2019-12-02 3 min read



Drafting, Layout, & Documentation.

  • The Kaweco sport is our favorite in-pocket mechanical pencil - it's compact, comfortable to use, and has a non-stabby tip. For desk use we recommend a Rotring 600.
  • The Starrett 18AA automatic center punch is a 20th century American classic - a tiny hand tool that will last longer than its owner.
  • The iFixit Pro Magnetic project mat is a clever little tool that helps lay out assembly & disassembly projects. I've made my own share of hacks to accomplish this same task, and the Pro Magnetic project mat would have made those jobs *much* easier.

Fabrication & Assembly.

  • Wera's Zyklop Premium 1/4" drive ratchet set is a super convenient kit, and like many German hand tools it's a lot nicer than the generic (or even primo) American tools. Having a 1/4" ratchet with a pivoting head is especially good for fitting in tight spaces, and the Zyklop Premium set also includes a variety of screwdriver, Torx, & hex bits - making it totally useful as a general purpose driving tool.
  • The iFixit Pro Tech toolkit is an excellent do-all electronics repair & assembly set, and should be the starting point for anyone looking to, say, replace a sticky butterfly keyboard or (as I had to recently) drill out a headphone port without also drilling out the computer's audio board right behind it.
  • The Shaper Origin [note, Shaper is a sponsor of The Prepared] is a pretty rad tool, allowing you to bring 3D CAD into woodwork in a way that's really unusual. I used a Shaper on both rough and finish jobs this year, and in both cases it reduced work and improved outcomes.
  • Wera's multicolor Hex + L-keys aren't our pick for pure aestheticism (that honor remains with PB Swiss), but with their unique profile they're kind of the next best thing to a Torx wrench and are arguably superior to any other L-key set on the market.
  • Wera's T-handle Rapidadaptor is a super handy way to make a T-handle driver from any bit in your shop (which we have a lot of via our beloved Tool Check Plus). We also recommend their Kraftform Plus screwdrivers for general shop use; they're far and away the most ergonomic screwdrivers we've seen.
  • The Festool Vecturo is a superior oscillating tool, and its collection of modular add-ons (in true Festool fashion) make it a highly controlled implement of destruction.
  • Felco wire rope cutters are easy to use and produce consistent, clean cuts in all kinds of cable.
  • Our Shark 12" pull saw is ideal for odd tasks around the shop, especially near the scrap pile.

Maintenance, Repair & Operations.

  • DuPont Sontara Wipes are almost as soft as cloth and *way* more durable than paper towels.
  • Air King high velocity fans are rad - they're compact, relatively quiet, and create a lot of airflow. Our shop gets hot in the summer, and the Air King is both targeted and strong.
  • DMT 10" DuoSharp diamond bench stones are great meta-tools, particularly well suited for keeping waterstones flat but also good for fast sharpening if you're separated from your Tormek. For an even scrappier solution, we recommend DMT's FWFC Diafold sharpeners.
  • Ballistol tool wipes are great at all-purpose cleaning & rust prevention, extending the life of anything that might otherwise corrode. We especially like their individual packaging; rarely do we need more than one at a time.
  • The Wiha 26-in-one Tradesman Ultra driver is not our favorite multi-screwdriver (that honor goes to Wera) but the shear breadth of its bit selection make it a very useful tool nonetheless.
  • Wera's 8" Cobolt compact bolt cutters are easy to use around the shop - good for bolts and chain and even the random padlock.
  • Grypmat tool trays are great for (typically dirty) service work, especially for multi-step tasks that are a short walk from your tool chest.

Measurement & Analysis.

  • The Fluke 324 clamp-on multimeter is great for testing equipment that can't be turned off. Pair it with a Fluke VoltAlert non-contact voltage tester as your first and second phases of electrical troubleshooting.
  • Secondhand, Adam Minter's latest on the business and logistics of reused goods, is a captivating and often discouraging view of the effects of modern consumerism.
  • The Goal is a business management classic - important reading for anyone in production, strategy, or general management. For the easily distracted, we recommend reading the graphic novel version.

The Lego Creator Apollo 11 Lunar Lander set.

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