Top 75 Tools Every Man Should Have – Must Own Toolbox Essentials
As the great Scottish Philosopher Thomas Carlyle once said, “Man is a tool-using Animal… Nowhere do you find him without tools; without tools he is nothing, with tools he is all.”
It reminds me of a time when Henry Ford’s vehicle broke down while traveling through town.
Stuck without tools, my great grandfather took note and offered to be of service. With tools from his local blacksmith shop, he performed the repairs and sent Ford on his way. The act would later lead to an honest business relationship and fine friendship.
While Ford may have been the inventor of the Model T, assembly line, and 26-horsepower racing automobile at the time, without tools he was nothing short of stranded.
Today, I’d like to share with you a list of the top 75 tools every man should have. The kind of tools you’ll find in places like barns and workshops were the word, “craftsmanship” comes alive.
The kind that holds a special place in the hearts of handymen, home owners and tradesmen across the world.
Now, there are thousands and thousands of different tools I could tell you about, many of which I’ve used myself. Though, you might not find yourself using a compactor plate, welder, tiller or concrete mixer anytime soon, let alone often enough, to warrant owning one.
If you want to know what it feels like to be able to build, repair or maintain something on your own, then take a moment to discover these must-have toolbox essentials below.
1. Adjustable Clamps
2. Adjustable Wrench
Let’s face it, fumbling around your tool chest for the right socket size sucks. You grab about five or six, walk over to your project, and before you know it, you’ve got six of those things scattered all around the floor.
While an adjustable wrench does make life a bit easier, it actually does a bit more than that. Unless you have hundreds of dollars to invest in longer/deeper sockets, an adjustable wrench is one of the tools every man needs. There are times when this tool is simply the right one for the job at hand.
3. Allen Keys
When it comes to Allen keys or hex keys, there are three you need to know about: Torx, imperial and metric. When you add them to your tool collection opt for the ones with the giant handles at the top. It’s like losing socks in the dryer, these things just seem to disappear from time to time. Try this REXBETI Hex Key Allen Wrench Set on Amazon.
4. Angle Grinder
This handheld power tool is used for cutting, grinding and polishing. You can use this versatile tool for getting rid of excess material, such as grinding stone. An angle grinder is a great tool for rough cuts, like cutting rear or rusty nails. This is a tool that every man should own.
5. Aviation Snips
Also called compound snips, aviation snips are a must have tool if you will be cutting sheet metal or aluminum. Each pair is conveniently color coded by type of metal to help you choose the right pair for the job.
This tool will allow you to cut straight, curved or any direction you need. This pair from Wiss offer good value for money.
6. Bench Vise
A bench vise can be mounted on your workbench or the work area to hold whatever material you are working with. This tool allows you to work safer knowing that your material is sturdy and held securely. A bench vise is one of the most useful tools when it comes to woodworking. See this 6″ standard duty bench vise from WILTON.
7. Bow Rake
A bow rake is a type of heavy-duty lawn rake that can be used for much heavier things than just leaves. Use the tines of this popular gardening tool to loosen and break up tough soil.
Once you have broken up the dirt, you can also use this type of rake to spread the soil or mulch to prepare a garden. This 16-inch bow rake from Bully Tools is a popular choice.
8. Brad / Finish Nailer
A brad nailer and finish nailer are two different tools, but are so similar that it can be hard to tell them apart. A brad nailer is slightly smaller and uses brads.
This tool is used to secure small pieces of trim without the need of hiding the brad with wood putty. A finish nailer does the same job except with larger nails. Make sure you are using the right tool because a finish nailer can crack small pieces of trim.
The PORTER-CABLE 20V MAX Cordless Brad Nailer Kit could be a good choice.
9. Cable Ties
I’m sure you’ve used cable ties in the past. I just used them to install Christmas lights onto some deck railing not too long ago. When it comes to tools every man should own their invaluable.
It reminds me of a time when my old car kept dying on me. After looking through the engine bay I noticed a plastic air sensor had broken off the intake. A few zip ties later and that engine ran like a dream for years.
It’s truly amazing how many uses you’ll find for these ties. Best of all you can gang them together in a pinch to make them as large as you’d like. TR Industrial’s Multi-Purpose Cable Ties are a popular choice.
10. Caulking Gun
It’s enough to make Liberals cry. Meet the caulking gun. With a universal design, this tool accepts high capacity tubes of 10oz construction adhesive, window caulking, tub surround and beyond.
When it comes to ammo, my personal choice is Liquid Nails. Regardless if you’re gluing down subfloor or just sealing up around windows, the caulking gun comes in handy quite often. The Newborn 930-GTD is an affordable and highly rated option.
Have you ever tried to cut through a thick downed tree branch with a handsaw? After the tenth log, the muscles in the forearms and biceps scream, “I’ve had enough!”
Of course, why waste an entire day away if you don’t have to? Here’s where a chainsaw comes into the equation and makes life so much easier. Gas or electric, it doesn’t matter. Though, I prefer the soothing sound a two-stroke myself.
Just keep in mind, cutting a tree branch with a chainsaw while on a ladder is often dangerous. Enough that I wanted to bring it up.
In reality, when the blade barks back, your balance goes goodbye! Just watch some videos of gentlemen attempting it online. You’ll discover the fastest way to a broken back.
A chisel is a classic woodworking tool made up of a handle on one end and a sharp flat blade on the other end. Used for carving and shaping wood, stone or other hard material, there are several different types of wood chisels on the market. It is helpful to have a chisel set that contains an assortment of sizes and shapes.
13. Circular Saw
This power tool can be a bit intimidating for those that have never used a circular saw before. However, this is a must have tool for any man’s tool collection. The toothed blade spins quickly to cut through most hard materials, but are most popularly used for cutting wood for construction. See this popular DEWALT 20-Volt Cordless Circular Saw at Home Depot.
14. Claw Hammer
A claw hammer is one of the most widely used tools in the world. Who doesn’t own a traditional hammer? A claw hammer has two purposes. The hammer side pounds in nails, while the claw can help pull them out.
From hanging frames in your home to building a tree house, the opportunities to use a claw hammer are literally endless.
15. Cordless Drill
The convenience of rechargeable batteries makes it possible to have the strength of a power drill anywhere. A cordless drill is a popular tool because of its ability to turn a complex job into a quick task.
Drive screws neatly into most surfaces with the push of a button. Some drills also offer attachments, such as hammer drills which help hammer screws into tougher surfaces. The Dewalt #DCD991B, available from Zoro.com, could be a good option.
16. Drilling Hammer
When claw hammer won’t cut it and a sledgehammer is just too much of a tool for the job, you turn to the drilling hammer. (Sometimes referred to as small sledges or hand sledges.) With a range from generally one to five pounds, these one-handed heavy hitters make fine choices for stamping metal, light demolition work, etc.
17. Duct Tape
All jokes aside, duct tape is one of the most versatile and useful items to have in your tool box. This tough polyurethane coated rubber-based adhesive has been around since World War II.
You can use this tough tape to temporary repair small tears or holes, waterproof an object or secure items. The uses are endless. However, it is popularly used in duct work, hence its name. 3M’s Multi Use duct tape, available from Home Depot, is highly regarded by regular DIYers.
18. Ear Protection
Regardless if you’re old or young, damage to the ears is permanent. For instance, tinnitus, the ringing, and buzzing that occurs after loud noise exposure; it’s not something you want to live with for the rest of your life.
Chances are if you’re a hunter or weekend shooting range warrior you already own a pair. Use them. My personal favorite is the 3M Peltor Sport Tactical 100. They are electronic so you can still hear the world around you while your ears are covered up.
19. Electrical Tape
Electrical tape is not to be confused with duct tape. The texture and uses are different. Electrical tape is made out of a number of flexible plastics.
The most popular use for this type of adhesive is to insulate wires and other items that conduct electricity. The stretch durability of electrical tape makes it a helpful tool to keep around.
Commercial Electric is a good brand. You can get their colored electric tape at Home Depot here.
20. Extension Cord
While cordless power tools are convenient, some tools simply warrant being corded. In my case, I don’t prefer to charge batteries nor replace them every few years.
Sure, dragging around an extension cord can be a hassle, but always having a full charge doesn’t suck. Your views may be different than mine.
Regardless, it’s nice to own an extension cord; not everything is battery powered these days. Not to mention, most corded tools only come up a few feet of wire for plugging in.
See what you can’t see with a flashlight. Lurking in the shadows is that wire you need to fish out of the wall. It’s that bolt you need to wrap a wrench around, but can’t seem to find.
When it comes to inspecting things, a flashlight is a sure way to discover problems that are easily concealed under the cover of darkness.
22. Gardening Pruner / Bypass Lopper
Both of tools are must have for proper lawn maintenance. They are both used to trim and cut bushes, shrubs and other greenery. However, they are different tools. A bypass lopper is considered the more useful by expert gardeners because of the way the blades cut by sweeping past each other.
Out of reach doesn’t mean out of mind. When it comes to projects that are literally over your head a ladder can help get the job done.
There are two types you should know about: The first being a step ladder, aka an A-frame ladder with the pyramid looking design, and the second, an extension ladder.
For most household projects the ladder will fare just fine. If you’re looking to get onto the roof for some shingle repairs, you’ll need an extension ladder. My personal favorites include brands like Louisville and Werner.
24. Utility Knife
Pop in a fresh razor blade and get down to business. When it comes to the utility knife the uses are endless. Take for instance the joy of making quick cuts in cardboard after a big move or delivery. Not to mention, slicing out window caulking, trimming carpet down to size and beyond.
This hand-powered tool is a classic favorite of the carpenter. You can cut a piece of wood by using one hand to move the toothed blade back and forth over the wood. While you might think that this tool is outdated, you will find yourself using more than you can imagine. There are several jobs that can be done easier by hand than power tools.
26. Jab Saw
The first time you try to cut through drywall with a utility knife, you’ll stop and proclaim, “There must be a better way!” Luckily, there is because that takes forever. Meet the Jab Saw.
When it comes to cleaning up drywall corners, making new holes for electrical outlets, etc. it’s the one tool you’ll want to have. It makes sense to own when you realize that most new homes today are constructed with drywall.
Meet the jigsaw, it’s one of the first power tools I ever owned, aside from an old cordless power drill. With a variety of different blade attachments available, the jigsaw makes for one universal cutting machine regardless of the material at hand.
With a fine, small blade you’ll be able to cut into places where the circular saw simply cannot. Just drill a small hole, drop the jigsaw blade inside and cut out a perfect square in the middle of a board.
28. Joint Knife
What? Are you going to plaster over a hole in drywall with a butter knife? You need a joint knife (aka ‘taping knife’ or ‘drywall knife’). Joint knives make applying drywall joint compound a smooth and simple process. When using one the proper way with a thin skim coat, you’ll save yourself from all the wasted time spent sanding down walls.
The Wal-Pro Stainless Steel Joint Knife, available from Home Depot, could be a good option.
29. Jumper Cables
Car batteries die, it’s a fact of life. So does the battery on your riding lawn mower. And your girlfriend’s car, your mothers, and so forth. When it comes to being a man of admiration, not to mention, a hero, owning jumper cables will do it.
30. Knee Pads
While younger men might say knee pads are for wimps and wussies, older gentlemen believe quite the opposite. In reality, some 4.1% of American men today have undergone some sort of knee surgery or knee replacement.
Let’s face it, the knees aren’t indestructible. Protect them. Even if you don’t, you’ll still suffer one way or another. Try laying down a room full of tile without knee pads on, and see if that doesn’t change your opinion of them! Hint, it will.
31. Linesman's Pliers
This type of handheld pliers is popular with electricians because of its ability to twist, cut and hold cables and wires. However, even the non-professional can find some uses out of these pliers.
The long rubber handle allows you great gripping power to hold wires and sheet metal to clip and bend. The rigid tips can help you twist and snip with ease. These IRWIN VISE-GRIP lineman’s pliers, available at Amazon, are popular and highly rated.
32. Locking Pliers
Locking pliers give you the option to lock them in place, but many might wonder why. This type of pliers can be used as a type of vise grip to give you a sturdy hold. For example, you can use these pliers to grab a rusted bolt to loosen and remove it. You can adjust the jaws of the pliers to the size of the object you are working with.
33. Measuring Tape
A man without a tape measure is a like a man blindfolded with no training. Everything becomes a mystery. When you want to build something the right way, on the first time and not the tenth, you don’t eyeball it. You measure it.
If there was one thing teachers taught you that you’ll actually use in life, it’s how to read a ruler. Don’t waste that gift by being a guessing, happy-go-lucky idiot.
34. Chalk Line
Using chalk line is an easy way to mark long straight lines. Because of the lines size, it is sometimes unpractical and impossible to use a straight edge. A chalk line can help you mark a straight and precise outline in a relatively quick amount of time. This must have tool makes laying straight tile or cutting efficiently a breeze.
35. Digital Caliper
Digital calipers are a convenient tool for measuring internal and external distances. This task is made even easier by a digital LCD screen that displays the measurements with virtually no thinking on your part.
This tool will give you peace of mind that your measurements are correct in half of the time. You should always take advantage of a tool that cuts your workload in half!
Could you imagine how hard it would be to water your garden, wash your car or carry water around outside without a gardening hose. This flexible hose allows you to have water effortlessly.
If you can get the hose there, you have an instant water source. This tool is made even versatile with several optional attachments that allow you to turn your hose into a power washer, spray stream or other function.
37. Measuring Cup
Get your ratio right. When it comes to mixing up two-stroke fuel, having the right oil to gas ratio is critical. It makes the differences between a smooth operator and a seized engine.
Of course, you might find yourself mixing up epoxy resin and hardener on a carbon fiber wrap project too. If you’re on a budget or simply can’t find an automotive measuring cup, a baby bottle can be picked up for dollar and fares just as well.
This WirthCo 94120 Funnel King measuring container on Amazon could be a good choice.
38. Metal Files
Most commonly used in metalworking, these hard metal files are used for the obvious purpose of filing and shaping, as their name would suggest.
There are several different shapes and you will have to choose one depending on what you want do. Some will file your material straight and flat, but others can file a curved shape. Make sure you choose the right one.
39. Plumb Bob
A plumb bob is essentially a weight used for vertical reference. You might’ve seen these suspended strings with a pointed end. It basically uses the laws of gravity to create a vertical straight line, even in houses that might be slanted.
One common use for a plumb bob is hanging wallpaper. By finding a vertical straight line to line up your paper and create a starting point, you will be able to make sure that the wallpaper lines up perfectly straight.
40. Builders Level
From straight cabinets to sloping shower floors, even paver walkways and beyond, the level will become your best friend. When it comes tools every man should own the level easily makes it into the top ten. Keep in mind not all levels are made equal.
If you want ultra-accurate you go with a brand like Stabila. If you want accurate enough for DIY, a cheap builder’s level from a hardware store will get the job done.
41. Staple Gun
A staple gun is a great basic handheld tool every man should have. It easily drives industrial staples into hard surfaces, such as wood or drywall. This tool is used in a number of home improvement projects, such as securing insulation or upholstering fabric.
These industrial staples are extremely versatile and useful. Be warned, wives are known to find these particularly handy with crafting projects. Always hide your tools.
Speaking of keeping your tools safe and secure, every man should have a proper toolbox. No matter how many tools you own, you can you find a quality storage solution. The designs and prices of toolboxes can greatly range, so you really need to think about what you want. Some men prefer a large sturdy wall chest, while others prefer a portable bag or box.
The DEWALT TSTAK Tool Box is a popular option.
43. Nail Punch
A nail punch is usually used with the assistance of a woodworking hammer. This hard metal rod features a shaped tip and is used to drive nails into a material, usually wood. Carpenters use this tool the most for either driving in nails or creating marks on pieces of wood.
This Qualihome 4 Piece Nail Setter & Center Punch Set, available at Amazon, is a good budget choice.
44. Needle Nose Pliers
Needle nose pliers are the most common type of pliers because of its versatile uses. They can be used for gripping and cutting wires or thin metal. Because of their popularity, needle nose pliers are commonly seen being used by a number of tradesmen, especially electricians. You can use them around your home and garage to grip, clamp and snip virtually anything when the need arises.
This tool will help solve some pretty stinky problems. A toilet plunger can help unclog a toilet by suctioning out whatever is blocking the water flow. This is a go-to tool for homeowners dealing with an overflowing toilet.
Before calling a plumber, you should always try to unclog the problem with a toilet plunger. There are also a number of other types of plungers that you can use to unclog sinks and pipes.
More commonly known as a crowbar, this tool is for much more than a criminals go-to tool. A prybar is a simple looking tool but can be used for a lot. The metal rod features two flattened ends with one curved side. As its name suggests, it can be used to pry open object or separate fastened pieces. The curved side is also useful for removing nails from a surface.
47. Putty Knife
Scraping and spreading is made extremely easy with the use of a putty knife. It is also commonly called a spackle or spatula, but whatever you call it, it is a must have for construction.
Use a putty knife to spread plaster with ease. Or use the tool to scrape paint to prepare a surface to be repainted. There are also different sizes of spatulas available depending on the size of your job.
48. Random Orbital Sander
Wood sanding can be a tedious task, but power sanders can help take the load off. There are several types of sanders on the market. However, a random orbital sander is unique.
The handheld power sander holds a piece of sandpaper securely to its base. Not only does it move in a circular motion, but it also rotates in smaller circles at the same time. This type of sander is considered the most versatile and is the most recommended type.
It’s rope, what more can I say. If you need to pull something in a certain direction you use it. It could be that tree stump buried in the dirt, where you need a truck or tractor to yank it out. Or any of a million other things. With it comes learning how to tie different types of knots, knowing how to master these is quite simply put, an invaluable skill.
50. Rubber Mallet
When you need force but don’t want to destroy your project, you turn to the rubber mallet. It’s gentle enough to assemble fragile pieces of wood or tap in a bearing without deforming the surrounding metal.
This HDX 16 oz. Rubber Mallet, available at Home Depot, could be a good choice.
51. Safety Glasses
The most important thing to remember when using tools of any kind is protecting your body. Safety glasses are made out of durable plastic to help protect the eyes from shrapnel or flying objects.
For example, when using a circular saw to cut metal or wood, there is a large chance that small slivers of the material could fly through the air. Even a sliver of wood can cause an extremely serious eye injury.
52. Safety Respirator
Wood and stone dust can wreak havoc on the lungs. A safety respirator stops that. When it comes to your health, even small DIY projects can turn into big healthcare expenses down the road if you don’t take the time to protect your body. Personally, I don’t know anyone who likes breathing in asbestos either.
You have been using scissors since you were in kindergarten, so there shouldn’t be any confusion on how to use these simple handheld cutting devices. However, as an adult, you might have noticed the variety of scissors available on the market.
There are specific scissors for cutting different materials, such as tin, paper or metal. You can also choose between an assortment of handles and grip textures.
Yet another classic tool that you are sure to have heard of. Without screwdrivers, it would be virtually impossible to use screws. How would they go into the wood? There are several different types of screwdrivers because of the number of different types of screws. To properly use a screwdriver, you must make sure the tip matches the type of screw you are using.
Phillips screwdrivers like this one at Home Depot seem to be the most popular, but you can find an affordable set of screwdriver tips at most tool retailers.
A Shop-Vac is a lifesaver for cleaning up those inevitable workplace messes. These industrial vacuums can pick up large liquid spills as well as dry debris, such as sawdust. Some clever guys also use their Shop-Vacs to pick up snow from their doorstep. The possibilities are endless. Your garage or workspace can only benefit by owning a Shop-Vac.
This 4-Gallon 4.5 Peak HP model available at Walmart is a popular choice.
Speaking of snowfall, a shovel is another must have tool. Whether you shoveling snow from a pathway, digging a hole or gardening, a shovel makes the job a little easier. Shovels can also be used for lifting dirt, gravel and other materials. There are different types of shovels, but they are all made of the same concept: a long handle with a broad shaped scoop blade at the end.
This all-steel Super-Penetration garden shovel from Garrett Wade is a great choice.
If there was an anti-construction tool every man should own this would be it. Meet the sledgehammer, a brute force wrecking tool that destroys anything and everything in its path. A hammer on steroids. Things like drywall, wood studs, and even concrete are no match for this heavy-hitter. If you can swing it, you can smash it.
58. Sliding Miter Saw
From cutting deck boards to angling ceiling and wall baseboards, the sliding miter saw is a must-have tool for every man. In comparison to say the jigsaw or circular saw, the miter gives you a perfect cut that screams precise craftmanship. Hard to cut angles are a breeze, while straight lines are as simple as it gets.
For gentleman just getting acquainted with power tools, a sloppy cut with the jig or circular saw is common. The miter skips the practice needed to master those two and gets straight down to business.
The DEWALT DWS779 sliding compound miter saw, available at Lowes, is a popular choice.
59. Snap Ring Pliers
Meet the tool you’d be lost without. Snap ring pliers do exactly what their name implies. They can either shrink or expand a snap ring, retaining ring or c-clip; something your fingers nor any other tool can do. You’ll find these rings in a variety of places, for example, to hold in bearings on a two-stroke clutch.
60. Socket Wrench
A socket wrench is used to tighten or loosen nuts by simply turning the handle. After choosing the correct size of socket to go into the 90-degree wrench, you can use the socket to hold the nut in place. You might also know this tool as a rachet, which is technically just one type of socket wrench.
See this Stalwart 40-Piece Ratcheting Socket Wrench Set at Walmart.
61. Speed Square
A speed square is a common carpenters tool used to mark and measure. It is extremely versatile because it is able to do the job of three other tools in one: square, try square and framing square. This measuring multitool is ideal for finding specific angles to prep for cutting or construction.
The Swanson Tool S0101 7-inch Speed Square, available at Amazon, is a popular choice.
62. Stud Finder
When it comes to mounting a flat screen television on the wall, screwing into drywall isn’t going to cut it. You’ll end up with shattered glass on the floor when holes give out. Or worst-case scenario, you drill through a waste pipe or electrical wire. Now, while screwing into wood or metal studs is always the best option, finding them isn’t easy without tools unless you have x-ray vision.
In reality, a stud finder is an essential tool in any man’s toolbox. If you want to save a few dollars in the short term, strong magnets work just well. You can locate drywall screws in the studs and determine where the studs rest behind the walls.
63. Table Saw
Arguably one of the most dangerous tools a man should own, the table saw is a go-to pick for ripping boards. It’s also a go-to pick for going to the hospital and ripping off hands and fingers.
While tough to put on the list as an essential, the table saw really is when you get down to business. For straight, long cuts the jig saw and circular saw just don’t come close to what the table saw has to offer.
One of the most popular options is the DEWALT DWE7491RS 10-Inch Table Saw, which you can get at Amazon.
64. Sawzall Reciprocating Saw
Meet the reciprocating saw, aka the Sawzall. If you need to saw through metal, wood, wood with nails, PVC pipe and beyond, this tool will do it. Like the power drill with its unique drill bits, the Sawzall can be paired with a variety of different cutting blades for whatever the job at hand.
One of the best features of this tool isn’t how well it cuts, rather how well it can get into places where other tools simply can’t.
65. Drill Bits
Good drill bits are a staple of any man’s toolbox. From drilling holes to running wires to screwing down boards, there are countless bits to choose from; each with their own head shape, length, diameter etc.
When it comes to buying the right ones, I’m a sucker for DeWalt. Their bits simply refuse to snap or strip. In comparison, I could destroy an entire box of Ryobi drill bits in about a day. (Though, I still love their power tools which are tanks at an affordable price). See this DEWALT Rapid Load Carbide Masonry Drill Bit Set at Ace Hardware.
This fine-toothed saw is meant for primarily cutting metal or making ultra-fine cuts in wood. The blade is housed in a frame and some models are extremely lightweight and portable. The hacksaw blade is made to be somewhat durable with its often smaller blades which get worn out rather fast from time to time.
The DEWALT DWHT20547L 5-in-1 Hacksaw is a popular choice.
67. Non Contact Voltage Tester
Don’t shock yourself stupid! If you want to stay alive, well, a non-contact voltage tester will help you do that. Simply put this must have tool up to an electrical wire and you’ll know if it’s hot or not.
If you’re not all that familiar with them, how they work is rather mind-boggling at first. You simply hold this tool in the proximity of a wire without even touching it, and it will flash the reading out with a beam of light. Rather neat.
The Klein Tools NCVT-2 Non Contact Voltage Tester, available at Amazon, is a good option.
68. Pipe Wrench
This unique adjustable wrench is most commonly used for forming soft iron pipes and can be extremely useful for those household plumbing fixes. The jaw of this wrench is adjustable and is perfect for those pesky rounded fittings.
This tool is a favorite of plumbers because of its many uses when it comes to pipes. This Milwaukee 14 in. Steel Pipe Wrench at Home Depot is very highly rated.
69. Torque Wrench
When it comes to tightening bolts, most think too little force is the only way to screw up. In reality, too much force can cause failure and strip away threads. There’s a good reason why many manufacturers, automotive for instance, give out their torque specs. I suggest you follow them with a torque wrench so you can avoid having to tap out or rethread your projects, which sucks, to say the least.
70. Tongue And Groove Pliers
These pliers go by so many different names, such as water pump plier. No matter what you call them, they are an extremely versatile and useful type of plier. These slip-joint pliers are sold with different variations, but they all do the same basic job.
They are able grip and clamp. They can also be used on nuts and bolts. Because of their adjustable jaw, they are useful for gripping odd shaped items. See these 10″ Knipex Cobra Water Pump Pliers at Zoro.com.
WD-40, you know it, you’ve probably used it. It takes Apple’s claim of, “It just works” it a new level of extreme. From removing rock solid rusted old bolts to making squeaks that bleed your ears go away, WD-40 is a must-have miracle worker for any man.
The wheelbarrow has been a commonly used tool for hundreds of years. Its basic design serves a very important purpose and allows you to move dirt, gravel and other materials in large quantities with ease. All you have to do is push the handles. A wheelbarrow can also be helpful for mixing and holding small batches of concrete. See this popular True Temper 6 cu. ft. wheelbarrow at Home Depot.
73. Wire Strippers
This small tool packs some serious power. Wire strippers are used to strip wires of their insulation, hence the name. For electrical wires to work, the ends must have the exposed copper and be free of the plastic coating. This tool will get rid of that coating as well as snip the wire if needed. These IRWIN VISE-GRIP wire strippers at Amazon are a good choice.
74. Gorilla Glue
It’s made right here in my hometown, Cincinnati, Ohio. Meet Gorilla Glue. Years ago, there was a time when most general-purpose glues just flat out sucked. In order to get the right hold, you really hard to follow the instructions meticulously. Then came along Gorilla Glue and they changed the game forever.
You apply it and come back later amazed that it actually worked. Their products really are top notch and so is the bonding strength. If you’re looking for metal applications, I’m a fan of JB Weld too.
75. Wood Moisture Meter
Meet the wood moisture meter, a tool that far too many guys today haven’t even heard about. You don’t have to an expert woodworker to use it, let alone need it. Though, take for instance installing drywall in a newly built or briefly flooded house. If your framing reads 18% or higher it’s too wet and needs time to dry.
If you don’t get it down to 12% or less, you’ll run into problems installing sheetrock too early. Can you say hello to mold, mold, mold! At 19% or so is when mold spores are activated and the rotting process starts. At 28% or so MC, wood becomes saturated.
In terms of which are the best, my personal favorite are pin-type meters like this General Tools model at Home Depot.
Top 29 Best Watches Under $500 For Men
With cellphones so ubiquitous, your watch choice can be less about telling time and more about personal style. However, a watch is not ‘just’ a watch. For example, the vast majority are made for right-handed people, but a select few cater to the lefties among us. There is a wide range in functionality and size.
The wristwatch is also one of the few socially acceptable accessories for men, so why not have a small selection? If you’re not cashing a CEO’s paycheck just yet, here are the top 28 most handsome watches for men that retail for under $500.
Got a bigger budget? Then check out our guide to the best men’s watches under $1000 instead.
Top 29 Best Watches Under $500 For Men
1. Tommy Hilfiger Stainless Steel Men’s Watch
If you like the feel of a pliable, non-metal band but aren’t comfortable with genuine leather, this watch comes equipped with a handsome synthetic band. At 46mm in diameter, this watch is perfect for men of smaller stature, as it will not overpower your hand or make it look like you’re wearing your father’s watch. With bold Arabic numerals, a stainless steel case, and classic styling, this watch is an outstanding choice for an everyday watch and the man on a budget.
2. Nordgreen Pioneer – Black Dial
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Not everyone has an endless amount of cash to drop on a luxury timepiece. If you’re money-conscious but want something high-end, then why not consider the Nordgreen Pioneer.
An inspired take on a classic Chronograph, Nordgreen celebrates the Danish with what they call a timepiece “that captures the sustainable future.” Available in various dial colors from blue, black, and white. There’s even the choice of three case colors – gunmetal, silver, and rose gold. A perfect addition to the collection of any watch enthusiast.
3. Fossil Grant Brown Leather WatchCheck Price
This lovely offering by Fossil features slim Roman numeral hour markers and delicate cut-out hands. The casing is stainless steel and is water-resistant to 165 feet, making it a great dive watch. The band is made of supple, soft calfskin leather and uses a buckle closure.
Of course, this timepiece also comes with the generous 11-year warranty and it’s own fun tin. This watch oozes class and is great for nearly every occasion in your life.
4. Citizen Sport Stainless Steel Men’s Watch With Brown Leather Band
If you don’t want to deal with changing out a battery in a digital watch, this watch is powered by either natural or indoor lighting. The mineral crystal face and stainless steel case make this watch water-resistant to 330 feet, making it a great choice for swimmers and snorkelers.
Handsome and utilitarian, this is a great watch for everyday wear. It’s one of the best watches for men who are always on the go.
5. Fossil Men’s Machine Chronograph Silicone Watch
This watch was designed with the active man in mind. The knurled silicone band stands up to sweat and oils without issue, and the timepiece itself is water-resistant to 165 feet.
The patterned bezel and quality craftsmanship of the black dial is excellent, as is to be expected from a Fossil watch. It even comes in the iconic and collectible tin!
6. Citizen Men’s Eco-Drive Watch
This men’s watch features Japanese quartz movement that charges itself indoors or out when exposed to light, making it a great choice for those who don’t want to change out the battery too often. The stitched canvas strap is soft against your skin and will wick away moisture, while the mineral crystal face stands up to the rigors of your everyday life.
Water-resistant to 330 feet, this dive watch is a classic and simple design you’ll be proud of for years to come.
7. Invicta Pro Diver Chronograph Men’s Watch
Another gorgeous offering by Invicta, this watch features a bold design with a slightly nautical feel to it. It will look at home whether you’re wearing a business suit or are going for a dive of less than 660 feet. This piece is also covered by a one-year warranty as a matter of course. The luminosity feature and magnified date window make it a great choice if you work or play in low light.
If you want something that looks like a Tag Heuer but without the luxury watch brand price tag, this is a good option!
8. Casio Edifice Multi-Function Men’s Watch
This watch has three sub-dials for 12 hour, 60 minute and 60-second displays, in addition to the standard time. It also features a fold-over, push-down clasp on the stainless strap, keeping it secure throughout your activities. If you’re looking for a classy timepiece that shrieks sophistication, this is a great choice.
9. Fossil Machine Three Hand Stainless Steel Men’s Watch
This quality watch is a chameleon piece. It looks at home as a dress watch riding below the cuff of your best suit, and it also looks great paired with jeans and a t-shirt. Backed by Fossil’s 11-year warranty as a matter of course and beautifully crafted, this smoke-colored piece is guaranteed to become the go-to accessory for nearly every occasion.
10. MVMT Watches Black Face Men’s Watch
If you like the look of a simple watch, this minimalist offering from MVMT is right up your alley. With just a plain black face, tick marks to denote the hours and a single date window, there is nothing overdone or extravagant about this design. The is understated and suited to the simple design. It’s definitely a classy, low-key piece for the budget-conscious.
11. Timex Weekender Watch
If you’re looking for a fun watch to pair with casual outfits, this is a great option. The band is blue and yellow woven nylon, and the face features both civilian and military timekeeping. An Indiglo night light is also included. This watch is water-resistant to 99 feet, meaning it can withstand splashes of water or exposure to rain but you won’t want to submerge it.
12. PUMA Ultrasize Black Sport Men’s Watch
Boasting a 50mm diameter, this piece is perfect for the large-framed man or one who likes to wear his accessories oversized. A true fashion statement, this sports watch comes in eight different colors schemes to match your favorite hues.
Do be aware, however, that the dial knob is configure for left-handed men!
13. Timex Easy Reader Men’s Watch
Another dress watch designed with the older gentleman in mind, this watch features a white dial with generously sized numerals that do not appear comical to the casual observer.
It’s also an excellent choice if you take your contacts out at night and still want to be able to check the time. With classic lines and a simple white face, the watch would not be out of place at any casual gathering. It comes with Timex’s one-year warranty at no additional charge.
14. Fossil Nate Men’s Chronograph Watch
For men who like a more gritty, industrial feel to their accessories, this Fossil watch is right on point. The bezel is gear-edged and the face is utilitarian black and gray. Water-resistant to 165 feet, this watch is a great choice if you like your adornments to be understated yet add visual interest.
It’s definitely a stand-out piece, for those who would take notice!
15. Timex Expedition Field Chronograph Men’s Watch
Featuring an indigo night light, tachymeter, a date window and a buckle closure, this watch is perfect for men who like to work or play outdoors. It is also water-resistant to 330 feet, making it a great choice for snorkeling or swimming.
You won’t want to wear it for diving, however. With classic, black styling and a genuine crystal face, this is a timepiece that will stand the test of time in both form and function.
16. Seiko 5 Automatic Stainless Steel Men’s Watch
This Seiko automatic watch has all the bells and whistles you need, but presents it all in a plain and strikingly attractive manner. It features a date window in either English or Spanish, sword-shaped hands, a sweeping second hand and a mineral dial window. This is a great option for the man on the go. The canvas strap can be removed and hand-washed if sweat or other odors become an issue.
This watch is not water-resistant, so you’ll only want to wear it when you won’t be popping by the pool for a swim!
17. Invicta Pro Diver Collection Silver-Tone Men’s Watch
For those who prefer an all-metal timepiece, the stainless steel Invicta fits the bill nicely. It has a similar aesthetic to a Tag Heuer watch, but at a more affordable price. Equipped with a unilateral bezel and removable links, the band can be customized to fit your wrist perfectly. The face is flame fusion crystal and features a magnifier to highlight the date window.
It’s also water-resistant to 660 feet. If you’re looking for a gorgeous watch that stands up to an active lifestyle, this is an excellent choice.
18. Seiko Men’s Adventure-Solar Classic Casual Watch
This Seiko watch derives its power from either natural or indoor light and can withstand water depths of up to 330 feet. The supple brown leather strap and timeless brushed steel give this piece an attractive look, and the alarm chronograph is easy to set.
If you’re looking for a watch that can serve as a backup for your wake-up call while traveling, stand up to the elements and look awesome, this casual wrist watch is a winner.
19. Nautica Men’s Stainless Steel Watch with Blue Resin Band
Featuring a plethora of options and a smart, snappy style, this a great casual watch with a eye-catching blue dial. The hardy resin band is adjustable, and the face is protected by a mineral window. Whether for work or play, this bold blue design is handsome and substantial on the wrist. It comes with Nautica’s five-year warranty at no additional charge.
20. Citizen Sport Men’s Stainless Steel Watch with Black Leather Band
The black, red and white face of this piece eschews the traditional two-tone color scheme so often employed in other watches, and the contrasting stitching on the band adds creative flair. It comes backed by Citizen’s five-year warranty and will compliment any casual outfit.
21. Alessi Tic15 Analog Display Analog Quartz Black Men’s Watch
Another not-quite-round offering on our list, the curved square casing of this piece gives it instant visual appeal. Sleek and clean, this unfussy design will be a compliment to almost any occasion. It has quartz movement and is water-resistant to 99 feet, making it a great choice for everyday wear.
22. Invicta 1517 I Force Collection Watch
Another on our list designed for left-handed men, this watch is something special. Water-resistant to 330 feet and featuring oversize stenciled numbers and a sub dial, this watch is great for any casual outfit. The cloth band is extremely durable and stands up to dirt, sweat and grime.
If you lead an active lifestyle, this watch will be right at home in your collection.
23. TRIWA Blue Steel Nevil Canvas Watch
This watch comes in a whopping 14 color variations, all of them beautiful. You may decide to add more than one to your collection!
Designed in Sweden, this watch features Japanese quartz movement, a stainless steel casing and a strap made from Tärnsjö organic leather. TRIWA, which stands for Transforming the Industry of Watches, believes in the artistry of fine jewelry and it shows in their product.
24. Victorinox Swiss Army Alliance Watch
Another fine dress watch from the makers of the Swiss Army knife, this watch is emblazoned with the internally recognized cross and shield emblem. It has no sub-dials, tachymeter or other add-ons to detract from its simple and appealing style.
This watch will be at home with all but the most formal of outfits and carries a two-year warranty.
25. Ingersoll Automatic Stainless Steel Bull Run Watch
Again, Ingersoll remakes the classics and brings them into the present day. With a highly polished stainless steel casing, two sub-dials, a date aperture and arrow-shaped hands, this quartz watch is beautiful.
The band features contrasting stitching on the fine-grain leather, adding depth and detail to the workmanship. This watch will compliment any casual occasion and can be relied upon for years to come.
26. Tissot Quickster Chronograph Black Leather Men’s Watch
Made with scratch-resistant sapphire crystal and Swiss automatic movement, this watch is a smart and utilitarian choice. If you’re looking for a solid Swiss watch that isn’t flashy, this is an excellent option. It’s also guaranteed for two years.
27. Seiko Sport Solar Men’s Beige Watch
Are you getting tired of squinting down at your watch or holding it closer and closer to your face? Don’t worry, we all get a bit nearsighted with age, especially over the age of 40.
If you’re not quite ready for reading glasses or a comically huge watch, this is a great choice from Seiko. The numerals, indices and luminous hands stand out in stark white against a black background, and the numerals are generous in size. It’s a perfect casual watch for the older gentleman.
28. Seiko Men’s 5 Watch Blue Canvas Band
This simple and affordable watch has a clean, crisp aesthetic to it and doesn’t bog down its design with a ton of bells and whistles. It’s time and date, end of.
If you want a watch for casual wear, this Seiko is a shoo-in. The band is forgiving and comfortable against your wrist, and it’s blue color will likely compliment your existing wardrobe. The price is also extremely affordable.
29. Tommy Hilfiger Men’s Stainless Steel Watch With Brown Leather Band
Featuring the Hilfiger logo at the three o’clock position, this wrist watch is a statement piece. It is a bright, shiny stainless steel work of art that you’ll be proud to wear at all but the most stuffy of workplaces. The calfskin leather band uses a buckle closure and the date window is beside the logo at three o’clock.
If you’re a fan of Tommy clothing, cologne or luggage, you can complete your look with this stunning accessory.
The 40 Essential Albums To Own on Vinyl
Putting together a list of the essential albums to own on vinyl is not only impossible, it’s hugely stressful. I’ve done at least 30 variations; adding albums, taking off others, rearranging bits and pieces, or changing my mind altogether and taking it from the top.
There are sure to be some controversial takes, and there’s a swath of genres, records, and artists who didn’t make the cut, but I’ve only got one set of ears, a personalized palate, and a tight deadline.
Before you take a look at the list, here are some rules: these are in no particular order, there are no live performances or compilations, no more than one appearance by an artist, and the album has to physically sound good on vinyl. I’ve made it this far, but now I need a drink and a lie down.
1. Paul Simon - Graceland (1986)
This is my favorite album. I remember dancing around the lounge room with a literal boom box, and a massive set of headphones listening to The Boy in the Bubble, Diamonds on the Soles of Her Shoes, and You Can Call Me Al, picturing the film clip with Chevy Chase.
Out of all of my father’s albums, Graceland is my favorite, both for its scope and its sheer enjoyment. Whether it’s the Ladysmith Black Mambazo Orchestra singing together perfectly, or the amazing South African session musicians involved in its creation, Graceland is a fantastic album and a must-own for any music lover.
2. Led Zeppelin - IV (1972)
Sprawling, decadent, and powerful, Led Zep’s untitled fourth studio album is their best. It features a short little ditty called Stairway to Heaven, the sexually charged Black Dog, Mordor LOTR–style The Battle of Never More, and epic Misty Mountain Hop.
Most superstar bands don’t have four songs as good as this in an entire career, let alone on one album. Now, please excuse me, I’ve got 7.5 minutes to kill listening to Stairway…
3. Nas - Illmatic (1994)
Nas was a 17 year old still in high school when his debut album Illmatic dropped. The record is widely considered one of the greatest rap albums of all time (it’s firmly in my top three) and was announced as one of the 2020 recordings selected for inclusion on the National Recording Registry.
It turned Nas into a star and brought attention back to the East Coast after the dominance of gangster rap in the West.
4. Michael Jackson - Thriller (1982)
You can’t make a list of essential vinyl albums without Michael Jackson, and Thriller is all killer, no filler. It’s disappointing the way things ended for the King of Pop, but Thriller reminds us that we were lucky to hear the brilliance of Michael Jackson.
There’s a reason it’s the greatest selling album of all time.
5. The Black Keys - Thickfreakness (2003)
This living, breathing behemoth from the Ohio two-piece brought hipsters out from their garages in droves. The pumping piston drums of Patrick Carbery – who laid the tracks down on an eight-track in 14 hours – are a yammering foil for singer/guitarist Dan Auerbach’s dirty lashes of the axe and pedals, while his lyrics scrounge around like he’s digging into the couch creases looking for loose change.
I saw the Black Keys live when touring this album – it was all sweat, beards, and beer. I swear I couldn’t hear shit except for Set You Free for a week after.
6. Sade - Diamond Life (1984)
Honestly, you could pick any of Sade’s six albums for this list, but for mine, it has to be their debut Diamond Life. Merging soul with R&B and jazz elements, it’s got a bit of everything that’s great about 80s music.
Smooth Operator and Hang On to Your Love are incredible compositions, with Sade Adu’s vocals completely mesmerizing.
7. Beach Boys - Pet Sounds (1966)
These days, you could release this cerebral Beach Boys album by saying: “There are goats on the cover,” and make a badass meme campaign.
Pet Sounds revolutionized recording music, although nobody in 1966 seemed happy to spend their money on it, given that it was vastly different from the 10 Beach Boys albums that came before.
It wasn’t until the UK got a hold of it that the production and sound engineering side of the Pet Sounds record got its due respect, and everyone realized the music was awesome too.
8. Marvin Gaye - What’s Going On (1971)
1971s What’s Going On is arguably the greatest album of all time from any genre. Rolling Stone has it at the top of their 500 Greatest Albums, and for good reason.
What’s Going On is a narrative concept album that tells the tale of a man’s return from Vietnam. If you’re unfamiliar with the brilliance, pain, and tragedy of Marvin Gaye, take 53 minutes out of your day to watch this documentary. It’s time well spent.
9. NWA - Straight Outta Compton (1988)
I scored this on cassette from my big brother when I was going into high school (on the other side of the 90-minute marvel was 2 Live Crew). A decade older than me, he didn’t say anything much about it except for, “Listen to this and don’t tell mum. Ever!”
Straight Outta Compton ushered in the gangsta rap era. Without NWA, the rap landscape would be very different; less realistic and raw, less creative, edgy, and honest. It certainly wouldn’t have been better.
10. David Bowie - The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars (1972)
Bowie ushered in a new era of rock and pop fusion by creating different characters in his music and an amazing level of theatricality to his work.
Ziggy Stardust helped bridge the gap between the declining hippy culture and stadium rock with a burgeoning live music scene where the show was just as important as the music.
11. Lauryn Hill - The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill
She might have gone off the rails, but Lauryn Hill is still one of the greatest female vocalists I’ve had the pleasure of hearing live. While that’s highly unlikely to happen anytime soon, I can always put this album on and remember how talented she is.
A melting pot of hip-hop, soul, R&B, and pop, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill is a phenomenal record from a once-in-a-generation artist.
12. Bob Dylan - Blonde on Blonde (1966)
Not being able to incorporate a greatest hits compilation album is hardest here. Folk legend, visual artist, and bourbon bottler Bob Dylan is not only brilliant but also prolific.
Any of 10 studio, live, or compilation albums could take this space, but for pure end-to-end quality, his seventh studio album Blonde on Blonde may be the finest.
13. Outkast - Stankonia (2000)
“They are threateningly talented individuals” – Cee Lo Green
Outkast’s Stankonia took rap music and threw out the rule book. They turned hip-hop into something interplanetary (and the South into a stronghold), where freedom of expression, musical innovation, and pure enjoyment melded with traditional rap bangers and everyday struggles.
14. Daft Punk - Random Access Memories (2012)
I’m not much of a dance music guy, but Daft Punk is cool, whether the helmets are on or not. If you throw this on the Technics (careful, it’s hard to get in non-collectible form), things are going pretty well.
Twan’s cool vlog about the making of Random Access Memories – Daft Punk’s most critically acclaimed album recorded over the course of four years – is well worth a watch for anyone who wants to know more about this chart-topping album that gave us the massive hit Get Lucky.
15. Miles Davis - Kind of Blue (1959)
Great jazz music is made for being enjoyed on vinyl, and Kind of Blue is the greatest of jazz music. Put it on your player, settle in, and let Miles take you somewhere else for a while.
Check out the making of this classic album by watching this fantastic documentary (apologies for Bill Cosby’s appearance).
16. Radiohead - Kid A (2000)
I’m going to come clean: I AM NOT a Radiohead guy. I can appreciate their music, its complexity, skill, and vision. But it’s just not my thing. I’m sorry.
This clip explains brilliantly why Kid A is so vital and so vivid for many music fans, something I could not articulate.
17. Kanye West - My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy (2010)
This one might be a little controversial, but this is Kanye at his artistic peak. Coming off the poor reception of 808s & Heartbreak (an underrated album and my second favorite Kanye record) and dealing with problems in his personal life, Kanye hit studios across the world and created a masterpiece.
All of the Lights. POWER. Runaway. Blame Game. Monster. This album is not only chock full of hits but features some of the best rap verses Nicki Minaj and Rick Ross have ever spit.
This is a reminder of a time when Kanye was the center of the world for his musical abilities and not his private life.
18. Bjork - Post (1995)
Another choice some might not agree with, but Post is an exceptional album from Icelandic goddess Bjork.
It’s hard to describe what this album sounds like, but if you imagine every genre of music baked in a cake and topped with Bjork’s fascinating soprano as the icing, then you have Post.
While known for spawning the hit single It’s Oh So Quiet, there is much more to this album.
19. Wu-Tang Clan - Enter the Wu-Tang 36 Chambers (1993)
The debut studio album from the New York Collective is a stone-cold classic. Wu-Tang Clan announced themselves with gangsta rap’s signature braggadocio, plus a fusion of spare beats from the RZA threaded with Kung Fu samples.
Nine distinctly different voices and perspectives from inner-city New York can be heard, all with amazing lyrical flow and a willingness to experiment with beats, tempo, and personality.
The album gave birth to the highest-grossing hip-hop group of all time and ushered in an era of merchandise, film, and music production that still sees the group active and innovating today.
20. Fleetwood Mac - Rumours (1977)
The Rumours album from Fleetwood Mac showed that copious amounts of drugs, sex, and alcohol, and relationship breakdowns (there were two couples in the group who both split before recording), could be great for creativity.
Rumours sold more than 10 million copies in the first month alone, while singles Go Your Own Way, Dreams, You Make Loving Fun, and Don’t Stop all made the US top 10 charts.
Disfunction has never sounded so good.
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21. Prince and the Revolution - Purple Rain (1984)
While the film doesn’t quite hold up, the album remains an absolute banger that mixes power-pop, shredding guitars, funk, and psychedelic influences into an almost perfect tracklist. This is Prince at the peak of his powers.
22. The Clash - London Calling (1979)
London Calling is what happens when a punk band develops their music into a force that reflects the uncertainty, angst, and disaffection of an entire generation. London was a mess in 1979, with heroin, unemployment, political, social, and racial tension ripping through the city (and all of Great Britain).
While their classic punk sound was still readily apparent, The Clash’s third album harnessed reggae, roots, rock, ska, and heavy metal elements into a soup of powerful, politically, and socially aware set of tunes.
23. The Roots - Things Fall Apart (1999)
The Roots (yeah, Jimmy Fallon’s Band) proved you could make a killer hip-hop album with a live band. Things Fall Apart is a socially conscious album that still found resonance with the gangsta rap set and old school b-boys, which at that time was difficult to accomplish.
It features Black Thought’s lyrical dexterity and boxer’s delivery, mixed with great production and special guests like Mos Def, Erika Badu, Jill Scott, Eve, and Dice Raw.
24. Pearl Jam - Vs. (1993)
Pearl Jam, along with Nirvana, Soundgarden, Alice in Chains, and lesser-known bands such as Mudhoney and Temple of the Dog, brought Seattle’s grunge sound to the rest of the world. After the commercial success of their debut Ten, Pearl Jam opted to mix harder and more aggressive rock with Eddie Vedder’s iconic vocal range on their sophomore album.
They eschewed releasing any singles despite having a handful that would’ve certainly made it into the top 10. It remains their most influential album and one that moved beyond grunge into another realm.
Fun fact: They wrote Daughter on the tour bus!
25. The Beatles - White Album (1968)
Another band where their entire back catalog could have appeared on this list, The Beatles White Album gets the nod. 30 tracks including classics Back In The U.S.S.R., Helter Skelter, Blackbird, and George Harrison’s While My Guitar Gently Weeps make up this influential double album.
26. Pink Floyd - Dark Side of the Moon (1973)
If I didn’t put this album on here, my sister would kill me. While many contemporaries looked outside, Pink Floyd focused on inside the mind with intense and dystopian fervor.
Dark Side of the Moon, much like Pet Sounds, transformed record arrangement, production, and recording, while the music itself was damn good to listen to as well.
Dark Side took out a lot of the long instrumentals and solos Floyd was known for while still maintaining a cinematic quality. Their audio innovation added the sonic effects that bands ever since have been copying.
27. Kendrick Lamar - Good Kid, M.A.A.D City (2012)
“It ain’t nothing but a Compton thang.”
I don’t have too many contemporary musicians on this list (let’s face it, music now is made for a digital age, and I’m considered OLLLLLLD), yet Kendrick Lamar is an exception.
Lamar mixes old school gangsta sensibilities with furiously developed production on this coming-of-age concept album. To Pimp A Butterfly may be a stronger album, but I’ll argue forever that Good Kid, M.A.A.D. City is more influential and essential.
28. Nirvana - Nevermind (1991)
I can still remember, nearly 30 years later, exactly where I was when I heard that Kurt Cobain had died.
If I hadn’t heard Nevermind, and especially Smells Like Teen Spirit, I wouldn’t have paid attention to the hype this band created. It’s hard to put into words just how much Nevermind impacted not only music but youth culture.
29. Eric B and Rakim - Paid in Full (1987)
The rap game changed once Rakim took the Mike and Eric B got on the turntables. Other rappers focused on changing things (KRS One), talking tough (Big Daddy Kane), and the drug epidemic in New York (Slick Rick) – Rakim focused on being better than everybody else
They took the socially conscious early hip-hop and added elements of cool that to this day remain unchanged, and gave us Paid in Full, which is still firmly inside the top 10 rap albums of all time.
30. (What's The Story) Morning Glory?
Seriously, if this album came out now – with all that media stoushing with fellow Brit Pop legends Blur – the internet would have broken. While Liam has turned into an epic storyteller and entertaining parent, for most of their career the Gallagher brothers have been considered complete and utter knobs (Noel still is).
The fact remains, though, that with the possible exception of dance music stars such as Fatboy Slim, The Prodigy, and the Chemical Brothers, no one had a bigger impact on British music than Oasis did throughout the 1990s, which has carried over into pop-rock music today.
31. Metallica - Metallica (The Black Album, 1991)
While old-school metalheads point to this as the moment Metallica sold out, in reality, it’s the band taking the next step in their evolution and proving heavier music has its place in pop culture.
The album is full of classic tracks. Enter Sandman is a grinding stadium rock offering. The Unforgiven a heartfelt ditty. Through The Never a reminder of Metallica’s thrash past. Then there’s Nothing Else Matters, an emotional power ballad about expressing and opening yourself up to others.
It might have pissed off their core fans, but Metallica topped the charts and has gone on to sell over 25.2 million copies worldwide, turning the band into the face of modern metal and gaining them more fans than they lost.
32. The Highwaymen - Highwayman
Waylon Jennings. Willie Nelson. Johnny Cash. Kris Kristofferson. Four of country music’s greatest stars joined forces as The Highwaymen, a country supergroup.
The result is a fantastic outlaw country album showcasing the distinct qualities of each man’s voice. Opener Highwayman sets the scene for a collection of country covers (including two Cash originals) perfect for a road trip through the great US of A.
33. Rage Against The Machine - Rage Against The Machine
Few political bands have managed to sell millions of albums and sell out stadiums without deviating from their beliefs like Rage Against The Machine.
Despite their success, or possibly because of it, the LA foursome has been a driving force in alternate rock for almost three decades. Merging rock with rap before nu-metal was a thing, Rage has a distinct sound thanks to vocalist Zac de la Rocha’s biting lyrics and Tom Morello’s unconventional guitar playing.
Rage Against The Machine is a Molotov cocktail of hard-hitting raps, brain-damaging guitar licks, slick bass lines, and thumping percussion. I can still remember headbanging in my room to Killing in the Name. Good memories.
34. The Prodigy - Music for the Jilted Generation
Before becoming household names with the release of Fat of the Land, The Prodigy lit up clubs and raves with tracks from their sophomore release Music for the Jilted Generation. The record is a big “fuck you” to new laws introduced against rave culture that fuses elements of trance, techno, and jungle.
The album contains a raft of eclectic samples, from films such as Star Wars: A New Hope, Poltergeist III, and Smokey and the Bandit, across 13 tracks fueled by Liam Howlett’s production. Their Law, Poison, and Voodoo People are all huge tunes, but for me, it’s No Good (Start the Dance) that showcases the brilliance of The Prodigy.
35. Joy Division - Unknown Pleasures
Both Joy Division albums should be part of any vinyl record collection, but if you had to choose one, I lean towards the Manchester group’s seminal debut Unknown Pleasures.
Four decades on and this album remains one of the greatest releases of all time. It’s responsible for creating the post-punk genre and has influenced almost every modern rock band ever formed.
Every song is a hit, from the droning bass of Peter Hook on opener Disorder to vocalist Ian Cutis’ fractured vocals on She’s Lost Control. This is an album addressing themes of angst, industrialism, epilepsy, and heartbreak brought together by Curtis’ pained baritone.
36. The Rolling Stones - Exile on Main St.
Recorded mainly in a villa in France, the making of Exile on Main St. is the stuff of legend. Keith Richards was in the depths of heroin addiction and Mick Jagger often missed sessions, but somehow when the band did manage to get together they created magic.
The Stones’ 10th album is chock full of incredible songs that merge rock and blues with soul and country, resulting in arguably the Stones greatest ever record.
37. Dr. Dre - The Chronic
After finding success with gangster rap group NWA, Dr. Dre proved he was a master of the art form with the release of The Chronic.
Creating the blueprint for g-funk, Dre blessed hip-hop fans with a classic album all about blunts, 40s, and attractive ladies. He also introduced the world to a then 18-year-old Snoop Dogg on hit Nuthin’ But A “G” Thang.
While the lyrics pose a problem in the current world, the beats still hold up, with Dre cementing his status as a hip-hop legend.
38. Amy Winehouse - Back To Black
Besides Adele, Amy Winehouse is the greatest female vocalist to come out of the past two decades. Possessed with a deep, soulful croon, you can feel Winehouse’s pain and sorrow on tracks such as Rehab, Addicted, and the glorious title track Back To Black.
A troubled figure who couldn’t beat her demons, Back To Black stands as Winehouse’s legacy – an emotional collection of soul, jazz, and pop songs that’s the biggest insight into her life we will ever get. RIP.
39. Bruce Springsteen - Darkness on the Edge of Town
You could put any number of Springsteen albums on this list, but for mine, it has to be Darkness on the Edge of Town. This is an exploration of the working class in America, with Springsteen fully embracing his love of rock and roll.
From the driving opener Badlands to the sax-heavy The Promised Land and the tale of a down on his luck loser on album closer Darkness on the Edge of Town, this 10 track record is a compelling masterpiece.
Springsteen would go on to release records that charted better and produced bigger hits, but this remains a touchstone in his career.
40. Black Sabbath - Paranoid
The godfathers of metal, Black Sabbath have released 19 albums over a 50-year career. Picking their best isn’t easy, but Paranoid stands the test of time. There’s not a bad song on it, from the demonic War Pigs to lo-fi Planet Caravan, this album highlights everything incredible about this band.
If you only own one metal album, make sure it’s Paranoid.
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A Brief History of the Pilot’s Watch
To put it simply, a pilot’s watch is just another tool used by aviators. Characterized by their oversized bezels and extreme legibility, these timepieces take what is essentially a standard wristwatch and upgrades it to include features and functions better suited to those in the mile-high club.
From its early beginnings at the turn of the century to its position amongst wartime aviators, the pilot’s watch, much like the diver’s watch, is a specialty timekeeping device that, since its inception, has been a staple in the world of horology.
What is a Pilot’s Watch?
While most will claim there is no definition or standard for what a pilot’s watch is. We would argue that if it’s been specially tailored to an aircraft pilot’s needs, it’s a pilot’s watch.
Typically boasting chronograph functionality and an easy to manipulate crown, a pilot’s watch can include various complications for measuring distances and time while in flight.
Characteristics of the Pilot’s watch
Each and every brand has a different vision for what makes a pilot’s watch. However, the five specific characteristics consistent across the cavalcade of pilot’s watches include a large and legible dial, luminosity, an oversized crown and extra bezel markings, a dual time or GMT function, a 12 o’clock orientation triangle, and the flyback chronograph.
Large and legible dials make it easier for a pilot to tell the time quickly regardless of conditions. The addition of luminosity features also increases legibility, especially at night. Notable for their large Arabic numerals, the oversized crown is another crucial feature of the pilot’s watch. Historically, pilots wore gloves during flight, making it difficult to operate a watch without a more oversized crown.
The Longines Avigation BigEye, for example, features a 41mm dial with massive easy to read markings and indices. Coupled with the oversized buttons and its 54-hour power reserve, it’s perfect for long-haul flights.
Longines Avigation BigEye
Additional bezel markings are used for various calculations like fuel burn and wind correction angles, alongside the 12 o’clock equilateral upright orientation triangle, which allows a pilot to immediately interpret the time regardless of their current orientation in the air.
Considered one of the best pilot watches you can buy today, the re-issue IWC Automatic Spitfire was initially produced for the British Royal Air Force from 1948 onwards. Boasting additional bezel markings up the wahzoo and the always important 12 o’clock orientation triangle, pilots can tell the time no matter which way they are facing.
Dual Time or GMT Functions and flyback chronographs are added complications that allow plots to track multiple time zones or coordinated universal time (UTC) in addition to assisting waypoint navigation and grid searches, thanks to the single push flyback chronograph.
Now we move onto the complicated side of things with Dual Time/GMT functions, flyback chronographs, and even onboard computers, also known as a Navitmer. Rolex was the first watch manufacturer to produce the Dual Time/GMT functionality. First conceptualized for commercial pilots of Pan Am (Pan American World Airways), aviators would favor the Rolex GMT-Master for many years to come.
Getting even more complicated, however, the Breitling Navitimer B01 Chronograph 46 is one such watch that looks like it’s been stripped directly from a 747’s cockpit. Boasting a chronometer-certified mechanical caliber that can keep track of time spent, it can even complete mathematical calculations on the fly thanks to the addition of a Navitimer.
Essentially an onboard computer, this function uses a rotating bezel for basic arithmetic and mathematics.
Breitling Navitimer B01 Chronograph 46
History of the Pilot’s Watch
When you’re thousands of feet in the air, battling against the insane conditions of high altitude flying, you need the right kind of tool to complete the task at hand. Facing an issue with watch technology in the early 20th century, many pilots had to contend with the flimsiness of pocket watches. Having to strap them down to either their wrist or thigh, it would not be until 1904 that the first pilot’s watch would arise.
Constructed upon special request, Louis Cartier was tasked with building a specialized watch for his friend Alberto Santos-Dumont. Presenting the Brazilian aviator with the Cartier Santos, it was the first watch of its kind.
Capable of matching the same reliability and accuracy of the planes they were flying, Santos-Dumont needed a reliable way to keep time without removing his hands from the controls. Considered also the first wristwatch, the Cartier Santos would go on to pave the way for many years of evolution to the incredible timepieces we have today.
Seeing the likes of Breitling add in elements such as a circular slide-rule and chronograph to meet the demands of ever-changing flight complexities. While other brands like IWC, Bell & Ross, and Longines eventually joined the fight to supply pilots with the tools they needed during wartime.
Of course, the most outstanding achievement for the Pilot’s Watch was traveling beyond our atmosphere and into the great unknown – space. An accolade that was achieved by the Omega Speedmaster (ref. CK 2998) when it was worn by astronaut Walter Schirra during the “Sigma 7” mission of the Mercury Programme in 1962.
Although the past is filled with incredible examples of analog horology and complicated mechanical improvements, the digital revolution is impossible to avoid in 2021. For that reason, professional pilots are more likely to opt for more modern watches like the Garmin D2 Delta PX.
Hosting a whole range of features like GPS navigation, intelligent notifications, flight planning, altimeter, automatic flight logging, and a whole lot more, it’s much easier to operate than a Navitimer. Though it retains some of the analog aesthetic that makes pilot’s watches so popular today, it’s still a smartwatch through and through.
It will be interesting to see what the next step is in the evolution of the pilot’s watch.
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Defining the Difference Between Mezcal and Tequila
Mexican spirits mezcal and tequila are cultural icons generating massive interest, investment, and increased share of the worldwide alcohol market. Much like Scotch, vodka, and gin, where the agave spirit has been crafted and how is becoming just as important to consumers as the taste and price.
Casual liquor lovers and cocktail drink sippers may not know what separates mezcal and tequila. Both are distilled from cooked agave pinas, but there are different varieties of agave species, differences in taste, regulation, production, and bottling that make mezcal and tequila unique from each other.
The following article will help you understand the differences between each product, and help you figure why styles and price differ between seemingly similar expressions.
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Tequila is a distilled spirit made only from the agave tequilana weber or blue agave plant. Mezcal (or del maguey) is produced from any agave varieties, which include espadin, tobala, tepeztate, arroqueno, and tobaziche, although there are approximately 30 that can be used for distillation.
The word mezcal comes from Nahuatl Mexicali, which means “oven cooked agave.” Mezcal forms part of the rapidly growing alcohol sector focused on traditional “terroir” and techniques of production. While tequila is also doing this, the differences in traditional production between the two spirits are quite different.
Mezcal vs Tequila: Why do they taste different?
From an alcohol by volume perspective (ABV), mezcal and tequila are bottled at the same strength. Due to differences in agave varietals, their preparation, and distillation, mezcal has the reputation for tasting stronger, particularly when compared to Blanco and Joven tequilas, which are predicated on clean and crisp blue weber agave flavor.
Mezcal’s rustic production comes from around 30 different agave varieties – resulting in an earthier, smoky flavor than the spirits crafted from the blue agave plant. Tequila is most often produced by steaming the agave inside industrial ovens before being distilled two or three times in copper pots.
Mezcal is more old school, using traditional earthen pits that are lined with lava rocks and filled with wood and charcoal, where the agave pinas (agave hearts) are cooked before being extracted, then fermented and distilled in oak barrels, clay pots, or small copper pot stills.
Why is mezcal more expensive than tequila?
Mezcal tends to be more expensive than tequila because of the old school, labor-intensive production methods, as well as the scarcity of a lot of the wild agave plants used to make the spirit. Mezcal is produced in small batches by more artisanal distilleries and lacks the export cost advantages tequila enjoys from being able to be produced in larger quantities.
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Denomination of Origin
Tequila is carefully protected by a Denomination of Origin (DO) which allows for the production of tequila in selected Mexican states: Jalisco, Michoacan, Tamaulipas, Nayarit, and Guanajuato.
Mezcal is also protected by a DO and can only be produced in the following states: Oaxaca, San Luis Potosi, Michoacan, Guerrero, Durango, Tamaulipas, Puebla, Zacatecas, and Guanajuato.
In tequila production you can use only one particular species of agave, however, for mezcal, you can use any type. This gives a Mezcal producer a larger range of flavors to choose from in crafting their spirit.
Mezcal bottling must also occur at the palenque (distillery) at which it is made to ensure the quality of each bottle.
Official Standards (Tequila)
As a prized export product and Mexican cultural icon, there are many regulations in place that ensure the quality of taste and production for tequila. The Norma Oficial Mexicana (NOM) specifies the official standards that must be kept for any product to be named tequila, which is then certified by the Consejo Regulador del Tequila (CRT).
To be classed as tequila there has to be a minimum of 51% blue weber agave in the bottle, and alcohol by volume (ABV) must be between 35% and 55%.
Always try to look for 100% agave tequila expressions – you’ll find that statement on the bottle. These are premium tequilas that are exclusively bottled in Mexico and strictly monitored by the CRT.
For other tequilas, known as mixto tequila, the other 49% can be additives such as sugars. They might be sold in bulk to then be packaged outside of Mexico. You’ll find cheap supermarket brands and pre-mixes are made with mixto tequila.
Official Standards (Mezcal)
The first regulations for mezcal were introduced in 1994 in article NOM-070-SCFI-1994 (Spanish document). Like tequila, guidelines regulating production have been put in place to protect mezcal’s unique place in Mexican culture, and the methods of its production.
Mezcal can only be made from 100% agave with no additives or other products and must be bottled between 36% and 55% ABV.
The production of tequila is divided into seven steps:
Each step of the process is closely regulated by the CRT to ensure general tequila standards are met and followed to guarantee maximum quality. Each tequila distillery has its own source of agave, proprietary processes, quality control, and distillation/storage techniques that will affect the tequila’s taste.
Mezcal production, in general, is an old-school endeavor, regulated into three production categories: Mezcal (most modern), Artisanal Mezcal (mix), and Ancestral Mezcal (most traditional).
The traditional way of baking an agave for every method is in a conical earthen pit called a Horno de Tierra. Mezcal regulations also allow for brick ovens (Artisanal, Mezcal) and autoclaves (Mezcal).
The next phase is extraction, usually done with a large milling stone called a Tahona wheel that is pulled by a horse or donkey. Other appropriate methods include Chilean or Egyptian mills, simple mallets (ancestral), trapiches (artisanal, mezcal), or shredders (mezcal).
When producing ancestral and artisanal mezcal, containers of wood, clay or masonry tanks, animal skins, hollows in stone, earth, or tree trunks, must use maguey fibers in the fermentation process. The more advanced mezcal process can use stainless steel tanks during fermentation.
The final part of mezcal production before bottling is distillation, which breaks down as follows:
- Direct fire on clay pots and coils made from clay or wood. The process must include maguey fibers (Ancestral, Artisanal, Mezcal)
- Direct fire on copper stills or clay pots and coils made of clay, wood, copper, or stainless steel. The process may include maguey fibers (artisanal, mezcal)
- Stills made of copper or steel (mezcal) mal skins, hollows in stone, earth, or tree trunks. The process may use maguey fibers (Artisanal, Mezcal)
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The Different Varieties of Tequila
How you plan on drinking tequila will help determine the type of spirit you wish to purchase. There are three main types of tequila; Blanco, Reposado, and Anejo.
You’ll also find Joven (in between Blanco and reposado), cristallino (color removed), mixto tequila (the stuff you use for frozen drinks), and extra Añejo tequila (matured longer) available as well.
Blanco or silver tequila is unaged tequila that tastes more of the agave plant and citrus than longer maturing tequila versions. It’s the go-to for cheap drinks and the lead-in product for most tequila producers.
Reposado (rested) and Anejo (aged tequila) offerings are darker in color, aged in barrels, and gain a heavy but smoother flavor from the distillation process. They are recommended for neat sipping for experienced mixologists looking to craft a specific taste.
The Different Varieties of Mezcal Agave
While mezcal applies some of the tequila terminology above (especially agave espadin mezcals), the different kinds of agave species used, in combination with production methods are often the most useful way of differentiating between expressions.
Agave Espadin is the most common – utilized in around 90% of production – and the one closest to blue weber agave genetically. You’ll find a lot of similarities between tequila and espadin mezcals from an initial flavor and versatility perspective.
Tobala is a rare variety of agave that is wild harvested. It relies on birds and bats to spread its seeds through pollination, which makes it one of the most highly-priced mezcals
Tepeztate is another rare variety harvested wild and can take up to 30 years to reach maturity. They can be recognized by bright yellow blooms at the top of their tall stem or Quijote. They are known for being the most intense of agave flavors.
There are other agave varietals, such as arroqueno, cureata, and salmiana, all with their own personalities that can be used in crafting different tasting mezcals. You may also find ‘ensamble’ mezcals, which are a collection of different agave varieties distilled into an expression.
While closely related, mezcal and tequila have distinctly different identities and personalities based on how they are made, and with which type of agave. Pricing-wise, basic tequilas are cheaper, while old-school mezcal is more expensive due to the cost of harvesting and distillation.
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