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Author Topic: The essentials of any home tool shop  (Read 2273 times)
Snr. Officer
United States United States

Resident Atompunk

« on: October 29, 2010, 10:01:57 pm »

I just thought I would make a thread about this, since I'm finally starting to build my own collection.  Seeing the tools I have always needed has helped me trim down the list quite a bit.  I do quite a bit of work out doors, mechanically, and otherwise, and this list should not be the be all and end all of lists Smiley

First rule: Use the right tool for the right job.  If you don't have the tool available, buy it. You will need it again some day.  Using the wrong tool does nothing but frustrate you in the long run.

Hand Tools:

Flathead sets from precision to very large, and one or two very long ones are useful too. Same goes for Phillips sets.
Torx set: These are the star head screws.  having a set of these is helpful when repairing electronics, children's toys, power tools, etc.

These are the three main screwdriver types that I would keep in my work area.  If you come across a strange head, just head up to the local hardware store and buy a set then.  
NEVER, EVER, Violate rule #1 when it comes to screws.  if you strip them out, you will have a problem on your hands. They do sell stripped screw removers, you will want one of these in your toolbox as well. Always try to have a full set of screwdrivers nearby, and always use the correct size (this applies double when working with flathead screws, as an incorrect size driver will strip them)

When working with electronics, or other machined screws, always try to use a hand driver.  electric screwdrivers, while convenient, strip screws more than a hand screwdriver will.  I only use electric when
I either cannot get the torque I need to loosen a screw, or when I am working with wood.

Wood and Metal Chisels:
Wood Chisels:  If you will be doing alot of woodwork, then go buy a nice craftsman chisel set. If not, a cheap set will be fine, but the craftsman will hold it's edge longer, won't snap in half as easily (most craftsman chisels and related tools are made of a solid piece of steel, surrounded by a plastic handle. Most cheap sets only have the steel going about an inch into the handle, glued into place)

Metal Chisels: I've never really had a problem with cheap metal chisels, because all of them are made of solid steel. Although, I've never really used metal chisels in their intended purpose, so I could not say.

Nail Hammers: I have found that by far the best hammer made for driving nails is the Estwing.  I prefer a 16 oz hammer, but if you are a bigger guy or smaller, you may prefer a different weight.  it's all about your preference.  If you try to use a hammer that's too heavy, you will not be able to aim it correctly, too light and you will be working too hard (the heavier the hammer the faster you drive your nails)
there are various hammers, but the nail hammer is by far the most common, and the one people use.

Wood Saws: There are two types of wood cutting hand saws. if you want to cut wood with a hand saw, you need to know the different types.
Rip Saw: This saw is to cut WITH the grain of the wood
Crosscut Saw: This saw is to cut ACROSS the grain of the wood.

These two handsaws have different types of teeth, so if you use a ripsaw to crosscut, you will not get a nice finish. I personally almost never use a handsaw, so I don't know much more about it.

Metal Saws: Here we have the trusty hack saw. Basically, it's all about the right blade.  Basically, hacksaw blades are measured in teeth per inch.  The more teeth per inch, the finer the cut, and the faster your blade will wear out.  for more info, this site is pretty good at explaining:

Hand Drills: Yes, they still make hand drills.  There are two kinds: one looks like an egg beater, and one looks like this:
The second one is very useful to have because you can get at things a regular drill would be unable to reach. It's a pain to use, and it's hard to explain the advantage here, but you will know when you need it.

Sockets and ratchets: There are three general sizes of sockets: 1/4 inch, 3/8th inch, and 1/2 inch (they make others but these are the most common). these sizes refer to the size of the square opening of the socket that connects with the ratchet.

1/4 inch sockets are very small, and you should not place too much force on them.
3/8th sockets are your general sockets, and should be the bulk of your collection
1/2 sockets are generally used for breaking bolts free, and when possible, always use a 1/2 inch, because they are the most durable.

If you want a great socket set, go craftsman. they have a lifetime warranty (no receipt needed), are higher quality than anyone, and are all around the best choice.  I however cannot afford a craftsman set, so I have a stanley.  I do have alot of my grandfather's craftsman sockets and a ratchet or two, if that shows you how long they last.

Odds and ends:

These are some other stuff I have in my shop.  Not all of them are necessary, depending on the job:
Electrical Tape
Wire Connectors of various types and sizes
nuts and bolts from old jobs
Electrician's pliers
various pliers (will go into more detail at a later time)
Vice Grips (will go into more detail)
Channel Locks (will go into more detail)
Aviation Snips, end cutting snips (will go into more detail)
Various Power tools (definitely will go into more detail) (Air Compressor, Router, Drill Press, Drill, etc.)

Thats it for now, maybe more soon Smiley

« Last Edit: October 29, 2010, 10:07:48 pm by Demosthenes » Logged

"I think this is the most extraordinary collection of talent and of human knowledge that has ever been gathered together at the White House — with the possible exception of when Thomas Jefferson dined alone."
“Kerplach” = “Guv’nah!”
United Kingdom United Kingdom

« Reply #1 on: October 29, 2010, 10:37:57 pm »

A good summary.

I'd add the following as worth considering for a basic engineering toolkit, sizes are in metric as a guide 25mm = 1 inch.

-Steel rule, 300 mm  with engraved graduations
-Engineer's square 150mm
-engineer's files, try to find decent quality ones form a specialist supplier rather than the DIY store ones.
-brass wire brush for file cleaning
-needle files
-vernier caliper
-sprung dividers
- mitre square
-spirit level
-centre punch
-dot punch
-Ball pein hammer
-Taper and parallel punches
-Tap and die set
-cobalt HSS drill bit set
-Piercing saw
-Parallel and taper punches and drifts
-Long nose pliers
-Combination wrench set
-Adjustable wrench

-Spring clamps
-Electrical multi-meter


A man of eighty has outlived probably three new schools of painting, two of architecture and poetry and a hundred in dress.
Lord Byron
Snr. Officer
United States United States

Resident Atompunk

« Reply #2 on: October 29, 2010, 10:44:58 pm »

Those are very useful additions Smiley Thanks!
Zeppelin Admiral
Canada Canada

Keep them off-balance and brazen it out!

« Reply #3 on: November 03, 2010, 09:18:49 am »

No-one has yet mentioned the most basic tool of all - a surface to work on. A decent bench is pretty much essential, although some amazing work has been done on nothing more than a corner of the kitchen table; for many years my bench was in fact a battered old second-hand student's desk, bought for $10 at a flea market; it served me well. A variety of benches are available commercially, in both wood and steel, but they tend to be expensive, and a basic bench is easy enough to build for yourself; basically just a heavy-duty table, a frame of 2x4's with a 1/2 inch, or better 3/4 inch plywood top, preferably bolted together. If you have a dedicated workshop, it's a good idea to bolt or screw the bench firmly into the wall and floor; nothing is more annoying than a bench that wobbles about when you work on it.

Something to hold your work with is the next essential; a vise (or vice, in the U.K.) of some kind. Both metalworking and woodworking vises are available, depending on the kinds of materials you mostly use. My only advice would be to buy the biggest you have space for, or can afford, and if it's a metalworking vise then preferably one with an enclosed screw. Metalworking vises are available that swivel, both horizontally and vertically, but I have never found this feature to be of much use; a good solid straight-ahead vise will do everything you need.

IMO, a workshop can't have too many clamps. They come in a vast range of types and sizes, buy them as you need them. And for light work, the humble wooden clothespin is not to be sneezed at; they don't damage finished surfaces, and can be sanded to shape for specific applications.

My final piece of advice; buy the best quality tools you can afford. The $1.99 bargain bin isn't the place to be looking for good quality tools, however excellent tools can be obtained cheaply secondhand. Prowl the flea markets, yard sales and For Sale ads. I have some old 19th century wood chisels that are as good as anything being manufactured today - the fact that they have lasted more than a century is surely a testament to their quality.

"Truly I say to you, he who seeks, shall find. And quite often, he shall wish he hadn't."

              - Elias Ashmole Crackbone.
Efram von Rosengine
Deck Hand
United States United States

« Reply #4 on: April 04, 2011, 03:04:21 am »

Basic Jewelery list

This is what I would recommend for beginning jewelery work. Start slowly buy as you need, and get the best you can afford. I cringed at the price when ai bought some of my tools , but 35 years later they still work, save for the one that just wore out from daily professional use, but they paid for themselves.

SAFETY GLASSES Many cutting tools are hard brittle steel, when  (not if)  they break, often tiny sharp shards fly off at amazing velocities. Even from hand tools.You don,t want to have one dug out of your eye!

Small ball peen hammer: one or two ounce or both.

Rawhide Mallet: About 30 mm face non marring. Some plastics are also good but consider your needs.

Jewelers screwdrivers: basic set is good to start. Lately the ones made by Whia are nice and ergonomic for most things.

Jewelers saw frame:  the best ones seem to come from Germany and Switzerland, the cheap economy frames have die cast parts that break and wear quickly . they don't hold the blades well. Amazingly versatile when you learn to use it.

Saw blades: sized by numbers  i.e. 3,2,1,0,2/0,3/0>>8/0, Coarse to fine  my most common used are #'s 1, 0,3/0, 6/0 and filling in from there as necessary  for bare min #1, 3/0.

Ring mandrel: For making round rings and bezels. these come sized (calibrated) , un-sized, plain and grooved. I recommend a plain sized mandrel to start. 

Flexible steel rule: inch / metric 6" /150mm  ( 12'/300mm if you prefer)  the flexible ones are nice over curved surfaces, you may also want a rigid one as well later on

Ring Clamp Wood  rules here , preferably maple , aluminum is also good , but heavier ,and thus more fatiguing for long sessions. I f anyone tries to sell you a plastic one awaaaay run awaaaaaaay!!...  ( they tend not to hold well and can be dangerous as the tool slips and stabs your hand ... yep got the scar!)

Pliers  I'll stick to the basics here in order of use, most professionals have over 100 pairs some of which see little use , but are well worth it for the job they do. Don't concern yourself with those you'll know when you get to that point. I would avoid the small cutsy little sets sold in craft stores, they are too small even for most kids.

Needle nose , smooth jaws: Get two pairs one small and one larger. this is necessary for properly closing jump rings. (working jump rings with one pair, the ring flies off to never land and you usually get a nasty pinching)

Round nose similar to needle nose but the points are round to form rings .

Ring pliers   one flat  one broad rounded blade for bending strips into rings with minimum marring.

half round nose one flat and one round for bending rounded corners.

flush diagonal cutters I mention these down the list , because you can cut wire with the jewelers saw which ids preferred for quality work.

Files The best are Swiss made, and are expensive , don't lend them , and don't ask to borrow them. If  you get serious , and or have paid for one you'll understand this statement. Eventually you'll have favorite files and find yourself swatting at people trying to touch them.  Files are given numbers for "cut" or coarseness  the higher the number the finer the file. Many people starting out quickly jump to a set of needle files , half of which they seldom or never use. The common flat bastard pattern is inexpensive and easy to get, quite useful. In the beginning #2 cut is good place to start, a 12 to 20 mm wide flat or pillar file is almost indispensable  for flattening and shaping , next is the half round , and the ring file which is a narrow half round for filing inside rings. A#4 cut ring file (fine) is highly recommended for making rings.

The most used needle file patterns are the  Barrett, Round, Triangle, Half Round, Square, Flat/Pillar. this is my order of preference if you want to purchase high quality individual files which can cost $10 to 20 (us) for a single needle file. Your needs may vary. 

The better quality brands are Grobet, Favorite, Eurotool, Dixon. Nicholson and Simmons are two American companies that have decent files. Avoid the very cheap imports, most are not properly hardened, many don't cut. Import files are good to leave out for people who always borrow your files , (hide your good ones)

File Card This is a short stiff bristled brush specifically for cleaning the file teeth.

Gravers These are small chisel like tools that many professional jewelers never master. Those that do use them quite a bit, I find them indispensable for highly detailed work. great for cleaning up corners without leaving file marks. you will need to have patients ans persistence to master them . start with a #40 flat, and a pointed oval pattern  to get into corners. You will also have to buy wooden handles for them. 

These are the basics, you can do a lot with this,and fill gaps as your needs arise, The web has much on usage.

You will also eventually want a torch and possibly a jewelers bench I'll refer you to google for now. Soldering is another thread , I have started a Definitive wiki  thread to discuss that  topic,as this is another whole can of worms by itself   


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