Owning a complete set of tools as well as seeing the fruits of your labour coming out of your very own hands has always been every guy’s dream. So, if you have your very own working space type of garage, and you’re a do-it-yourself guy and a man’s man, you should definitely start building your man cave and stocking it with all the tools of the trade you’ll be needing throughout a lifetime. Here is a list of the top 20 tools you shouldn’t be caught without in your garage, divided into categories, with a few other useful information and tips in between. So browse through, enjoy the finest of the finest equipment and learn more about the tools you’ll need, all in one place!
Table of Contents
1. Tools for house work/repair work
This is the first category we’re going to take a look at and the first batch of the top 20 most important tools you will need.
#1. An assortment of measuring tools. This might sound obvious, but we’re starting with the basics. Apart from that, many do-it-yourself men will tell you how important it is it to have good measuring devices, in order to add precision to your work. So make sure you buy a whole array of clippers, micrometres, steel rules, wigglers, edge finders, centre gauges, screw pitch gages, rulers and measuring tapes that have different graduations on them.
#2. Air compressor. Either it’s electrical or gas/diesel powered, your garage should not lack it. Usually, when you’re doing work around the house, like carpentry or fixing different things, you need a nail gun and you cannot use one without an air compressor. Looking at the hard cold facts will show you that a battery powered nail gun costs somewhere between £130 and £330 ($200 and $500), while a pneumatic one that uses an air compressor costs only £33 to £130 ($50 to $200). Therefore, the pneumatic one is clearly a better choice, not to mention the fact that it lasts longer than a battery powered one.
#3. Wrenches. There is no need to over sell this particular piece of equipment, because if you have a garage or thinking of setting up one for yourself, you already know all about it. However, there are 2 things to keep in mind about wrenches. First of all, try to buy a whole range of them. Don’t limit yourself, because there’s nothing worse than having to keep borrowing from your neighbours and friends. And secondly, speaking of borrowing, find a way to keep track of them all. They are such a common object that people usually forget they borrowed them from you.
#4. Screwdrivers. They fall into the same category as the wrenches. They are common, household, working man’s items you simply cannot go without. Buy an assortment and be careful where you place them. Depending on your preferences, you can either use manuals or powered ones. Another good idea regarding screwdrivers is to purchase a small manual or even a chart to hang on your garage wall of all the different types, what should they be used for and what kind of nails and bolts they go with.
#5. Nuts and bolts. Most men that have their own garages complete with a working space and who also like to do things around the house themselves will advise you to buy as many as you can. Having whole drawers, bags and buckets of nuts and bolts will save you out of any tight spot. They are very cheap, so you can easily achieve this and have a complete collection for every possible usage one might think of.
#6. Saws. There are two types of saws, hand operated and mechanically powered ones. The latter can be divided into circular-blade saws, reciprocating blade saws, saws with continuous band and chainsaws. They can also be categorized by taking into consideration the types of blades and blade cuts they have, into the following: band saw blades ones, crosscut, rip cut, plytooth blade, dado blade and straw saw blade ones. Saws can be made of brass, steel, tungsten carbide or even diamond, used to cut through very hard materials like stone, concrete, asphalt, glass or other gem stones.
2. Where to buy tools
When it comes to actually buying the tools you need around the house or for your garage, there has always been a lot of debate as whether to buy them new or second hand. Of course, if you can afford it, go ahead and buy them new. In this case, you can find them at your local stores or specialized retailers.
However, if you are on a budget or simply don’t want to spend so much money on tools, second hand stores are just the thing for you. Many men have reported saying it’s actually better to buy them already used, because you don’t end up sacrificing on quality at all. Evidently, when buying the tools, make sure they have been kept in good conditions and have been taken care of. It’s important that they still have all their parts and have not been affected by exterior elements, such as weather, humidity or rust.
Also, make sure to test them before you buy them. Unlike the new ones, which are almost 100 percent guaranteed to work straight out of the box, second hand ones might come with a whole array of problems. Apart from that, unlike store bought ones, most of the times you can’t return second hand tools once you’ve bought them. So see to it that they work before you pay for them.
There are special stores that sell second hand tools, but they are rare. So, what you can do is try going to special markets or simply going online, which is the easiest solution. There are certain specialized sites for this type of business, but you can also buy them from the big retailers, like Ebay and Amazon, which will have them delivered straight to your doorway.
Remember to do some thorough research first. Go to your local hardware store and look at the merchandise to decide what tools you want and/or need. Choose the best brands and look for their second-hand items. Buying used tools doesn’t mean they can’t come from famous manufacturers.
And a last piece of advice, when they get delivered, open the box before signing for it, to make sure you are getting exactly the type of screwdriver you wanted and not something else.
Continuing the top 20 tools every man should have in his garage, the next category consists of tools for the car.
3. Tools for the car
#7. Car jacks and jack-stands. This is clearly one item that should never go missing from your garage, simply because you cannot do any work on your car without lifting it with a car jack or a jack-stand. Used for performing maintenance jobs on your car, jacks are categorized depending on how much weight they can actually lift, which is between 1.5 and 3 tons. There are also industrial jacks, which can lift more than that, but they are not to be found in your average household garage. Also, you can choose between a mechanical jack and a hydraulic one, according to your preferences.
#8. Jump start. Sooner or later, your car’s battery will die out and you will need to get your car started again. Jump starts come with extra power and energy, so they can bring back to life even the biggest of engines. They have battery condition and charge level indicators, to make things as easy and as safe as possible for you. Also, they are easy to transport so, besides keeping them in your garage, you can also take them with you when you leave town, for example. Most of them come equipped with work lights for doing repairs at night on the side of the road or other emergency situations.
#9. Car consumables and accessories. This particular category includes all the bits and pieces you use and consume at the same time as working on your car, such as:
- Motor Oil – this runs out really fast, so it’s a good idea to keep some extra litres on the shelf
- Foam Mats – you will definitely find out you need one of these for when you have to lie on you back and work on the underside of your car. Your spine and back muscles will thank you.
- Car seat covers – this is a good way of making sure your seats are protected from oil, dirt or water while you’re working inside the car.
- Rust remover – you may not always need it, but there will be situations when you do, so shelf it, because it’s better than having to stop what you’re doing and run to the store
- Microfiber cloths – cloths are an indispensable item when it comes to working on your car. But try buying good quality, microfiber ones, even if they are a bit pricier than the rest. They will not scratch out any surface of the vehicle and you can also use them around the house.
- Front wing covers – these are absolutely great for protecting the outside parts of your car as well as its paint, during those hours when you work on the engine and have to lean on the car. If you’ve done this before, you know that, in this situation, even one second of not paying attention can result in scratches and damages to the paint. Your watch or the buttons on your jeans can do it. The front wing cover will work like a charm for minimizing the risks.
#10. Repair tools and kits. There are several types of repairing tools and kits for your car you should have on permanent display in your garage:
- Repair and alignment equipment – this kit usually includes snap connector pipe work and cast snap connector attachments. They can also come with hydraulic pumps, rams, hoses, different tubes or end pieces.
- Door and hinge adjustment tools – there are many kits out there for doing this. Some are especially designed for a certain type of car, like for a Mercedes, a Ford or a Volvo, while others are universal. Such kits normally have pieces of equipment that will help you loosen up the door hinge bolts so that you can take it out and work on it.
- Painting, sanding and masking equipment – some of the tools included are pneumatic paint mixers, paint thickness gauges, body file holders, removal tools with or without vacuums, spray guns, sanding kits, paint drying systems, water based or otherwise or spray guns.
- Panel beating and repair tools – the sets hold hammers, usually with drop-forged heads and dollies
- Panel stands and other storage parts – these represent a very good way of organizing your space, making sure you don’t lose anything and you always have everything on hand. Always go for the small, compact and lightweight ones, as they occupy less space in your garage.
#11. Cleaning and polishing kits. It is advisable to start directly with a big polishing kit, like the ones that have 18 pieces, to make sure you have all your needs covered. In any case, settle for a kit that has buffing wheels, polishing buffs and all sorts of mounted points, to fit any situation. These kits are great for all kinds of surfaces and materials, such as plastic, aluminium, steel, brass and stainless steel.
#12. Windscreen and glass repair and maintenance. It’s a good idea to purchase one of these and make some reparations and adjustments at home, but, remember to do thorough research beforehand. The windshield and the glass windows are very delicate so, if you don’t feel up to it, it’s better to take your car to the mechanic, instead. These kits come equipped with instructions, plastic cutting compounds, polish and UV compounds, and backing pads with spindles included. You could also buy suction lifters, to make sure you don’t drop the windshield or the glass.
#13. Dollies and trolleys. Any kind of reparations you perform on your car will require you to move it. Look for the heavy duty ones, capable of sustaining your car. This means that their wheels should have somewhere around 20 inches in diameter. Dollies and trolleys retail for a price between £130 and £395 ($200 and $600), depending on material, size, strength and brand. Think about the weight of your car, because it will give you a clue about how many dollies or trolleys to buy. Standard issue ones normally hold up to 1100 pounds (500 kg), so all you have to do is the math.
4. Garage room vs. storage room
An important topic when stuffing your garage with the tools you’ve always dreamed about is whether you actually want it to be a garage room working space or a storage room. Over-shelving will most definitely lead to your precious space turning into storage. So think carefully if you will actually do work around the house, DIY projects or work on your car.
If you’ve decided you will, than it’s time to think about how to best organize the space. Men who do this type of activity at home always wish for a bigger garage, but, in the end, realize that if they had it, they would just continue filling it with tools and keep on complaining. Take a cue from them and do not over buy. As previously stated, there is a difference between a working garage and a simple storage space for your tools.
Apart from that, try to optimize space usage, as well as keeping everything organized. This means shelving, adding cabinets and special tool storage units. Get them installed and keep them lining the walls, so that you have as much space in the middle as possible. Don’t keep your tools and all the bits and pieces like nuts and bolts in boxes lying everywhere on the floor. This is not proper storage etiquette.
Which brings us to caring for your tools. When you keep them in cool, clean and dry cabinets, preferably suspended above the floor, you are making sure they don’t rust, get dirty or clogged and that no pests, such as bugs or rats can get to them. Some amount of damage to your tools could definitely happen if you keep them lying on the floor in boxes. Apart from this, keeping them like that will make it very difficult for you to clean the garage, not to mention what an ugly, clustered sight it will be. You won’t want to spend too much time in there.
Continuing the countdown of the top 20 tools that should go missing from your manly garage, next we have the protection items category.
5. Protection items
#14. Gloves and masks. Even if you’re working on your car, fixing things around the house or engaging in DIY projects, you still need to wear protection. Gloves will save you a lot of trouble, like smashing your fingers with a hammer, avoiding splinters, rashes or burns when you’re using chemicals, paints or solvents that are not kind to human skin. You should also wear masks, in order to not inhale paint fumes, glue, dust, sawdust, gas or petrol, which might affect your airways or even your lungs. If you know you are a bit on the clumsy side or more prone to accidents than normal, you could also try purchasing a pair of worker man’s boots. They come with steel reinforced toes and tips and with very solid soles.
#15. First Aid Kits. It doesn’t matter that you are actually in your home. Accidents can still happen, even serious ones and trying to get from the garage to the kitchen may cost you valuable minutes, especially if you’re dealing with blood loss or severe limb damage, like severing a finger. Make sure to always have a complete first aid kit in your working space and place it so that it is very reachable from any corner of the room you might find yourself in. You can add on top of the first aid kit light medications and pills, such as aspirins or pain relievers for headaches.
#16. Rodent traps. Many people with working spaces set up in their home garages have complained about pests. They tell stories of rat babies found in their working gloves, cockroaches in their nuts and bolts boxes and even snakes coiled among the hoses. Pests are naturally drawn to spaces such as garages, because they are normally cool, humid and dark. Therefore, it might be a good idea to make your garage as inhospitable a place as possible for pesky rodents and bugs. You could simply place some traps along the line of the walls or in corners. Otherwise, you could get a pet which will take care of them, like a cat or a Jack Russell dog that enjoy catching mice.
6. Entertainment items
After all the working tools have been put in place, it’s time to think about making the garage a much more pleasant environment, because you will be spending a lot of time in there. And not only that, but you will be working, so you want to make it fun as well. Here are some items you can add, to make it so and which your garage should have.
#17. A small fridge. For snacks, cold water and beer. This way, you don’t need to always go upstairs or into the house for a bottle of water or a pack of crisps. Your very own mini fridge packed with goodies will see to that. They come in cheap, with prices starting at around £52.7 ($80). It’s worth doing some research online, because there are even mini fridges especially designed for garages and workspaces on the market. They are compact, to save as much space as possible, have rugged metallic finishes to blend in with your other tool drawers and are easily portable.
#18. Music. One thing that will make your time in the garage or workspace even more enjoyable is music. There are many ways to install a sound system in there and you can find a lot of ideas, videos and tutorials online, as many men have thought this to be a good addition to their working place. You can use ceiling mount speakers or wall mounts. First of all you should check the quality of the sound in your garage as well as echoing levels, which might disturb the sound rendering. Do a few tests with different devices, such as phones, TVs, laptops and sound systems. See which one of them works better with your space. Otherwise, you could always simply bring your laptop in there and play music on it or, if you’re feeling especially retro, a boom box or even a radio station.
#19. A couch. Or, at least, a few comfortable chairs. You might think this idea redundant, but many men have reported adding this particular furniture item after they spent the first few weeks working in the garage and had to sit on the floor or go back into the house when they got tired or wanted to take a break. Therefore, investing in a small couch will be worth it. The good news is that you don’t need fancy, expensive or even new one. You can either repurpose one of the old couches in the house or buy a second-hand one. Don’t spend a lot of money on it. No matter how much you protect it, it will invariably get dirty and stained with oil, paint or grease.
#20. Decorations. Just like with music, some simple decorations might really make all the difference in the world. One thing you have to remember is that you are actually working and why not do it in a pleasant environment? A simple search on Amazon, Ebay, Pinterest or Etsy will render thousands of ideas as far as simple, yet manly decoration objects for your working space are considered. You could always hang some vintage car posters, metal bar signs or wooden ones, with all sorts of funny statements.
7. Turning your tool garage into a working man’s cave
But, sometimes, although we improve so much on our beloved garage, by adding special racks, mini beer fridges, couches, decorations and fill it with all our dream tools, it’s simply not enough. That’s when the idea of turning that working space into a man cave appears.
A man cave is a special place, room or space inside the house a man, alone or with his friends, can retreat to have a good time, do manly things or simply meditate and relax for a while. It has been called “the last bastion of masculinity” and it is actually seen as the last place where men can go be “men”, in this ever changing society we live in.
A man cave can serve a multipurpose, depending on each man’s preferences and what he actually needs in his life. This is all that your garage can be:
- A place to watch sports
- A place to act as he wants without the fear of being judged or deemed “insensible”
- A place to play video games
- A place to watch movies he couldn’t otherwise watch with his family and/or wife
- A place where he can indulge in his hobbies with no restraints.
Many psychological studies have been conducted about this “special room” and they all reached the conclusion that it is necessary. It is considered that men have been having identity problems since the feminine movement became so big and poignant. For a while women wanted men to be more sensitive, so they were and then women wanted men to be more manly, so they became that. Throughout the complications of the fluid masculine identity of today, the importance of a special place is stronger than ever. Therefore, a man cave gives them freedom of expression.
In this sense, since you already have a garage room where you work and spend time alone, doing everything you want to do, why not actually go all the way and turn it into a man cave? Here are a few ideas on how you can achieve that.
- If you’re deeply into sports, among your tools and machinery, add a big TV for watching the games. You could also add a darts board on one of the walls, a mini golf course, a small hoop for basketball or a billiards table. Big hockey jerseys framed and placed on the walls will complete the design.
- If you’re into hunting, add some extra shelves or mantles and bring your shotguns in here as well. Of course, special places will be allotted to your hunting and/or fishing trophies. Mount the heads of the deer, boars and bears you’ve taken down and proudly exhibit them among your loved tools. What could be manlier than that?
- If music is your thing, there is a design for that as well. You can, for example, place your guitar or your set of drums in here as well and practice when you get the chance. Invite your friends over to listen to you play or jam together. Installing a karaoke machine keeps in tune with the design as well, so invest in one of those.If you’re a nature guy, there’s nothing simpler. Some hardwood shelves and wood finishes will do the trick. Lots of potted plants here and there will truly make you feel like you’re in the middle of the forest. Arrange a special seat complete with pillow for your dog, next to the heater, some reindeer antlers on the walls and the scenery is complete.
The idea behind all this is to make you feel as comfortable in your working space or garage as possible. Sticking to the top 20 tools list you should definitely have in there actually means making things as easy for you as possible. Many men who took the time to make the arrangements necessary to turn their garage into a man cave have been then having a great time in there. They love their tools and their work and feel more in touch with themselves, as well as with their fathers and grandfathers who did similar work with impressive similar tools before them.