Ian Norton

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What's in my toolbag?

Picking tools is a tricky expensive task and a few years ago I lost my toolbag which was a pretty devastating thing. So here’s my reconstructed toolbag built up over many years since that loss and including many things that weren’t in the original and excluding some that were (I don’t think the 3.5” floppy cleaner would get much use these days).

The Bag

Item Make and model Link to equivalent Comment
Medium tool bag Starrett BGM Starrett BGM I love this bag. It has a hard plastic base and is big enough to take all of the tools listed here.

Drivers / screwdrivers

VDE screwdriver set

Stanley FatMax 6 Piece VDE Screwdriver Set. Sadly these have been discontinued. I’d suggest Wera VDE 7 piece set) as a replacement. Details of the individual screwdrivers below. The Stanley set did not include a 0.8 x 4.0mm so I had to buy one of those individually.

Item Details
VDE Screwdriver PZ1 Wera PZ1 x 80
VDE Screwdriver PZ2 Wera PZ2 x 100
VDE Screwdriver 0.4 x 2.5mm Wera 0.4x2.5x80
VDE Screwdriver 0.6 x 3.5mm Wera 0.6x3.5x100
VDE Screwdriver 0.8 x 4.0mm Wera 0.8x4.0x100
VDE Screwdriver 1.0 x 5.5mm Wera 1.0x5.5x125
Voltage tester 0.5 x 3.0mm Wera 0.5x3.0x07 Voltage Tester

Other screwdrivers / bits

Item Make and model Link to equivalent Comment
Stubby pozi driver Wera 355 PZ stubby Wera 355 PZ Pozidriv-head Stubby/carburetor screwdriver This is one of those occasional use things that’s exactly what you need when you need it.
Precision screwdriver set Rolson 32 piece precision screwdriver & tweezers Amazon Basics 51-Piece Precision Screwdriver Bit Set This is a nice set but the bits don’t tend to stay where they should. I’d like something that’s a bit more terminal driver style with a spinning cap so suggestion is the Amazon one.
Hex bit driver Wiha Bit Holder Handle with Quick Release - 25874 Wiha bit holder 25874 This is the last hex driver you will buy. The sturdy feel of a good quality screwdriver without the usual bulk of a hex driver with a ratchet mechanism or compartments for bit storage. It’s a joy to use.
Hex bit set Generic hex bit set Rolson 30247 Screwdriver Bit Set Eh.
Hex bit security set Generic hex bit security set Rolson 30629 Security Bit Set Eh.

Mini Pliers / cutters

Item Make and model Link to equivalent Comment
Long Nose Plier, 125mm Draper 60740 Draper 60740  
Bent Nose Plier, 125mm Draper 60742 Draper 60742  
Diagonal Side Cutter Plier, 110mm Draper 60743 38A Draper 60743 38A  
End Cutter 105 mm Draper 60744 Draper 60744  

These are also available as part of a set Duratool D00121 which might be a cheaper approach.

Pliers / cutters

Item Make and model Link to equivalent Comment
Long Nose Plier Irwin Visegrip 10505504 Irwin Visegrip 10505504  
High Leverage Combination Plier Irwin Visegrip 10505876 Irwin Visegrip 10505876  
Diagonal Cutter, 200mm Irwin Visegrip 10505495 Irwin Visegrip 10505495  
VDE Side Cutter, 6.1/2-Inch Eclipse PWSF7746/11 Eclipse PWSF7746/11  

I’d probably recommend the Knipex KNIPEX Assembly Set 00 20 11 now.

Cable strippers / cutters

Item Make and model Link to equivalent Comment
Automatic cable stripper Elcontrol PTS4 Elcontrol/LappKabel PTS4 Perfect for mains cabling solid and stranded
Cyclops Data Cable Stripper Toggle 20020 Toggle 20020 Perfect for data cabling
4” (100mm) Cable Cutter Stripper Duratool D03424 Duratool D03424 I have two pairs of these in my toolbag set to different diameters

Test equipment

Item Make and model Link to equivalent Comment
Pocket digital multimeter Micronta 22-171 no longer manufactured Generic pocket DMM Nice small meter but only has basic functionality. DC voltage, AC voltage, diode check, ohm and continuity. That’s fine for a basic meter I was to always have in my toolbag.
Voltage detector Schneider IMT23009 Amazon Schneider IMT23009 Wave it at the wire and it tells you if cutting it will result in sparks
UK Mains Socket tester Deta Socket Tester Duratool SC440 Socket Tester Three neons indicate if a UK plug socket is correctly wired.


Item Make and model Link to equivalent Comment
Tiny spirit level Stabila 17775 Pocket Electric Stabila 17775 Small enough that it will fit in a single gang electrical backbox
Stanley knife Stanley knife 10-020 Stanley 10-018 I bought one of these in a Black & Decker factory shop and some time later discovered that they no longer make them. Closest thing linked but not as nice as the 10-020 sadly
Ice pick DiResta ice pick DiResta ice pick I made my own but the original is available for ordering :)
Adjustable spanner 150mm CK 150mm adjustable spanner CK 150mm adjustable spanner Nice size to be handy in the toolbag
Claw hammer Estwing 16oz Estwing 16oz Cheaper alternatives definitely available but I do like this one
8m tape measure Stanley Tylon 8m Stanley Tylon 8m The two pack is cheaper than individual. Like pencils, you can never find a tape measure when you want one.
Centre punch Eclipse 3.2mm centre punch Eclipse 3.2mm centre punch  
12” crowbar Estwing 12” gooseneck wrecking bar Estwing 12” gooseneck wrecking bar I use a tiny crowbar like this far more often than you might think! Handy for those occasional bursts of destruction
IDC punchdown tool Draper punch down tool Draper punch down tool Check your tool type with the terminations you plan to use and get the one that matches. This is good for BT style and data cabling but better may exist for whichever type of socket you pick
Allen key set Wera Hex Key Set, With Holder, Metric, 9 Piece Hex Key Set, With Holder, Metric, 9 Piece  
Magnetic pickup tool Generic Telescopic Magnetic Pick Up Tool Telescopic Magnetic Pick Up Tool Specifically you want the one with the small magnetic head. Don’t play with it, or it will break. Every. Time.


Item Make and model Link to equivalent Comment
Electrical tape 19mm x 20m (black) 3m Scotch Super 33+ 3m Scotch Super 33+ black This stuff is expensive but excellent
Electrical tape 19mm x 20m (yellow) 3m Scotch 35 3m Scotch 35 yellow This stuff is expensive but excellent
Fuses 3A, 5A, 13A Plug fuses Watch out for counterfit dangerous fuses
M3.5 bolts Electrical outlet screws Electrical outlet screws These are always handy for replacin missing screws whilst out and about
Large permanent marker Sharpie thick tip Sharpie thick tipped in black  
Small permanent marker Sharpie fine tip Sharpie fine tipped in black  

Other tools

Some tools are not frequent use enough to keep in my main toolbag so they live in either their own boxes with the relevant consumables or just in the general infrequent use bag.

Item Make and model Link to equivalent Comment
Data cabling crimp tool Paladin CrimpAll PA8000 Paladin CrimpAll PA8000 Dies for RJ11, RJ45 and BT plugs. Other dies available but these are the ones I have
Ratcheting crimp tool (electrical) Forge Steel crimping pliers Forge Steel crimping pliers For the red, blue and yellow eletrical crimps - needs to be ratcheting
6 point self adjusting crimp tool Generic 6 tooth 0,5mm to 6mm self adjusting crimp tool Generic 6 tooth self adjusting crimping tool For your electrical ferrules
Network cable tester Rolson generic Duratool network cable tester Don’t mistake these cheap testers that do simple DC polarity and pair tests for serious testers - it’s a quick check tool
T-Cutter cable shears T-Cutter Wire Cutter 45-123 T-Cutter Wire Cutter 45-12 These things cut through 25 pair telephony cable like it’s not there. Also finger tips if you’re not paying attention…..

Hard to believe I started writing this post in October 2021. Time to ship it.