I know the nuts and bolts of things, and I would highly recommend toolkits to save a LOT of time. Its amazing how cheap people can be sometimes. :-) Yes, I use free stuff all the time, but if it is useful to me, I donate. I used the Wugfresh toolkit to root all my Nexus devices...Galaxy Nexus, (several of them) and the Nexus 7. Its like a two click. Check this site to get the link:
I have donated about 3 times to that particular toolkit. Why? because it works and saves me LOTS of time. Give the guy $5-10 if it works for you. Its worth it, he appreciates it, and it prompts him to continue to put out a great product. Just surfing through all the misinformation on the forums, doing things manually and then having to solve problems, if not bricking your phone, and finally accomplishing your goal many hours later, the toolkit at least for any of the Nexus devices is well worth it. I would recommend, that on your "active" devices, get a toolkit. If you want to learn how to do things manually, pick up a cheap older smartphone, and then do your flashing, modding...etc on that. Then you can learn how to do things from scratch. Don't risk your high end device to experiement on, with the potential of bricking it. :-)
Just my 2 cents worth.