Basic Industrial Maintenance Tool List
For Industrial Maintenance Technicians & Mechanics
Basic Industrial Maintenance Tool List: Every work environment is unique. Each will require specific and specialized tools beyond the scope of this entry. This post is centered on a foundation set of suitable tools for many electrical and industrial maintenance applications. This is a starting point to build upon. As I have written elsewhere, providing tools to your maintenance team is a critical part of getting quality results in their work.
I have read numerous times that many employers require maintenance technicians and mechanics to provide their own core set of tools. If they are a well-qualified individual, the tools will be evidence of their commitment. I disagree completely. Quality tools are expensive, and it can take years to build a decent set. Don’t make the job candidates fill a toolbox. Let them feed their families. If tool loss becomes an issue, deal with that on its own.
If you allow an employee to bring their own tools, inspect them for quality and make sure it’s a tool that belongs on your factory floor.
Not only do I prefer to select the tools, but I also dictate additional items to be in the mechanic, technician, and electricians’ toolbox. Remember, our goal is to maintain and repair the equipment properly and efficiently. Unnecessary trips away from the job can be reduced or possibly eliminated by keeping some additional items such as hose fittings, fuses, fasteners, tapes, and anything relevant to your equipment.
Don’t Carry What You Don’t Need.
I believe it’s also important to not include unnecessary tools. We are somewhat programmed to buy tools in sets such as socket sets, screwdriver sets, wrench sets, etc. The reality is all of those included tools take up space that can be better occupied by more important items; they also make the toolbox heavier and more difficult to move. Today we have the option of cleverly designed tools and even specialized sets of tools that can do a lot with only a few tools, and there’s no loss in quality or effectiveness. German companies such as Wera, Wiha, and Knipex are great in this respect.
As you scroll down this page, you will notice I mention tool “sets,” which might appear contrary to what I stated in the previous paragraph. There are two points to this. The first point is I never said not to buy tools in sets; I said the unnecessary tools don’t need to be in the toolbox. The second point to this is simple economics. It’s almost always more cost-effective to buy tools in sets rather than individually.
A simple test is to look at your wrenches, sockets, and screwdrivers and see if any look brand new. If you have owned the tools for a reasonable amount of time and look brand new, you don’t need them in your toolbox.
Don’t Include Tools that Facilitate Poor Results.
I have often seen maintenance personal make Vise Grip Pliers, Channel Locks, and Adjustable Wrenches their primary tools. Unless there is a job requirement, the first two examples should probably be left out of the toolbox. While they have their time and place, keep them in the shop or tool crib and make them inconvenient to use. There are quality adjustable wrenches like the Proto model listed below. Unfortunately, most mechanics and technicians are unaware of the option. Something else to consider today, German tool manufacturers Knipex and Wera are changing the tool landscape with designs not seen before or improved versions of the old stand-bys mentioned. Previously. To see examples, look at the Knipex Pliers Wrench and the Wera Self Adjusting Joker Spanner Wrench. Both of these tools can eliminate several other tools.
Based on visitor feedback, I will be adding a lot of pictures to this page. I will also create a “Basic Maintenance Tool List” pdf download featuring simplified and generic information. For the time being, I link to the manufacturer, Amazon, or another vendor.
You might be interested in what’s in My Toolbox.
Toolbox & Tool Storage
The Toolbox: U.S General 26 In. X 22 In. Single Bank Roller Cabinet
I’m not typically an advocate for Harbor Freight Tools, but they have managed to hit a home run with their U.S General Toolboxes. The U.S General line represents a perfect compromise of cost versus quality. The U.S General, 26 Inch Toolbox features eight 22″ deep drawers, and that’s important to me from a storage space and organizational standpoint. Most inexpensive toolboxes have five to seven drawers. I also like that U.S General has matching add-on cabinets and drawer organization, making the U.S General Toolboxes a complete tool storage solution. These toolboxes in no way compete with Snap-On or the Icon brand that Harbor Freight carries. They aren’t meant to.
Keep in mind my team does not use heavy-duty air tools, hydraulic pullers, etc. They carry the tools listed throughout this page.
From Harbor Freight:
Get up to 9,800 cubic inches of accessible tool storage with this compact, heavy-duty roller cabinet. This tool cabinet has top-quality features like ball-bearing drawer slides, rolled drawer edges, and glossy powder coat paint. The roller cabinet features 8 drawers with a variety of heights to accommodate large and small tools. With heavy-duty 5-inch metal casters, this unit can hold 1000 Lb. of tools securely. The powder coat finish is durable and easy to clean.
- High capacity, full-extension ball-bearing drawer slides
- All welded steel construction
- Industrial powder-coated finish resists rust
- Secure detents keep drawers closed
- Two fixed and two locking swivel casters
- Non-slip pre-cut drawer liners in all drawers
- Barrel lock keeps your tools safe and secure
Tool Bags, Tool Backpacks, Tool Pouches, and Tool Carriers.
Not every job requires the maintenance technician or mechanic to well his toolbox to the repair. There are fantastic backpacks and tool carriers available. I use two models from a company called Custom Leathercraft, aka CLC. Milwaukee Tool and Klein Tool offer really nice ones too.
Additional Toolbox Small Part Storage.
As mentioned above, I like to have my team equip their toolboxes and tool carts with supplies to save them time walking or searching for parts. Below are brands I like. Be warned, there’s a lot of junk knockoffs on Amazon. You need storage containers that will hold up and not having you on your knees picking up small parts off the floor.
- Milwaukee Packout – Expensive but durable.
- Durham Compartment Boxes – These storage boxes are available in multiple sizes and configurations and are, when combined with their mating racks are my primary manner of small parts storage. The compartment boxes lend themselves to grab and go applications.
- Plano – Plano manufactures storage containers for just about any purpose imaginable. In fact the I like the Stowaway Storage Containers that are often found in modular fishing tackle boxes.
- The Stanley/Dewalt Storage Organizer System is a decent mid-priced small parts storage system. Presently we use these at my day job. It’s important to know that while these storage boxes look similar to the Harbor Freight offerings, the Dewalt is superior design and construction.
- Stanley Storage – I believe some models are the same as the Dewalt as Stanley owns Dewalt.
- Flambeau Zerust Utility Boxes are sold for fishing tackle storage. The Flambeau Zerust Tuff Tainers are awesome for their locking mechanisms, and Zerust VCI vapor technology trays provide effortless rust prevention for metal.
Wire Strippers & Cable Strippers
There are several wire and cable strippers below to choose from; your environment may not require all of them. Pick and choose what makes the best sense for your maintenance team.
- Jokari 20310 Sensor “Special Mini” Automatic Wire Stripper – PVC-coated cables, PUR-coated sensor/actuator cables, Shielded cables, Unshielded cables, TPE U cables, PUR-coated halogen-free sensor cables, PUR-coated cables
- Jokari 20300 Sensor Special Automatic Wire Stripper – This tool is similar to the Jokari Sensor “Special Mini” listed above. The difference is it’s made for larger diameter sensor cables.
- Jokari 20050 Ergonomic Super 4 Plus Automatic Wire Stripper – This wire stripper performs admirably on wires ranging from 24 gauge to 10 gauge. Don’t expect it to strip wires outside its stated range. The Jokari 20050 Super 4 Plus looks strikingly similar to several other brands of self-adjusting wire strippers, such as the Felo Automatic Wire Stripper. Draw your own conclusions.
- Knipex 12 62 180 Self-Adjusting Automatic Wire Stripper 10-24 AWG –
- Jonard WSA 1430 Self-Adjusting Wire Stripper 14-30 AWG – The Jonard WSA 1439 takes over where the Jokari 20050 leaves off. This tool is not perfect; occasionally, insulation sticks to the gripping jaws. A nice feature of the WSA 1430 is replacement parts are readily available from Amazon.
- Knipex 12 40 200 Self-Adjusting Insulation Strippers 7-32 AWG – I plan on testing this Knipex wire stripper in place of the Jonard WSA 1430
- Jonard CST-1900 Round Cable Stripper – The Jonard CST-1900 is half the cost of the Phoenix Contact WireFox D40 that I use and works just as well. The Jonard tool was unknown to me when I purchased the WireFox.
- Knipex 97 62 145 Crimping Pliers For End Ferrules – I prefer the Knipex 97 53 18 Twistor16 Self-Adjusting Crimping Pliers for crimping ferrules, but at $150, I can buy four pairs of the Knipex 97 62 145 ferrule crimper. These are great crimpers in their own right and are fine for the needs of maintenance technicians and mechanics who infrequently crimp ferrules. If a team member crimps ferrules regularly, the more expensive auto-sizing ratchet type is worth the cost.
- Wiha 43618 Ratchet Crimper for Standard Connectors – You know these terminals; they are the ones with the yellow, blue, and red terminals. It’s worth buying a good crimper as the cheap import models often create crimps that fail over time in the field. If the price tag is too steep for the Wiha, the Knipex 975237 Crimping Pliers are a respectable alternative at half the price of the Wiha. There appear to be countless options of crimpers at the low end knocking off the 1990’s Weidmuller and Paladin ratcheting style crimper. Klein and + sell a lot. In my opinion, these are geared towards home users, DIY’ers, and maybe electricians with minimal needs. In an industrial environment, we want perfection with every crimp.
- IWISS Open Barrel Crimper – Open barrel terminals are those strange but common uninsulated terminals that typically run across in the field with OEM electrical hardware. You can recognize the connectors due to their construction. They have four ears, two crimp the insulation, and two crimp the conductors. Unfortunately, maintenance mechanics and technicians rarely have the correct tool for a proper crimp and resort to pliers and vice grips. Compounding the problem is that there are several open barrel terminal styles, and there’s no one size fits all tool. Fortunately, IWISS offers a large selection of open barrel crimpers and crimper kits. IWISS isn’t a premium brand, but its tools are more than adequate for the occasional use required by maintenance personnel.
- IWISS Closed Barrel Crimper – Most maintenance mechanics won’t need a closed barrel crimper. I include the tool in our “Basic Industrial Maintenance Tool List” so you know the crimper exists. Click the highlighted link to the left and visit IWISS to learn more.
- Fluke 179 True-RMS Digital Multimeter – A robust, feature-rich DMM is invaluable for most maintenance personnel. The Fluke model 87V would be a great choice for industrial maintenance technicians who regularly maintain and troubleshoot VFDs. The Fluke model 117 would fill basic digital multimeter needs or be good as a second meter (I use two). At this time, I recommend the Fluke 179. It’s not cheap, but it is a solid value.
- Manual and automatic ranging
- Display Hold and Auto Hold
- Min/Max-Average recording
- Voltage measurements to 1000 V AC or DC
- Current measurements to 10 A AC/DC
- Resistance to 50 MΩ; capacitance to 10,000 μF, frequency to 100 kHz; temperature from -40 ℃ to 400 ℃
Note: I use my Fluke DMM with temperature accessories to eliminate the need for a separate dedicated temperature meter.
- Fluke T6-600 Electrical Tester – The Fluke T6-600 appears in our Basic Industrial Maintenance Tool List mostly for its open fork design. The open fork design allows current measurements in tight spaces because there are no jaws to open. This is helpful in cramped electrical panels. The T6-600 is also capable of non-contact voltage measurement.
- Fluke 1AC II Non-Contact Voltage Tester – The Fluke 1AC II is a sharpie-sized tool the lights up and beeps when voltage is detected. It’s a great tool for quick tests and safety checks.
- Banner DBQ5 DC Proximity Sensor Tester – The DBQ5 is a portable Demo Box for powering dc self-contained sensors for testing purposes and provides a 4-pin euro-style quick-disconnect fitting.
- Used to power dc self-contained photoelectric sensors for testing purposes
- Designed around the 4-pin Euro-style connector
- Powered by three standard 9V batteries (27V dc) for very long service life
- Features bi-color LEDs that indicate not only sensor output status but also output type (NPN or PNP)
- A 4-pin wiring barrier is mounted on the top of the box to connect cabled dc sensors.
- Proto J704L Clik-Stop Adjustable Wrench 4″ –
- Proto J706L Clik-Stop Adjustable Wrench 6″ –
- GEARWRENCH 20 Piece Ratcheting Wrench Set, SAE/Metric – 35720-02 – Includes SAE sizes: 1/4, 5/16, 11/32, 3/8, 7/16, 1/2, 9/16, 5/8, 11/16 and 3/4 in, Includes metric sizes: 6, 8, 10, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18 millimeter.
- GEARWRENCH 28 Pc. 6 Pt. Combination Wrench Set, SAE/Metric – 81923 – Includes SAE sizes: 1/4 in 5/16 in 11/32 in 3/8 in 7/16 in 1/2 in 9/16 in 5/8 in 11/16 in 3/4 in 13/16 in 7/8 in 15/16 in 1 in 6mm 7mm 8mm 9mm 10mm 11mm 12mm 13mm 14mm 15mm 16mm 17mm 18mm 19mm Includes metric sizes: 1/4 in 5/16 in 11/32 in 3/8 in 7/16 in 1/2 in 9/16 in 5/8 in 11/16 in 3/4 ,13/16 in 7/8 in 15/16 in 1 in,6mm 7mm 8mm 9mm 10mm 11mm 12mm 13mm 14mm 15mm 16 mm,17mm 18mm 19 mm
Hex Key Wrenches
- Bondhus 20399 Ball End L-Wrench DoublePK w/BriteGuard & GoldGuard Finish –
- Wiha Precision Hex Inch Screwdrivers 8 Piece Set 26391 –
- Wiha Precision Hex Metric Screwdrivers 8 Piece Set 26390 –
- Knipex 86 05 180 7 1/4″ Pliers –
- Knipex 81 11 250 SBA 10″ Pipe and Connector Pliers with Soft Jaws (843221021412) –
- Klein Tools J203-7 Pliers, Long Nose Side-Cutters, 7-Inch –
Ratchets, Socket & Socket Sets
Note: The quality level of ratchets and sockets should be dictated by the equipment being maintained. The GearWrench tools listed below are mid-grade, relatively low cost. If your environment often experiences maintenance mechanics putting pipes on wrenches, you probably need premium quality from Proto, Snap-On, and Matco brands. The premium brands use better construction and materials. The sockets are typically thinner-walled and stronger than their less expensive counterparts. You get what you pay for.
- GEARWRENCH 35 Pc. 1/4″ Drive MicroDriver Set – 85035 –
- GEARWRENCH 51 Pc. 1/4″ Drive 6 Pt. 120XP Mechanics Tool Set, Standard & Deep, SAE/Metric – 80300P –
- GEARWRENCH 56 Pc. 3/8″ Drive 6 Pt. 120XP Mechanics Tool Set, Standard & Deep, SAE/Metric – 80550P –
Screwdrivers & Miscellaneous Drivers and Minature Tool Sets
- Wera 2054/7 Kraftform Micro Hex Metric Precision Screwdriver Set –
- Wera 2054/8 Kraftform Micro Hex SAE Precision Screwdriver Set –
- Wiha Precision Long Slotted/Phillips Screwdrivers 5 Piece Set 26192 –
- Wiha SoftFinish Slotted/Phillips Screwdriver 8 Piece Set 30298 –
- Milwaukee 11 in 1 Multi-Bit DRIVER with ECX 48-22-2760 –
- Wiha Master Tech 65 Piece Set – ESD Handle, Mini Ratchet, and MicroBits In Metal Storage Box 75965 –
- Wiha 8 Piece Insulated PicoFinish SL/PH Set 32088 is the most used screwdriver set in my toolbox.
- Wiha 7 Piece Insulated SoftFinish Screwdriver Set 1000-Volt VDE Set 32099 –
Precision Measurement and Alignment Tools
- Mitutoyo Digital Caliper “500 Series” –
- 1-2-3 Blocks (2 Pairs) –
- Machinist Square Set –
- Pec Tools 3″- 6″ Flat Machinist Squares –
- Starrett Machinist Level, 98-6 – 6 Inch Precision Leveling Tool with Cast Iron Base –
- Feeler Gauge Set – SAE and Metric
- Rulers – Starrett 6″ & 12″ stainless steel rules with 5R graduations are my preference. There are metric and thousandths versions available.
- Tape Measure – Once again, my preference is for Starrett. Layout a few fully extended tape measures side by side and compare the measurements to each other. You might be surprised at what you learn. I suggest always owning at least one Starrett NIST Traceable Tape Measure to verify all others too.
- OTC 1024 5-Ton Reversible Jaw ‘Grip-O-Matic’ Puller – A small puller is a great tool for reducing hammer strikes to gears and bearings. Don’t use import junk, but OTC.
- Nupla 10027 SFS-2SG Standard Power Drive Dead Blow Hammer – A soft face hammer filled with steel shot is good for persuading parts to move without damage.
- Iso-Tip Cordless Soldering Iron – This cordless soldering iron is fantastic for small soldering jobs on the field. I use mine often.
Handheld and Portable Power Tools
I include power tools in the Basic Industrial Maintenance Tool List because cordless drills, cordless drivers, and cordless impact wrenches and ratchets have become commonplace, replacing corded and pneumatic versions of the past. Today cordless tools rule, and the following comments apply to them.
I’m not normally a brand person, but I have strong opinions and preferences about power tools. Simply put, I prefer to buy and use the best tool for the job. That said, in an industrial environment, it makes sense to select one brand and standardize on it, as long as the tools are industrial quality. My brands of choice are Bosch, Milwaukee, and to some degree Ingersoll Rand. My current company has standardized Milwaukee M18 Fuel power tools. The tools below are what we use presently.
Note: I prefer my personal Bosch cordless drills because I find their clutches are superior when driving screws and fasteners into delicate materials such as drywall and thin plastic.
- Milwaukee M18 Fuel 2697-22 18-Volt 1/2-Inch 2-Tool Combo Kit, which includes the 1/2” Hammer Drill Driver (2607-20) and the 1/4” Hex Compact Impact Driver (2656-20)
- Milwaukee M18 FUEL 1/2″ Drill Driver (2803-20)
- Milwaukee M18 FUEL SURGE™ 1/4″ Hex Hydraulic Driver (2760-20)
- Milwaukee M18 FUEL SUPER SAWZALL® Reciprocating Saw (2722-21HD)
PPE (Safety Gear)
Proper PPE equipment should be supplied by the employer.
- Safety Work Gloves –
- Nitrile Gloves –
- Eye Protection –
- Hearing Protection –
- Respirator or Dust Masks –
- Innofox Rechargeable Magnetic Work Light 40W 1500Lumens –
- Milwaukee 2735-20 M18 18V Lithium-Ion 160 Lumen LED Worklight –
- Headlamp – Headlamp style is a personal preference
- Klein Tools 56028 LED Flashlight and Work Light –
- Pen & Paper
- Mobile Phone, Tablet, and Notebook Computer
Now that you scrolled all the way to the bottom of our Basic Industrial Maintenance Tool List, you probably think this basic maintenance tool list is not so basic. There’s a good reason for that. It can’t be stressed enough that the maintenance team members need quality tools, and they need the right tools (and training) to provide the best support to the equipment and facilities they are responsible for. Also, keep in mind that each technician or maintenance mechanic doesn’t need to have identical tools. Your team probably includes members with specialized skills.
My mechanics have all the typical manual hand tools, and the technicians have more of the testing equipment and premium insulated screwdrivers, crimpers, and strippers. Doing this also helps to keep the individual team members working in their proper area of expertise. It also might make sense to have a set of expensive/premium tools in a common toolbox or on a shadow board. Just make sure the tools are tracked in some fashion, or they will become fixtures in toolboxes.
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