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.
Three Tools You Should Consider Carrying
Dec 25, 2012
Even on days when I'm not at the dealership there are three tools that are always in my pockets when I leave the house to work in the yard or garage.
Like many farmers, I feel lost without a pair of simple pliers in a leather pouch hanging from my belt. A good pair of pliers is a mini-hammer, wire-cutter, zip tie-puller, speed wrench and a dozen other tools all-in-one. I've found myself slapping my right hip, wishing I had my trusty pliers, while at a grocery store, a shopping mall and even in church.
The second tool I won't leave home without is a mini-screwdriver. The next time you're at an equipment dealership, notice that almost every mechanic has a mini-screwdriver tucked in his shirt pocket. I'll bet I pull out my little screwdriver 30 times a day to open a plastic parts bag, dig crud out of a hydraulic fitting, align a teeny hole in a circuit board, pry loose a roller chain master link's clip...sometimes I even use it to actually remove a small screw. Many farmers carry folding pocketknives that perform many of the duties for which I use my pocket screwdriver. I think my wife would prefer that I carry a pocketknife when we go out for dinner---she says pocket screwdrivers don't look "right" when worn with dress shirts.
The third small tool I won't leave home without is my mini-flashlight. Flashlight technology has improved in the past 5 years so that the 4-inch long pocket LED flashlight I carry clipped in a shirt pocket or front pants pocket is as bright as the 3-cell Mag Light I used to keep in my tool box, and much handier than dragging a trouble light and extension cord along every time I have to peer into a dark niche or cranny. Even if I'm not working on equipment at the dealership, that little light is my best friend after-hours when it comes to peering under the lawnmower (or more recently, the snowblower), digging through my fishing tackle box, or working on my wife's car. Inside the house I find myself grabbing that mini-light to illuminate the back corners of closets when searching for lost socks, rooting around under my computer desk for a disconnected cord, or when finally re-wiring the light fixture my wife asked me to fix three years ago.
If I was a bit younger, I'd probably add a cell phone, especially a smart phone, to my list of "don't leave home without it" tools. But I'm of an age where a cell phone is a necessary evil rather than a necessity of life.