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Buying A Tool Kit, Or Piecing A Set Together

Published on September 17, 2012 under Humble Mechanic

I was out shopping some tool storage things last week. I have also been looking for a basic tool kit I can buy for the house. Now that I have the Cabriolet, I do a fair amount of wrenching at my house. I don’t want to spend a lot of money, but I don’t want to buy junk either

Today I want to give you guys some advise on buying tools in a kit, or building your own set.

Buying A Set

You can make a really good arguments on both sides. Cost, storage, and needs all play into making this choice.

Pros

  • The cost per tool is cheaper.
    You will almost always get more tools for the money when you buy a complete set.
  • Its easy
    It is a grab and go solution, gotta like that.
  • Tool storage
    A lot of tool sets come with some type of storage setup. Generally that makes them very organized and portable.
  • They all will match
    This is just something to feed my tool O.C.D. 😉
  • You may get some tools you never thought you would need
    That 1/2in 3/8 drive extension may come in handy. It is something I would not buy separate.
  • They make great gifts (hint hint) 😀

Cons

  • You will get tools you might not need
    The first tool set I bought was a Craftsman kit. I don’t remember how many pieces came in the set. I do remember that about 1/4 of the tools were Allen wrenches. I didn’t need 50 Allen wrenches.
  • Most sets are not complete
    I have found that many sets are missing tools. The set I was looking at last week had no 16mm sockets. If you work on VWs that is something you need.
  • There are so many choices
    I get really overwhelmed when shopping for kits. Do I pick the one with 99 pieces, or the one with 104 pieces? This is about the time I give up shopping.
  • The storage might not be what you want
    Just because a tool set comes with storage, doesn’t mean it is a good one. It might not fit the space you have. It may not be the way you want your tools set up.

Build Your Own

Just like buying a complete set, building your own customer set has pros and cons. Consider these when thinking about building your own kit.

Pros

  • You can get exactly what you want
    No need to pay for the tools you don’t need
  • You can buy a little at a time
    Kits from the big boy tool companies are REALLY expensive. You can buy them bit by bit instead of shelling out the cash all at once.

Cons

  • Most likely you will spend more money
  • You will have to find your own tool storage
    Tool storage can be very expensive
  • It takes time
    Piecing a tool set together yourself will take time. If you are not in a hurry, no big deal.
  • You might get a mismatched set.
    This can be good or bad. Good you can get better tools for a job. For me, I don’t like to have tools not match. Sorry just a little OCD 😉

So what should you do? Well, like all good questions the answer is “It depends”. If I were starting with no tools, a kit would be perfect! Once you have the basics, you can add on from there.

 

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7 Comments

  1. Matt C.

    I have done a little of both kits and individual tools. I don’t care if they match… I just want the “best” of each tool. I bought an individual phillips head screwdriver for example even though I have quite a few of them already. Can’t stand cheaply made tools…

  2. Jessica

    Yes! They DO make great gifts! My tools were one of the best gifts I received for Christmas so far. (this was many years ago, dont worry i’m not a kid lol) Dad hooked me up when I moved away. Guess he figured I can’t be digging in his toolbox if I’m hours/states away!
    My tools always come in handy. I’m surprised at how many people have none, not even a Philips screwdriver or a plier of any sort. Haha

    1. Charles

      @Jessica,
      That is pretty awesome your dad hooked it up for you. I think people forget that tools in your car are not just for working on your car.

      They come in handy at work, and to help out other folks. It is crazy that some folks have no tools.

  3. Laurie Rivers

    Being a woman, I needed a tool set for the car that I could actually handle. I need to be able to inflate a tire easily, cut a seat belt quickly, punch out a window with one stab. While I could put one together, I found it easier to let the pros do it for me. I found just the right kit for me at intergalacticshipping.com — great selection & nice prices. I’m giving them as gifts this Christmas to my lady friends who are on the road a lot alone.

  4. Lassig

    An unlisted Con of buying a tool Set – If you loose one, or worse destroy one, you’re back into the OCD frustration of not having that tool look nice any more.

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