/or 8" dial calipers
Files
Hacksaw
dividers- straight and hermaphrodite
micrometers- up to 4" minimum, 6" if you have the resources
Combination Wrenches- 1/4" to 1" and 5mm to 24mm
Socket Set 3/8 drive 12point 1/4'-1" and 5mm to 24mm
Screwdriver Set- Phillips, Straight, TORX, (mini drivers too!)
Allen Wrenches -imperial and metric
Plier Set- needle nose, lineman's pliers, slip joint pliers, wire cutters, VISE GRIPS
Snap ring Pliers
Drill
Imperial drill bits #60 to 1/2", A-Z
Hammers- a Soft Faced, a Brass, a 32oz Deadblow ball peen, a 4lb lil' friend too
Punches and Chisels
Feeler Gauges
Taps and Dies
 

Aaron_W

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#27
Thank you, seems like people are starting to get the idea. This came about because of little things I am running across. Seeing a youtuber grab a fairly basic tool, and I'm thinking, so that is what that is for, or that is so much easier than how I do it without that tool. Often a fairly low cost item available at almost any hardware store if you know to look for it.

I am very new to this so almost daily I'm finding out about something new that I didn't even know I didn't know. Last night I "discovered" the fish tail gauge, not expensive but apparently kind of handy to have around.

This morning I searched for threads on general recommended shop tools, but what I mostly found were "I'm getting ready to buy / just bought xyz machine what tooling should I get" threads, and those for the most part center around lathe / mill specific tooling, endmills, center drills etc. Some measuring devices are generally mentioned as they are such an important factor with those tools, but very little on things like screw drivers, thread gauges, punches, and other misc tools that are probably assumed to be in possession of somebody buying a lathe or mill.

Sure the list could be huge, but certainly there are a dozen or two tools that are at least very nice to have if not must have tools regardless of the kind of machining projects you do.

I went with 1/4"-9/16" (and metric counter part) sockets / wrenches because those are the sizes I have frequently found useful in general. Sure I have larger sockets for specific purposes, but they don't get used all that much. I'd guess 3/8", 1/2" and 9/16" (plus the corresponding metric sizes) alone account for close to 75% of my lifetime socket needs.

I hope that makes my intent clearer, I'm not expecting a full inventory of tool chests from a lifetime of collecting tools, or a list of highly specialized tools needed for making kerosene lamp widgets. Just a list of tools you use frequently in your projects that you wouldn't want to do without, at least those relating to machining.


Aaron, I'll contribute but how about at the end of this thread you compile a summary and see if the mods will make it a sticky. This comes up often enough that it should be one.
I can do that. Unless the posts lock themselves after a time (some forums do), I can edit it right into the first post to make it easy to find.

Glaring items I see missing from your list:
Was just meant as an ice breaker. I was just thinking of the tools I initially used while setting up the lathe and mill.

if i were going to make a basic kit for a hobbyist shop it would at least include these items- sorry if they are redundant to other posts
No need to apologize, I can edit redundant tools when I compile the list.
 

jrkorman

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#28
A pair of walkie-talkies - or similar - if the need or situation was bad enough, just keying the mic would bring help!
 

gr8legs

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#29
It's getting tough to find items not already listed:

Swarf Brushes
Squeeze bottles for lubricants & coolant
Paper towel dispenser and towels
Waterless hand lcleaner
Flux brushes
Tongue depressors for applying grease or mixing epoxies
Number punches (letters too, eventually)
Utility knife or three
Magnetic & claw-style reach / pick up tools
Rubber or vinyl etc. gloves
Shop shoes
a few 'Radio' chassis punches
'Laser' thermometer
Extension cords
Offset screwdrivers
Duct tape
Wheel dresser when you get a bench grinder
Whetstone or two
Hemostats (surgical tweezers)
nut starter
Soldering iron & appropriate solder
Propane torch
Nut Buster (sometimes they work :)
Thread chaser
Electric Engraver
 

bfd

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#30
I would be lost without my battery powered drill, impact, grinder and bandsaw bill
 
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