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My basic automotive / van build electrical tool kit.

I remember as a teenager, struggling to terminate a wire properly using pliers and the cheapest connectors available from the local auto parts store. I don’t think I ever even learned to solder until I was in my mid-20’s. Once I started doing electrical work for a living, lugging my 75 pounds toolbox between airports, I quickly learned what tools and supplies were and weren’t necessary in a basic electrical tool kit.

First off, organization. My hand tools are broken out by category into zippered canvas organizers like these and stored inside of an Apache 3800 weatherproof case. It’s a Pelican knockoff from Harbor Freight. I was looking for an Amazon link, because you know I’d love that ten cents commission, but the pricing at Harbor Freight simply cannot be beat. Here’s the case I use. I have one of these boxes for tools, a smaller one for my GoPro, and another one mounted on the back of my van in the elements. I rave about the few Harbor Freight products that I find to be a tremendous value.

Okay, back on subject here. This is a list of everything that I keep inside of my electrical / soldering tool bag. I’ll make a post eventually about soldering technique, but I want to stress that soldering is EASY and bulletproof. Crimped connections have their place and you’ll absolutely need a proper set of crimpers when converting a van, so you’ll find those in my kit as well.

Soldering Iron
These are the two irons I’ve had in my kit. I have downsized into only Ryobi. The battery life of the Ryobi is tremendous in comparison to the Milwaukee, but the Milwaukee being truly cordless was more convenient. Be sure to compare pricing with Home Depot on these two. I have more Ryobi tools than Milwaukee, so I downsized to just Ryobi. Space is at a premium in the van trunk.

Solder Gear / Supplies

Most of this is pretty straight-forward. The blue-tack is super handy for holding wires in place, so you’re not struggling to hold your iron and two wires simultaneously.

Crimp Terminal Supplies

General Supplies and Hand Tools

You’ll need these for several purposes. Just an FYI: the Klein 11-in-1 screwdriver— if you only own one screwdriver, this is the one. I have recently foregone the heat gun for a jet-style torch lighter, but both work equally. You must be more careful with the lighter, in contrast, the heat gun is not going to catch your shrink on fire! The roll of 14ga wire — I sure was happy to have spare wire on-hand when a pack rat chewed up part of my van’s electrical harness.