If you could start from scratch (hand tools)

Hi All,

I’m looking for a recommendation on hand tool brand(s) to invest in.

I moved to the US and only brought a few tools with me from the UK, I couldn’t see the need for many tools in a loft apartment. I have some space now, so I am starting to build up my workshop again. I have invested in Dewalt powertools but have a mixture of hand tools (screw drivers, hammers, pliers, wrenches, etc).

My OCD doesn’t let me just randomly buy different brand tools. I’d like to pick one and build it up over time, and my needs grow.

So if you could start from scratch, what hand tool brand would you pick? I have a slight preference for a brand that is available in the UK because I will return in 5 years or so. But I’m more interest in picking a quality brand that I can invest in.

Wera and Knipex look like viable options. Dewalt is a natural option but I get the sense from people that they are shelf filling with a some of their products.



Ben, hello and welcome to the States. Knipex and Wera are very good and i use them regularly. Particulary the Knipex pliers line. I will not short change our old school American brands like Klein either. Their screwdrivers and pliers are quite well made. For very good quality mechanics hand tools Wright and Proto make excellent ratchets, sockets, and spanners. They are U. S. made and pricing reflects it. Certainly not SnapOn prices to be sure but not priced like DeWalt or Milwaukee either. If you need a hacksaw for metal cutting I can heartily recommend Lenox tension frames and their blades as well. I am sure you will get lots of good recommendations.


I actually have a bunch of the Klein tools for electrical work. That could work nicely because they tend to be on sale and I can check them out at HomeDepot.

I have some Lenox blades, I will definitely look at their frame as well.


While sticking with one brand of power tools makes a lot of sense, I’m not so sure about hand tools. For instance, I just purchased A Wera Kraftform compact 25 set and it was dysfuntional immediately. I read the reviews and they confirmed this problem was not a one-off. I have other Wera tools that I like, but will be careful in the future. What I’m saying is that even within higher tier brands there will be inconsistency.

Then there are different designs. I have some knipex pliers and like them in some cases, but find the german-made NWS brand to be far superior for my needs, and I absolutely love their high leverage cutters. The design of the pliers can be very different between brands. Irwin used to put their logo on the same NWS pliers but then changed that and have pliers that look quite similar but poor quality compared to them. :face_with_raised_eyebrow:

For a recip saw if you are pruning or cutting down small trees, I’ve had great luck with Diablo pruning blades. Nothing else does the job properly. Diablo makes decent circular saw blades, but some are higher grade and better than others. But if I wanted a great blade for a circular saw I’d choose Forest (don’t have this). I know these aren’t hand tools, but just an example.

I’m rambling a bit here, but the point is that finding the right tool may mean crossing over brands.

Rather than trying to stick with one brand, I think you get the best performance by mixing and matching as the need arises, or as you find a great sale on something you know you’ll want in the future.

There was some good discussion on a similar topic in a recent thread as well, might help you here.

If I read your request correctly - you wish to stay with a single brand for all your purchases.
That’s a bit challenging. Rather than “cherry picking” from among several brands - it would seek to find a single brand that covered a wide (as wide as you need) different number of trades and tools. NWS and Knipex - good German brands mentioned for pliers - may not have hammers or other tools that you want. Other more generalist US-based companies like SK, Proto and Williams - sell more mechanic’s tools and may not cover your carpentry needs. Klein - covers mostly tools for electricians while Ridgid is more plumbing focused.
More and more lately - Dewalt and Milwaukee are brand names being applied to a cross section of tools for various trades - but buying a Dewalt of Milwaukee hand tool may not provide you with “best in class.”

Thanks ktash - That makes a ton of sense and I think I’m starting to see how I can fit this into my sense of order :slight_smile:

BTW I 100% agree with those Diablo Pruning blades, they are fantastic!

Thanks Fred, I think I’ve definitely been convinced to rethink my single brand, especially given the diversity of hand tools :slight_smile:

Thanks Tim, that’s is awesome! I looked through a bunch of posts but must have missed that one, I’m reading with great interest!

Ben, another item to consider is storage. I don’t know if you like bags or tool boxes but if you like bags, look at Veto Pro Pac. About the most durable bags out there. Two caveats; 1. They are very expensive. 125-300 dollars U.S. depending upon model. 2. They are also heavy and get really heavy if you load them full. I carried a MCT model the last few years I worked and it was about as good as it gets for electrical maintenance work.

I am also very interested n the Sortimo L Boxx system(mostly represented by Bosch in the States) and wondered if you used them back in UK? I like how they can have modular inserts for tool storage or the T Boxxes have configurable insert bins . Thanks

This guy uses Festool systainers and has his own system for them. He can really pack a bunch of stuff into some of them. Here’s one of his videos (cue up to 2:30 to miss the general chat).

Having a small workshop, I nearly always take out the holding pieces that come in the Systainers and L-boxxes and put my own stuff in it. He has it down to a science. One day I’ll make some inserts like he has.

Satch - If I start again, I am sure I’d do Sortimo, they are very appealing. I’m using Dewalt T-Stak at the moment:


Impressive tool storage, can’t see where your house is dusty, though :wink:

Lol, I did say I have OCD :slight_smile:

But I should also change my alias!

That’s some serious organization. May I ask how you segregate the tools and decide what goes where? I need help with tool organization. Also, what type of shelving are you using?

Maybe I’m being uncharitable, but: keeping everything in a box does look nice, but when you pull the box out, you have to put it somewhere while you are using the tool. And it might not even save space. Putting just the power tools on a shelf is probably simpler. Smaller hand tools, clamps, bits, etc. do need organizing, of course.

And generally you want heavy stuff down low, so it doesn’t fall on your head or knock you off the stepladder when you yank it down. Stuff you never use can go up high too, but then you wonder if it needs to be in the shop at all.

@KokoTheTalkingApe - Yeah, I don’t disagree with your point. All my benches (not shown in that photo) are inspired by Ron Paulk and are designed to store the small T-Stak boxes under the top when they are being used. I’ve found this solves some of the possible annoyance with frequently used tools. I also don’t keep high frequency tools in any of the boxes. So drills, drivers, etc are not in a box. The highest used item in these boxes is my orbital sander.

@Robert_Frampton - I am still figure my system out :slight_smile: Here’s what I have figured out:

  • I use Dewalt T-Stak II for most of my ‘less-frequently’ used tools. Like deck building, sanders, nailers, cut-off, drawer building, etc.
  • I used Dewalt 10-compartment box for screws\nails\staples\bolts\nuts\etc.
  • I built my own drawer cabinets \ rollout benches using Faztek 1515, basically identical to 80/20 but you don’t pay for the name. I’m in the middle of finishing that off and working out exactly what goes where. So far I have built a Miter Station, Router Table, Shapeoko CNC cabinet, a large and small full drawer cabinet and two small ‘carts’.

I started to share my build and design of these on Instagram - https://www.instagram.com/dusty.tools/. If there’s interest I can share more.

PS - Turns out you can’t rename your alias, so I created a new account, seeing as I’m new. Dusty.Tools is my Instagram account and I use the same alias on a few other forums.

@Dusty Tools - Have you seen Ron Paulk’s cubbies in his Mobile Workshop? I turned a large industrial metal rolling cart into boxes with cubbies for open storage of frequently used power tools. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XzKoFSMfSpo Love the flexibility of closely placed grooves for the dividers, that made a big difference from other cubbies I’ve tried in the past. Much better than drawers or pull out boxes, though Ron makes good use of drawers.

Much smaller and fewer tools than Ron, but I absolutely love being able to take out and replace any tool quickly. So convenient. This has probably made the biggest difference in my workshop organization and ease of use, though I don’t have Paulk’s workbench and wouldn’t have room for it.

@Robert_Frampton - I forgot, the shelving is Elfa from the Container Store.

@ktash - interesting! I’ll have to think about how that could fit into my current workshop setup… Added to my Pinterest wishlist :slight_smile: