EDIT:  Apparently I screwed up the publish date and it fell to like the third page of the blog.  Hopefully it’s fixed now.

So, I’ve narrowed down my tool kit to include all of the following… if it’ll all fit:

Multi-bit screwdriver:  This will provide the great bulk of my turning needs.  And by selecting one of those drivers that uses detachable bits, I get the flexibility of an entire screwdriver set, hex key set, and torx set with the same footprint as just 2-3 screwdrivers.  You lose some maximum strength by going this rout, but the space savings and overall utility gain makes it an easy trade-off.  I might also consider tossing in a strong #2 Phillips and medium flat-bladed screwdriver to cover my bases a bit better.

10″ Pry Bar: Initially I was considering including  a large flat-bladed screwdriver to use for leverage, but then I realized that a better tool exists that isn’t much bigger.  A 10″ pry bar is just what the mechanic ordered.

16 oz Claw Hammer:  Two kinds of mechanical force in one.  A claw hammer is a no-brainier for just about any tool kit.

As a note here, the pry bar and the hammer could be combined into one tool, as suggested by maruiceabarry on my previous post.  He suggested a foobar, or what is called a FatMax by Stanley tools.  It would be a great way to go if I can find one and if it’ll fit into the toolbox.  Since I don’t recall seeing one at my local hardware stores, I’m going to leave it off the hit-list for the time being.

Small Socket Set:  A small socket set is comprised of a 3/8″ drive rachet and 2 sets of sockets (English and Metric).  It has the same footprint as about 3 screwdrivers and will provide most of the bolt turning needs under 1-1/4 inches / 20mm.

2 Crescent Wrenches: When you don’t have enough room for a full wrench set, a pair of crescent wrenches will do a very good job of subbing for them.  A crescent wrench is another no-brainer for an on-the-go tool kit, but two of them allow for easer counter-turning without taking up that much more room.  I might use two different sizes to cover a wider overall range.

#5 Set of Locking Pliers (Vice Grips): Locking pliers is another one of those no-brainer inclusions.  They’re a great, quick way to grip something and have the added bonus of also being pretty good at turning things.  It can make for an impromptu clamp in a pinch as well.

4 Piece Pliers Set: Needle-nose, lineman’s, slip-joint, and side-cutters.  These 4-piece sets provide a lot of what you need from pliers in a relatively small set of tools.  When saving space, the side-cutters can be jettisoned easily enough for the cutting surfaces of the lineman’s pliers.

2 Hemostats: 1 curved, 1 straight. Hemostats are very useful in an array of situations that require fine gripping.  I’ve never regretted including them in any tool set I’ve built.

Utility Knife with extra blades:  Utility knives are small, but provide surprising cutting power.  They’re easy to nominate for inclusion in this set.  The new folding kind are even more compact than the old-style case variants.

Duct Tape:  There is a trick my father taught me during our backpacking days.  Duct tape by itself comes on a huge spool with a lot of wasted space, but you can cut down a lot on that by wrapping a bunch of it around a chunk of dowel or an old film cartridge case (which you can then store things inside).  Saves space and you have duct tape for those emergencies.  I also own a packet of “pocket duct tape” that I got as a stocking stuffer several years ago; it’s a flat folded roll of duct tape so it takes up very little room.  There’s about 10′ on the little flat roll, so just enough to be sorta useful, but not enough for more drastic needs.

3 oz WD-40 can: WD-40 makes a very compact can of their signature lubricating spray.  This fits very nicely into a compact tool kit.  The 3 oz cans can be hard to find, so the 4 0z can of liquid wrench can sub in for this in a pinch.

1 oz tub of grease:  These are about the size of lip balm and are a good source when you suddenly need a little grease; you’ll see them occasionally in hardware or auto parts stores.  Alternately, I’ve got a big tin of grease and I could  scoop some out into a suitably sized container (film or pill container would be perfect). My preference is a lithium-12 complex bearing grease, as it’s versatile, inexpensive, and readily available (and I already have some).

Electrical Tape:  Small and is a good multi-purpose tape.  Always good to have a roll on hand.

Keyhole Saw:  It’s basically a one-sided hacksaw that takes up quite a bit less space.  Alternately, a 10″ compact hacksaw would fill the same need.

LED Flashlight with Lithium Batteries: Since the weather in Wisconsin tends to exist at one extreme or the other, having a battery that can take that kind of punishment is pretty much required.  Lithium Batteries have the widest operating range of all commercially available AA cells, so they’re the way to go.  Alternately, a hand-operated flashlight is a good thing to have on hand.  I’ve got one in my car’s emergency kit.  The issue with mine is that it’s a bit bulky, so not ideal when doing repairs or other tool work.

Zip Ties: A small bundle of an array of zip-ties provides a compact source of temporary or even semi-permanent affixing.

Bullet Level: A small level with a magnet on it.  Great for those sudden leveling needs.

25′ Compact Tape Measure:  Small and provides adequate measurement for most sudden needs.

12′ metal ruler:  These are small, flat, and are a great straight edge and measuring tool.

Bastard Cut Mill File:  The quintessential file.  Flat, sturdy, and good at filing.

Now, that probably looks like a lot, and it is.  However, most of the tools above are very small so I think it shouldn’t be an issue.  As a whole, I think they will fit into my small toolbox with some room to spare for some future additions as I see needs arise.

I’ve got several optional tools in mind, such as a soldering set, channel lock, quick square/machinists square, and a magnetic pick-up tool, but they’re rather special use so it’ll all be based on if I have extra room to play with.  I’ve got some gift cards to some of the big-box hardware stores, so I’ll likely be using those this coming weekend to finish up my toolbox.  After that, I’ll probably work on posting what a body should have in their emergency car kit.

If any of you see a glaring hole in my tool-kit above, let me know.  If it is indeed an oversight, I’ll toss it into the prototype list.

Some things you didn’t see here but were not included on purpose:

Cordage:  I have a bunch of paracord and nylon cord already in my trunk to use for tie-downs.  In a situation where I need cordage, I’ve already got it in my trunk, just not part of the tool kit.

Work Gloves:  Amazingly, I’ve got a pair of work gloves in my glove-box.

Eye-Protection:  Also in my glove-box.

-Confusion is a state of mind, or is it?

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