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I’ve amassed a decent collection of tools since I started working in electronics – some useful & some that seemed useful at the time of acquisition. Not surprisingly, it’s the basics that prove indispensable – and the above video gives you my take on what those are exactly. Here’s hoping it helps get a few newcomers properly geared up – and maybe put a smile on the face of a few seasoned solderers.

Oh and do drop a line in the comments listing any vital items / glaring omissions (note: I classify multimeters as “test instruments”, just so yaknow)

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Collin Cunningham

Collin Cunningham

Born, drew a lot, made video, made music on 4-track, then computer, more songwriting, met future wife, went to art school for video major, made websites, toured in a band, worked as web media tech, discovered electronics, taught myself electronics, blogged about DIY electronics, made web videos about electronics and made music for them … and I still do!


  • http://twitter.com/HermanKopinga Herman Kopinga

    I’ve recently built an Adam Savage inspired toolbox (each tool it’s own spot, pick any tool without moving any other and mounted on wheels) for my wood-working tools and feeling really happy with that. 

    I’m curious what you suggest for easy bench-top tool management. The tool-carrier shown in the video looks non-ideal for bench-top use to me, or am I just too picky now?

    • http://twitter.com/fotoflojoe Joseph Cummings

      Try a cheap machinist’s tool chest. I got one at Harbor Freight: http://www.harborfreight.com/eight-drawer-wood-tool-chest-94538.html (Apologies if external links are not allowed). Out of the box, this thing may seem like junk, but a couple mods and some runner wax later, it’s perfect. 

    • http://twitter.com/fotoflojoe Joseph Cummings

      Try a cheap machinist’s tool chest. I got one at Harbor Freight: http://www.harborfreight.com/eight-drawer-wood-tool-chest-94538.html (Apologies if external links are not allowed). Out of the box, this thing may seem like junk, but a couple mods and some runner wax later, it’s perfect. 

    • http://narbotic.com Collin Cunningham

      Agreed – the carrier’s not ideal for benchtop access.  I use it mostly to store larger items.

      A pegboard with hooks is usually a good option.
      The wooden tool chest Joseph points out looks pretty sweet as well.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=13748811 George Hadley

    “Oh and do drop a line in the comments listing any vital items / glaring
    omissions (note: I classify multimeters as “test instruments”, just so
    yaknow)”

    1) Desoldering braid: very handy and useful in many situations where desoldering pumps just don’t cut it, particularly when working at the SMD level (I realize pumps vs. braid is sort of like vim vs. emacs, but still)

    2) Small pump water bottle: Keep your solder sponge nice and damp without having to get up repeatedly to go remoisten it.

    3) Copper Wool Brush Thing (or at least a solder sponge): Mentioned in conjunction with one of the Weller irons, but everyone should have one anyway ;-) Same thing for an iron stand (the small metal things that ship with the solder pencils really don’t cut it)

    4) Safety glasses ;-)

    5) Lighting: Very valuable in a wide variety of cases. I actually find a camping headlamp to be extremely handy.

  • http://twitter.com/User_4574 Nathan Lasseter

    I have a £40 Iroda SolderPRO 120 gas-fired soldering iron and I love it to bits. It’s wonderful to work with, and offers an insane freedom to move. I’ve soldered things with it at some bizarre angles.

    I keep a little pot of tip tinner at hand at all times. It keeps the tip in good condition, prolonging it’s life, and for the £8, it’s worth it.

    • http://narbotic.com Collin Cunningham

      I love tip tinner – def great stuff.
      I ended up with a lot of extra “accessory” items I wanted to include but proved extraneous for this list – you’ll likely see them in a future roundup.

  • Dan Dahl

    Good list of stuff, Since im planning on learning how to make projects on the ardino it could come in handy to have those tools. Just one question, where did you get hat particular multibit screwdriver set/whats it called? Keep up the good work.

  • John Seaton

    Who manufactures that screw driver set you show in the video?

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_ODYJKGZBGE7TVDQRT6QRMXNXO4 Andy

    Any chance of a text list of the items in this lovely video?

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_ODYJKGZBGE7TVDQRT6QRMXNXO4 Andy

    Any chance of a text version of this lovely list?

  • Anonymous

    Really love the video… GREAT JOB!!! Collin you’re my idol. He rocks!!! Could you make a list of everythingyou found useful. maybe a really long video I admire your work. I’m in 6th grade and wanna be an eletrical engineer just like you or whatever you do. WHERE DO YOU GET ALL THE MONEY FOR YOU COMPONETS, TOOLS, AND MAKER KITS? P.S. You are amazing please write back…

    • http://narbotic.com Collin Cunningham

      Glad you enjoyed it!
      Video, software, & music making fund my electronics-buying =)

  • Anonymous

    Sence of humor is amazing…

  • http://twitter.com/insmallportions Tendayi Mawushe

    Hey Collin,

    Thanks for another great video. I know you have not done one in a while but how about another MAKE presents episode on the concept of Ground. Its different but related meanings can be confusing to beginners and your explanations are pretty awesome.

  • http://twitter.com/insmallportions Tendayi Mawushe

    Hey Collin,

    Thanks for another great video. I know you have not done one in a while but how about another MAKE presents episode on the concept of Ground. Its different but related meanings can be confusing to beginners and your explanations are pretty awesome.

  • http://www.safety.com.sg/ kelvinmx08

    I agree with your Blog and I will be back to check it more in the future so please keep up your work.Thanks for the great info… about Safety.