What’s On Your “Deserted Island List” of Tools?

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This past weekend was like most others. In addition to my normal errands and chores, I fixed a broken wheel on a toy plane, replaced six batteries and did some restoration work on a shattered clay robot that used to be an art project.

As I kept returning to the tool drawer, I realized I got all the work done with nothing more than some glue and a screwdriver. It got me to thinking, I’ve got a room full of hardware, power and hand tools, but 99% of the work I do is with 2% of my tools.

Which are the tools that I really need? What’s my deserted island list … or, more appropriately, what’s the short list of tools I need to solve anything my wife & kids throw at me? I’m not talking about building anything — just the items I need to tackle the weekly repairs and fixes.

I thought about it for a while and came up with this short list:

  • A boxcutter or hobby knife for opening blister packs and all your cutting needs
  • A multi-bit screwdriver, with (at least) Philips, Slotted, & Torx heads in various sizes
  • A set of hobby or jeweler’s screwdrivers. It seems like a lot of toys are being fastened with smaller screws & a set of these drivers are just the thing to tackle those finer screws.
  • Cyanoacrylate glue – This glue will adhere almost anything and is probably used more than anything besides the screwdriver, I’m partial to Zap-A-Gap, which is thick enough that a single ounce has lasted more than a year.
  • Needlenose pliers – Sometimes you just need to grab or hold on to things and the needlenose are most versatile, with varying width and a cutting edge to boot.
  • Goo Gone removes sticker residue, gum, crayons, tar and just about any other sticky mess, plus it’s all natural so I don’t have to think twice about using it around the kids.
  • MagLite – A 2 cell AA is in my drawer — a corporate giveaway leftover from many years ago. It’s the perfect size and provides just enough light to see the LEGO pieces beneath the sofa or explore how red the back of a sore throat is.
  • Painter’s masking tape – Masking tape is nice because it comes up easily, unlike transparent tape. The blue stuff is even better because it uses a less sticky adhesive, making removal that much easier.
  • Flexible claw – I originally bought this to remove a penny that had fallen into the shaft of our fireplace gas starter. It has proven to be incredibly useful in many situations, including grabbing my son’s ears on the sly.

That’s my list. There are a few others I wanted to put on the list (claw hammer, cordless drill, Dremel) but I don’t use them often enough to include them. I’m guessing it’s vastly different than the list at your house, as your tasks may be very different from mine. But what about your list? Is there an indispensable tool that I’ve missed? Let me know in the comments!

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