Working with eletronics can be dangerous to the eyes. Hot solder can overheat and pop, clipped leads can go flying into an eye, and working with electricity in general demands extra precaution. Safety glasses are a mandatory item for any lab workbench. Always wear them while soldering!
Digital Soldering Station
A digital soldering station is the foundation of any electronics lab workbench. A high quality soldering iron is critical and will make the process of soldering easier and more enjoyable. If there is one item in your lab on which you should splurge on, it is your soldering iron. The advantage of having a digital soldering iron is that you can dial in the exact temperature you need, and you can be assured the tip will be at that temperature. It makes it much easier to dial in the exact heat you need and prefer for soldering. A high quality iron will also heat up to higher temperatures faster and safer, and will provide a better built iron and tip which will show in the quality of your soldering. I highly recommend the Hakko FX888D-23BY digital soldering station. It is high quality and well built.
Digital Soldering Iron
A soldering mat is heat resistant up to a very high temperature (932°F/500°C), which makes soldering safer. It also is anti-static which will protect your electronics. Highly recommended.
You want a 60/40 Tin Lead mix (not 63/37) as it is easier to work with with a higher melting temperature. The smaller the diamter the easier it is to be precise. The diameter .5mm is a good choice.
Solder wick is neccessary for sucking up molten solder for when you want to unsolder a joint.
Soldering Iron Tip Cleaner
Useful for cleaning a dirty soldering tip.
An alternative for cleaning a dirty soldering tip.
Helping Hands with Magnifier and Lamp
A helping hands will help you solder more safely and with higher quality by clipping onto the PCB board you are soldering as well as holding components in place securely, freeing up your hands to manoeuvre the soldering iron alone safely and securely. You don't want to be using your hands to hold multiple items as this is dangerous and will lead to bad soldering joints. The mangifying glass and LED lamp will help illuminate and mangify the small components as you're soldering them, leading to better solder joints.
A flush cutter is a metal snipper used often when assembling electronics. It is a basic tool needed in every electronics workshop. The IGAN-170 is a high quality choice.
Needle Nose Pliers
Miniture screwdrivers are often needed to make minute adjustments such as to trim pots. They also come in handy when disassembling electronics.
The Neiko 01407A Electronic Digital Caliper is an excellent choice for a high-quality accurate caliper at an affordable price.
The KKmoon M6013 capacitor tester is a useful tool for quickly determining the value of capacitors. Capictors are often poorly marked and difficult to read and interpret. This tool will help you ensure you are placing the correct value capacitors when assembling circuit boards.
A transistor tester is a tool for easily determining the type of a transistor (PNP or NPN). It is useful for sanity checking the correct transistor is being placed before soldering.
Heat Sink Clips
Soldering irons get very hot and you can accidentally burn out a chip due to excess heat. A heat sink clip can be used by clipping it onto the metal you are soldering and diverting the heat away into the handle of the clip. This helps prevent burning out chips while soldering.
Leads are used to electrically connect from the oscilloscope to your project, or the function generator to your project, or anywhere else which accepts the appropriate male/female input.
Banana Jack to Mini-Grabber
Useful for connecting to a loose wire or loop.
Banana Jack to Aligator Clip
Banana Jack to Banana Jack
IC Pin Straightener Tool
IC Extractor Tool
This handy item combines a magnifying glass with a LED headlamp to make it bright and easy to see the smallest of components. Helpful when soldering.
Wire is a staple of any lab workbench. The breadboards require solid wire (not stranded) and require size 22 guage to fit properly in the breadboard holes. Make sure you have the correct type of wire by purchasing my recommended choice from Electronix Express.
Portable Soldering Iron Travel Kit
Helpful for when travelling to electronic meetups and you're in need of some quick and dirty soldering. Not recommended for daily use.
Organization of your components and tools is extremely important. A good electrical engineer is an organized engineer. These storage boxes stack up and offer ample drawers for holding small components.
The following are must have books for any electrical engineer.