In the Shop
As a farm machinery mechanic and writer, Dan brings a hands-on approach that only a pro can muster. Along with his In the Shop blog, Dan writes a column by the same name as well as the Shop Series for Farm Journal magazine. Always providing practical information, he is a master at tackling technical topics and making them easy for all of our readers to understand. He and his wife, Becky, live near Bouton, Iowa.
Midwinter Tool Maintenance/Replacement
Jan 21, 2013
I was pawing through the layers of tools and assorted debris on my work bench today and finally acknowledged it's time for my annual clean-up, touch-up, sort-through and throw-away event. That decision was accelerated by a couple evil looks from a boss who prefers to have our shop looking tidy and "professional."
So it's time to don ear and eye protection and carefully grind down the mushroomed ends of my punches and chisels, before a mushroomed segment finally shears off when hammered and either embeds itself in the back of my hand or ricochets toward one of my eyes. I might even touch up the bevel of the chisel points, reform the points on my center punches and square the tips of my alignment punches.
I will sharpen all my dulled drill bits and actually return them to their proper holes in my drill index. I will throw away all the broken drill bits rolling around in the bottom of one of my toolbox drawers. Does anybody ever REALLY follow through with the self-promise that, "I'm going to sharpen a tip on that broken drill bit so I've got a half-length bit in case I need to drill in a tight spot."?
I'm going to clean both sides of the glass in my welding helmet. If the outer glass is beyond cleaning because of weld spatter, I'll replace it. (It was a head-slapping, "duh!" moment a couple years ago when I "remembered" that the clear, outer glass on a welding helmet is replaceable for a few dollars. It's much easier to weld a nice bead if you're not looking around, between and through a viewing glass that looks like the surface of the moon.)
I'm going to retire some tools that are literally worn out. The ridges inside chrome sockets, especially 12-point sockets, round off with use. I dislike spending money to replace a socket that "looks" okay, but I also dislike smashing my knuckles when a worn socket slips on a nut or bolt just as I really lean into it. Likewise, heavily used combination wrenches can wear enough so their open ends or box ends slip under pressure. Don't be tempted to weld then grind the jaws of the open end of a worn combination wrench---it never works out as well as you think it should. And the other mechanics will laugh at you.