My first canning experience involved 1/2 pint jars because my largest pot wouldn't hold enough water to fully cover pint-sized jars by the requisite one inch. This wouldn't have been too bad if I had been canning strawberry jam or apple butter. People might have thought the 1/2 pint jars were dainty, adorable even.
But I was canning, or rather trying to can pickled green beans. That meant cutting all the beans to fit in the half-sized jars, and there just shouldn't be anything dainty about pickled green beans. To make matters worse, I did not own a canning lifter. So there I was, trying to pull my half-sized jars out of a too small pot with inefficient metal pinchers.
I'm happy to say no one was hurt and the jars all gave off that satisfying pop that signals a secure seal. But... If I'd had the right tools the project would have gone much more smoothly.
A set like the BALL Home Canning Basics Kit has the three most important items a beginning canner needs- a large enough pot (in this case a 21 quart Waterbath Canner), a jar lifter, and thoroughly tested, tried and true instructions. The other tools come in handy too- a canning jar rack, 6 pint jars (and lids), a canning wand, bubble freer, and canning funnel.
With their long standing history, Ball may as well be synonymous with canning, but other companies do make canning tools. As far as I've seen though, no other company includes a canning pot and a cook book with their kit. And without these tools, you could end up with embarrassingly dainty, pickled bean-halves or something far, far worse.