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I love when style blogs take on the subject of tools. I suppose if you write about “men’s issues” enough, you’ll eventually work your way around to tools. Not that tools are at all a “mens only” game. But it’s a subject that “men’s magazines” or blogs will eventually stumble upon — usually with pretty scary results.

Score one for Valet, however. Their recommendation for “the modern man’s” toolkit: a tape measure (“buy a durable one”), a hammer (“look for a lightweight fiberglass handle and a curved claw”), an adjustable wrench (“you don’t need a bulky or fancy set of socket wrenches”), a 4-in-1 screwdriver (“again, no set is necessary”), a utility knife (“three-position retractable blade”), and Vise-Grips (“think of these as pliers that won’t give up”).

And yes, I too agree that you sometimes do need the “fancy set of socket wrenches.” But think about who this article targets: guys who spend far more time picking out matching shirts and sweaters than they do working on old cars. For that crowd, this is (in my opinion at least) some pretty decent advice. Sure, you can find better tools for specific jobs. But you could do a hell of a lot around the house with just the tools in their kit.

This reminds me, too, of the kind of car kit my father used to assemble for each of his vehicles. To keep the kit small, he’d often ditch specific tools for adjustable ones. Admittedly, he always included one of those low-buck wrench sets from Harbor Freight — you know, the ones that come in a wrap-up case. But he’d also include a medium-sized adjustable wrench to catch anything in between the set’s sizing and a large adjustable to handle anything bigger than the set. I’m a fan of the 4-in-1 (or more-in-1) screwdrivers for compact kits. Bits are way smaller than drivers, so why waste space?

Anyway, kudos to Valet for passing on the over-the-top fancy stuff and offering some pretty sound advice.

The Modern Man’s Toolkit [Valetmag.com]


23 Responses to The “Modern Man’s Toolkit”

  1. Rembret says:

    I have friends that would do well to follow this advice. Of course, I’m glad to be one of the guys with the ‘fancy socket set’. I wouldn’t have it any other way. My wife gave me a metal brake for Christmas. I do love her so.

  2. aaron says:

    those are good, but i would add a multimeter. I use that around the house way more than I do a hammer (not to say that a hammer shouldnt be included). it can be any old multimeter – it just needs to be able to measure up to 120V, resistance, and beep when it encounters a connection. That’s enough to fix and check a whole slew of household problems.

  3. Dennis says:

    Aaron, I would have to disagree with the multimeter. For the crowd this “appears” to be aimed at recommending them a tool that puts them possibly in direct contact with electricity is a bad idea. Now while I find that have a multimeter around the house to be extremely valuable, I think the sweater vest crowd this article again “appears” to be aimed at would hurt them self. I on the other hand, would recommend an hex key set to tighten that ikea bookshelf.

  4. Nik says:

    I disagree about the adjustable wrench. They are so inconvenient to use. If you have to do more than tighten a nut by 1/2 turn, you are quickly going to get frustrated and be discouraged from trying to fix other things in the future. There is also a risk of rounding off the nut. The alternative to the “fancy socket wrenches”: a non-fancy socket wrench set from HF for $15-$20. It will serve you well for a lifetime (under light use, maybe not if you use it hard every week)

  5. Mac says:

    Pretty good list for the target audience. I’d probably add, at the top of the list no less, safety glasses and gloves. Especially with the hammer!

    You can usually get a hex bit set for the X-in-1 screwdriver, saving both cost and space. I see more and more torx heads too…

  6. Averatu says:

    I use my adjustable wrench, or as we call it, ‘shifting spanner’, every day. Cheap ones suck, a decent one sets nicely and wont move, better than having a set of spanners in my tool belt. Metrosexuals would probably not wear safety gear unless it matches their outfit.

  7. dreamcatcher says:

    I only recommend that every homeowner have two things:

    A checkbook and my business card!

    DC…..as in Dreamcatcher Design&Build

  8. fred says:

    While I’m with dreamcatcher and think that the DIY ethic is sometimes overrated, it is hard to imagine living as an adult in an apartment or a house without some basic set of tools. Do you need to call soemone – for every picture that needs hanging, window that needs measuring for shades or blinds, screw that loosens-up and so on. Tools that might get added to the basic kit – would be a paint brush , roller frame/cover/extension pole and pan, razor-blade sraper. If you have a chair that starts to get loose – bottle of glue and a web clamp might get added. Faucet washers are becoming a thing of the past but a strap wrench to help you get at that ubiquitous Delta ball – or even to open that pickle jar – might come in handy. Then how about adding a plunger and/or a closet auger to get at the small clogs – leaving the bigger ones to my guys with the machine.

  9. Brian Dolge says:

    I would agree with adding a plunger and safety gear. I also think the multimeter is a bad idea, maybe a plugtester but generally if we’re discussing house current and style mag readers it’s probably better to have them phone for help. Similarly painting gear is going to be bought and disposed of per job; who wants to keep that dirty old stuff around!! eewww!!
    Glue (super, wood and silicone), tape (duct, masking and double sided), caulk and zipties are all consumables and don’t count.
    What I would add is a cordless drill (and bits), a step ladder, and a 2 foot level. If you want to cut things then a sabre saw with multiple blades is a versatile choice.

  10. 99octane says:

    I have a complete set of tools for my bike that goes everywhere the bike goes.
    Vehicles are usually very standardized in what fasteners they use, and even a bike like my Harley Davidson (which for unfathomable reasons uses phillips screws, Torx screws, Hex screws, flat screws and those weird screws on the brake lines) needs just a very small tool pack. Small enough to be conveniently carried around on the bike itself at all times. So I don’t see any problem in having a complete set of wrenches for a car.
    An adjustable crescent wrench can be a real saver. And you can do a good job with it. You only need more time and patience.
    As for the article, seems to me pretty good advice.

  11. Joe C. says:

    Back when I was a full-time motorcycle mechanic, we always said the best way to increase shop work was to sell repair manuals.

  12. Gary says:

    A friend of mine freely admits to having no knowledge of tools or any basic DIY beyond changing a light bulb.

    He’s popular with the ladies and always matches. My wife thinks he’s a metrosexual. After she explained it to me, I had to agree. He and his exwife stayed with us once. He took just as long as she did to get ready to go out.

    See now, I won the wife lottery. My wife is a cute electrical engineer (yes they exist) who likes wood carving. And she’s better than me at electrical work.

    Several years ago, he bought a new house after his divorce. The north side of which was freezing. We went down to the crawl space and the main duct on that side of the house was completely disconnected and hanging loose. The crawl space was nice and warm though.

    Easy fix. Only one sheet metal screw missing. One problem. No phillips screw driver present in the house or garage. Yes I had one in my truck.

    Made him go to Lowes and make some purchases (a bit more complete than what I see above). He was in his mid 30s at the time.

    He does marvel at my shop in the basement though. To be honest, he thinks I’m nuts. And I know his Dad made furniture. So, I guess the gene skipped a generation.

  13. Ed says:

    If you read the article, you’ll eventually buy the tools, don’t wait until after the need arises.
    Miscellaneous bashing aside, amateurs should not use hammers and nails. They’ll be happier screwing around and/or up with a selection of Robertson screws and a powerdriver. While they’re in that aisle they should buy a bunch of hollow wall anchors, and the fat thread screws made to anchor into drywall.
    Much of the stuff other people give up on and want help with will involve tiny stuff. Get some needlenose pliers, small screwdrivers in a multi-bit set, a little flashlight that won’t roll away and maybe a magnifier.

  14. steveb83 says:

    I guess this is a decent enough set for someone who can’t fix anything. It’ll let them think they tried before calling a professional.

    This must be a magazine for male-bimbos.

    I’m going to go take my “fancy” socket set now and go save myself several hundred dollars again this week. Bye!

  15. Eric G. says:

    the subject of “Car Kits” came up in the post, and it made me wonder, what does everyone keep in theirs?

    In my older car (87 Audi) I keep a lot more tools than in my “New” Car (01 Prius). this ends up being a case of the prius being mostly non field serviceable. but I still keep various pliers, zip-ties, a crescent wrench, fuse kit etc in it.

  16. Woodrow5000 says:

    Whoa, some judgy folks out there. listen, this is perfect for the demographic. you have to start somewhere. Not everyone grows up in a handy family. But, when you decide to buy a house, sweater vest or not, you need the basics. Granted, as time goes on, you may or may not want to upgrade and add items. But, as someone who began this way in college, it will get you some starter tools and a step in the right direction. And yes, my tie and shirt match, but I’m also in the midst of several projects in my fledgling shop. You can live in both worlds.

  17. metis says:

    i’ll second the recommendation of a drill/driver. one of the 12v standby charge little guys and a cheapo kit of bits on hex shafts and drivers will do everything from let them put a pilot hole in to remove a bolt quickly.

    i’d add a pair of needle nose pliers, or say that the visegrips should be needle nose. regular visegrips always seem to get used to round off things more than the flatter needle nose, and you want something to reach in on occasion.

    i’d say the klien 11-in-1 driver, as it includes so many bits that have gotten quite common, even though it doesn’t take generic hex as well as a kit of driver bits.

  18. Dave says:

    Whoever picked their photos didn’t read the article, and that’s some tape measure they describe there.

  19. SCWetherbee says:

    Everyone seems to be forgetting the duct tape, essential for lots more than you would think possible.

  20. Kevin says:

    everyone should have a Walt Kowalski tool kit. WD-40, a vise grip, and a roll of duct tape. “Any man worth his salt can fix almost any problem with this stuff alone.”

  21. Jim Van Zandt says:

    I’ll add my vote for needle nose pliers – if only to hold the nail while you’re aiming at it.

    Several people have suggested duct tape. I recommend gaffer tape instead: easier to handle, doesn’t leave goop behind, more permanent. Somewhat more expensive, though.

  22. moco says:

    you can do alot of damage with those simple tools. good if your on a budget. luckly i got a great deal on a tool chest with fairly good tools. i paid 210 USD from some guy. had pliers, sockets ( metric and SAE) combo wrenches ( metric and SAE) and screw drivers. most of the stuff was craftsman and alot of cobalt so it was alright.

  23. Eddie says:

    I like the list as part of a basic set of tools, but if this were all someone owned I would say they don’t own enough to handle even the most basic needs of your average home owner.

    There is no saw. You really need a basic cordless drill and a few drill bits, not a big expense if you buy a low end one. You do need a few basic screwdrivers because you will find instances where the interchangeable bits simply won’t get the job done.

    One pair of pliers is not enough. Needlenose pliers would be needed as well.

    Instead of the suggested multimeter how about one of those plug checkers or a simple circut tester, cheap and easy to find.

    In short this list is just not enough to do much of anything but they are needed componets of a good basic set.

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