GRM’s Top Tools That Every Shop Should Have | Video

Even though picking our favorite tools can be like trying to pick the favorite child, there are definitely a few items we find ourselves relying on most when elbow-deep in one of our many project carsHere are some tools we can’t live without. 

Did we miss any? What are some tools you swear by? Presented by CRC Industries.

earlybroncoguy1 New Reader
4/27/21 6:05 p.m.

Readers (magnifying glasses)

Cordless impact

Vise on a stand (old wheel as a base, pipe, 1/4" plate)

Safety glasses and earplugs

Hydraulic lift

Hardware size/thread checker



Propane torch

Punches/drifts of various sizes and materials

Lots of hammers

Extension cord reel

Air hose reel


aircooled MegaDork
4/27/21 6:16 p.m.
  • Vice Grips
  • Duct Tape
  • WD-40
  • Shotgun
captdownshift (Forum Supporter)
captdownshift (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand UltimaDork
4/27/21 6:21 p.m.

Cordless impact

Beer frig (to have others come over to do the work)

A white board, if you have a computer, a projector works and enables other options when it comes to masking for projects. 

A get out of trouble kit, this consist of extractors sockets, tap and dies, helicoils, acetylene torch, punches and vice.   (Note that after this kit is utilized you visit recommendation #2) 

A swear jar. This is fueled by recommendation #4 and enables the funding of additional parts (or tools) but also serves as a reminder that maybe you aren't too eager to take on the next aspect of the project or that good enough may in fact be good enough.


mazdeuce - Seth
mazdeuce - Seth Mod Squad
4/27/21 6:24 p.m.

Bifocal safety glasses. 


Hydraulic press. 

Tom_Spangler (Forum Supporter)
Tom_Spangler (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand PowerDork
4/27/21 6:58 p.m.

A large, deep pit to push the project into when you have to drop the tranmission for a third time.

JTT New Reader
4/28/21 3:00 p.m.

Milwaukee M18 1/2" Medium torque impact gun

3/8" Snap On flex head ratchet

Ratchet head wrenches

Milwaukee inflater (set and walk away, great tool when doing winter/summer tire swap overs on multiple cars)

Step drill bits

Honourable mention but higher cost: QuickJack 

hybridmomentspass Reader
4/28/21 7:36 p.m.



Sitting/Laying on.

Organizing parts/bolts/nuts etc on (and being able to write what the item is on).

Making notes and lists.

Making templates.

Making sketches.

RichardSIA HalfDork
4/28/21 10:03 p.m.

Your own car trailer and tow rig! Having to impose on others gets old fast, even faster for the person you are imposing on.

Vertical milling machine. Pays for itself quickly. If you are able to live without one it's only because you've never had one.

Metal turning Lathe. Same deal as the Mill. Minimum 9" swing.

Heavy metal stands 30"-36" tall. Strong enough to support a chassis or LBC size car. They are back savers like nothing else except a two-post lift. 

I second the secondary tool cart on wheels. I will have a small wheeled bench with single drawer and peg-board back dedicated to each active project. There is also a storage shelf below.

Maybe it's my age showing, or my unwillingness to pay for and wait on items I can quickly make myself, but the mill and lathe really are indispensable.

pirate HalfDork
4/28/21 10:32 p.m.

I save hotel key cards from travel for making templates, scrapers, or throwaway putty knifes for spreading epoxy.

A sturdy workbench ( homemade or purchased) with a quality 4 inch plus vise preferably older the you are.

12" disc sander or 4" plus bench top belt sander. 

bench top or preferably freestanding drill press

Portable bandsaw with SWAG table if you can't afford or have the room for a full size metal cutting bandsaw.

CrustyRedXpress Reader
4/29/21 4:06 p.m.

In reply to RichardSIA :

I want to be a person who owns a lathe and/or mill, but I don't see how I would use them working on a challenge car. 

What were the last 5 car-related projects that you used yours for?

RichardSIA HalfDork
4/29/21 8:32 p.m.

That's easy!


Turning down tube ends to make them truly round so they would fit into another tube or a bushing tightly.

Varied bushings for suspension, pilot shafts, etc. Instead of cheap bronze I make new or custom from Oilite. Can easily make my own Delrin® bushes when off the shelf is not available or overpriced.

Angle cutting tube for A arm or chassis fab, much more stable/accurate than a drill press.

Also works to bore items, sometimes a bit easier than the Mill. Particularly if they are an odd shape but not too large.

I use it so casually that I cannot remember everything I have uses it for. Just glad I was able to get a 13" with taper attachment to upgrade from the 9".


Probably even more useful than the lathe. Often used as an HD Drill Press, but much more stable and accurate. With DRO your hole spacing gets to be much more accurate and it's no big deal to do several pieces.

Cuts holes, bores holes, cuts slots, cuts grooves, faces metal blocks used for making gauges and fixtures, drills holes, taps holes,........

Lets me make very clean edged sheet-metal parts for suspension and brackets. 

Without video it would be hard to demonstrate all the car build related uses for a Mill.

Naturally the more accessories you have the more you can do. I doubt I will ever be "Done" buying accessories.

4/30/21 6:35 a.m.

CrustyRedXpress Reader
4/30/21 1:18 p.m.

In reply to RichardSIA :

Thanks. If the mill is the more useful tool, how big would it have to be? In other words, would I get 90% of this stuff done with a benchtop mill, or would I need a full sized bridgeport or similar?

Vajingo HalfDork
4/30/21 1:55 p.m.
aircooled said:
  • Vice Grips
  • Duct Tape
  • WD-40
  • Shotgun

They said garage items, not kidnapping items. 

RichardSIA HalfDork
4/30/21 2:48 p.m.
CrustyRedXpress said:

In reply to RichardSIA :

Thanks. If the mill is the more useful tool, how big would it have to be? In other words, would I get 90% of this stuff done with a benchtop mill, or would I need a full sized bridgeport or similar?

I started out with a bench top Mill-Drill combo, good for learning the basics on but a but undersize for auto parts. I did recover about 70% of my purchase cost when I sold it.

Upgraded to a very old South Bend lathe with 9" swing, it worked very well but was still a bit small for doing longer/larger pieces. 9" swing is probably the minimum useful size, much happier with my 13" South Bend. Through-hole in the headstock determines how large a tube or shaft you can work with.

My old Enco mill is full size but I rarely use the full X travel unless I have set up more than one vise or fixture. You will not be machining engine blocks so a decent bench-top unit may work well for you IF it is good quality and rigid. Do not waste a dime on something fabricated from sheet-metal, good heavy cast iron is the only way to go. Lots of "Boomers" kicking the bucket these days, you might find a good deal local to you on a real mill. Real mill will almost certainly be 220V 3 Ph., an inexpensive inverter lets you run on single phase at slightly reduced power.

Once you begin using a Milling Machine you will wonder how you ever got anything done without one.

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