Top 10 Tools I Would Recommend
Depending on who you work for and what aspect of aviation you choose to get into, depends on what tools you will have in your toolbox. However, from my experience in working overhaul, hangar maintenance, and line maintenance, these are the tools I would recommend any mechanic to have in their toolbox.
Being a line mechanic on the night shift, I do not think I could live without my trusty flashlight! Every mechanic has a preference for flashlights. In fact, some companies will even provide their mechanics with flashlights. However, my company doesn’t. For this reason, I prefer to use a Streamlight Strion HL. This flashlight is so bright; it reaches the top of the vertical stabilizer. Another nice thing about this flashlight is that it comes in different colors, so you can pick one that matches your personality. Make sure to purchase a pouch for it!
My Leatherman Wave and lime green Streamlight
Another essential flashlight to have as a mechanic is a good headlamp. I've tried many different types of headlamps, but my personal favorite is the Hurkin Orbit Headlamp. Unfortunately, they are not selling this product any longer, but there is a similar version of it you can consider purchasing. You can also check out third-party sellers. A good runner-up headlamp is the Ledlenser H7R.2 headlamp. It's bright and does the job nicely! I like this model because it's rechargeable, lightweight, and has a pretty decent battery lifespan.
Leatherman or Gerber
Of all my tools, my favorite tool is my Leatherman Wave + Black Oxide. As a line mechanic, I do not think I could live without it. Depending on your company, if you are allowed to have one, I recommend that you consider purchasing one. Choose between a Leatherman or a Gerber. I would recommend the Gerber MP600 Sight Tool Multi-Plier, if you do not want to go Leatherman. You can purchase a belt pouch to hold your Leatherman, or you can buy a Quick Release Pocket Clip like I have.
Safety Wire Pliers
I believe a mechanic is only as good as their safety wire pliers. For this reason, I use Reversible Cushion Throat Safety Wire Pliers from Snap-On. They might be pricey, but these make life easier! Honestly, if you are going to spend a lot of money on one tool mentioned here, let it be your safety wire pliers! You will thank me later!
High Leverage Diagonal Cutters
You can't talk about safety wire cutters without mentioning the need for a good pair of diagonal cutters. For this reason, I prefer to use Snap-On High Leverage Diagonal Cutters.
If you are looking for a decent pair of diagonal cutters while on a budget, consider purchasing the Knipex High Leverage Diagonal Cutters.
I have two ratcheting screwdrivers, and I honestly do not think I could live without them. If you are willing to spend the money, consider the Snap-On Ratcheting Screwdriver. If you have the budget, look into purchasing a T-handle ratcheting screwdriver as well. It comes in handy!
However, if you are on a budget, I recommend the Craftsman Ratcheting Screwdriver. This screwdriver is half the cost of the Snap-On and works just as well.
IT'S ALL ABOUT THE TEETH!!! I'll be honest; I am picky! If it does not have more than 80 teeth, I won't use it! I need my ratchet to get the job done the first time. You know what I mean! Think about it! Your working in a tight spot where you have very little clearance, and all you need is that one tiny turn, but the space is so tight you can't get that last extra little click! Talk about frustrating!
For this reason, I prefer to use a Snap-On 1/4 drive ratchet. Quite honestly, all of my ratchets are Snap-On. I primarily use the 1/4 drive ratchet, but I also have the Snap-On Industrial 3/8 drive ratchet and a Snap-On Industrial 1/2 drive ratchet.
If you are looking for ratchets that work just as good, but are on a budget, I would recommend looking at Craftsman ratchets. These ratchets are 120 teeth!!! And for half the cost! You can head to the Craftsman Website to find where you can purchase these ratchets.
12 Point Socket Set
I think the most important thing to make mention (which is mentioned in the section title) MAKE SURE THEY ARE 12 POINT! I can't stress this enough! Remember too, that in aviation, we use SAE! Both shallow sockets and deep sockets.
I'll be honest; I am not super picky with my sockets. I tend to use Craftsman sockets. However! Take a look at Sonic Tools Deep Sockets. They are a little pricey, but my favorite thing about these sockets are how the splines go all the way down to the base. Plus! Their return policy is pretty incredible! It is worth it to check them out!
When talking about pliers, the brand that comes straight to mind is Knipex! I like their Alligator Plier Set and if you are working with avionics equipement like connectors, check out the Knipex Connector Pliers with Soft Jaws.
The pliers that I used when I first started out were the Irwin Vise-Grip Groove Lock Plier Set. These pliers are of good quality and about half the cost of Knipex. They are great to start out with if you are on a budget.
In my toolbag, I make sure to keep a set of ratcheting and non ratcheting wrenches. I'll be honest; I am somewhat cheap when it comes to wrenches… For some reason, I can't come around to spending a lot of money on wrenches. I have heard excellent things about Snap-On ratcheting and non ratcheting sets. Maybe one day, I will pull the trigger and purchase them…
But I use Craftsman 12-Point ratcheting wrench set with quick engagement. I prefer this wrench style because if you are in a tight spot and you need to reverse, being able to flip the quick engagement can make things a lot easier. I also use Craftsman non ratcheting wrenches.
For non ratcheting wrench sets, check out the Sonic Tools Wrench Set. Oh! Let me tell you! The profile on these wrenches! They are so thin; it's so sexy!
And no mechanics toolbox would be complete without our Number 1 tool!
You really can't make a list of the top 10 aviation tools I would recommend without mentioning the Number 1 tool every mechanic uses. A pen! Since we are talking about MY preferences, if I had to choose my favorite pen to use, it would be the Pilot G2 Bold Pen. Preferably in BLUE!
The items suggested here are based on what I use and have used in the past. If you can afford the higher brand, great! If you can't, it's completely understandable! Remember, your tools do not define you! However, I will say, sometimes having a better brand tool can make the difference in completing a job.
Something I suggest when purchasing your tools is to consider their warranty! Sometimes the warranty itself is worth buying the expensive brand.
Companies that offer a lifetime warranty on their hand tools are:
For a clear understanding of their warranties and how they work, head to the companies website to learn more.
I'm sure there are other companies, but these are the only ones I can think of off the top of my head.
Share your favorite tools in the comments below!
I’m still in school, but the tool that is becoming my fast favorite is my pair of Knipex pliers. They can do anything. Well, most anything, lol. When we go out to do our labs, I always have them with me! I’ve also got a mini-Crescent wrench that’s come in handy. The guys in my class laughed way back in general when I pulled them out, but they’ve seen a lot of action. One of the mechanics at work sold me on a toothless roller ratchet to use in close tolerance spaces where you can’t move a regular ratchet much.
If your company doesn’t offer shadow foam for your box harbor freight anti fatigue mat in the squares is perfect. And you can even use there hot knife which saves money on blades
What do you think about Sunex tools brand?
(BTW, I’m totally agree, even I have those tools in my toolbar before reading the article xD)
Great article. These tools are very important for the every aircraft technicians to doing their daily work. Some companies are provided these tools and some of them are not. I really appreciate your efforts of making this kind of article for ours. I’m a one of big fan of you on Instagram.