I like to keep these tools handy where-ever I'm working on my printers and things I print.
Drivers and Tools
Black and Decker Roto-BIT Driver
Handy to have around
This is a convenient tool that I use to make assembly and routine maintenance on my printer easier. Rather than using Allen wrenches, I slip on an adapter to the hex size I want and use the Roto-BIT to make haste on a long screw.
It's handy for working on other miscellaneous projects around the house too. I've used this to put together furniture and whatnot.
Vinh's Thoughts: I use this for small projects or to get into tight spaces where my larger drill/driver can't get to. It's inexpensive at around 25$, and is a strong driver for its size as well.
25$ USD (as of 10/21/2021)
Amazon - Combo with a 42-piece bit set!
Wheeler Engineering 89-Piece Gunsmithing Screwdriver Set
The best bits that you can buy
I never knew this specialty tool existed until one of my mentors noticed some of the screws on some guns were slightly marred and disfigured. What makes these bits unique is that they fit *perfectly* into whatever screw you need to use them in. The flatheads are swept in concave towards the tip, rather than chamfered, which prevents your tool from marring the slots on your screw.
With the 89-piece kit, you get a complete set of specialty drivers for various firearms too. The items of importance in this kit are the Glock front sight screw bit, and the punches, as well.
Vinh's Thoughts: One of the best gifts I ever received. I leave this on my workbench within easy reach when I need a screw driver that won't mar a surface or finishing screw I own.
66$ USD (as of 10/21/2021)
Wheeler Engineering Master Roll Pin Punch Set
Punches for projects, big and small
If you're getting into printing for making or maintaining for firearms at home, this is a no-brainer.
This kit contains a small, precise ball-and-peen hammer along with an array of punches and punch starters. It's essential for taking apart guns like the Glock, S&W SD/SW, and FNH series of pistols. You'll find yourself reaching for this set for every firearm you do in-depth maintenance on!
Vinh's Thoughts: I bought this early on when I was learning to maintain my own guns. It's a must-have in any home armorer's toolset.
36$ USD (as of 10/21/2021)
Kingwin TKS-54 54-bit Precision Screwdriver Set
Getting into your printer and small electronics made easy
I bought this set for its tri-wing and its star security bits when I used to work in the cell phone repair industry. Nowadays, I use this for its metric hex bits, especially when getting into my printer. It's still a handy kit I reach for first when I need to fix small electronics.
While this kit is a popular white-label OEM item for many brands (such as iFixIt, Kingwin, and store brands), it's carried me through my electronics repair career and continues to serve me to this day.
Vinh's Thoughts: I've had this set for eight years now from a different OEM. Pairs great with the included quarter-inch adapter and the Roto-BIT driver above. The hex bits are indispensable for quickly getting into your 3D-printer.
15$ USD (as of 10/21/2021)
Neiko Electronic Digital Caliper (6in or 8in)
Accurate measurements and calibration on a budget
While these aren't Mitutoyo's (yes, these are status symbols to academic and industrial snobs!), they make do quite nicely for calibrating your 3D printer, or even getting measurements to design parts for.
Vinh's Thoughts: Inexpensive, and unlock many capabilities for your shop (such as calibration and design). I use the 6in one for my travel backpack, and keep the 8in one at my desk. Don't bother with the 12in one- I have it and it stays in a case all the time as it's so unwieldy. Remove the battery if you leave it in storage for long- it eats juice even while "off", and a low battery can throw your measurements!
25$ USD (as of 10/21/2021)
Amazon - LR44 batteries
Flexcut Cutting Knife (1-1/4in Bevel Length)
The best knife I've had for cleaning up prints
There's just some details where a flush cutter won't cut it (no pun intended) or when sanding just won't work.
I found that for removing the most pesky supports, or even making real-time/post-processing edits to a printed part in ways that require precision and clean cuts are best helped with a carving knife.
Rather than buying an entire set, which would be overkill, I bought the simple and common 1-1/4in bevel length carving knife, along with a leather strop and wax to keep it sharp.
This knife quickly and cleanly cuts away errant supports or blobs on prints. I've even used it to trim down major parts of a print, and the sharp carbon steel blade leaves the plastic smooth. (Yes, smooth!)
As long as you take care of this knife by keeping it sharp with the leather strop and wax (and putting it away when you're done!!), this knife will last a very long time. If you don't maintain it and abuse it at very aggressive angles, however, it will quickly need replacing.
Vinh's Thoughts: Not required if you're content with your flush cutters and craft knife- but it does make clean-up all the more enjoyable and easier. Get the leather strop and wax too- it's needed to keep this in good condition and perform well every time.
23$ USD (as of 10/21/2021)
Amazon - 16$ USD - Leather Strop and Polishing Compound
Hakko CHP-170 Flush Cutters
Everyday, durable flush cutters
These are flush cutters. Pretty simple. Excellent replacement for when your freebie that comes with your printer inevitably fails one way or another.
These are great for snipping filament or taking care of small blobs and making minor adjustments to your prints.
Vinh's Thoughts: Not a buy now, but you'll need it eventually.
10$ USD (as of 10/22/2021)
GodHand Nippers PN-125
Really small cuts in tight places
These flush cutters / nippers were made for those in the Gundam/model kit building hobby, but I've found these work great too for 3D prints. These are a mid-tier version of a premium tool (costing nearly 100$ USD!), but will do well for folks that want to edit their 3D prints and make final adjustments.
Don't use these to cut anything thicker than a filament strand! While the blade is sharp and will cut like butter, if you cut anything hard or thick, you will damage it.
Comes in blue and Keroro green, if you're a Sgt. Frog fan like me. 🐸
Vinh's Thoughts: This is a premium tool, but will treat you well if you treat it well.
20$ USD (as of 10/22/2021)
Amazon (Keroro version)
VIT Sport 3D Filament Connector/Splicer Tool
Niche tool to save money with- especially if you print a lot
I have an informal review here on my YouTube channel!
Vinh's Thoughts: A niche and specialty tool that requires a particular ritual to use and get perfectly- but after you use this to make a few spools, it pays for itself.
56$ USD (as of 6/17/2022)
Generic Needle Stick File Set
Minor clean up and precision edits
These are great for cleaning up the insides of holes and pockets, like say the opening for a magazine catch. Perfect for smoothing out the undersides of small geometry where filament may sag due to supports.
Vinh's Thoughts: Cheap enough to have handy. If you can, get the version with the larger stick files too- it's great for working down large areas or around curved surfaces.
10$ USD (as of 10/22/2021)
Amazon - 30$ USD, with large files
SRA 3D Print Retouching Tool
For cutting, retouching, and reforming prints
I use this when I need to melt or fill on spots on my prints. It's also handy for taking care of the angel hairs and wisps if you have stringing on your prints. On some models I prototype, I use this to make large removals on existing geometry by getting the iron in and then wedging unwanted filament away from the model.
If you buy replacement tips, it doubles as a soldering iron. Be sure to have an extension cable or power-strip on your desk to use this. The power adapter is really short to be useful from foot height.
Vinh's Thoughts: A pricy addition to a bench, but worth the hassle if you're doing large edits to your model post-print. Be sure to put the power adapter at desk height, and disconnect the power when you're done with it.
80$ USD (as of 10/22/2021)
Mr. Hobby - Mr. Super Clear Flat Spray
For painting, coloring, or just de-glossy-ing your prints
Prints are glossy- that's a fact. And that the layer lines are basically smooth plastic horizontally make it hard to write or color in certain sections of it.
Fortunately, for when I don't want my prints to have that glossy sheen (or want to be able to scribble on it for whatever reason), I give it a coat of Mr. Super Clear Flat Spray. The spray applies evenly and provides a matte finish on whatever you put it on.
They offer a UV Cut version too for sunlight protection, though it might be overkill given that you shouldn't leave PLA prints in direct sunlight.
Vinh's Thoughts: Inexpensive to have. Handy if you get tired of glossy finishes your prints always come out as.
16$ USD (as of 11/11/2021)
Amazon - UV Cut version
Irwin Table Vise (6-inch)
For when whacking on the table is no longer enough
A vice comes in handy when you need to hold something still, or press a pin in gently. I find myself using mine for pressing in pesky pins or for cutting and sanding parts that you just can't hand-hold for safety reasons. In addition, the anvil (flat metal surface on the back) is great for bending metal or using as a solid surface to hammer on. (A hard material such as iron, which this vice is made of, will better retain force when you come down with a hammer. Surfaces such as wood will transfer the force throughout past the part you are hitting on, rather than keeping it concentrated on your part.)
Vinh's Thoughts: If you're going to be using a rotary tool or sanding paper and need to hold your printed part still, this is strongly recommended to get for the bench.
125$ USD (as of 10/22/2021)
iFixIt Magnetic Project Mat
Keeping your small pins and parts organized
This is a simple mat I keep on my bench for my current active project. It's great for keeping track which part goes where. The fact that it's magnetized means that things won't slip or roll off quite easily.
Vinh's Thoughts: Great for keeping organized. Ditch the dry-erase marker though and pick up a fine-tip Expo dry-erase marker. Mine came dry.
15$ USD (as of 10/21/2021)
Self-Healing Cutting Mat
A place to put your work on
The self-healing mat is a multi-purpose surface I use to place what I'm working on top of. I use it to prevent my table from getting roughed up, such as for cutting down on parts and whatnot.
Vinh's Thoughts: Another tool to keep tidy and organized- put what you're working on down on this mat and save your table from getting the brunt of the beating!
12$ USD (as of 10/21/2021)
Heat Inset Tool
Painless threaded heat insets
This is a convenient tool to make inserting heat inserts quick and easy. Using some aluminum extrusions and springs, it helps you insert threaded insets straight down into whatever part you need them on. It's a simple tool, and comes with a soldering iron with a slew of inset tips too.
Vinh's Thoughts: Worth having if you will be inserting more than a few insets.
Check out the accessory holder I made for this tool on my Printables!
50$ USD (as of 4/28/2023)
Elmer's All-Purpose Glue Sticks
Last-minute bed adhesion
If you're using a glass bed or a worn out PEI sheet, you're gonna need a glass bed for that inevitability of when your prints don't want to stick. A glue-stick is a great band-aid to get your prints bonding to the bed by adding a small layer of adhesive for plastic to bond to.
Vinh's Thoughts: You'll wish you had it when you need it. Get the jumbo sticks, and you'll never run out.
11$ USD (as of 10/21/2021)
eSUN Filament Storage Bags w/ Electric Pump
Great for saving filament
If you are like me and like to swap filament often (or have a printer you leave dormant for a while), you'd best be served keeping a filament storage bag handy. I use these for sealing my ABS and Nylon filaments that I have left (very hydroscopic) to keep them from absorbing moisture.
The electric pump makes it less of a chore. I keep the silica bags that come with my filament to throw in one of these.
25$ USD (as of 6/4/2023)
Aqua Net Extra Super Hold Professional Hair Spray
Great for saving filament
Hair spray is great for an extra helping hand on bed adhesion. While you should have your bed-leveling and filament squish dialed in, hair spray comes in handy for glass or smooth surfaces or for when filament just stubbornly not want to stick. Don't overdo it- a half-second burst on the bed will do wonders.
10$ USD (as of 6/4/2023)