The Compact Toolkit

I’ve long had a need to keep a small toolkit with me, mostly stored in my trunk, ever since I became a property manager. The tools I keep in it have nothing to do with repairing my car, and instead have everything to do with fixing odds and ends around shopping centers, offices, houses, and…

I’ve long had a need to keep a small toolkit with me, mostly stored in my trunk, ever since I became a property manager. The tools I keep in it have nothing to do with repairing my car, and instead have everything to do with fixing odds and ends around shopping centers, offices, houses, and apartments. I’ve been working on perfecting this toolkit since 2006.

No, really, it has taken that long.

I recently noticed that it has been about a year now since I changed my toolkit — a first — so I feel comfortable talking about the tools that I keep in the kit and why.

The Why

I want to start with the why because that is what should guide you in your makeup of a proper toolkit. In order to make an excellent and useable toolkit you have to understand what you are likely to use the toolkit for — or even if you are likely to need a toolkit at all. I mentioned that mine is around because I need it for different properties that I manage.

There’s stuff that I see broken all the time, and I keep a small toolkit so that I can make a quick repair to stuff if the time/circumstance allots, so that maintenance can stay on other tasks.

Repairs like:

  • Crooked signs.
  • Out of date directory signs.
  • Leaking faucets / hose bids
  • Time clocks needing adjustments
  • Door closer adjustments
  • Lock problems

There’s a ton of other little things, but that’s what I have off the top of my head. Nothing very technical, just little things that annoy you.

The Kit

My kit is extremely basic, and has been honed over the years, currently residing in it:

  • Klein 10-n-1 Screwdriver: This is a great screwdriver that I have mentioned before. I currently have six of these bouncing around and rarely need a different screwdriver. I chose this one in particular because the Torx heads on this driver fit a few of the allen head bolts that I constantly seem to be dicking with. Great tool and as the name implies takes the place of 10 ‘other’ tools, but mostly for me serves as a philips/flat tip and make shift allen wrench.
  • SOG EOD Multi-tool: I’ve tried about a half dozen multi-tools but landed on the SOG because the pliers feel the toughest to me. I would say 90% of the time this is the only tool in my kit that I really need. I mostly keep it in there for the pliers, but the file also comes in handy.
  • CRKT Drifter G10: I of course have to keep a knife. I chose this knife because the price makes it rather disposable. So if I need to do something unsavory with my knife, I try to use this one.
  • 6″ Zip Ties: Seemingly infinite amount of uses and repairs that can be made with these guys. I keep the clear ones on hand.
  • Pry Bar: I bought this little pry bar thing from a crazy site. There’s tons of uses for it, but I truly just have it in my kit to pry on shit. I wrapped mine with some paracord for comfort — not really for survival or anything.
  • Crescent Wrench 8″: The worst thing you can do in the long term is to attempt to loosen or tighten a bolt head with pliers as that will wear the head in a way that a real wrench may not be useable in the future. I keep a crescent wrench for that very purpose. They come in handy as a make shift hammer too if you need one.
  • 4″ Scraper: Our shopping centers constantly have random stickers applied to windows, and this scraper is the best at quickly getting them off. Fair warning: I’ve seen tons of people cut their hands wide open using these — be careful, especially in cold weather (trust me, more dangerous than they look and you often use them with a lot of force).
  • Pair of Raven Nitrile Gloves: I go with black because they look more bad-ass. But these are great disposable gloves to keep on hand. I only stock one pair, so I need to constantly add them back in, smarter people should stock more pairs.
  • Compact Roll of Duct Tape: I stock the 1-inch wide Gorilla brand Duct Tape. It’s strong and durable and I find that the one-inch variety has more uses than the 2″. I also keep this in a small envelope so it doesn’t get duct tape goop all over everything else.
  • Water Key: I keep a four-way water key for turning on commercial hose bids in my car. These are at most of the buildings that I a manage.
  • Bosch Laser Tape Measure: This is invaluable for me to measure up spaces and distances quickly and accurately. I love this thing.
  • Cheap Bic Lighter: I keep this on hand for melting the ends of strings/ropes/straps if I have to cut one for some reason. (Usually to remove a banner.)
  • SureFire Fury: This is my favorite flashlight at the moment. Many are put off by Surefire, but I have tried other brands and they just don’t feel as rock solid as Surefire. This is a beast of a small flashlight and just what I need for 3am meetings with firemen in 40,000SF vacant buildings, while we look for the cause of a fire alarm.
  • I may, or may not, have a set of these too. If I did, they would be at home and never leave my safe there.

All of these tools are not kept in a toolbox, or bag. I have one tool bag that I use, and it only holds seven of the items. The rest are stashed in one of two areas in my car: the flashlight is in the glovebox, the rest are under the mat in this nice tray that my car has in the trunk.

The rest of the tools are kept in a Winter Session tool roll that I really like the look of, but is a bit small in practice.

Your Kit

Your kit can and should be different from mine. There are likely tools I omit that you think crazy to omit. You are probably right for your application, but for me — in the past year — these are all the tools I have needed out of this kit.

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