The 1000$ Toolkit That Builds And Repairs Everything

The 1000$ Toolkit That Builds And Repairs Everything

I’m a programmer by trade, but today I want to show you my real-life toolkit that I have built up over the past few years. It has served me incredibly well and allowed me to be a real help whenever I turn up somewhere and help renovate, repair or build something.

Set with drill, impact driver and 2 batteries: 400$

You will find that this combination costs more or less the same no matter from which company you get them – and you’ll want to get all of them. The battery powered drill is pretty much a given, you’ll need at least two batteries to be able to keep working as the other one charges – and that impact driver will quickly become your favorite tool.

Getting the full set of cordless power tools may seem like a hefty purchase at first, but believe me when I say that this combination turns you into a real force to be reckoned with each time you show up somewhere.

Most people may own a cordless drill, but the saw in particular will make super quick work of tasks people might not even attempt.

Battery powered recip saw: 180$

Did you ever try sawing through a metal pipe with a hand saw before? That is an exhausting and time consuming task that can take several minutes – and the recip saw will turn that into a ten-second task of joyful work.

I dubbed mine devastator and I love the little blue cutie. With a longer, large-tooth blade you’ll be surprised at the amount of work you can get done using one of these. You can even cut down trees up to a surprisingly large size.

Other types of saws exist of course – I also own a circular saw – but the thing about the reciprocating saws is that they can do pretty much any sawing task even if they might not do them as well as a specialized tool. Sawing perfectly straight lines is hard, but I actually built the workbench for my camper van using it and that worked perfectly for two years.

That long edge there was sawed by hand, that is reasonably straight in my opinion.

The garden variety discounter toolbox: Under 100$

The one thing where I would actually recommend to save money is this average tool box full of „things“ that pretty much everyone owns. I have one from a local discounter, so do my friends and while they may not be the best in the world you still get a whole lot of tools for something like fifty, sixty bucks. The point here is variety, not necessarily quality but if you ask me those tool boxes have become pretty good in quality as well these days.

What you’ll want to have are drill bits, screwdriver bits, a couple pliers and manual screwdrivers, a hammer of course – and you’ll get all that from that box.

I actually don’t have that, but that is only because all my assorted tools are from flea markets, don’t belong together and just happen to be tools that I love owning.

Adjustable wrench: 5-30$

Do you see them cuddling there to the right? The right one is the broken one that I still use often.

An adjustable wrench is mostly useful because it makes for a great hammer.

Kidding aside though I find them to be one of my most used tools, they are just insanely useful for so many things. Have a little nail that you can’t hold with your fingers (those stupid furniture back wall nails, I hate them so much!)?

Do you need something to hold the glowing red nut that you just gas-burned to a crisp to get it off that rusty bolt? Heck, they even hold oddly shaped objects of all kinds – I love those wrenches so much that I even keep the one that I broke around to use for light-duty tasks.

The socket box: 10-80$

For the most part I am now using one of those multi-sockets that fits most common sizes of bolts and takes up virtually no space (I actually carry that in my work backpack because nobody ever has a socket when you need one). That is really convenient, but having a full socket set still goes a long way on „real projects“ where I know that I’ll be needing that.

But another cool thing about the multi-socket is that they also fit square and triangle bolts – and that is really something that nobody ever has on hand. We used that to open a door to the fuse box at work one time when the whole floor suddenly went dark after one of us plugged a cable in – a real time saver over calling someone and waiting a couple hours before we could work again.

I already went with the „nicest hardware store“ variant that they had on offer – the real benefit here being that you have this little push button on the wrench that makes chaning bits a bit easier. And that cost me 80€, the cheapest one I could have gotten was under 20. But I’m usually someone who splurges on tools knowing that I will get my money’s value out of them over the course of my life.

The multi tool: 10-100$

I honestly can’t count the number of times I have used my leatherman since my mother gifted it to me after my apprenticeship. I mean I mostly work in programming and yet not a week goes by where I don’t use it – on the job that is. From opening boxes to twisting wires to hold cables together to cutting, opening those little doors in the floor that hide the power and network access points – that thing comes in super handy all the time.

And then you have use-cases where you wouldn’t even suspect it to be as useful as it can be: A couple weeks ago some colleagues and I helped another colleague rip out her carpet. We went in and started cutting it into small stripes, but then getting them started and even pulling them off the glued floor proved real difficult until I started using the leatherman. This way you get a lot more leverage and your hands won’t hurt like crazy, that little tool turned an exhausting process into a real breeze.

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Now as I said mine was a gift and cost a hundred bucks, but there are multi-tools for as low as ten bucks and they honestly do the same job. I really like the outside-mounted knife blades and scissors on mine, that is a smart design hack that I love but other than that anything you can get will be the same.

The box full of weird screwdriver bits: 10-20$

For just sixteen bucks I bought a large box of screwdriver bits last year that includes not just a ratcheting screwdriver (love those!), you also get all those weird bits like square (which I hear are more common in the US) and all those odd shapes like triangles, stars (torx), tiny and big alike.

That box is a real life saver, just the other day I was switching out the light bulbs on my mom’s car and for some reason the necessary screws I needed to undo alternated between torx and philips and then not even in the common sizes. Until that point my leatherman with the little screwdriver served me well, but then the weird-bit-box saved my work that day.

Something to pry with: 0-40$

I find that I use manual screwdrivers more for prying then for screwing, the one I carry even has a broken tip so it’s not useful for anything other than prying anymore.

If you get one of the sturdy ones you can do a lot of prying by hand already, but then if you manage to find a pipe or something for extra leverage you can turn it into a poor man’s prybar – or you can also buy an actual prybar of course.

This magnetfishing find cleaned up really nicely and served many more month as a scraping and prying tool. Also note that little gear thingy, I turned those into wind chimes with old pipes from shopping carts that we would routinely find.

And lastly: Pour all the remaining money into a box of screws and bolts

Do you see that little box in the background there? It’s probably worth a good hundred or so bucks with all the screws, bolts and nuts I have purchased over time – but boy did that save us hours of driving and waiting.

I have a bunch of assorted things in there, but the things I find the most useful are as follows:

  • 5 and 6mm bolts and (locking) nuts. Also washers. You wouldn’t believe how many uses those can have and how often you can repair something with them. Nobody ever has those on hand so if a random tool handle breaks or something you can save yourself hours.
  • Luster terminals (are they called this? That’s what google tells me) – those tiny things you use to mount ceiling lights and couple cables together. Again, nobody ever has those when they are needed (or worse: they have two and need three).
  • Wood screws in both short and medium sizes. In a pinch you can repair tool handles, fix tables and chairs and everything.
  • I also carry the common ikea things like those little metal rods used in their shelves and the furniture-screw-hiding-thingies. They don’t take up much space and they come in real handy each time I help someone move and suddenly they are missing one or two of those things.
  • An assorted box for all the odd screws that you assemble over the years, one day you’ll need them. I just don’t bother keeping already stripped screws, everybody hates working with those. But everything that doesn’t fit into its own category is a great candidate for this divider.

Bonus: Angle grinder: 10-150$

Now I put this one as a bonus because chances are that you may never need one. Some people go through their lives without ever handling this spinning wheel of certain demise – but let me tell you that they damned powerful force multipliers.

The best usecase for them is actually pictured above: Using them with a twisted wire wheel attachments. I used to clean up a lot of dirty, rusty metal when we could still magnetfish and I was building little sculptures out of them – and with a wire brush on an angle grinder you get right down to the bare metal in seconds without touching any of the metal that is still intact.

You can also use them for a lot of other types of heavy cleaning, grinding and of course cutting of hard metal like rebar. You can even carve bowls using one of these carving attachments – just don’t get the ones that look like miniature chainsaws because those will absolutely do horrible things to you.

But again: You may just never need these or find another, more complicated way to solve a problem. I just love mine, so much so that I bought a second to not have to switch between cutting and cleaning all the time.

Summary: A sub-thousand dollar tool kit can turn you into a useful member of society

I have easily paid for all these tools several times over just by bringing them along when people asked me to help them with something – you have to factor in just how much an hour or two saved will profit the whole team on any kind of move, renovation, repair project. The other week I was helping out cleaning an old garden of brushes and bushes and between the six of us we had my saw, a gas-powered chainsaw and the rest was chipping away using hand-held garden sheers to take care of the small stuff. Even so it took us all day to finish this and so that means it would have taken several days, repeat visits and likely scheduling issues to get that done otherwise.

Plus of course it is always fun to make yourself useful and just cut away, grind your way through the day’s work and not think about anything outside your tiny little world for a couple hours. Remember: Buying a reciprocating saw may seem expensive until you factor in all the money you save on burnout therapy.

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