8 Garage Tools And Accessories For The DIY-er
Going beyond the essentials
It’s generally hard to do-it-yourself if you don’t have the right tools to actually get the job done. Acquiring the right tools can be just as challenging as using them properly, since tools cost money and take up space. Plus, there are literally hundreds of automotive tools to choose from that could be deemed useful and essential. The task can be a bit daunting. Metric or standard? Cheap or expensive? General or specific? Rent or buy? There’s no pressure—after all, not having just one simple tool can cause a temporary game-over scenario for a DIY project. The good news is that your tool collection can grow slowly as you purchase what you need, when you need it.
The following list assumes you already have access to essential garage tools—hammers, screwdrivers, wrenches, sockets, pliers—as it’s likely that your grandpa and dad will at least let you borrow these basics while your own collection grows. Add the tools on these pages to your birthday or Christmas wish list. They may be aspirational, but they’re not unobtainable.
MIG, TIG, and Plasma
Now we’re talking. To really do-it-yourself, you’re going to want a MIG welder and a plasma cutter, and while you’re at it, a TIG welder. Yes, you’ll also need the accompanying safety gear (and you’ll want a welding-specific workbench), but these tools will open up a whole new world of creative DIY projects. Concerned because you don’t know how to weld? Manufacturers like Miller have got you covered with “smart” auto settings, tutorial videos, and listening ears for when you get stuck. Welding is an art that takes practice. Don’t get discouraged when you don’t master it the first project. But here’s the deal—you can do it.
Portable Power Tools
While you may not have access to an air compressor or air tools, it is likely that you live in an area that has electricity, meaning you can charge the batteries that run cordless, portable power tools. And let’s face it—power tools make life easier. When shopping for these tools, it’s best to find a line of tools that run on the same battery. Investing in one type of battery and its accompanying charging system means there should always be a fresh battery on hand to be swapped into any tool in the lineup. The Craftsman line of C3 power tools includes more than 30 reasonably priced drills, drivers, saws, kits, and other tools (even a wet/dry vac) that all run on the same charging system.
You’re as much of an electrician as you are a thesis-writing research professor—we get it. All you know about the bird’s nest of wires under the hood is that something has gone wrong, resulting in a pesky electrical gremlin that makes your truck suck to be around. The truth is that you’re going to have to brush up on electrical basics in order to accomplish many DIY truck projects. A handheld multimeter gives the supernatural ability to measure basic voltage, current, resistance, and other readings necessary for electrical fault-finding. See what’s getting power and what’s not getting power, which is a—shall we say—powerful discovery in the problem-solving quest.
Those powerful pneumatic tools sure are enticing, aren’t they? That’s just one reason to have an air compressor in the garage. Consider these other advantages: drying wet surfaces; cleaning large, dusty areas (like the garage floor) or small, tight spaces; filling tires; unclogging and dislodging stuck items; creating pressurized areas; and driving the dog crazy.
When your truck’s “check engine” light illuminates, sometimes its cause is obvious and you know exactly what has happened. That’s a best-case scenario. More often, the dreaded light comes to life for no apparent reason. If symptoms happen to be present, the causes could be multiple, and you could end up throwing money at things that aren’t the problem. In the world of modern custom trucks, the more you monkey with your ride, the more likely you are to tick off some system, resulting in a lit-up CEL. Unfortunately, this oh-so-useful light doesn’t actually tell what’s wrong, only that the on-board diagnostic (OBD) system has detected a trouble code. A scan tool will reveal the code (or codes) and allow you to clear it without disconnecting the battery.
Tired of the same simple, mundane DIY projects? Don’t have the money to buy what you want? Don’t see what you want available? Get to fabricating your own truck parts! From bumpers to cages to racks to rock sliders, a tubing bender can be a creative fabricator’s best friend. It’s great for off-the-vehicle projects, too, like carts for welders, garage storage, work tables, and more.
Stop using the wrong shears! Your dad’s are old, rusted, and duller than butter knives, and your mom’s are meant for the rose bushes or cutting garnish in the kitchen. It’s not worth the fight anymore—get yourself some good, garage-dedicated cutters. Many projects involving plastic, rubber, leather, and hose would benefit from such a tool. For example, items like air lines and hoses need a good, clean cut for the accompanying fittings to work properly. Definitely don’t drink while using this item, as one mishap will bring you to the ER, delaying your DIY project.
Who doesn’t like fire? Aside from its role in marshmallow roasting and crème brulee, a torch can make for a great garage tool when the need for widespread, high-temperature, naked-flame heat arises. Consider these applications: soldering, brazing, loosening a seized bolt, softening paint for removal, melting, and preheating. Setting a friend’s pant leg on fire will probably make him less inclined to help you, so think that prank through before acting.