The top 5 most important tools every shop should have

Even though picking our favorite tools can be like trying to pick the favorite child, there are definitely a few items we find ourselves relying on most when elbow-deep in one of our many project carsHere are some tools we can’t live without. 

Did we miss any? What are some tools you swear by?

Presented by CRC Industries.

Recent videos
earlybroncoguy1 New Reader
4/27/21 6:05 p.m.

Readers (magnifying glasses)

Cordless impact

Vise on a stand (old wheel as a base, pipe, 1/4" plate)

Safety glasses and earplugs

Hydraulic lift

Hardware size/thread checker



Propane torch

Punches/drifts of various sizes and materials

Lots of hammers

Extension cord reel

Air hose reel


aircooled MegaDork
4/27/21 6:16 p.m.
  • Vice Grips
  • Duct Tape
  • WD-40
  • Shotgun
captdownshift (Forum Supporter)
captdownshift (Forum Supporter) UltimaDork
4/27/21 6:21 p.m.

Cordless impact

Beer frig (to have others come over to do the work)

A white board, if you have a computer, a projector works and enables other options when it comes to masking for projects. 

A get out of trouble kit, this consist of extractors sockets, tap and dies, helicoils, acetylene torch, punches and vice.   (Note that after this kit is utilized you visit recommendation #2) 

A swear jar. This is fueled by recommendation #4 and enables the funding of additional parts (or tools) but also serves as a reminder that maybe you aren't too eager to take on the next aspect of the project or that good enough may in fact be good enough.


mazdeuce - Seth
mazdeuce - Seth Mod Squad
4/27/21 6:24 p.m.

Bifocal safety glasses. 


Hydraulic press. 

Tom_Spangler (Forum Supporter)
Tom_Spangler (Forum Supporter) PowerDork
4/27/21 6:58 p.m.

A large, deep pit to push the project into when you have to drop the tranmission for a third time.

JTT New Reader
4/28/21 3:00 p.m.

Milwaukee M18 1/2" Medium torque impact gun

3/8" Snap On flex head ratchet

Ratchet head wrenches

Milwaukee inflater (set and walk away, great tool when doing winter/summer tire swap overs on multiple cars)

Step drill bits

Honourable mention but higher cost: QuickJack 

hybridmomentspass Reader
4/28/21 7:36 p.m.



Sitting/Laying on.

Organizing parts/bolts/nuts etc on (and being able to write what the item is on).

Making notes and lists.

Making templates.

Making sketches.

pirate HalfDork
4/28/21 10:32 p.m.

I save hotel key cards from travel for making templates, scrapers, or throwaway putty knifes for spreading epoxy.

A sturdy workbench ( homemade or purchased) with a quality 4 inch plus vise preferably older the you are.

12" disc sander or 4" plus bench top belt sander. 

bench top or preferably freestanding drill press

Portable bandsaw with SWAG table if you can't afford or have the room for a full size metal cutting bandsaw.

CrustyRedXpress Reader
4/29/21 4:06 p.m.

In reply to RichardSIA :

I want to be a person who owns a lathe and/or mill, but I don't see how I would use them working on a challenge car. 

What were the last 5 car-related projects that you used yours for?

4/30/21 6:35 a.m.

CrustyRedXpress Reader
4/30/21 1:18 p.m.

In reply to RichardSIA :

Thanks. If the mill is the more useful tool, how big would it have to be? In other words, would I get 90% of this stuff done with a benchtop mill, or would I need a full sized bridgeport or similar?

Vajingo HalfDork
4/30/21 1:55 p.m.
aircooled said:
  • Vice Grips
  • Duct Tape
  • WD-40
  • Shotgun

They said garage items, not kidnapping items. 

j_tso HalfDork
11/13/21 8:55 a.m.

Magnetic bowl and one on a telescoping stick, best item for holding nuts and bolts and the best tool for finding ones you dropped.

MrFancypants Reader
11/14/21 8:17 a.m.


I spent years working off of the floor. A workbench changed my life.

Panhandler New Reader
5/8/23 5:03 p.m.

"You only need two tools. WD40 and Duck tape. If it moves and it shouldn't, use Duck tape. If it doesn't move and it should, use WD40. "

IKR New Reader
5/10/23 1:07 p.m.

Good suggestions in the video and comments and I've acquired the majority of them but my 5 tools I need, especially as I get older are:

  • Lift
  • Lift
  • Lift
  • Lift
  • Lift

Even if it's a simple Quickjack I've had my quota of working without one at homesad

dtkennedy930 New Reader
8/14/23 3:22 p.m.

Lot's of good recommendations.  I'd add:

* a 7-9L manual vacuum pump extractor.  Evacuate brake fluid from reservoir, power steering reservoir, extract oil easily if overfilled, fill automatic transmission, etc.

* an underhood shop light with padded, telesoping ends to secure to unside of car's hood.

* electric impact wrench as frequently mentioned.  I can't recall the last time I fired up air compressor to power my pnumatic impact gun.

* a nice set of 1/4, 3/8 & 1/2 inch metric and SAE socket organizer / holders with sizes clearly marked and std and long sockets supported.


ClearWaterMS Reader
8/14/23 4:26 p.m.

access to youtube (computer, cell phone, etc.) 

ChrisTropea Associate Editor
8/14/23 4:35 p.m.

In reply to ClearWaterMS :

The more time I spend working in the garage the more often I think about adding a computer out there to always have available. The phone works but sometimes the screen is just too small when looking stuff up. 

NorseDave HalfDork
8/14/23 6:23 p.m.
CrustyRedXpress said:

In reply to RichardSIA :

Thanks. If the mill is the more useful tool, how big would it have to be? In other words, would I get 90% of this stuff done with a benchtop mill, or would I need a full sized bridgeport or similar?

In terms of utility, it really depends on what you're going to do with it (I know, not helpful).  But keep in mind that full-sized mills are LARGE.  A friend of mine was talking about putting one in his 2-car garage until I pointed out that it would no longer be a 2-car garage if he had a mill.  I measured the footprint on mine for him and it was something like 54W x 72D x 84H.  

And you most likely will need 3-phase power, or lacking that from the utility, a rotary converter.  Which will take up more room. 

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
8/15/23 9:11 a.m.

Putting two rows of LEDs beneath my cabinets (and, thus, above my workbench) was a game changer. 

DirtyBird222 PowerDork
8/15/23 9:17 a.m.

- hammer

- hammer

- adjustable hammer

- lighter

- brake clean

kb58 UltraDork
8/16/23 12:12 a.m.
Panhandler said:

"You only need two tools. WD40 and Duck tape. If it moves and it shouldn't, use Duck tape. If it doesn't move and it should, use WD40. "

So is it made from ducks or is used by ducks? Duck vs duct :)

Jesse Ransom
Jesse Ransom UltimaDork
8/16/23 12:39 a.m.

In reply to kb58 :

I always thought the same, but apparently the origin predates the 'duct' moniker and comes from the duck fabric originally used.


 Of course, there are two funny things next to that:

  1. I'm not going to stop calling it duct tape, which seems the most accepted term at this point.
  2. I'm not going to use it on ducts, where it turns into dust, decaying fibers, and flapping plastic. Metal foil tape only.
EricM SuperDork
8/16/23 6:35 a.m.

Multiple 10mm sockets 

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