What tools should I buy?

Hi - I’m a new fixer, mostly with electrical and electronic items, and I have a few basic tools including a soldering iron. Are there any particular tools or toolkits people can recommend? I’m really looking for general purpose tools rather than specialist things, e.g. for mobile phones. That said, I’m not sure precisely what I’m asking for here, hopefully the ensuing discussion will help clarify my thoughts!

1 Like

See https://wiki.restarters.net/Tools
(There’s quite a lot else in the Wiki you might find useful.)

  • Philip

Thanks, that list is really useful.

I was wondering if there are any brands people recommend, or the opposite!

Also, are there any good tool kits I could buy? Something with a bit holder, pliers, cutters, etc. I have an old Rolson set of the above but it’s pretty poor quality and I’d like something better.

I picked out a few things from The Pi Hut:

Perhaps the ratchet set is excessive :thinking:

1 Like

I got a Rolson 51 piece bit +handle set as a gift which has quite a few of the security bits- square and tri-wing and the flat blades with a central slot. It also has a lot of flat, Philips, Pozi and torx bits.
Only drawback is that it’s not particularly thin so won’t fit in some holes.
My favourite gadget is an endoscope that plugs into a smartphone. My fellow fixers find all sorts of excuses for using that.
Spudgers are good for not marking cases when you open them. A wire stripper/crimper is a bit of a must- can be a fairly simple one. With the above exceptions I just use what I had when I started fixing. I assume you have a multimeter.


I definitely recommend a long security bit set, something like this, to open the large number of appliances that use tri-wing, clutch, security bits etc.
It’s important that the bits have a long shaft because the screws are often in deep recesses.

Similarly, that ratchet driver & bit set you’re looking at won’t be useful for screws & nuts in deep recesses, so I suggest a set of standard screwdrivers instead or in addition.

Another recommendation: an iFixit Essential Electronics Toolkit because it’s really good quality and has all the stuff you need to do phones and other small electronics, including nasties like pentalobe :face_vomiting: screwdriver bits and plus a good range of spudgers.


Yes, I’ve got one of those long screwdriver bit sets and use it quite often. Only snag: it does weigh down your tool bag. A small tip: don’t use the security Torx bits for standard non-security Torx screws. They’re not as strong, and one of mine sheared off.


was looking for recommendations for a soldering iron. there are millions of choices it seems! my maplin one conked out within a year of use. it was probably around 20 quid at the time. I imagine it was the cheapest one available in those days so I’m not really surprised.

My personal soldering recommendation is an Antex TCS50W.
It’s a small 50W temperature-controlled mains-powered self-contained iron.
It heats up in seconds and the bit fitting is sensible so that it doesn’t get jammed and conducts the heat well.
Oh, yes, and it’s British so no ridiculous carbon footprint for transport from overseas.

80 quid isn’t cheap, and you’ll need to buy a stand and any extra bits, but having compared this to cheap soldering irons, it’s well worth the money.


I bought an Antex XS25W from Rapid Electronics - £31 a couple of years ago, including a stand. It’s basic but seems well-made.

I got my first Antex iron in the early 1960’s. When my previous one conked out (not sure whether that was the original) I treated myself to a temperature controlled one. Apart from the quicker warm-up I wasn’t convinced it was so much better, and it cost a fair bit more. But 3 or 4 years ago I got a cheap Chinese JCD 8898 solder station like this. The iron has a tip small enough for those SMD’s you can do by hand yet is still good for general soldering, and it’s very easy to keep clean. In addition, the hot air gun is very useful for shrinking heat-shrink sleeving as well as potentially for SMD work, though I haven’t used it for that. All in all, I’ve been very pleased with it and my Antex has languished on the bench unused.

Oh, and get yourself an assorted pack of heat-shrink sleeves - about the most useful consumable after a reel of solder!

1 Like