How-To Geek

What You Said: Must Have Tools For Your Geek Toolbox


Earlier this week we asked you to share your favorite geek tool tips; now we’re back to highlight your must-have tools. Read on to see what your fellow readers put in their toolboxes.

Burned might just win the price for the most clever alternate-use tool:

I don’t see a guitar pick in that set of tools. They are great for opening LCD panel bezels and anything plastic that is snapped together. I also carry dental picks, electric screwdriver and telescopic magnet.

We can’t believe with the number of closely matched plastic surfaces we’ve pulled apart over the years we never thought to keep a few guitar picks on hand for the task—clever!

Davin highlights the value of a good flashlight:

While I carry a lot of tools… the one thing that I just started carrying that made me wonder why I never had one before is a good keyring led light beats crawling around behind a PC and not being able to tell the color of a port.

We’ve got a couple cheap LED headlamps laying around that are invaluable for working in cramped spaces (like behind a computer desk where you’d prefer to have your hands free to work and support yourself). You don’t win any fashion awards crawling around with a headlamp on, but it’s really useful to have bright and hands free lighting.


Aurora900 doesn’t let security screws stand in the way of a job well done:

My kit is mostly the same as everyone elses, except I never go anywhere without my full set of security bits for the occasional strange screw here and there. It has everything from torx (including the security ones), to pozidriv, to those S shaped bits that only go one way.

My favorite tool of all time to carry though would be my butane soldering iron. I can be anywhere and still be able to solder. No wires to get caught in, no need for electricity…

I also use my cellphone extensively for wifi diagnostics (with wifi analyzer).

Stevieb shares a clever DIY solution for retrieving run away parts:

The most useful tool (sorry, second most useful tool) I have is a short length (about a foot) of bicycle brake cord, with a low power magnet glued to the end.
The next most useful tool is a corkscrew.

For more great tool tips, hit up the full comment thread here.

Jason Fitzpatrick is a warranty-voiding DIYer who spends his days cracking opening cases and wrestling with code so you don't have to. If it can be modded, optimized, repurposed, or torn apart for fun he's interested (and probably already at the workbench taking it apart). You can follow him on if you'd like.

  • Published 05/11/12

Comments (9)

  1. Jeremy

    Guitar picks are great if you don’t have an actual case opener tool. Everytime I buy a replacement digitizer for a product I make sure it comes with a case opener tool because they come in handy so often and are easier to work with than a guitar pick.

  2. Jay

    Flashlight with you at all times has been a God-send for me. I used to carry a shirt pocket 2 AAA battery that was a little bigger than a fountain pen with me in the field. I never realized just how lucky this was for me until I was in a hotel that caught fire and all power went out.
    I have since graduated to a LED one battery shirt pocket (about $3 to $5 dollars) I am never without it and have two backups stored in my drawer. Now that I am older, it is amazing to me what this little flashlight can do to help me read small print, etc. I keep it clipped in my pocket during the day and clipped to my T-Shirt at night and you wouldn’t believe the number of times it has come in handy. They make great gifts too!!

  3. MdKnightR

    Flashlights are a must, but I’ve relied on my cell phone for that feature for years. Smartphones are indeed a geek’s version of Batman’s utility belt.

  4. Little John

    Head band magnifier is handy to read the small print on components, to see tiny screws on some laptops. My old eyes are trifocals and I need all help I can get. Old plastic spoons or credit cards to open plastic cases. Cheap paint brush — 1″ wide works great to remove dust and lint from computers, keyboards, and other components.

  5. HowardH

    Hey you guys, you are driving up the price of guitar picks, so quit-it. lol

    Just stay away from Dunlop Grays. lol kidding

    Good idea

  6. Rob J

    For making ethernet cables, I use a cheap plastic letter opener to cut the end of the outer jacket off the cable. You can usually find these letter openers for free just laying around the office.

    Here is a link to a picture of one if you are not sure what I am talking about.

  7. dan

    im supprised noone mentioned usb drives or password reset cds or paperclips for opening cd rom drives..

  8. Mark

    Someone just did…YOU!! LOL

  9. Jeff

    I have a few dental inspection mirrors that are really useful sometimes.

More Articles You Might Like

Enter Your Email Here to Get Access for Free:

Go check your email!