Basic Industrial Maintenance Tool List

Basic Industrial Maintenance Tool List

Basic Industrial Maintenance Tool List

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 foundational set of suitable tools for many electrical and industrial maintenance applications. This “Basic Industrial Maintenance Tool List” is a thorough starting point to build upon. As I have written elsewhere, providing tools to your maintenance team is critical to getting quality results in their work.

I have frequently heard that many employers require maintenance technicians and mechanics to provide their own core tools. The thought process is “If they are a well-qualified individual, the tools will be evidence of their commitment.” I disagree completely with that logic. Quality tools are expensive, and it can take years to build a decent maintenance tool set. Don’t make the potential job candidates fill a toolbox. Let them feed their families. If tool loss becomes an issue, deal with that on its own. In my experience, mechanics and technicians who take care of the tools they are provided will typically take care of the manufacturing equipment with the same care.

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 additional items such as hose fittings, fuses, fasteners, tapes, and anything relevant to your equipment.

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.

Don’t Carry What You Don’t Need.

I believe it’s important to not include unnecessary tools in a toolbox. We are somewhat programmed to buy tools in sets such as socket sets, screwdriver sets, wrench sets, etc. The reality is many of those sets include unnecessary tools that take up space that can be better occupied by more essential items; they also make the toolbox heavier and more challenging 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 may not 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 personnel 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 standbys. Look at the Knipex Pliers Wrench and the Wera Self Adjusting Joker Spanner Wrench to see examples. Both of these tools can eliminate several other tools.

You might be interested in what’s in My Maintenance Toolbox.

Toolbox & Tool Storage

The Toolbox: U.S General 26 In. X 22 In. Single Bank Roller Cabinet

U.S General 26 In. X 22 In. Single Bank Roller Cabinet

Harbor Freight 26-Inch Toolbox

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 do not compete with Snap-On or the Icon brand that Harbor Freight carries, and 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, and heavy tools require heavy-duty storage solutions.

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 of various heights to accommodate large and small tools. With heavy-duty 5-inch metal casters, this unit can securely hold 1000 Lb. of tools. 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
  • A barrel lock keeps your tools safe and secure

Tool Bags, Tool Backpacks, Tool Pouches, and Tool Carriers.

Milwaukee Tool Bag

Milwaukee Tool Bag

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. Update 02/02/2022, a contractor/friend was helping out at the day job; he showed up with a Veto Pro Pac and Veto Tool Pouch. Both products are new to me, and I must admit the Veto brand gear might be the best I have ever handled.

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 are a lot of junk knockoffs on Amazon. You need storage containers that will hold up and not have you on your knees picking up small parts off the floor.

Small Parts Storage

  • Milwaukee Packout – Expensive but durable. Read more about the Milwaukee Packout System.
  • Durham Compartment Boxes – These storage boxes are available in multiple sizes and configurations and, 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, I like the Stowaway Storage Containers that are often found in modular fishing tackle boxes.
  • Stanley Storage – I believe some models are the same as the Dewalt, as Stanley owns Dewalt. 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, Dewalt is superior in design and construction.
  • Flambeau Zerust Utility Boxes are sold for fishing tackle storage. The Flambeau Zerust Tuff Tainers are excellent for their locking mechanisms, and Zerust VCI vapor technology trays provide effortless rust prevention for metal.


Electrical Tools

Maintenance Tool List Wire Strippers

Maintenance Tool List – Wire and Cable Strippers

Wire Strippers & Cable Strippers

Several wire and cable strippers are listed below to choose from; your environment may not require all of them. Pick and choose what makes the best sense for your maintenance team.

Crimpers & Crimping Tools

Crimpers and Crimping Pliers

Crimpers and Crimping Pliers

  • Knipex 97 62 145 Crimping Pliers For End FerrulesI 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 have 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 worthy alternative at half the price of the Wiha. There appear to be countless options of crimpers at the low end knocking off the 1990s Weidmuller and Paladin ratcheting style crimper. Klein and Wirefy sell a lot. I think 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 familiar 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 ears crimp the insulation, and two ears 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.

Maintenance Test Tools & Test Equipment

Industrial Maintenance Test Tools

  • Fluke 179 True-RMS Digital Multimeter – A robust, feature-rich DMM is invaluable for most maintenance personnel. The Fluke model 87V would be an excellent choice for industrial maintenance technicians who regularly maintain and troubleshoot VFDs. The Fluke model 117 would fill basic digital multimeter needs or be suitable 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.
    1. Manual and automatic ranging
    2. Display Hold and Auto Hold
    3. Min/Max-Average recording
    4. Voltage measurements to 1000 V AC or DC
    5. Current measurements to 10 A AC/DC
    6. Resistance to 50 MΩ; capacitance to 10,000 μF, frequency to 100 kHz;
    7. 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 primarily in our Basic Industrial Maintenance Tool List for its open fork design. The open fork design allows current measurements in tight spaces because there are no jaws to open, and 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 that lights up and beeps when voltage is detected. It’s an excellent tool for quick tests and safety checks.
  • Fluke 62 Max+ Infrared Thermometer -20 to +1202 Degree F Range
  • 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.
    1. Used to power dc self-contained photoelectric sensors for testing purposes
    2. Designed around the 4-pin Euro-style connector
    3. Powered by three standard 9V batteries (27V dc) for very long service life
    4. Features bi-color LEDs that indicate not only sensor output status but also output type (NPN or PNP)
    5. A 4-pin wiring barrier is mounted on the top of the box to connect cabled dc sensors.

Hand Tools


  • Stanley Proto J704L Clik-Stop Adjustable Wrench 4″ – The Stanley Proto Clik-Stop adjustable wrenches have a detent feature that prevents the wrench from losing adjustment.
  • Stanley 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 – 81923Includes 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


  • 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 maintained equipment dictates the quality level of ratchets and sockets. The GearWrench tools listed below are mid-grade and 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 more robust than their less expensive counterparts. You get what you pay for.

Screwdrivers & Miscellaneous Drivers and Minature Tool Sets

Cutting Tools

  • Lenox Hacksaw Frame 12″ – Most hacksaw frames are junk; it’s a fact. Today, even the best hacksaw frames aren’t as good as their predecessors. I have been using Lenox brand high tension hacksaw frames for two decades, and they remain my brand of choice.
  • Hacksaw Blades 12″ – Select quality hacksaw blades designed for the material being cut. Don’t buy cheap blades. If you are unsure of what type of blade you need, visit McMaster Carr. McMaster’s website features a fantastic drill-down menu that will aid in your blade selection. McMaster doesn’t list brands, so buy your first blades from their website and use what they sell you as a guide for future purchases. When selecting standard hacksaw blades, my choice is the Lenox brand, with Starrett being the runner-up.
  • Milwaukee Fastback Press and Flip Utility Knife 48-22-1901 – I never met a utility knife I liked, the Milwaukee Fastback Press and Flip Utility Knife 48-22-1901 is what I currently use and provide to my team.

Precision Measurement, Setup and Alignment Tools

  • Mitutoyo Digital Caliper “500 Series” –
  • 1-2-3 Blocks (2 Pairs) –
  • 2-4-6 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.

Miscellaneous & Specialty Tools

  • Hand Files – Hand files are a maintenance necessity. The materials in your environment will dictate what assortment of hand files you should own. I prefer the Nicholson Magicut lineup. Simonds and Grobet are premium brands. Avoid the cheap imports; they don’t last. Types of files: Files, also known as American-pattern and machinists’ files, are used to remove material quickly. Precision files, also known as Swiss-pattern files, are made to exact measurements to ensure smoothness and are useful for finishing delicate and intricate parts.
  • Needle File Set – Needle file sets are a mainstay in most maintenance mechanic toolboxes and toolbags. The file sets include small files of various shapes and cutting edges. They are excellent for deburring and cleaning up edges, holes, and grooves in metal. I have been using the same 5 1/2″ #2 cut Nicholson Needle File Set for 30 years. Unfortunately, the quality of the Nicholson set comes with a steep price tag. Note Crescent and Nicholson are the same company. Crescent offers needle file sets identical to Nicholson. I can’t speak to the quality of cheap brands available online. Grobet produces great hand files, and their needle file sets are probably a safe bet. They offer needle file sets with fewer files, and that can get you in the game with good needle files at a lower cost.
  • OTC 1024 5-Ton Reversible Jaw ‘Grip-O-Matic’ Puller – A small puller is an excellent 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 generally not 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, it makes sense to select one brand and standardize on it in an industrial environment, as long as the tools are of 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.

Update: I have begun the transition to Hilti Tools away from Milwaukee Electric Power Tools. Follow this link to learn why.

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.

PPE (Safety Gear)

Proper PPE equipment should be supplied by the employer and what’s needed is different for every business. The list below is some universal PPEs that belong in just about any toolbox.

Buy quality; there’s a lot of sub-par PPE & safety equipment available online. To put it bluntly, 3M is my go-to for most PPEs. 3M has acquired some of the best PPE equipment manufacturers. Visit 3M

  • Safety Work GlovesCustom LeatherCraft (CLC) & Mechanix Wear serve me well.
  • Nitrile Gloves – I prefer 3.5-5 mil nitrile gloves. Quality nitrile gloves. Unfortunately, In Covid times it’s difficult to source quality nitrile gloves. If you’re buying nitrile gloves from Amazon, I suggest 5 mils. If you can only purchase lighter-weight gloves, order a size bigger than you would typically buy. The low-quality gloves often tear easily, usually when putting them on.
  • Eye Protection – Proper eye protection comes down to the work environment and personal preference. 3M acquired the tried and true AO Safety brand of protective eyewear, and Uvex is another good brand. Avoid the inexpensive models meant for visitors and such. Those safety glasses tend to distort user vision. Prescription safety glasses are available from ArmourX and Wolverine Eyewear.
  • Hearing Protection – I prefer the 3M brand for all my hearing protection needs.
    • 3M Worktunes – The 3M Worktunes over-the-ear hearing protectors are somewhat of a cautious recommendation. These hearing protectors’ provide an NRR of 24 dB (Noise Reduction Rating) and can connect to your phone via Bluetooth to allow the user to make and receive calls and listen to music. Some workplaces may not permit music. I use the 3M Worktunes in my personal life when operating my outdoor power equipment.
    • 3M Peltor Earmuffs – If the 3M Worktunes aren’t suitable for your workplace, the 3M Peltor product line will cover your needs. There are
    • 3M EarplugsVisit 3M to select your earplugs of choice. I often combine the 3M E-A-R Classic Earplugs 310-1001 with Peltor earmuffs in very loud situations.
  • Respirator or Dust Masks – Again, my preference for respirators and dust masks is 3M. Visit the 3M Respiratory Protection web page and select what’s appropriate for your workplace environment.
  • Safety Shoes – I look to the military for safety footwear recommendations. The Bates GX-8 Composite toe has been my shoe of choice for years. They’re incredibly light, tough as nails, and comfortable. I use the Black GX-8 Gore-Tex model in the winter and the tan GX-8 Composite Toe Side Zip Work Boot in the summer months. I’m very interested in trying the Reebox Rapid Response Composite Toe Safety Shoes.


  • 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 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 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 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 shared toolbox or on a shadow board. Just make sure the tools are tracked in some fashion, or they will become fixtures in toolboxes.

Coming Soon:

I will add additional pictures to this page based on visitor feedback. As requested, I have created a “Basic Maintenance Tool List PDF” download of this page. Visit often for updates.


Feedback Welcome!

Please feel free to comment at the bottom of the page. Let me know if you try some of the tools listed or if you have tool suggestions I should try.

You might be interested in what’s in My Toolbox.


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