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Make: Asks is a new weekly column where we ask you, our readers, for responses to maker-related questions. We hope the column will spark interesting conversation and that we’ll get to know more about each other.

Whether it’s to use them as an adjustable wrench in a pinch, or to break free a stripped bolt or screw, my Vise Grips are always close at hand. It’s a versatile and durable tool that has a special place in my toolbox.

This week’s question: What is your go-to tool when working on a project, whether it be for fabrication, electrical work, crafting, or anything else?

Post your responses in the comments section.

Michael Colombo

Michael Colombo

In addition to being an online editor for MAKE Magazine, Michael Colombo works in fabrication, electronics, sound design, music production and performance (Yes. All that.) In the past he has also been a childrens’ educator and entertainer, and holds a Masters degree from NYU’s Interactive Telecommunications Program.

  • phlamingo (@phlamingo)


  • Mike Wilson

    Mine is my leatherman super tool 300. it is all ways in my back pocket so i can use it in a pinch. also people im around a lot remember that i carry it and ask me when they need a screw driver or a pair of pliers

    • Mike Wilson

      my 2nd got to tool would have to be the 2 pound solid brass sledge my dad made about 20 years ago and its still going strong

  • Elaina
  • Joseph

    Mine has always been a leatherman squirt e4

  • miroslava von schlochbaum

    basin-wench many curses and blooded knuckles until i was wised-up to this essential plumbing tool.

  • Robin

    My go-to tool for MacGyvering just about anything electrical is my Weller butane soldering iron: It makes a great torch for lighting just about anything, a hot air gun for heat shrink, a hot knife for cutting plastic or fusing nylon rope, and it’s a pretty good soldering iron on top of that. Last week, I used it to fix my friend’s car stereo input jack while he was driving (don’t try this at home…).

  • Ed Lojko

    For cars, boats, mowers, and various other projects that have electrical components it would have to be my digital multimeter. Then there’s my persuader; it’s a mallet with two plastic heads. ;-)

  • Kevin Gunn

    No question: Leatherman Supertool. It handles ALL the little bits nicely when the “right tool for the job” is out of reach.

  • Jason Anderson (@JasEriAnd)

    I have two, my Leatherman Wingman and a pair of Husky RoboGrips. I’ve used them on so many projects I think I could thread a needle and sew with them now.

  • William Abernathy

    Two: The Leatherman is always always on my belt (unless I’m using it…) When I have to do anything more involved, the Starrett combination square always seems to find its way out of the tool chest and onto the work bench.

    One more must-have for everyone: a vise.

  • R. Mark Adams

    My drill press- it is a fantastically useful tool – not only for drilling holes, but also as a small drum sander, router or even hacked-up as a milling machine substitute. My older daughter likes it so much, she said it was the thing in the house she was going to miss the most when she moves out…

  • Joel Finkle

    Sometimes, you just need a blunt instrument: Two of my favorite tools definitely fall in that category.
    1) Linesman pliers: better grip than a needlenose, when working with electrical outlets/appliances/light fixtures. Also useful for nipping bits of cementboard when putting down tile underlayment.
    2) 2-pound Sledge. It may not have the heritage of Mjolnir, but nothing’s more satisfying than taking down drywall and studs with one of these puppies.

  • reboots

    Lineman’s pliers are an awesome and indispensable tool for electrical wiring, automotive work, and hundreds of other applications; from a gentle squeeze to full-on destruction. Klein makes the best I’ve owned.

    • reboots

      And while Mr. Finkle beat me to the pliers recommendation, I’ll see his mini-sledge (great tool) and raise the mighty splitting maul: axe times sledgehammer, perfect for demolition (and pretty good for splitting wood, too).

  • andyseubert

    My Leatherman wave is always by my side. the next most reached for tool is my Klein 11 in one screwdriver. While the leatherman has excellent driver bits, it is not comfortable for more than a couple of screws.
    Unlike most x-inone drivers,Klein’s is very sturdy. It can drive Phillips,flat,square,and torx as well as 1/4 and 5/15 nuts. Very handy for many many disassemblies. From hard drives to switch cover plates to hose clamps,the 11inone covers it with grace and strength. Klein makes great tools.

    • joe

      wow, I thought I was reading myself with this comment. My favorite three, leatherman wave, dremel tool (any of them) and my klein 11 in 1.

  • Jared Boehm

    I got this cordless screwdriver a year ago for $55 on sale and you’ll have to pry it from my cold, dead fingers.

    It’s Lithium-Ion so it never needs charging, came with 2 batteries, has a crap-ton of torque, and it’s super-light. I LOVE it and have used it for everything from putting together my kid’s playhouse to building a fence.

  • mpechner

    I don’t have A tool. My EDC is a small bit screwdriver set, pocket knife and a leatherman. My soldering must have is my hakko, tweezers, flush cutters, needle nose, halogen light and blue masking tape. For fixing computers and stubborn gear, “the attitude adjuster”, my 4lb sledge. I honestly can pin down one tool.

  • BrazenArtifice

    My most-used “tool” is a large half-inch-thick sheet of scavenged plywood, screwed to the wall above my workbench and studded with carefully placed pin-head nails. Having all my most-used tools hanging from those nails, well organised and at arms reach, has been the biggest frustration-reducer in my mad science lair. Its like being a surgeon and having an assistant to hand me tools, but I don’t have to think of the right word to describe it – I just reach out on instinct. Some people use peg-board for this, and paint shadow outlines of the tools to show where they are supposed to go – I have vague memories of this from high-school woodwork and metalwork classes.

    I’m hoping that with time and experience my home-built 3D printer will be my go-to tool, but my CAD skills aren’t that advanced yet!

  • John Morse

    My most used tool is the 6 inch stainless steel flexible scale. I’ve worn out at least a dozen in the past thirty years. I can stir my coffee, cut cake and bread, kill flies, play music, clean my fingernails, it’s a shim a screwdriver a prybar and a scraper. I’ve used it to push things to where I can get a grip, it’s a catapult and a hockey stick. Sometimes I’ve even used it to measure stuff.

  • chuck

    I’ve owned several Leatherman tools (Leathermen?) and I have to say I find them awkward and uncomfortable and while quite versatile, every feature seems like a compromise. There I said it- hate away.
    For me my most important tool is an xacto knife. Cutting, weeding,stripping, reaming, piercing, tweaking, spreading, carving, prying, scraping, cleaning- it does it all.
    My other must-have tool- and I’m shocked no maker commenting on this site has said this- is my COMPUTER! It’s a drafting table, an instrument tuner, a research library, a communications tool, a camera and editing bay, a recording studio, and a whole lot more. The computer has contributed more to my creative output than any other tool. Thanks to sites like Make it’s made me better at what I do. Endless chats and boards have inspired me and helped me learn from others. With a few peripherals and key programs, this small box replaces lots of bulky gear. Also the computer and the communication, cooperation, and cross pollination it enables is probably the biggest contributor to the resurgence of the maker movement.
    I also have to have lots of graph paper.

  • Brawndo

    Leatherman Charge TI. It’s not the correct tool for any job, but it’s good enough for almost any job. It’s portable enough to carry with me all the time, and versatile enough to make keeping it around worthwhile.

    Don’t get me wrong, there are many problems with it, but until I find something better, I will continue my search for the perfect multi-tool

  • Ryan

    Does a CNC mill count?

  • Stephen Upham (@spu3)

    In addition to my Leatherman, my favorite go-to tool is a Lutz “6 in One” screwdriver. I have one of these in every boat, car and workspace. Indespensible!

  • Christopher Gosnell

    4 in 1 Multi-bit screwdriver (one of those that is interchangeable from two sizes of straight blades to 2 sizes of phillips and my Robo-Grip Pliers. Best pliers made.

  • nisker

    Sonic screwdriver of course – no seriously the one single tool that I think gets the most use would be a small flat head screwdriver. It’s good for prying, scraping, nudging, poking, probing, wedging out the center pin in a security screw, marking, and well to drive a screw (including phillips/pozi).
    A close second would be a pair of needle nose pliers

  • burnsbothends (@burnsbothends)

    It’s usually a three-way kit of an awl, fresh xacto, and my leatherworking marble slab. The slab is unusual, as it’s a foot square heavy non-active tool, but if I need more weight to press books? Slab. To prop something up? Slab. Smoothing? Slab surface. Dulling striking impact/ protecting surfaces, display, keeping something slightly cooler than room temp, surface for creasing, straight edge, extra hand, it does it all. If the slab can’t help, and I can’t poke or cut my way into a solution, it’s time to break out the kit.

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