How to find the best tool kit
A tool kit buying guide
Everyone should have basic tools on hand to tackle quick repairs and minor maintenance. You can stay ready with a quality tool kit that contains an assortment of hand tools. Selecting the best tool kit to meet your anticipated and unexpected needs starts with learning what is in different tool kits.
>> Which type of tool kit is best?
The decision to buy a tool kit should start with understanding available kits. Some new tool kits are highly specialized and others are general purpose. When considering your options, think about what tasks you plan to accomplish and match those tasks with the appropriate hand tool sets.
If the best tool kit for your needs is one that includes a diverse selection of tools, then a multi-purpose set will be your best choice. A multi-purpose set of home improvement tools should include wrenches, screwdrivers, pliers, sockets, hammer, tape measure and more
An important consideration when comparing different quality tool kits is whether they include any specialty tools you anticipate wanting. For example, if your interests include electronics, consider a multi-purpose kit that offers crimping tools.
Driver tool kits are available in a number of configurations that include screwdrivers, ratchets and allen wrenches. This is the best tool kit to buy if you want to build a truly complete set of tools in each type. Drivers are practical for home maintenance projects from replacing switch plates to tightening table legs.
The nuts and bolts of many home projects are based on the right wrench. Wrenches come in several types. Top tool kits give you multiple sizes of one or more type of wrench.
If you tinker or want to save on repairs, consider a watch repair kit. These kits have the tools necessary to open watches and remove crystals and make repairs to internal mechanisms.
>> Consider tool kit components
When determining the best tool kit for your needs, it's important to understand the function of each component so that you can make an informed decision.
- Claw: Hammers come in several styles with the most popular being the claw or carpenter's hammer. These hammers have a textured striking side and a claw side for removing nails.
- Finishing: Finishing hammers are lighter in weight for driving smaller nails and have a smooth striking head to protect finished surfaces.
- Ball peen: Ball peen hammers are also known as metal worker or machinist hammers, because in addition to a flat side they have a round side for shaping metal.
- Rubber: Rubber hammers, commonly called mallets, are used to work soft metals and woods that require a softer blow than a steel head hammer can deliver.
Top tool kits will contain screwdrivers of various types and sizes.
- Flat-head: Flat-head screwdrivers are used to manipulate screws that have a single opening in their head and are known as slotted screws. This type of screw head is most often found on bolts and machine screws.
- Phillips: Phillips head screws which have a cross shaped slot require a Phillips head screw driver to tighten and loosen them. Phillips head screwdrivers come in a wide range of sizes to match the equally large variety of screw head sizes. These screws are used in everything from appliances and electronics to cars.
- Torx: Many of the best tool kits will include an assortment of torx screwdrivers which are also called star drivers for their hexalobular heads. This type of screw is used in an increasing number of applications.
- Hex: Hex screws are used primarily for machine parts and user assembled furniture. These are the least common type of fastener and can only be removed with a specialized hex driver of the correct size. Allen wrenches are often used as substitutes for hex screwdrivers.
- Bit sets: Bits come in various tip configurations such as slotted, Phillips and torx. These are designed to be used in power tools.
- Allen wrenches: Allen wrenches, sometimes called allen keys or hex keys, are right-angled steel bars with hexagonal heads on both ends. There are 12 standard sizes and many new tool kits offer you at least six. Hex heads are found in many types of machines, appliances and furniture.
- Combination wrenches: Combination wrenches have an open crescent at one end and the same size closed box at the other. Combination wrenches come in both SAE and metric sizes.
- Adjustable wrenches: Many tool kit brands also include adjustable wrenches to accommodate nuts of different sizes.
Pliers are a type of hand tool that consists of a pair of handles that open and close a set of jaws. A new tool kit can contain more than one type of pliers.
- Slip joint: These are the most common type of pliers and are characterized by their short nose. They are called slip joint because the union of two handles has a joint that enables you to open the jaws wider.
- Needle nose: These pliers are commonly used for electrical work. Long, tapered ends make them great for holding and positioning wire. They also have a cutter for trimming wire to length.
- Cutting: In the best tool kits, you find cutting pliers. These pliers function to cut wire and are a must have for anyone who works with electrical wire, cat 5 or coaxial cable or baling wire.
- Channel lock: When you buy a tool kit that includes channel lock pliers, you have a tool that can adjust to a wide range of opening dimensions. The innovative channel design functions like slip lock pliers with larger range.
A measuring tape is an essential tool and the best tool kits you can buy include one. Determining the exact length of things is a key component of many projects.
From putting up shelves to hanging pictures, a level is an indispensable part of your quality tool kit.
Many tool kit brands give you a flashlight to make it possible to work in dark places like basements and under sinks.
>> Consider how to store your tools
A tool kit should include a case for the tools that come with it. If you build your own master tool kit from a collection of other top tool kits, consider adding a tool belt or tool chest for using and storing your tools.
When you need a new tool kit, consider your needs and the different types of tools that are available. It's a good idea to have a tool kit handy, since you never know when you'll need it.