5 Handy Tools to Tackle Those Project Builds

During the long months of winter, we’re bound to search out some projects to keep us from going insane. (Yes, insane.) And as any professional will tell you, in a messy work space, half the job is spent finding the right equipment. Keep the advice in this post top of mind if you plan to complete some of the quick garage projects that we covered earlier this morning. While getting organized and taking inventory, you may notice that you’re missing some necessary specialty tools. Whether you’re overhauling an engine, beefing up the suspension, building custom pieces, or performing repairs from front to back, here are five handy tools to round out that collection and see you through those upcoming project builds.

Dial Indicators

The automotive operating systems that you’re likely going to dive into this winter work of precision-made tolerances. Whatever part of the drivetrain you’re cracking into, from the engine block to the differential, will need to have the tolerances checked to ensure they are in proper working condition.

Dial indicators will usually run in the ball park of around $90 to start and go up from there. Along with this measurement tool, you will want to take a look at setting yourself up with a bore dial indicator. Between the two, you’ll get a reading for most of the tolerances of the vehicle’s primary operating system.

Cordless Impact

Everyone knows that impact guns make quick work of tearing down projects. Shop owners with air compressors usually use pneumatic impact guns and those who used them enough will tell you how cumbersome they can be with an air hose connected. Cordless impact guns make it easy to squeeze into tight spaces without wrestling around the air hose or waiting for the tank to refill after prolonged use.

Cordless impacts usually cost in the neighborhood of $170-$200 and come in a variety of sizes and inch pound outputs. Trust me when I say how much it’s worth the investment. In combination with these impact guns, you will want to make sure you have a good torque wrench for reassembling everything you’re going to zip apart in minutes.

Sheet Metal Brake

Many of us are very taken up with the concept of trying out new and challenging tasks, and that’s especially true during the winter time. On entry level body work, most won’t have a sheet metal brake to help them fab up patch panels and custom parts.

Eastwood makes vise sheet metal brakes that run in the realm of $50, which are great for making small parts. The company also offers a larger sheet metal brake that mounts to a vise for about $200. You can’t beat investing in both of these much needed tools, as they open up so many doors for those looking to make their own parts for repairs and customization.


Is space tight in your personal garage? When it comes to getting the car up in the air to perform jobs underneath, all the other tools stored in your garage combined with a floor jack can prove to be a severely claustrophobic experience.

A QuickJack vehicle lift system might run in the neighborhood of $1500, but it’s a quick way to securely and effectively lift all four corners of the vehicle with ease. No more snagging jack handles on bicycles and Christmas decorations—your working experience will be way more enjoyable.

Code Reader

Let’s say just before the season change you picked up a used car or truck with quite a few issues. (That’s why it’s your winter project, right?) Vehicles equipped with an OBDII port allow you to work on what’s wrong right away, without having to run to the parts store for a scan over and over again. A personal investment of your own code reader can range from $30-$2000 and beyond. If you’re serious about this project car (and all the problems you may face down the road), this tool will more than pay for itself in the long run.

There is truly no shortage of specialty tools available on the market, but we feel these five suggestions cover a broad range of projects. At the end of the day though, a solid collection is yours to build. What are some investments you couldn’t live without? Share ’em in the comments!

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