With build season now officially behind us, I’d be interested in what tools you all consider to have been important this build season.

Looking back for team 5607, here’s what we used a lot:

(1) Drill Press with various bits, including a step drill bit for large precise holes
(2) Jig Saw with assorted blades – metal, wood and plastic
(3) Chop saw
(4) Circular Saw [Mainly for building field elements from plywood]
(5) Bench Grinder
(6) Allen/hex wrenches with T-handles
(7) Battery-powered drills
(8) Hacksaws
(9) Screwdrivers – phillips mainly
(10) Wrench Set
(11) Socket Set
(12) Speed square
(13) pencils/sharpies
(14) Vise Grips
(15) Clamps, various sizes and shapes
(16) Sawhorses
(17) Flipboard/whiteboard
(18) Bolt cutters

What am I missing that helped your team?

Nice calipers.

If I were you I wouldn’t want to forget Soldering supplies, you don’t ever know when you need to o a quick soldering job.

Man, nobody ever respects a good ratchet crimper…

Your friendly robot inspectors would love it if you’d use files, sandpaper and deburring tools on that thing…

Aviation snips for cutting lexan are always nice.

And a pop-riveter.

Pneumatic Riveter.

With over a thousand rivets used on the bot this year, I don’t even want to imagine doing that by hand.

But character building…

As a basic tool no. But they become indispensable. Most students have a “where have you been all my life?” moment the first time they use a ratchet crimp.

an ajustable cresent wrench might be handy as well

Good old-fashioned hammer/mallet, and pliers. A little goes a long way.

Step drill that goes to 1.125in. Make all the bearing pockets.
Transfer punch set
A nice vise
2.5 Gallon shop vac (no more chips in the electronics)
Good tape
Zip tie guns that properly trim the tie

As a basic tool, yes. Every team must have them.

[TANGENT RANT]Good crimpers are paramount in having good electrical system performance. 95 has helped several teams realize drastic performance increases at competitions by lending them our crimping equipment and helping them properly terminate their drive motors and main power lines. The ‘one size fits all’ cutter/crimper combo tools do NOT result in robust crimps because their die are a compromise across all the sizes they’re used for. [/TANGENT RANT]


Like 900% this. Transfer punches are so useful, but so many people don’t seem to know what they are. A basic set isn’t even that terribly expensive! They blow marking holes with sharpies out of the water.

Oh interesting. Thoughts on a full transfer punch set vs a center punch?

Transfer punch set does everything a center punch can do, plus neatly transfer hole patterns. It’s a no-brainer in my book.

$16 Prime on Amazon. There is no excuse!](

The horizontal bandsaw is our go-to method of cutting down extrusion. Another useful tool has been a printer, so CAD can print out 1:1 scale drawings and get them to build. (regular printers work, but big ones are cool as well if you have one.)

This. The all in one $10 combo tool does a mediocre job crimping or stripping wire, you’re much better off getting one set of nice strippers and a ratcheting crimper. Many of the high schoolers I have helped with wiring over the years don’t have the grip strength to get a proper crimp, the ratcheting crimpers usually have longer handles for more leverage and force them to complete the crimp each time.

The crimp tool for large gauge wire in FIRST Choice the last few years is a nice to have, not a necessity, but is phenomenal for the non-insulated battery crimps.

A center punch has been very useful for us, haven’t used transfer punches before but they sound interesting.

Besides being useful for superior autonomous modes, how much is a bench grinder really needed? Most of the time I have been with FIRST my team hasn’t had one, and you can use a belt/disc sander for taking off edges on cut parts when wanting to go faster than manual filing.

CAD Workstation ¯_(ツ)_/¯

Got recommendations for brands and specifics?

An X-Acto Knife and a pair of scissors are both really useful tools when prototyping with cardboard and foam.