The right stuff

An ongoing and frequently updated place for the general tools and supplies we use and like enough to recommend.

added: 08 06 20

Long nose markers $4-10

I discovered these a few years ago trying my hand at tool shadowing in foam (a storage strategy where you keep each tool in a silhouette of itself) - these were the recommended marker for tracing the tool outlines that get cut into the foam. We ended up photographing the tools and then laser cutting the foam, but since then I've tried several versions of these long nose markers - Dixon, FastCap, and Pica - they all work great and we continue to find uses for them. The felt tip diameter is almost the same as the long thin nose, which lets you mark and trace things that would otherwise be impossible with a standard marker (or even a pencil).

added: 08 06 20

Weidmüller Stripax automatic wire strippers $100

For repetitive stripping of small and medium gauge stranded wire, I haven't come across a better tool. The Stripax automatically adjusts to any wire size within it's range (the version we use accepts 28-10 gauge wire) and allows you to adjust the force of the stripping jaws to make sure you aren't damaging the conductors. An adjustable back stop provides for consistent strip length and my personal favorite feature is a switch in the handle that allows you to set the distance the waste insulation is moved during operation. You have the option to completely remove the insulation or just separate it from the wire, leaving the conductor protected until you pull the insulation off. If you roll the waste insulation between your fingers as you remove it, the stranded wires come out perfectly twisted.

added: 07 10 20

Mitutoyo Absolute Digimatic calipers $130

You can spend a lot less on a very good pair of calipers, but these are well worth their price. The biggest benefit to this style of caliper is the absolute measurement - which means they always read out the correct dimension without having to reset their origin and the digital readout updates much faster than lower end calipers. The batteries in these also seem to last forever, I've yet to change these out (its been 3 years) and even the mid-range calipers we use tend to need new batteries once a year.

added: 07 10 20

Morakniv chisel knife $12

Designed for Scandinavian carpenters, it's cheap, stays sharp through a lot of abuse (I've yet to resharpen mine), and for construction and renovation work the combination blade style goes from strange to indispensable the first time you use it.

added: 07 10 20

MaxiFlex Ultimate gloves $3 to $6

We use these in the machine shop and for oily/dirty general maintenance (I keep a pair in my car for emergency wrenching). The nitrile coating is durable, super grippy, and still allows for feeling in the fingers. When the gloves are too filthy to use we toss them in a bin to be washed - we're on the fifth round for some of our gloves and they're still holding up fine.

added: 07 10 20

Uncle Bill's Sliver Grippers $10 for 2

Inexpensive and very well designed - they have precisely ground tips and a wide flexure that keeps the tips aligned. They store in an accompanying hang tab that fits nicely on a keyring (I use them as zipper pulls). There might be better tweezers out there, but the best pair is the one you have with you and these have yet to fail me at pulling a splinter. I've been giving these as gifts long enough to have run out of people to give them to.

added: 07 10 20

Thread Checker reference $60

Somewhat of a luxury, but saves a lot of time when you're trying to figure out what size thread something is or needs. We keep these by our CAD workstation - having a physical reference around for threaded holes and fasteners is incredibly helpful when designing.