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As much as most of those end/beginning-of-the-year/decade lists annoy me, I did catch myself reflecting a bit and wondering about the first tool I purchased with my own hard-earned cash when I was but a wee lad. I think it was an Xcelite® Series 99® set similar to the one pictured above. I still have the original handle, drivers, and case, but mine does not have the clear plastic. Everything still works well, although some of the drivers are getting a little beat up. Over the years I have added additional drivers and a ratcheting T-handle.

And so began my happy journey down the slippery slope of Toolmongerdom. What was the first tool you purchased? Do you still have it?

14-Piece Series 99® Multi-purpose Set [Manufacturer’s Site]
Xcelite 99PR Via Amazon [What’s This?]
Street Pricing [Google Products]

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32 Responses to What Was The First Tool You Purchased?

  1. ToolGuyd says:

    As far as I can recall, the first tool that I ever bought for myself was a 30W soldering iron from Radio Shack.

  2. Chris W says:

    My first (at my current job in 1982) was also the Xcelite 99, but mine has a cloth flap. What a great kit! My first (at home in 1973) was a Lafayette Radio Electronics 25W pistol grip soldering iron.

  3. Ben Granucci says:

    My first “real” tool was a Craftsman 8″ adjustable wrench. Before that, all of the tools I bought were “cheapies” that were more for the sake of owning a tool than actually using it.

  4. Gough says:

    I’m not sure if it was my 16oz Plumb fiberglass-handled hammer or a Stanley #199 utility knife. Bought them both in the ’70s and still have them both, although a lot of other hammers and utility knives have come and gone. I use some of my other hammers a lot more often, but that one’s still in my tool cabinet. I think the main reason that I still have the #199 is that nobody wants to steal a non-retractable-blade knife.

  5. Lucas M says:

    After impressing my father by going to do some brush clearing and maintence on a rental property I took my reward and bought a dewalt corded drill that fifteen years later is still doing proud duty in my new shop among all its younger siblings.

  6. ArmchairDIY says:

    I don’t recall the first tool I bought, but I do remember the first I owned. As a child of maybe 6 or 7 I remember getting a tool set in a wooden box. Hammer, screwdrivers, A little handsaw a vise and a few other assorted tools. That same year my grandfather made me a wooden workbench for Christmas. that was over thirty years ago and I still remember it very well. That was the start of my becoming a tool addict. An addiction I will struggle with until death I’m afraid.

  7. steve says:

    I Durabuilt tool set from Target. I still use it.

  8. river1 says:

    my father had just enough tools to get me in troubleso it was a little older when i bought MY first tool. the first tool i remember buying was a tool set from sears. it was 5 or 6 hundred bucks and after i got it home i spread them all out on the floor. my father took one look when he got home and said now what are you going to with them. after telling him i didn’t know, he took me back to sears to buy a decent tool chest to keep them in. later in life when i had out grown the tool chest it went back to my father’s with a good assortment of tools so when i did any work at his place i had the tool i needed (most of the time) to do the job. after he passed the tools got split up amongst the male members of my family after i took what i wanted.

    later jim

  9. reekwired says:

    Weren’t the Xcelite handles the ones that ended up smelling like puke after a while? I remember opening my father’s toolbox and being totally overtaken by the smell. Did anyone ever find a way to avoid this?

  10. Chris W says:

    Reekwired, thankfully mine have never smellled bad.

    Some plastic tool handles which get little use do look like mold is growing on them. Is that common?

  11. mdrosen says:

    My father gave me a ball-peen hammer when I was fairly young which I used to use to try to fix things with nails, to destroy other things, and other general mischief. But the first tool I bought on my own was at Radio Shack, an Archer mini-set of nut drivers with one large handle which would fit over the small molded handles. I still have it, but I can’t seem to find a use for it now.

  12. David Bryan says:

    When I was 16 or so I was putting shingles on houses (when I started that’s exactly what I was doing, by the bundle, two bundles at a time) and I think the first tools I bought were a True Temper claw hammer and a Stanley utility knife. The hammer’s been kept in my Daddy’s tool box for about 30 years and I still use the knife.

  13. Kris says:

    3/8″ Skil Drill & HSS bit set back in the early 70’s from K-Mart. Sadly, the drill self-destructed about 20 years later. I still have the case with bits – I’m sure none of them are still original – in my toolbag. I go to these if I’m drilling into stuff like cheap wood, drywall, etc.

  14. Jerry says:

    Oh no! Now I have to reveal my age here. My first real tools were several complete sockets from SK-Wayne. That was their name back in those days. I worked for a Ford dealership doing oil changes, radio installs and other such “fun” things. That was way back in 1964! See? Told you I was getting old. Anyway, I still have almost all of the sockets and ratchets – a couple have left over the course of 46 years but they still shine like new! And they still get a lot of use.

  15. beano_t says:

    I think I was born with tools in hand.

  16. I don’t remember the first tool I purchased, but I remember the first tool I purchased when I bought my house was a DeWalt 12″ Miter saw. First thing we did when we moved in was rip up some pink stained and melted (damn candles) carpet in one of the bedrooms and put down hardwood.

  17. fred says:

    Some of my early tool purchases were to work on cars.
    I remember a Branick Ball Joint press.
    My auto tool store sold Blackhawk – not SK Wayne

  18. PutnamEco says:

    I used to be into model airplanes, My first tool purchase was a starter kit for Cox glow plug motors, which consisted of a couple of glow plug/cylinder wrenches, plunger type fuel pump, battery holder/plug clip, along with a can of fuel. Was purchased as a result of working on-wrecking a couple of motors with pliers. I learned a life lesson there, about using the right tool for the job.

  19. Yadda says:

    The first tool I bought was a cheap metric socket to fit a nut on my ’73 Audi Fox. That was the last car I owned that I could actually do more than change the oil and the brakes.

  20. Mark Lewis says:

    I bought, at no small expense, a nice Stanley socket set, SAE and Metric, in a blowmolded organizer container. That was in 79 and I am still using them, tho’ the “snap” gave up the ghost about 5 years ago and I fixed it with some industrial velcro and short drywall screws…(Is there anything that they CAN’T do?)

  21. Mark Lewis says:

    They look like I bought ’em yesterday, incidentally.

  22. johnnyp says:

    A complete set of 3/8″ & 1/4″ drive Benz-o-matic sockets , SAE and Metric in the early 70’s. Didn’t have the money for Craftsman, still have , still functional

  23. Davo says:

    One of the best “toys” I had in childhood, was the 100-in-1 electronics project set, from Radio Shack, which got me interested in building things, and taking them apart. The first tools I bought, myself, as a teenager, were probably a soldering iron, and some precision screwdivers, again from Radio Shack.

    I think the “best” single tool I have ever purchased, and the one that really cemented my fascination with tools, of all types, is my 9.6 volt DeWalt cordless drill, which I bought fifteen years ago, and still use today.

  24. mdrosen says:

    @Davo – those 100-in-1 kits were awesome! Thanks for reminding me of it.

  25. fred says:

    I took a look at some of the old tools that I bought when I was in my youth as a car enthusiast. Aside from recalling that they were probably all made in the USA – I also recall that cars seemed to require a lot more work. Here’s a partial list of the antiquated tools I bought:

    COMPANY PART_NO NAME

    BLACKHAWK 30634 STOPLIGHT SWITCH SOCKET
    BLACKHAWK ET-1329 UNIVERSAL JOINT PRESS SET 4PC.
    BRANICK INDUSTRIES BJP-508 BALL JOINT PRESS SET (8PC.)
    COOK 120 LEAD HAMMER
    CORNWELL P3220 IMPACT SOCKET – 1/2IN. DR.
    DIAMOND HB-18 BATTERY PLIERS
    DOUGLASS 126 HEADLINING TOOL
    DOUGLASS 152 REVEAL MOLDING TOOL – STRAIGHT
    DOUGLASS 186 HEADREST RELEASE TOOL
    DOUGLASS 169 L REVEAL MOLDING TOOL – LEFT
    DOUGLASS 169 R REVEAL MOLDING TOOL – RIGHT
    FAIRMOUNT 1060 DOLLY BLOCK
    HEIN WERNER CS-515 JACK STANDS
    HERBRAND 193 DRAIN PLUG WRENCH
    HERBRAND H91309 PITMAN ARM PULLER
    HUFFY 3174 DRAIN PAN
    HUSKY CS-43 RATCHET HANDLE
    IMPERIAL-EASTMAN 93-FB DOUBLE FLARE KIT (7PC.)
    KAR-TOOL 189 HARMONIC BALANCER PULLER
    KAR-TOOL 192 PULLEY PULLER
    KAR-TOOL 510 SPRING COMPRESSOR
    K-D – EASCO HAND TOOLS 2058 DOOR HINGE WRENCH
    K-D – EASCO HAND TOOLS 2065 DRUM BRAKE SPRING TOOL
    K-D – EASCO HAND TOOLS 2147 OLDS DISC BRAKE CALIPER WRENCH
    K-D – EASCO HAND TOOLS 2175 DISC BRK RO FIXTURE SET (4PC.)
    K-D – EASCO HAND TOOLS 2202 DELCO-REMY LOCK RING TOOL
    K-D – EASCO HAND TOOLS 2203 FAN BLADE WRENCH – 16 IN. LONG
    K-D – EASCO HAND TOOLS 2206 IGNITION WIRE HOLDER
    K-D – EASCO HAND TOOLS 2220 HOSE CLAMP CUTTER
    K-D – EASCO HAND TOOLS 2330 DOOR HANDLE SPRING INSTALLER
    K-D – EASCO HAND TOOLS 2516 HINGE ALIGNING TOOL
    K-D – EASCO HAND TOOLS 3341 PARKING BRAKE SPRING PLIERS
    K-D – EASCO HAND TOOLS 0018 (18) HORN WRENCH
    K-D – EASCO HAND TOOLS 0103 (103) DISTRIBUTOR TOWER BRUSH
    K-D – EASCO HAND TOOLS 0104 (104) DISTRIBUTOR WRENCH – 3/8″ DR.
    K-D – EASCO HAND TOOLS 0114 (114) SPRING TOOL
    K-D – EASCO HAND TOOLS 0115 (115) BREAKER ARM TOOL
    K-D – EASCO HAND TOOLS 0116 (116) VOLTAGE REGULATOR TOOL
    K-D – EASCO HAND TOOLS 0117 (117) OFFSET DRIVER TOOL
    K-D – EASCO HAND TOOLS 0118 (118) VOLTAGE REGULATOR TOOL
    K-D – EASCO HAND TOOLS 0122 (122) DISTRIBUTOR TOOL
    K-D – EASCO HAND TOOLS 0123 (123) POLARITY TESTER
    K-D – EASCO HAND TOOLS 0126 (126) CIRCUIT TESTER
    K-D – EASCO HAND TOOLS 0127 (127) POWER PAK
    K-D – EASCO HAND TOOLS 0128 (128) DIODE PROBE
    K-D – EASCO HAND TOOLS 0130 (130) DISTRIBUTOR ADJUSTER
    K-D – EASCO HAND TOOLS 0136 (136) BULB PLIERS
    K-D – EASCO HAND TOOLS 0138 (138) BULB PLIERS
    K-D – EASCO HAND TOOLS 0139 (139) BULB SOCKET BRUSH
    K-D – EASCO HAND TOOLS 0149 (149) COMPRESSION GAUGE
    K-D – EASCO HAND TOOLS 0165 (165) SPARK PLUG FEELER GAUGES
    K-D – EASCO HAND TOOLS 0184 (184) ALT. PULLEY NUT TOOL – 1/2″DR.
    K-D – EASCO HAND TOOLS 0204-R (204-R) BATTERY TERMINAL SPREADER
    K-D – EASCO HAND TOOLS 0206 (206) BATTERY BRUSH
    K-D – EASCO HAND TOOLS 0233 (233) BALL JNT INSP GAUGE SET (4PC.)
    K-D – EASCO HAND TOOLS 0275 (275) DRUM BRAKE LINING GAUGE
    K-D – EASCO HAND TOOLS 0278 (278) DRUM BRAKE RESET GAUGE
    K-D – EASCO HAND TOOLS 0283 (283) BRAKE BLEEDER WRENCH
    K-D – EASCO HAND TOOLS 0285 (285) DRUM BRAKE SPRING TOOL
    K-D – EASCO HAND TOOLS 0287 (287) BRAKE ADJUSTER
    K-D – EASCO HAND TOOLS 0296 (296) BRAKE PISTON CLAMP
    K-D – EASCO HAND TOOLS 0425 (425) BULB PLIERS
    K-D – EASCO HAND TOOLS 0430 (430) DOOR HANDLE PLIERS
    K-D – EASCO HAND TOOLS 0441 (441) MOLDING CLIP PLIERS
    K-D – EASCO HAND TOOLS 0443 (443) MOLDING NUT TOOL – 1/4″ DR.
    K-D – EASCO HAND TOOLS 0465 (465) SHOCK ABSORBER TOOL
    K-D – EASCO HAND TOOLS 0715 (715) NUT CRACKER
    K-D – EASCO HAND TOOLS 0730 (730) SPARK PLUG CHASER
    KENT-MOORE J-21932 SW-BEZEL & FERRULE NUT WRENCH
    KENT-MOORE J-22727-2 ELECTRICAL TERMINAL REMOVER
    KENT-MOORE J-22769 NEEDLE SEAT REMOVER/INSTALLER
    KENT-MOORE J-23417 CHOKE CLIP INSTALLER
    KENT-MOORE J-23699 A/C RADIATOR CAP TESTER
    KENT-MOORE J-23709 COMBINATION VALVE ACTUATOR
    KENT-MOORE J-23738 MITY-VAC SET (5PC.)
    KENT-MOORE J-2810 DOOR HINGE WRENCH
    KENT-MOORE J-9789-111 CHOKE BENDING TOOL
    MEAD ME-10 DELCO POINTS ADJ TOOL SET 4PC.
    MEAD ME-156 DENT PULLER SUCTION CUP
    OWATONNA TOOL 950 BEARING SPLITTER
    OWATONNA TOOL 1010 PULLER – 3-JAW
    OWATONNA TOOL 7019 DISTRIBUTOR NUT WRENCH
    OWATONNA TOOL 7031 STEERING WHL.LOCK PLATE REMVR.
    OWATONNA TOOL 7078 SPARK PLUG BOOT PULLER
    OWATONNA TOOL 7200 CHARGING SYSTEM ANALYZER
    OWATONNA TOOL 25883 SHOCK ABSORBER SOCKET-4.5 IN L
    OWATONNA TOOL 27263 SHOCK ABSORBER SOCKET – 2IN L.
    OWATONNA TOOL 27264 SHOCK ABSORBER OFFSET WRENCH
    OWATONNA TOOL 32673 SHOCK ABSORBER L-WRENCH
    OWATONNA TOOL 1011A PULLER – 2 OR 3-JAW
    PLEWS 75-030 BATTERY FILLER
    PLEWS OIL CAN SPOUT
    PROTO 216 BRAKE SPRING PLIERS
    PROTO 250 HORSESHOE RING BRAKE PLIERS
    PROTO 1427 BODY HAMMER – WOOD HANDLE
    PROTO 1430 BRASS HAMMER – WOOD HANDLE
    PROTO 2304 OIL FILTER WRENCH – 1/2IN. DR.
    PROTO 2305 COTTER PIN TOOL
    PROTO 2307 RADIATOR HOSE SPOON
    PROTO 4510 STUD REMOVER/INSTALLER
    PROTO 6524 STOPLIGHT SWITCH SOCKET
    PROTO 6540 DISTRIBUTOR NUT WRENCH
    PROTO 6545 SHOCK ABSORBER SEPARATOR BAR
    PROTO 6563 WHEEL HUB TOOL
    PROTO DT-40 DWELL-TACHOMETER
    PROTO PTL-10 TIMING LIGHT
    RIMAC TOOLS PD-10 SCREW STARTER – PHILLIPS
    ROBERTSHAW JB745-3 RADIATOR PRESSURE TESTER
    ROBINAIR 10640 BELT TENSION GAUGE
    ROBINAIR 10649 DISC BRAKE PISTON COMP. RING
    ROBINAIR 10650 DISC BRAKE PISTON COMP. RING
    ROBINAIR 10655 DISC BRAKE BOOT INSTALLER
    ROBINAIR 10656 DISC BRAKE BOOT INSTALLER
    ROBINAIR 23709 DISC BRAKE SPACER
    S&G TOOL AID 87675 GM DOOR SPRING COMPRESSOR
    SEARS-CRAFTSMAN 244-2114 VACUUM GAUGE (PENSKE)
    SEARS-CRAFTSMAN 28.21018 (2PC.) EXHAUST GAS ANALYZER (PENSKE)
    SEARS-CRAFTSMAN 28-4952 GREASE GUN
    SEARS-CRAFTSMAN 28-4958 FLEX HOSE
    SEARS-CRAFTSMAN 28-4959 GREASE GUN ADAPTER – RGT ANGL
    SEARS-CRAFTSMAN 28KT-2145 CURRENT INDICATOR METER
    SK WAYNE 9710 LUG WRENCH – 6 PT. “+ BAR”
    STANDARD DISTRIBUTOR POINT FILE
    STANT SVT-260A VACUUM TESTER
    THEXTON 304 ALTERNATOR FULL-FIELDER
    ULLMAN D1 SCREW STARTER
    UTICA 525 BRAKE SPRING PLIERS
    VIM 176 FAN BELT WRENCH
    WILDE 72 SPARK PLUG GAPPING PLIERS
    WILLIAMS B-15 SPEEDER
    WILLIAMS BTW-1RC TORQUE WRENCH – 3/8IN.DR.CLICK
    WILLIAMS BTW2RCF TORQUE WRENCH – 3/8IN.DR.CLICK
    WILLIAMS SB-30 DRAG LINK SOCKET – 1/2IN. DR.
    WILLIAMS SB-40 DRAG LINK SOCKET – 1/2IN. DR.
    WILLIAMS STW-3RCF TORQUE WRENCH – 1/2IN.DR.CLICK
    XCELITE 112 DISTRIBUTOR TOOL

  26. Eric R says:

    @ Fred

    You sir, are to organized. 🙂

  27. mr. man says:

    early 70’s’, about $40 worth of Craftsman tools (mail order). I’ve added to the combo wrenches over the years and still use them in the garage. Having five or six wrench sets used to annoy me till I realized I don’t have to walk very far to pick one up.

  28. Dan says:

    An auto store car jack and jack stands set and a cheap no-name SAE/Metrick socket set in a zip up canvas case. I bought a better quality ratchet to replace the cheapie it came with.

    The jack and stands have since gone to my brother, but the socket set is kept in the trunk for emergencies.

  29. Jeff Northcutt says:

    In 1978 I hired on with the Pipefitters union on a College Summer Program. They told me I needed a wood rule and a pair of tongue and groove pliers. My first purchase was a Lufkin #966 and a Crescent R210C T&G. Pretty ironic since I went to work for Cooper 3 years later in 1982! I still have the tools!

  30. jim says:

    Well written article and great website. Very informative. Keep up the good work!

  31. Sean says:

    Fred I know this post is from 2010 but I’ve looked all over and I can’t really get a good description

  32. Sean says:

    Sorry Fred I wasn’t done. I accidentally hit send! Fat fingers! So anyways I have a proto 4510 stud puller and installer from what it says on it and it was on your list. Ok so now what I’m really wondering is it for automotive studs? Is it a jobsite tool? And either way how in the hell do you goin about using the damn thing? If you do by some lucky chance see this and respond, thank you very much ahead of time!

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