This list of tools is intended to guide new teams as they begin to build their program and resources. The current VEX V5 kits include star drive (also called Torx) hardware and drivers, but many teams still use hex, so be sure your hand tools match up with the parts your team owns.
V5 starter kits have all of the basic tools you’ll need (T8 & T15 star drive keys and some simple open-end wrenches), but most teams will want to acquire a better set of tools for each member—or have each member acquire and care for their own set—as well as some “team tools” to be shared among all members of the team or organization. A good team toolbox also provides a central set at competitions.
None of the tools in this list are required, and many excellent choices don’t appear on this brief list. Good-quality tools are worth the cost in the long run. Get brand names like Bondhus, GearWrench, Kobalt, Klein, or Craftsman if your budget allows it.
Team/Club Tool Kit
As a team begins creating their own robot design, their tool needs will move beyond the basics. A good centralized kit should include long- and short-arm T8 & T15 keys, metal snips, pliers, nut drivers, ball-end drivers, and a hacksaw, among others. Robosource has a good selection of small tools, and offers a well-thought-out “full team tool kit” with enough tools to support 3 or 4 robots. In addition to tools, you’ll want a good toolbox to organize and transport the portable tools (the T-Stak toolbox system, or the Craftsman version of it, is a popular choice for VRC teams).
Personal Tool Kits
Each member on the team should also have a personal set of tools. Some teams choose to provide these, and others ask each member to supply and keep track of their own. At a minimum, the student tool kit should include long- and short-arm T8 & T15 keys, a ball-end T15 driver, a ¼” combination wrench, and a ratchet wrench with a 11/32 nut socket. They’ll also need a pair of safety glasses with side shields, and a tool box or bag. Robosource sells safety glasses and pre-bundled student tool kits, or students can purchase components individually online or at local stores.
Beyond the Basics
- 11/32” and ¼” combination wrenches, high-quality
- #1 Phillips screwdriver to remove the standard V5 motor casing screws
- Bent long-nosed pliers are handy for getting nuts into hard-to-reach places
- Tape measure
- 8”-10” file with handle to smooth cut edges
- Workbench-mounted vise to hold metal pieces for cutting
- Dremel tool and cut-off blades
- VEX on-field robot expansion sizing tool
- Metric hex key set for pneumatic fittings (there is a hex inside each fitting to tighten 1/3 turn beyond finger tight)
- Tire pump with gauge, or cordless high pressure inflator with digital gauge
These tools require good supervision and instruction by mentors before students should be allowed to use them.
- Benchtop drill press (more accurate than a hand tool)
- Cordless drill and bit set
- Belt or belt-disk sander
These more-advanced tools require more space and a larger budget, but teams with both can make good use of them. They also require more supervision and instruction by mentors.
- Band saw for cutting plastic (benchtop “wood cutting” model)
- Abrasive cutoff saw (safer and more accurate tool than a dremel in the long run)
- Band saw for cutting metal
This article is an updated and revised version of the 2019 VEX Team 3547: Virus article “Recommended Tools,” and is used with their permission.