Guide: Hand Tools

Written by Pat Hanrahan

In the course, you will do some breadboarding work using hand tools such as cutters, pliers, and the like. We have stocked our lab with great tools and all students are welcome to use our tools, so you will not need to purchase any. However if you are interested in acquiring your own tools, please read on!

We like people to use their own tools; it is very empowering. It also means you will be able to work outside of lab. Investing in a few well-chosen hand tools will not only be useful in this class, but useful for years to come. I still use hand tools I bought when I was in high school. If you want to buy tools and don't know what to buy, talk to the instructors. They love tools!

For CS107E, I did a fair amount of research on tools. I was looking for high quality tools at reasonable prices. I've enclosed the list of tools I ended up buying for the lab. Of course, these are just my opinions, and different people like different tools.

I include amazon links in case you have an Amazon Prime account which includes free shipping. This means you can get them fast at a good price.

There is no need to buy them all. Here is my rank in terms of usefulness.

  1. The wire stripper (which can be used as a wire cutter) is essential for breadboarding.
  2. The needle nose pliers is next most useful. The Xcelite one is very high quality and makes you feel like a jewelry maker when you use it. The other ones are cheaper, but work fine.
  3. Next is a diagonal cutter. You really don't need a separate tool for cutting wire because the wire stripper also has a cutter, but it definitely does cut better. Diagonal cutters are also useful when you are trimming leads after soldering stuff to PCBs.
  4. The multimeter is pretty expensive, and entirely optional. You can also buy a lower quality one for less than $10 at places like Harbor Freight.

I love to talk about tools, so stop by if you have questions or need advice.