Top ToolGuyd-Approved Tools for Makers, Hardware Hackers, Electronics Hobbyists, DIYers
Tip: Look for precision screwdrivers that have swivel caps at the end. These caps allow you to apply gentle downward pressure with your palm as you spin the driver with your fingertips. We discussed several more brands in our precision screwdriver roundup.
Craftsman 17pc Screwdriver Set
Klein 10-in-1 Screwdriver
Tips: Even if you have a full set of screwdrivers, a multi-bit screwdriver will still come in handy at times. The reverse is also true. Sets offer better bang for the buck compared to individual drivers, but don’t go overboard. Check out our screwdriver category page for additional ideas and recommendations.
Hex & Torx Drivers
Tip: Ball hex drivers are great for easier and speedier use, but straight hex tips should always be used for higher torque applications.
Mini Cutters and Pliers
Engineer Screw Pliers
Tip: At the least, you will want flush cutters or shears for trimming component leads, and long or needle nose pliers for bending, positioning, or manipulating small parts.
Tip: Most wire strippers are NOT one-size-fits-all. Make sure that their wire gauge ranges are suitable for the wires you plan to work with. Check out our discussion of all the different wire strippers in our toolbox.
Tekton Wrench Set
GearWrench Wrench Set
Reminder: Most wrench sets don’t come with 11/32″ wrenches, which are useful for #8 machine nuts. You can always buy one separately for about $8-15. You might also want to consider buying a couple of nutdrivers.
Stanley 3pc Pliers Set
Tip: Many long nose and combination pliers have built-in wire cutters, but diagonal cutters are often easier to use. Pliers can run from $20 for a complete set to $50 for just one.
Small Bit Ratchets and Sets
GearWrench MicroDriver Set
Tip: You can usually buy 1/4″ ratchets, bit ratchets, screwdriver bit adapters, and bit sets separately to save money.
Ratchet and Socket Sets
Wera Zyklop Socket Set
Tip: If you cannot afford a better quality socket set, buy an inexpensive set and upgrade the ratchet as soon as you can. Then, when your budget permits, upgrade the other tools and accessories as needed. Our ratchet and socket drawer contains a mix of Craftsman, Gearwrench, Proto, and Wera tools.
Small Parts Storage
Tip: There is no one-size-fits-all solution. Check out our storage and organization coverage if you’d like some extra ideas.
Soldering Irons and Stations
Weller Soldering Station
Tip: A basic 25W or 30W soldering iron is great to start with, and will still come in handy after you upgrade. Whether shopping for a basic soldering iron or more advance adjustable output soldering station, make sure you can find and buy replacement tips.
Basic Desoldering Wick
Basic Desoldering Pump
Premium Desoldering Pump
Tip: These desoldering tools all require the use of a soldering iron to melt solder for removal.
Soldering Tools and Aids
Probe and Contact Cleaner Set
Hakko Tip Cleaner
Tip: You might also want to consider buying a tube of flux, soldering iron tip conditioner, additional brushes and scrapers, heatsink clips, a solder reel, and a fume extraction fan.
Tip: One can never have too many utility knives, scissors, or multi-tools.
Vises and Workholding Tools
Tip: it is also possible to make your own adjustable 3rd hand tool by attaching alligator clips to stiff flexible wire or Loc-Line modular hoses and a solid base.
Extech MN35 Mini Multimeter
Extech EX330 Autoranging Meter
Fluke 115 Multimeter
Tip: Auto-ranging multimeters provide added convenience, but manual-ranging meters are less expensive to start off with.
3M Disposable Respirator (x10)
Tip: Always protect yourself. Unless of course you can regrow an eye. Always use personal protective gear that meets official standards, e.g. ANSI Z87.1 for safety eyewear. When soldering, proper ventilation is imperative.
Tip: Our top recommendations tend to be pricey, but if you’re just looking for a simple flashlight, there are a couple of under-$20 flashlights we can recommend.
Tip: We tend to heavily favor Dremel rotary tools over other brands’ Dremel-style tools. The 3000-series tool and kits are great for those starting out, the 4200 offers more power and additional features, and Foredom flex shaft tools are best for those who need a benchtop tool that offers greater power, control, and handpiece options.