There are certain tools in the world that you wouldn’t necessarily think to buy right off the bat, and once you finally do, you wonder how you got along without them.
We believe each of the 9 tools below fits into that category.
Wilton 1765 Tradesman bench vise. ($529)
The Wilton 1765 Tradesman does what any vise does: holds a workpiece firmly in place so you can…well, work on it. It just so happens to do its job really well, boasting a tenacious, firm grip with none of the slack/play you’ll find in cheaper alternatives. It’s also equipped with a swivel base with dual locking nuts (each with their own small tension bar), allowing the vise to rotate 360° to achieve the best working angle possible.
The fully enclosed spindle and nut design not only allows the inner lubrication to last way longer, it protects the lead screw from collecting dirt, sawdust, metal filings, and other debris over its lifetime. As a bonus, it won’t snag power cords the way exposed spindles do.
It’s all the vise you’ll ever need.
Knipex 8603250 10″ pliers wrench. ($53)
This single versatile tool can replace just about any crescent wrenches and/or channel-lock pliers you’ve got in your kit. With the press of a button, the lower jaw of the wrench can be adjusted between 17 settings, each of which allows you to squeeze the handles for a firmer grip. The leverage-multiplying mechanism (10-to-1 ratio) makes this easy and comfortable to do, with no wrist strain at all.
The two jaws are always parallel to one another no matter how wide you open them (1¾” max), and they sport smooth surfaces rather than serrated so they won’t damage bolts and whatnot. This full-contact grip allows them to apply a great amount of torque for their size, and they even have a quasi-ratchet action that can come in handy in confined spaces.
Katzco magnetizer & demagnetizer tool. ($7–$8 depending on color)
This magnetizer/demagnetizer tool is one of those things that, if you haven’t used one before, will make you think, “There’s no way that actually works” — but it really does. If you need a small tool (screwdriver, wrench, drill bit, tweezer, etc) or any hardware parts (screws, nuts, bolts, nails, etc) magnetized or demagnetized, you simply insert them into the appropriate cavity and voilà.
It won’t make an object a supermagnet or anything, but hey, it’ll help you get the job done when you need it. It’s also real small/portable, plus it doesn’t need a battery to do its thing. Comes in red, black, and blue.
Cambridge releasable & reusable cable ties. ($11 for a pack of 100)
Most people don’t realize you can already reuse standard zip ties, but with these nylon ones, you don’t have to keep a flathead screwdriver on hand to get the job done — just press the release tab and you’re set. Besides, people tend to cut the extra length off plastic ties after securing them, so they end up being less reusable anyway.
What’s even nicer about the nylon ones is that they can adjust for various sizes on the same job with no hassle at all. Plus, the rounded edges will keep you from cutting yourself, which is nice.
Bondhus ball-end Allen wrench set. ($15 for 9-piece metric set)
Ever tried working on your bike, assembling furniture, or working on machinery with typical hex keys and been frustrated by the placements of certain screws? Or do you get your wrenches mixed up a lot?
Bondhus’ ball-end Allen wrenches are one nifty way to solve both issues. Each set is color-coded, making it easier to find whichever wrench you need for a job. And, each wrench has a ball end that inserts into screws at a 25° angle, letting you not only work from a wider variety of angles, but also with more natural hand and wrist movement.
The LadderLimb. ($27)
When you’re doing big projects around the house — painting the exterior, cleaning the gutters, replacing fixtures, etc — you’ll probably be spending a lot of time on a ladder. To make your life easier, use a LadderLimb to hold your work materials securely.
The rubberized end fits snugly into the hollow rungs of most ladders, giving you a place to hang your tools, buckets, and/or paint cans. It’s like having a third hand when you need it most.
Kai Scissors 9-inch professional shears. ($62)
Kai Scissors is a Japanese company known for making high-quality scissors that are worth every penny. Our friend Dan Provost agrees (via the Studio Neat Gazette newsletter):
Scissors are one of those tools that you might not think to have a great version of, but once you do, it’s a little improvement to your life every time you use them. I personally opted for the 9-inch professional shears. Cutting with them is like a little dose of heroin.
For example, those 9-inch shears Dan mentioned? They’re $62 scissors that have a perfect 5-star rating on Amazon with 65 reviews. Not a single complaint about price in the bunch, either — in fact, quite the opposite . Their other scissors on Amazon also have stellar (heh) ratings.
Leatherman OHT multi-tool. ($90)
With most “one-handed” multi-tools, you get the option of one-hand-opening pliers OR one-hand-opening blades. With the Leatherman OHT (“one-handed tool”), both of these functions are combined into a single heavy-duty unit, along with 14 other tools.
All of the tools lock into place when open, and the handles are visually imprinted so you can quickly identify where each tool is. The Leatherman OHT comes in coyote tan or black. Each comes with your choice of black or brown molle sheath.
Dewalt right-angle drill attachment. ($22)
Dewalt’s right-angle drill attachment is a nifty add-on for any drill (not just Dewalt ones) that allows you to drill holes and drive screws in confined spaces. It’s a bit of a niche tool, but trust me, you’ll be glad to have one in your kit when the time comes. As one Amazon reviewer puts it:
An extravagant tool, but when you need it, you need it.
In case you’re wondering, any driver bits you use attach to this thing via a ring magnet rather than with a chuck. The attachment also has impact-rated gears that should last at least 2,000 life-cycles.