Sound Advice

Essential items in an engineer’s toolbox

September 11, 2018

Essential items in an engineer’s toolbox

Every mechanical engineer will need a trusty set of tools with them at all times to be able to complete even the most basic of tasks. Without the right tools, it is impossible to determine the problem in most cases, let alone fix it. Herein we explore the engineering tools that an engineer should never be without:

Personal protective equipment (Hearing and Eye Protection)

First and foremost every engineer should always have some personal protective equipment available for them to use in whatever situation they find themselves in. An engineer will not be allowed onto a site without a high-vis jacket and they may also need to have a hard hat and steel toe capped boots too. Engineers should also always have goggles and ear plugs with them to protect their eyes and ears while they are working. In the Industrial sectors, hearing protection is often overlooked as fundamental crucial protective equipment.

“Occupational hearing loss is one of the most common work-related illnesses in the United States. Each year, about 22 million U.S. workers are exposed to hazardous noise levels at work. Over 30 million U.S. workers are exposed to chemicals, some of which are harmful to the ear (ototoxic) and hazardous to hearing. In addition to damaging workers’ quality of life, occupational hearing loss carries a high economic price to society.”

Hearing protection

Learn more about personal hearing protection. 

Socket wrench

A socket wrench with a full set of sockets is essential in getting access to most jobs that will face a mechanical engineer so they should always ensure they are carrying these essential engineering tools. Carrying a small tin of oil can also be invaluable in releasing bolts that have been left sealed in the weather for a long period of time and make the difference between success and failure.

Security keys

Also important for access is having a set of security key bits to fit into a screwdriver. With a full range of screwdriver heads and security keys, an engineer should be able to get into whatever they need to identify the problem. Without the keys, however, access will often be impossible and another call out will be required.


A multimeter is very useful in helping you to identify electrical problems by testing different sections of wiring to see which are blocking the current. With a multimeter, a mechanical engineer can usually identify which bit of a system has broken to ensure the correct replacement parts are ordered.


Having a range of abrasive papers to hand will be very helpful for the mechanical engineer because it enables you to smooth and tweak fittings and fixtures. When making adjustments or replacing parts, burrs or protrusions can block movement, but having these lightweight abrasives to hand means that you can get rid of them to make it functional and safe.

Measuring devices

Measuring devices are also essential engineering tools because they allow the engineer to ensure accuracy first time. A tape measure, steel rule, and caliper set will allow the engineer to measure everything accurately so that they can replace the required part correctly the first time.

Assorted fittings

Carrying an assortment of fittings can also make the difference between being able to tackle a job first time around and having to return again to complete the job. The assorted fittings should include a range of common nuts, bolts, screws, washers and seals that are common in the industry the engineer is working in. It is important, however, to always ensure the materials are up to standard for the job and any seals meet the regulations before you fit them in place.

Stanley knife

Every engineer should also carry a sharp Stanley knife to help them to cut through anything they need to. A sharp knife can help in everything from releasing packaging to cutting materials for the repair and should always be carried in the toolbox.

An engineer should never be without these engineering tools that can get them access to the area they need to fix and give them the best chance of fixing it there and then. Without these tools, the engineer will be far more likely to have to return to finish the job and will find it harder to diagnose the problem too.

Although many of these items are significant when you least expect it – it is most important that Engineers has sufficient personal protective equipment before they start their work. Without proper hearing protection, eyewear protection and hand protection engineers are exposing themselves to long-term health issues that can equate to another CDC statistic; so protect yourself!

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