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Hagerty
Hagerty Employee

8 tools to up your DIY game

We all started somewhere, and for most of us garage-dwellers, it was a set of sockets and screwdrivers. From there we progressively acquired tools to complete tasks and projects until we reached a point where there wasn't a project to be scared of.
https://www.hagerty.com/media/maintenance-and-tech/8-tools-to-up-your-diy-game/
102 REPLIES 102
gpsuya
Advanced Driver

And to me, the most important of all is a Beer fridge.
Kyle
Moderator

That did save a few recent projects!
hyperv6
Collector

Created a few too.
OldFordMan
Advanced Driver

And FIRE EXTINGUISHER!!
Kyle
Moderator

I knew I was forgetting something big! Really any shop space regardless of capability should have a fire extinguisher but it is worth repeating all the time. 

Srmert
Detailer

If you can afford one make a second one a CO2. It is great because if you unfortunately need to use it, it just disappears after everything is over. No powder mess, and you don’t have to explain what happened to the wife!
Hacksaw
Detailer

That should have been # 1 on the list. Having adorned my new garage with 3 fire extinguishers they saved my garage. I heard a pop sound and turned around and saw my work bench was in flames. I was charging lipo batteries and they blew up.
jp61
New Driver

have 3 in my shop too. each entrance, and near the main work area. have used them a couple of times.
Grumpyoldcoot
Intermediate Driver

.....a definite luxury, but should be enjoyed only after the job is complete!
elvacarsdallas
Intermediate Driver

Great, add it first and use it last, better results in the middle.
RG440
Technician

Great Article ! You nailed it for the budding diy enthusiast ! Btw, love your work bench on wheels, what a timesaver and opportunity to work close to the project and outdoors on favorable days ! Thanks !
Kyle
Moderator

Thanks! Those wheels also make keeping things clean easier too. I have two identical workbenches that I can shift around now that they are both on wheels. Easy to clean under them and can tuck one covered with a project over in the corner to prevent things laid *just so* from getting messed with.

I wouldn't mind a guide to purchasing an air compressor and tools for the home garage.

OHCOddball
Advanced Driver

Battery tools are the thing these days in pro repair shops. Less air tools these days as it is one less piece of expensive equipment and no heavy hoses in the way.
Tomcat59
Intermediate Driver

I primarily have battery tools in the "travel kit" for use on the road. After 40+ years, I instinctively go for the air tools.

I can't imagine having a shop without some kid of air compressor. Tires need filling, parts need to be dried, and brake dust needs to be blown out (just kidding....).
Hacksaw
Detailer

California Air Tools has quiet compressors. If you need lots of air, bigger is better. Also, you need an air dryer. Do it right and you won't regret it. 

iseemtolikered
Pit Crew

I pull the battery from the calipers when not in use. It always seemed to be drained when I needed it. I like how you have spares in your case too.
hyperv6
Collector

I have all of these but the welder and that is going to change soon.

Two missing here is an air compressor and a grinder with a cut off wheel. Both are big use items.
Hacksaw
Detailer

Far wall is a tank, it be a compressor.
Tomcat59
Intermediate Driver

I recently sold my Lincoln arc welder and Hobart 140 wire feed machine and replaced them both with a Miller 210 wire feed welder. The Miller will run on 120V 15A or 240V 50A (it has plugs that interchange) , so with one machine I can weld down to 28 ga sheet metal and up to 3/8" steel plate. It was a little pricey, but it makes me look like a serious welder with all "automatic" settings engaged. Plug and play!

The other thing I did was buy an inexpensive plasma cutter. It was about $400 on Amazon, uses your shop compressed air (one more reason to have a compressor), and works great. This little gem really "cuts" the fabrication time. (sorry, I couldn't resist.....)

I put them each on a $45 cart from Harbor Freight and now I have a really nice welding set up.
XJ6
Intermediate Driver

The great thing about a small drill press is that you can securely clamp down your work piece so (a) you can accurately center the drill bit without it staying off target and (b) on a tiny work piece you don’t injure your fingers.
5869Corvette
Intermediate Driver

One of my most often used set of tools is my pick set. You can poke, pull, and gently move things when you your fingers are just too short or fat!
Padgett
Instructor

Have some but find an ACCO Binder clip is better to open locks. Of course can span an octave and a note with either hand but have to buy ladies watch bands.
5869Corvette
Intermediate Driver

Ok…. Ya gotta explain that a bit more. 

ThePorscheMan
Detailer

I'm guessin' the beer fridge had something to do with that response.
Padgett
Instructor

Have long fingers and small hands.

DrHess
New Driver

I would add Vernier Calipers. The digital ones take batteries. Put it in the drawer and come back when you need it and guess what? It will be dead. Vernier calipers will ALWAYS work. Oh, it takes 5 minutes to learn how to use them, and a few extra seconds to read. Big deal.

A Low-Quality Tap and Die set is also very handy for chasing threads. I have found that they work better than a high quality one for very simple thread chasing. They are not as sharp and tend to roll the metal back into place, more than just cut it off like a good set will do.

BEER FRIDGE. Enough said.
Kyle
Moderator

Interesting point on the cheap vs quality tap set. I hadn't thought of using my set that way. I've always been nervous to chase threads with a cutting tap.

MarineBob
Intermediate Driver

I use my tap to chase threads but you really should not do that. If you got it, a chase is a much better way to fix threads
Padgett
Instructor

Never cared for vernier calipers, too hard to read, though have a cheap set. Have dial calipers in both SAE and Metric. Nice thing about a dial, you can adjust the zero.
Driver17
Intermediate Driver

Plus one on the compressor--but less necessary with an electric impact gun.
I do wish I had taken the opportunity to learn welding from uncle. A friend of mine, years in the oilfield, does a lot of it. When I asked if he would get me started, he said he wouldn't: it's too late in my 60's!
One thing I could not do without now is my two-post lift. I realize you don't have a suitable garage. In looking for a place in a warmer climate, a proper work space with high ceilings to allow a lift, is not optional.
Islander
Detailer

Never too late to learn a skill. I took a welding class once, all the instructor did was show us how to turn on the machine, make the adjustments and then turned us loose with scraps to practice on - that's it for basic welding -Practice!
squarehead
New Driver

Driver17, it is not too late in your sixties. The new wire feed welders are really easy to learn. If you can operate a glue gun you can operate a wire feed welder. The only caveat (and an obvious one) to that statement is you MUST use proper safety equipment when welding but not glue gunning! Even as a novice you can fix a huge amount of things with a welder. Your fixes won't look as good as a pros TIG welds but with a very little practice they will be sufficient for function and safety. Check out the basic welding instruction vids at Weld.com on YouTube and you will be making great welds on the first day you try it guaranteed.

I use a Lincoln model 140 Pro Mig with Lincoln 211 inner-sheld wire. Miller makes a very similar model and you can not go wrong with either. One more trick is the auto-dimming helmets that are available today are great. They allow you to set up your weld with accurate gun position and not lose it with the head drop needed with the old style helmets. I use a Viking 3350 but there are a ton of other good ones to chose from. Good luck!
TonyT
Technician

Can't put air in tires with a battery...
Kyle
Moderator

I mean, you can though. Have used this little inflator almost exclusively for the last year since I use Rigid batteries for the rest of my cordless tools. It's awesome to have when I take the racing motorcycles out and want to be able to make air pressure adjustments without full shop air. I've set beads on a dozen tires with it and even filled a light truck tire from 7psi to 35 quickly and easily. Only problem is I can't use it to blow out carb passages like a tanked compressor. 

 

boduke
New Driver

I bought that Ridgid inflator for myself as a Christmas present and it has changed my life! Though I'd like one, I don't currently have space for a permanent shop-size air compressor--I would always put off dragging out the pancake compressor and the hose, making the noise, etc. That little guy makes checking all the tires in the fleet fun! The quick chuck is great, it's quiet, it has the auto-set or manual feature, comes with a 12V power port adapter (my only gripe is that this is not somehow stowable on the tool, but not sure where it could go anyway), etc.  I love this thing--I can easily check and top off all 5 tires on all 5 vehicles here.  Ha...sounds like a sponsored post--it's not.  Would definitely make the list of "Top Ridgid cordless tools".  Really enjoy your articles, Kyle.

C7W289
Intermediate Driver

Adding a few, wire brush for the drill for rust removal (don't let it grab your t-shirt, it will grab it like a rabid dog). A wire wheel on a bench grinder is great for cleaning up bolts and small parts. Dremel cut-off wheel, flex head ratchet, hose clamp ratcheting pliers, hose removal hooks, all are a big help when the need arises.
TonyT
Technician

A push broom, dust pan and a liquid-tight large trash can are also essential.
DaveH
Detailer

Also an old upright vaccum cleaner is great to zip up all the dust and rust without raising a cloud
Jnick
Advanced Driver

A small metal lathe is also something that is almost indispensable on older vehicles, making pins, bushings, and even screws can be done in a pinch instead of buying everything every time. Now days an inexpensive lathe can be had for less than $1000 and can do all kinds of things for many home tasks.
DaveH
Detailer

I just posted this, and I'd like to add to be sure that it has metal gears and highly recommend to get one with a milling machine as it's even more useful
OHCOddball
Advanced Driver

Add reusable large plastic bins and Ziploc bags to hold the parts you take off (label them). Dumping into unlabeled cardboard boxes is the way to lose and damage stuff. When it takes months to years to finish a project, you will appreciate the organization when putting it all back together. And DON'T stack it all on top of the car!!!!!
Padgett
Instructor

After 60 years of collecting tools (still have the first wrench). Just some comments:
Drill press: an X-Y table accessory makes life a lot easier than a simple vice.
Taps: Metric and SAE so two sets.
Books: "Machinery's Handbook" is the best general book though no car enthusiast should be without "The High Speed Internal Combustion Engine".
Calipers: I prefer a good dial caliper. No batteries to die. Same for tire pressure gauges
Agree, Fire extinguishers (several).
Jackstands. many and heavy, ramps and a medium rise scissors lift are also good.
Engine hoist: (have seen some incredibly dangerous things used and even on TV see hemis pulled in the 500 lb position. ).
MarineBob
Intermediate Driver

Can't argue with the calipers but for $10 the Harb Frt on sale set is a nice deal. For what most of us do, no real issue with accuracy, although I believe they are pretty good. One plus if the ability to switch back and forth to metric vs. US
Padgett
Instructor

On reflection, the whole subject of air and electric tools is too big not to be a separate article. Do not know how many air compressors I have from buzz bombs to tanks.
Grumpyoldcoot
Intermediate Driver

Love the garage pictured, but I'm not lucky enough to be able to squeeze three cars in to such a space and still include all the tools mentioned. I had to change the oil in my '38 Chev's LS6 engine yesterday with only Rhino Ramps to raise the front end enough to barely gain access to oil filter and drain plug. I would have traded my soul to the devil for a hydraulic or electric lift. Instead, I got to stretch my arm and suck in my stomach just enough to finish the job. Learned a few new curse words along the way......without wife present, of course.
Kyle
Moderator

I've smushed three cars in this garage before, but you are right that it makes actually working pretty tough! These days there is one car tucked offsite and one at home. The third went to a great young enthusiast in town but I'm lucky enough that it comes back from time to time. 

Padgett
Instructor

I generally change oil on the driveway with a pair of big Rhino Ramps. Driveway slopes down to street so on ramps the car is just about level, best to change oil. Also have a black 10 quart drain pan that fits under nicely.
After a lot of rumination bought a medium rise 7,000 lb scissors lift. No need for the vertical height of a two post, leaves wheels free for removal, wide enough center to drop a tranny or Fiero gas tank, & portable. Still prefer to change oil outside.
Glenn1
New Driver

I love my solvent tank for cleaning those grimy parts. Also for dipping my rag in to clean tge floor.