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What are your 5 most commonly used hand tools?

Discussion in 'Gadgets & Gear' started by Macchina, Jun 7, 2019.

  1. Macchina


    Apr 7, 2006
    I started my career as a machinist and machine builder and acquired a lot of tools in the process.

    I’m now a Senior Design Engineer and while I still build prototypes I find myself using tools less and less lately but when I do use them I don’t want to dig through my giant roller box so I collect the tools I most use and have been collecting these tools in a tool caddy because chances are I’ll need it again soon if I just used it. Over time I have about 15 pounds of tools I use often and haven't been to my tool chest in a while. This is my current caddy of most used tools I'm looking to size down:


    I'm working to take this tool kit and replicate my most used tools in a smaller format than I used as a machinist. For example my 8” pair of Channellock Needle Nose are great for general work, but a 5.5” Knipex pair works better for what I need to do (precision work) now. A socket set is handy and I keep one close however the amount of sockets (English and Metric) to carry to hit every screw gets heavy and a 6” adjustable wrench will work on almost everything I need it to as I tend to not be breaking free rusted bolts as much. I’d like to get this tool kit down to as few tools as possible to handle 80% of the things I need a tool kit for. If I need a drill/driver or a hammer or a belt sander I will go get that tool. If I need a small repair I’d like this kit to do that. Aside from hand tools, I use the small tubes of oil, grease, super glue, from this kit quite often. Tape, zip ties, and alcohol pads are often used quite a bit.

    My 5 most common portable hand tools to use are:

    • 6” digital caliper. This is my #1 used item by a long shot. I use a Mitutoyo Absolute Digimatic.
    • ¼” bit holding screwdriver and bit set (Philips, straight, metric/SAE allen hex, and Torx). I use a Wera 317 Bit Holder.
    • Combination plier with a very hard wire cutter. I use a Knipex 03-160
    • Pair of heavy duty scissors. I use a Klein Electricians Scissors.
    • 6” Adjustable Wrench. I use a Crescent 6”.

    So I ask, what are your 5 most commonly used tools?
    DocJD likes this.
  2. eveled

    eveled Gold Member Gold Member

    Mar 11, 2016
    Freeky you picked the number 5. I carry the same 5 tools in my pocket everyday to work.

    Small channel locks
    Small Klein adjustable wrench
    6 way screw driver
    3/8 gear wrench
    7/16 gear wrench

    Plus a Buck 110 that has a sharpening choil sharpened into a wire stripper.
    garddogg56, Macchina and DocJD like this.
  3. DocJD


    Jan 29, 2016
    mouse and keyboard

    cup and teaspoon

    TV cable remote


    Macchina likes this.
  4. 3fifty7

    3fifty7 Gold Member Gold Member

    Dec 24, 2016
    Spyderco K2

    1/2”, 9/16”, 15/16” 1 1/8” wrenches

    4 lb Kobalt hammer

    36” tire tool

    1”drive Ingrasoll Rand impact with 33mm or 1 1/2”x13/16” Budd socket
  5. KnifeRep

    KnifeRep Gold Member Gold Member

    Nov 5, 2018
    Utility knife
    Magnifying Glass
    Needle Nose Pliers
    Macchina likes this.
  6. Wowbagger

    Wowbagger Basic Member Basic Member

    Sep 20, 2015
    Now you're talkin' !

    Hey loose the 6" Crescent and just go with Knipex Wrench Pliers.
    That is one of my 5 most commonly used tools. I have most sizes. The Tiny 125 mm one is a must have; fits in one of my knife belt pouches with the SAK ! ! !
    Speaking of SAK : The Tinkerer with the high precision pliers is #2 and the SAK Explorer for the better oriented Phillips, the scissors and the Magnifying glass is #2.1

    THEN (and this one is huge even though it is really small) a tiny flat blade high quality screw driver like the Klein 608-2 1/8-Inch Cabinet Tip Miniature Screwdriver. I poke, and pry and spread and scrape and even turn screws with this little sucker ALL DAY EVERY DAY !

    I misplaced it for a day once and I just couldn't function. So that's three.

    My Jeweler's visor (Donegan DA-5 OptiVisor Headband Magnifier) with LED lights all around the lens. They aren't bright enough but I haven't coughed up the bucks for a good dental surgery version but it is in the "save for later" list.
    I use it for sharpening / checking the edge as well as many other things. I have them at work and at home.

    And finally some sort of hand tight drill chuck (minus the drill). I grip all sorts of tools in it and use it to hold the tool for shaping / grinding it or just using the tool it grips. Of late I have taken to using a quick change drill chuck that has a built in hex bit (even though it requires a chuck key). It is designed for use in a screw gun ( it is the Neiko 20754A 3/8” Drill Chuck with 1/4” Quick Change Hex Shank) and putting that in a Klein 32698 Switch Drive Cushion-Grip Handle, Fits 1/4" Shank.

    I don't know; that's about five . . . there are a few more.
    Including a magic wand; but as I tell people who ask me to do the impossible and do it right away : The dambed batteries in my magic wand are dead or it would be no problem.
  7. Wowbagger

    Wowbagger Basic Member Basic Member

    Sep 20, 2015
    Totally AWESOME !
    A man with his priorities well place.
    DocJD likes this.
  8. BitingSarcasm


    Feb 25, 2014
    My most commonly used tools change a bit depending on the tasks around my 90 year old home, but I get most of it done with:

    1. Ratcheting screwdriver with an assortment of bits.
    2. Stanly painter's tool. It scrapes, pries, hammers, hooks... I glued a neodymium magnet to hang it on stuff or stick small hardware on it
    3. Tape measure, usually a 15 or 20 footer.
    4. 8" crescent wrench and channel locks. Yes, it's 2 tools, but it's a combo that need to be paired.
    5. Industrial capacity swear words. Nothing is flush, plumb, or level on old houses, and you are continually finding things that somebody thought would be a "good idea" fifty years ago. I would love to have five minutes alone with the guy who thought it was fine to put 2 20 amp wires into a 20 amp socket with a 30 amp bus fuse screwed into it.
    Rykjeklut likes this.
  9. Macchina


    Apr 7, 2006
    I have been thinking about picking a pair up for months and between your recommendation and a 15% off code at Zoro I now have a 180mm (7.25") Pliers Wrench on it's way to me! I had to use my 6" Crescent Wrench this morning and remembered how much I hate (and love) them. They are darn handy but don't do anything great...
  10. 22-rimfire

    22-rimfire Gold Member Gold Member

    Nov 20, 2005
    Most used hand tools..... moisture meter, 6" pliers, small pipe wrench, Sears Robo Grip pliers, 12" pry bar.
    Most used power tools.... 12v Ryobi drill, 20v DeWalt recip saw
  11. Hickory n steel

    Hickory n steel Basic Member Basic Member

    Feb 11, 2016
    With my personal exclusion of knives and power tools it's these 5 right here, it was easy to grab the 5 most used the hard part was not posting my 10 most used or counting my 1/4 do all set as one tool :D
    And yes those are Peterson's, I don't mess with the crappy Chinese Irwin's.
    Last edited: Jun 9, 2019
  12. garddogg56


    Jan 9, 2012
    Leatherman ,Buck LB, Klein tool belt filled with Klein tools, sawzawl, and conduit threader...Pipe bender...
  13. rxavage


    Aug 16, 2014
    Skinning knife, Lowell wrench, klein 9”, channel locks, hammer

    my small impact with 9/16 & 3/4 combo socket gets a ton of use too.
    Honestly I use pretty much everything in my bucket apron daily.
  14. bdmicarta


    Feb 16, 2012
    Depending on what we consider to be a tool, and considering we are on a knife forum, my #2 used tool is a folding knife and my #1 used tool is a pocket flashlight.
    If we consider the traditional definition of tool, then my most used tools are likely:
    #1 screwdriver- I have a 4-way that I bought in the hardware store. It has 2 reversible bits, one with 2 sizes of straight slot and one with 2 sizes of phillips. It will likely fit just about anything I need it for. And as a bonus one end of the shaft will fit normal interchangeable bits and also will function as 5/16" nutdriver.
    #2 pliers- standard pliers
    #3 hammer
    #4 hand saw
    #5 cordless drill
    I use these for hobby use, home repairs, etc.
    I don't have huge toolboxes full of stuff but I have accumulated a good assortment of tools. My favorite tools are the automotive tools that I used when I was a mechanic- conventional open end/box end wrenches and 3/8" drive ratchet and sockets.
  15. K.O.D.

    K.O.D. The Everlasting Know-it-all Platinum Member

    Aug 21, 2013
    Left hand
    Right hand
    Modern pocket knife
    Torx drivers
    Flathead screwdriver

    Between my father and I, we have far too many tools. If and when I'm able to live on my own again, it'll be more reasonable. I love tools. Except my ex.

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