Most Useful Tools

Our team has some funding that needs to be used for parts and equipment, so I want to take the opportunity to buy some new tools for our workshop. To date, we have been getting by with hack saws, a Dremmel, an angle grinder (with cutting blade), hand files, and snips, along with the usual assortment of wrenches, drivers, etc. that are common. We do also have a 3D printer.
I would like to add some more power tools, but am also interested in other tools that you find helpful.
So- my question is, which tools do you find most useful for building VRC robots? Or- what do you wish you could add to your workshop?
For context, I have 4 relatively experienced teams who are comfortable with CAD.

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This is some stupid and irresponsible advice but my team uses bolt cutters for anything possible. Cutting c channels, shafts, cutting edges, cutting poly carb, etc


Every since seeing 515R’s video, our team has wanted a 12 inch screwdriver.


A vice is really helpful for cutting if that isn’t already included.

Other tools for maker space-like settings if the money/grant you have is really large could be a laser cutter- could be used to create smaller keychains to hand out at competition or school events (open house) to increase awareness of your team. Another 3D printer could also have a similar effect.

Another item on the upper price range that could change the program is a CNC, which you could try to get additional funding for to offset the cost.

An assortment of screwdrivers/hex keys is always useful. The most useful tool is one that isn’t stripped/broken, and replacing worn out tools is a good use of funds, since it also reduces the number of stripped bolts being made.


Tin snips cut through just about anything and are probably a bit more precise than bolt cutters. Great for emergency building.

Can confirm!

And, as an added benefit of having the large bolt cutters is that the sight of the team’s supreme leader walking down the lab with a pair of those cuties is the most effective tool for cutting down on goofing among the middle school boys - 40 kilonewtons (or about 9000 pounds of force) means serious business.


A bandsaw if possible is a fantastic tool for cutting polycarbonate, abs, aluminum (if equipped with a metal cutting blade), and many other things that a student may want to cut. Over the one covid year that my team had away from out robotics room cutting with just a Dremel was super annoying, and often times led to jagged, and rough cuts, whereas a bandsaw helps get super clean straight cuts.
A belt sander helps too, to remove any sharp edges from cuts metal or poly-carbonate it can be done with a Dremel but being ables to do it quickly with a belt sander was always much more efficient than getting a Dremel out.
And lastly, a drill press / corded drill, which helps get really nice holes for custom pieces, whether that be on plastics or metal. A drill is also super helpful to get super nice holes for high strength axels.


You might also consider a scroll saw instead of a bandsaw, as, to my understanding, that can make more detailed cuts in metal and plastic than a bandsaw, potentially eliminating the need for a fancy expensive cnc router/mill/laser, as well as being able to do simple cuts on c-channel

*take this with a grain of salt, as I have not used a scroll saw yet, but hope to someday

I personally prefer a regular cordles drill over a drill press for drilling holes in plastics, I personally find it much easier to perfectly align the bit ( I use a brad point bit and center punch to mark/drill holes in plastic) on a hand drill than a drill press. Just my personal experiences, drill presses work great and I am sure they are great for drilling holes in HS shafts, something that I would like to try soon.

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#1 top of the list that w/ speed up assembly more than any other item:


Can get cheaper version @ walmart/etc.

Nutdrivers w/ the side sanded down for tight clearances:

I made a tray w/ protruding center table for cutting metal. Plywood tray/base approx 12"x16" with 1" side. Center pedestal approx 4" tall with 4x8 plywood on top. Design allows c-clamps to hold metal easily. “drops” or cut pieces fall into tray.

See also:


You say you have the usual hand tools, but I’ll mention these for general interest: ratchet drivers for sockets and hex bits. These are some I like.
• Tekton 1/4" drive ratchet (SRH11003) and 11/32" socket(SHD02009).
• Wera Zyklon Mini 1 (8001A), a driver for 1/4" hex bits. It also comes with an adapter for driving 1/4" sockets.
• The red-handled item in the photo is another hex bit driver, from MAC, which doesn’t seem to be available at present. (BWS7BF)
• and of course 1/4" hex bits (for hex or star drive) in the relevant sizes and lengths

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You said “Dremel”, but I love my “7300-PT pet grooming Dremel” with EZ-Lock cut-off wheel (EZ406-02).
At no cost, you can do more with OnShape and McMaster- Carr, who has EXCELLENT Shape files for almost anything permitted in . I created my own folder tree I’d share if interested. And adding image captures looks so professional in a Google-docs Engineering Workbook…
McMaster-Carr (search “#6 screw” and each product has individual CAD download). (This was the ONLY supplier committed to CAD).