What better way to start our TechShop and Humble Mechanic partnership than to find out what Charles’ top five favorite technician’s tools are?
Hey everyone! I’m excited have this new opportunity to share with you my thoughts on shop life, working as a technician and, of course, tools and equipment. Throughout the year in this column, we’ll focus on subjects you care about most.
I know you guys share your favorite tools in the Top 5 Tools column, so I thought it would be fitting to kick things off by sharing with you my Top 5 Favorite shop tools. And I snuck an extra one in there, so it’s really more like six.
For a tool to make my list, it either needs to save me time or save me money. Those are pretty much the two most important things when I’m trying to decide whether or not to buy a certain tool.
Top 5 Tech Tools:
• Makita LCT200W 18-Volt Compact Lithium-Ion Cordless Combo Kit, 2-Piece
• Klein Tools Diagonal Cutting Pliers
• Power Probe PP3LS01 Power Probe III Circuit Tester with PPLS01 Lead Set Kit
• Magnetic Tools Tray, Stainless Steel, Rectangular, Chrome
• Streamlight 66118 Stylus Pro Black LED Pen Flashlight
Here We Go:
Probably the most used tool in my entire toolbox. I own two of this particular model as well as the newer version that has a little more torque. Incredible speed, incredible power. Great trigger control. I like the chuck. It’s a quick release, so bits go in and out. Can’t say enough good things about this tool.
Klein brand side cutters – I’ve probably had seven or eight of these over the years, not because they’ve failed, but I tend to lose them. Even the pair I left outside for a year cleaned up pretty well after I wiped them with some ATF.
They’ve never let me down. Great torque. I buy the basic red ones. They work great, I love ’em. Probably the fourth most used tool in my toolbox. The Klein brand definitely gets high marks from me. I also really like their screwdrivers.
Power Probe – This basically takes the place of a test light. It has a ground on one end. You hook up one end to a motor or a solenoid and then you hook the tip up, hit the button and it will power the motor/solenoid. It will also indicate visually with a light, and by audio with a beep whether a wire has power or ground.
The Power Probe is one of my favorite diagnostic tools in my toolbox. The newer ones have an LCD display, which will show voltage with different adapters. They’re really cool, and not very expensive. If you are a technician, I don’t know how you do your job without one of these. It’s my go-to before I go and grab my multimeter. I still wouldn’t trade in my multimeter, but it’s a good first step.
Next up is the simple magnetic tray. I would say I own about 10 of them (different sizes). They are great for organizing parts. I don’t know how techs stay organized without them. I use them all the time as the shop, but they’re actually great for the house too. This is probably one of the best gifts you can buy a tool fan.
Last up is the tool that I would say that I own the most of: the Streamlight Stylus Pro flashlight. It’s very small – pocket sized. It’s the best flashlight that I’ve found that’s pocket-sized. Just uses two AAA batteries (rechargeables work really well with these too). It comes with an extra button and a sheath, but I’ve never had to use the extra button.
These are awesome lights. I probably own in the neighborhood of seven or eight of these. We’ve got them at the house, in the car and I keep one in my shirt pocket all the time at work.
As a bonus, I’d like to share a sixth tool with you guys – all Snap-on ratchets. I use the 1/2” drive on brakes to break caliper and carrier bolts loose.
While they’re expensive, they are top-notch ratchets. It is one of the tools I’m willing spend the extra money on. Plus it includes a lifetime warranty. My 1/2” drive gets rebuilt a lot because I wear it out.
Viewers of my videos also included some of their favorite tools on the show notes pages of my website and my YouTube channel.
Check them out here: