A few things below are somewhat essential, others simply make your tool fun easier.
Tool freaks like me can go on for hours about tape measures. So I’ll make a stab at five minutes. For tool belt carpentry I still swear by the Stanley 25-foot PowerLock. After decades and countless replacements that have built everything from sheds to Aspen mansions (and sometimes the sheds next to the mansions), the PowerLock feels like an extension of my hand. With the traditional model, you get layout marks for 16 inch on center wall construction, a beefy end hook, but the standard model is fully archaic in only showing Imperial units; inches and feet. For a ski shop, you need a metric tape as well as a “regular.” Stanley to the rescue on that as well. Link to right is for their metric model PowerLock in the 8 meter version (~25-foot). It appears they make 6 meter as well that might be more appropriate for the workbench.
Dead blow hammer
You need some kind of hammer. Whatever you have kicking around your home repair toolbox will usually be fine. On the other hand, dead blow hammers are a joy for recreational activities such as whacking a center punch, tapping a binding to the side while aligning or testing, and generally doing stuff where a regular steel hammer is too powerful and bouncy. I like the shopping option linked at right. Not too large, with one side being brass for actions such as persuading stuck screws out of binding base plates.
I just read a John Sanford thriller in which the protagonist expends significant time on pry bar epistemology. The one in question was of course used as a murder weapon. Indeed, your ski shop pry bar might be used to smash mice. Probably nothing more lethal than that, except destroying a defective binding now and then that explodes when you attempt a vertical release check. The tool you want is a Stanley Wonderbar “flat bar,” reason being it has a fairly long right-angle tongue, allowing you to pry a boot up off the ski by moving the bar sideways. Other bars might be suitable, but the Wonderbar is best. Our video explains.
Cordless driver drill
You can find several lifetimes of debates and reviews on what drill is best. I’ve owned a bunch of brands and models, beginning with the original NiCad battery Makita drills, decades ago. My main criteria are standardizing batteries, price, and purchasing convenience when I need something fast. While the blue Bosche 18v cordless products you can find online or at Lowes are not the highest quality (e.g., Milwaukee or Makita), I’m not a full time ski mech or carpenter so I standardize on the Bosch. The 20 volt Dewalt offerings are roughly equivalent, perhaps better. Incidentally, my Bosch cordless sawzall CRS180 has proved to be pro quality, under tons of heavy use. It is perfect for brush cutting when a chainsaw is overkill and your handsaw a pity. The Bosch DDS181 is my current favorite driver drill — it’s got a good quality chuck and is nicely compact. (If you’re strictly doing ski work you can get away with a smaller, lower voltage drill, but we like the multi-tasking ability of 18 volt 1/2 inch guys such as the DDS181. You can compromise with the DDB181, slightly smaller, cheaper, chuck not as good, still 18 volt.)
Cordless tool batteries
Can’t have enough battery if you’re committing to the cordless world. In the case of Bosch they’ve come up with an expensive but effective higher capacity battery that’s what you probably want for any replacements. Or, perhaps as an upgrade. Apparently the venerable lithium-ion battery has quite a bit of potential for improvement, rather than being replaced by “ten years in the future” chemistry the renewable energy press regularly raves over.
WildSnow.com publisher emeritus and founder Lou (Louis Dawson) has a 50+ years career in climbing, backcountry skiing and ski mountaineering. He was the first person in history to ski down all 54 Colorado 14,000-foot peaks, has authored numerous books about about backcountry skiing, and has skied from the summit of Denali in Alaska, North America’s highest mountain.