What is the most valuable tool you own?

Colin
By Colin Wood
Sep 8, 2022 | Tools, garage, Shop Work, Discussion, Work Space

Photography Credit: Kenny Eliason/Unsplash

Sure, all the tools in our workspaces are valuable in their own special way, but which one is the most valuable?

Is it based solely on monetary value? Sentimental value? The value of how useful the tool is? Or, perhaps, is it something else entirely?

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Ranger50
Ranger50 MegaDork
9/7/22 11:11 a.m.

My brain.

Grew up with a mechanic father, mechanical engineering tech degree, and lots of knuckles busted have me thinking about the repair before even lifting a tool.

classicJackets (FS)
classicJackets (FS) SuperDork
9/7/22 11:19 a.m.

Monetarily, a really nice finger brake.

Spiritually - I bought a $15 Wel-Bilt angle grinder in 2014, in college, when I bought my first welder (with partial loan from a friend lol). It is still running perfectly, extremely smooth, and is likely my single most used tool ever.

Tyler H
Tyler H GRM+ Memberand UberDork
9/7/22 11:30 a.m.

Google and my 3lb shorty hammer.

Toyman!
Toyman! GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
9/7/22 11:45 a.m.

Valuable to me? My 1947 South Bend Lathe. 

20130623_160808_zps63582297.jpg

Valuable in monetary terms? Probably still the lathe. 

RevRico
RevRico UltimaDork
9/7/22 11:47 a.m.

Past berkeleyups and failures.

Brett_Murphy (Agent of Chaos)
Brett_Murphy (Agent of Chaos) GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
9/7/22 12:06 p.m.

Sentimental? My grandfather's masonry tools.
Money? The 4Runner. It tows, carries things, gets parts, goes anywhere!
Use? My micro tooth 1/2 ratchet. 

CrustyRedXpress
CrustyRedXpress GRM+ Memberand HalfDork
9/7/22 12:11 p.m.

Almost always the factory service manual for what I'm working on, with various forums coming in close second. 

After that, the window AC if it's summer here in FL...

wearymicrobe
wearymicrobe PowerDork
9/7/22 12:51 p.m.

I still have a 1st edition of this in the garage and I still use it. I have had it for almost 27 years and it is the single most important book that I have ever read for how it effected my life. I remember my Dad and I buying it used at a swap meet. 

Got me though keeping my first car running. 

Got me going when I started buying VWs and fixing them. 

Is the reason I am so good with my hands. 

 

How to Keep Your Volkswagen Alive : A Manual of Step-by-Step Procedures for  the Complete Idiot by John Muir (1969, Trade Paperback, Revised edition)  for sale online | eBay

calteg
calteg SuperDork
9/7/22 12:53 p.m.

My snap-on ratchet. Sometimes I'll go out to the garage and rotate it to hear the teeth engage

spork
spork New Reader
9/7/22 1:08 p.m.

My DVOM. 15 years ago I decided to specialize in electrical diagnosis for the thrill of the hunt. Now I'm really good at finding the problems other people don't even understand in miles of wiring. Power Probe 3 is a close second.

Ian F (Forum Supporter)
Ian F (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
9/7/22 1:26 p.m.

One of my scissor lifts.  Having a lift really made working on my cars so much more enjoyable. 

Patrick
Patrick GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
9/7/22 1:44 p.m.

$ wise my lift. Life changing wise my lift. Everyday use my dewalt 20v impact

L5wolvesf
L5wolvesf HalfDork
9/7/22 2:00 p.m.
Ranger50 said:

My brain.

plus

Sentimentally - My deceased lady (Cathie) had a knack for finding tools I didn’t know I needed. ALL of those and I use them  lot.

DaleCarter
DaleCarter GRM+ Memberand New Reader
9/7/22 2:30 p.m.

Two post, asymmetrical floor lift and it isn;t even close :-)

 

1988RedT2
1988RedT2 MegaDork
9/7/22 2:38 p.m.

I'd have to say my Hobart welder.  It allows me to do things that were once impossible. 

jharry3
jharry3 GRM+ Memberand Dork
9/7/22 2:51 p.m.

My dad gave me this crescent wrench when I was 6 years old.  About 60 years ago.

I proceeded to take my bicycle apart.  

 

 

 

 

sir_mike
sir_mike Reader
9/7/22 2:53 p.m.

One of my finger ratchets.Great for tight spaces.

my laptop

JahjahSQC
JahjahSQC New Reader
9/7/22 4:31 p.m.

Without question, my quick jack.

My garage is your typical barely-two car garage. Slab too thin & ceiling too low for a 2 post lift, I finally sunk some car funds into a quick jack. Especially since I'm still recovering from knee surgery, this thing is a dream for my circumstances.

Pictured here is my 5000TL.

preach (dudeist priest)
preach (dudeist priest) GRM+ Memberand SuperDork
9/7/22 4:38 p.m.
wearymicrobe said:

I still have a 1st edition of this in the garage and I still use it. I have had it for almost 27 years and it is the single most important book that I have ever read for how it effected my life. I remember my Dad and I buying it used at a swap meet. 

Got me though keeping my first car running. 

Got me going when I started buying VWs and fixing them. 

Is the reason I am so good with my hands. 

 

How to Keep Your Volkswagen Alive : A Manual of Step-by-Step Procedures for  the Complete Idiot by John Muir (1969, Trade Paperback, Revised edition)  for sale online | eBay

I learned so much from that book.

I told the wife about it and she ordered one and now wants to rebuild a VW motor to put on a stand until we find here a Karmann Ghia.

bobzilla
bobzilla MegaDork
9/7/22 4:41 p.m.

My credit card. When I run out of talent or tools its always right there ready to step up.

Floating Doc (Forum Supporter)
Floating Doc (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand PowerDork
9/7/22 5:39 p.m.

I finally gave up and listed it on eBay a few hours ago. I'm never going back to private practice again. I love it, but I have to let it go.

It's a hospital grade scope like a pathology lab would use. 

Brotus7
Brotus7 Dork
9/7/22 6:11 p.m.

Sentimental: my swiss army knife. Got it from my great uncle when I was maybe 6.  Sliced my thumb open shortly thereafter and learned a valuable lesson.

Monetarily: either my TIG or Bridgeport. I love both and am not particularly good at either... which is part of why I love 'em. So much to learn.

ShawnG
ShawnG MegaDork
9/7/22 6:25 p.m.

Most valuable?

-looks down-

Hey little buddy...

Most useful is a tie between my brain and my smartphone. My brain figures out how to fix things but my phone is a magic wand that I can use to make things happen.

300zxfreak
300zxfreak Reader
9/7/22 7:11 p.m.

It's a tie between my MIG welder and my variable speed drill press, so much I can do with just those two. And then I think, well maybe it's my cordless (fill in name here).

bludroptop
bludroptop UltraDork
9/7/22 7:46 p.m.

i'm also on the - John Muir's VW book had a defining impact on my life - group VW bench.  Still have the 1974 edition that started it all for me.

 

Most valuable tool is a 1/4" drive military issue snap-on ratchet that dad swiped from the USNavy in about 1956.  

jerrysarcastic (dork in training)
jerrysarcastic (dork in training) Reader
9/8/22 12:34 a.m.
wearymicrobe said:

How to Keep Your Volkswagen Alive : A Manual of Step-by-Step Procedures for  the Complete Idiot by John Muir (1969, Trade Paperback, Revised edition)  for sale online | eBay

lots of really great answers, I agree with so many of them... but I'm with the microbe on this one.  16 years old, no idea what I'm doing, not sure how I'm going to fix this'63 bug I just got.  This book (from the local library) showed me the way

Dwight
Dwight New Reader
9/8/22 8:26 a.m.

ATTITUDE!

When I was young and obtained my first FOREIGN CAR [IMPORT] there was a general feeling that they were difficult to work on. Yes, they  are/were different, but still basically the same.. When a problem happened, the best thing to do was just think about how to repair it. Get advice from those already familiar. 

Chevrolet Corvairs were a good example of this. Many Chevy mechanics refused to work on them. I never owned one, because of my love for 'Foreign sports Cars, like MG's'

So I say, it is your attitude.

Paul_VR6 (Forum Supporter)
Paul_VR6 (Forum Supporter) UltraDork
9/8/22 9:05 a.m.

These days value per dollar, subscription/access to factory repair manuals. Best overall: lift.

kevinatfms
kevinatfms GRM+ Memberand HalfDork
9/8/22 12:53 p.m.

My Husky 1/2" torque wrench. No german method of tightening for me.

wspohn
wspohn SuperDork
9/8/22 12:57 p.m.
Ranger50 said:

My brain.

Grew up with a mechanic father, mechanical engineering tech degree, and lots of knuckles busted have me thinking about the repair before even lifting a tool.

Amen - more cars have been fzcked up by mechanics that think they will figure it out as they go than anything else.  Think about it, talk about it with someone that may be more familiar, look at the workshop manual (and today) look it up online.

THEN pick up your tools and get stuck in.

pinchvalve (Forum Supporter)
pinchvalve (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
9/8/22 1:17 p.m.

The thing that I would take from the garage if it were on fire is my Shark Boy and Lava Girl Happy Meal box. Long story, but it has sentimental value as well as offers ongoing guidance.

LopRacer
LopRacer Dork
9/8/22 3:06 p.m.

In reply to wearymicrobe :

I have one of those too, very influencial in my start in cars and my first car. 

Loweguy5
Loweguy5 GRM+ Memberand HalfDork
9/8/22 6:50 p.m.

In reply to Colin Wood :

Flat blade screwdriver.  Its a knife, a prybar, a hammer, a jumper wire and yes a screwdriver too.  I hear they can be used as a shank too but thankfully I have no reason to know that first-hand.

RacerBoy75
RacerBoy75 New Reader
9/8/22 7:00 p.m.

It used to be my aluminum racing jack, but then I got my cordless impact wrench. So that is probably the most used and appreciated tool. The most expensive is probably my 5000 lb Quick Jack, but it is also up there on the list of best tools I have.

Theunz
Theunz New Reader
9/8/22 8:23 p.m.

My 7.5 HP 80 gallon air compressor. It lets me grind, cut, loosen and tighten bolts, clean ,bead blast, air up tires, and has a myriad of other uses.

Tom_Spangler (Forum Supporter)
Tom_Spangler (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand PowerDork
9/8/22 8:43 p.m.

My Craftsman 1/2" metric ratchet set. It was the first tool I bought when I "graduated" from 3/8 ratchets because I was taking on bigger jobs like suspension work. It's probably 25 years old, and it's still all original and has been used a TON.

JThw8
JThw8 UltimaDork
9/8/22 9:42 p.m.

By far more useful than the function for which it was purchased.  Having to do most things on my own these days this is my heavy lifter.  Body on, body off the build, this will get it done then go cut 11 acres of fields.  It built the driveway to the garage and still makes a damn fine engine hoist.  10ft high pallet racks in the shop, this is the top shelf tool of choice.   Honestly I was very reluctant to make this purchase when I moved here but it is by far the most useful bang for the buck thing ever both for automotive work as well as many other things around the property.

 

No photo description available.

 

Purple Frog (Forum Supporter)
Purple Frog (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand HalfDork
9/9/22 9:29 a.m.

I work in construction.   This tool is used daily.  On some days it may drive over 1,000 3.5" deck screws.  It has survived thousands of days on the job.  A true workhorse.   Milwaukee Impact Driver (Fuel)

NOHOME
NOHOME MegaDork
9/9/22 11:02 a.m.

The  heated shop. 

Nockenwelle
Nockenwelle New Reader
9/9/22 11:10 a.m.

"Value" can have a lot of different meanings as most of these posts allude to.

My hands are top of the list, with brain a necessary part of their function.

If we're talking inorganic tools, value might be interpreted as such:

Useful: my bought-new 6.5" Wilton vise. Plus the 70-year-old university lab surplus butcher block workbench it's bolted to.

Favorite: my shop vac. I'm a clean freak. Every project starts and ends with cleaning the shop.

Monetary: Mohawk 10k 2-post lift. Built like a locomotive in the USA. First and last lift I plan on ever buying.

Sentimental: a 6oz ball-peen hammer I overtly stole from my Dad's collection when he wouldn't turn loose of a duplicate. It gets used on almost everything I work on. He in turn stole them both from his father sometime in the dark ages. Many other precision tool (mostly Starret) hand-me-downs from both of them, both trade machinists.

maschinenbau
maschinenbau GRM+ Memberand UberDork
9/9/22 11:30 a.m.

I have an old, massive Columbian bench vise from the bygone era of when things were made to last. I know I'll never break it, but I once teared up at the thought of it getting stolen because I know it literally cannot be replaced by the junk made today. 

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