One benefit of A/C Pro is that it doesn’t require any additional tools; it comes with everything you need. Anyone can use it to charge up their car’s A/C, even if they literally don’t own a single tool.
Not that we have anything against tools. They’re very useful when it comes to doing other car repairs or working on things around the house. They can also be expensive, though, because there’s almost no limit to the number of tools you can buy.
So what if you want to be handy on a budget? What if you don’t own any tools, but would like to be able to put up new window shades or fix a broken table leg? Thankfully, you can do most common repairs with a very small number of relatively inexpensive tools.
Here’s a list of the most useful tools that give you the biggest bang for your buck:
1. Adjustable wrench.
Wrenches are the tools most commonly needed when working on cars, or almost anything mechanical. The only problem is that you need so many wrenches: every possible size, in both standard and metric measurements.
If you don’t want to buy a toolbox full of wrenches, though, you can just get a single adjustable wrench instead. Adjustable wrenches, also known as crescent wrenches, can fit any and every bolt or nut you’ll ever come across.
You’ll often need two wrenches at the same time: one to turn the nut, and the other to keep the bolt from turning. You could buy two adjustable wrenches, but since we’re trying to save money, you could get by with:
2. Locking pliers.
Commonly known by the brand name “Vice-Grips,” locking pliers are designed to clamp things together like a vise. This can be useful around the house, like when you need to hold two things together tightly while the glue between them dries. However, they can also be used like a regular pair of pliers, and do everything from tightening a leaky hose connection to cutting wires. Adjust the clamp to the right size, and they can latch onto any bolt—including ones that are broken or rounded off, and therefore can’t be gripped by a regular wrench.
3. Multi-bit screwdriver.
A screwdriver is a necessity for pretty much anyone. The problem is that you actually need at least two screwdrivers—a flat head and a Phillips head—and perhaps more if you’re dealing with screws that are much smaller or larger than average.
The one-tool solution is to get a multi-bit or reversible screwdriver: one where you can switch the tip around to fit the different types or sizes of screws. Though twice as useful, they’re really no more expensive than traditional screwdrivers; we’ve seen them listed for as little as $3.
4. Power drill.
This is the only power tool on our list, and is potentially the most expensive item (prices vary widely, depending on quality and brand name). But a power drill is invaluable if you’re working with wood or drywall. You don’t want to try driving a screw through a 2×4 or into a wall with just a screwdriver. And with the right attachments, it can be used for everything from drilling holes to sanding rough wood to cleaning your car’s battery terminals.
Most power drills are battery-operated, and in many cases they’re preferable that way. If you have a long extension cord and want to save money, though, a corded drill can provide more power and never run out of juice.
5. Claw hammer.
At a fully-equipped shop, you might find any number of hammers: from rubber mallets, to sledges, to ball peens in a variety of sizes. But if you’re going to have only one hammer, we’d recommend a full-size claw hammer. The old standard can do almost anything the others can (if you use it right), and is by far the best for driving nails (the most common use).
The claw end gives it a completely different set of abilities, from pulling nails to prying up boards to chipping through hard dirt or rock. You can even use it to dig small holes in the garden to plant seedlings.
Basically, it’s a $7 tool that can be used to either build or tear down an entire house.
6. Pocket multi-tool.
A simple pocket knife could easily make it on this list as one of the most useful everyday tools. But, if we’re looking at pocket knives, we might as well consider their more versatile cousin, the multi-tool. Whether a Swiss Army knife or a Leatherman-style pocket tool, these compact gadgets can unfold to reveal everything from pliers to steel files to corkscrews to scissors. They usually include at least one regular blade, a saw blade, a bottle opener, and small Phillips-head and flat-head screwdrivers. If you were stuck on a desert island and could choose only one tool to have, this would be your obvious choice.
7. Duct tape.
Some might debate whether it should be considered a “tool,” but there’s no question that duct tape is one of the most useful and versatile repair items out there. We’ve seen it used to fix cars, farm equipment, boats, tents, shoes, windows, picture frames, book covers, furniture, toys, remote controls, and spaceships. People have used it to create art, clothing, wallets, phone cases, hammocks, cups, splints, and bandages. Its uses are limited only by your imagination.