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In the Shop

RSS By: Dan Anderson, Farm Journal

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.

Santa Claus Shops Online For Tools

Nov 30, 2008
 I am far from computer-savvy, and use the internet with trepidation, so I'm not a good person to give advice on internet shopping. But even if I don't actually buy online, online catalogs posted by tool manufacturers and retailers are some of the coolest Christmas shopping aids I've found.

Snapon Tools, Mac Tools, Matco Tools, Cornwell Tools, Craftsman Tool (Sears), Northern Tool and Supply--they all offer online catalogs that show photos of tools, offer detailed descriptions and specifications, and usually quote prices. Even if you're like me and reluctant to actually purchase online, the catalogs can be an immense help.

For (Sears) Craftsman tools, Northern Tool and Supply, and other tool retailers in the nearby big city, I often look up part numbers of specific tools, then call the local store and ask by part number if they have them in stock. The clerks can quickly punch the number into a computer and tell if the tool is on hand, saving me a 40-mile trip if they're out of stock or don't carry that particular tool.

If I need to compare specifications, such as the torque specs of a certain size of impact wrench, I can pull up Snapon, Mac Tools and Matco Tools websites, find their versions of the size and style wrench I need, then toggle back and forth to compare specs and often prices.

And when I need some really odd, rarely used tool for some weird project I'm working on, a Google search often turns up manufacturers of specialty tools unheard of in conventional retail catalogs. That's how I found a special air-powered torque wrench capable of accurately torquing nuts and bolts to up to 5,000 foot/pounds. It also has a spectacular price, so that wonder-tool quickly got placed on my, "Someday, if I win the Lottery..." list. And since I'm such a tightwad that I don't play the Lottery, it simultaneously appeared on my, "Fat Chance" list.

I've noticed that many of the online tool retailers often post "Gift Idea" pages this time of year. If you're looking for gift ideas for brothers, fathers, sons or friends, those references are good places to start. Even if none of the suggestions are the right gift for a certain person, they may spark a reminder or idea of another tool that would make a great gift.

And, if you are frequently asked for a, "list of tools you want for Christmas," those tool catalogs are great ways to show your spouse EXACTLY what you'd like to find under the Christmas tree. Just print out the page with the exact tool, part number and price.  Hand her a sheaf of printouts from all the online tool retailers detailing all the potential gifts you'd like to receive.

You should have seen the look on my wife's face when she got to the printout that listed the 5,000-foot/pound air-powered torque wrench.

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COMMENTS (2 Comments)

Margy Fischer
Buyers beware... here are some helpful sites for those who are buying online for the first or fiftieth time:
5:52 PM Dec 1st
Kent Wagoner
The Google/Yahoo/your_search_engine_here shopping sites can also be a great help in finding the lowest prices online. Just use the index function to sort by lowest-to-highest price range, especially wihin, say, a certain manufacturer's line of products. As with all online purchasing, use good caution (common sense?) when dealing with unknown or unrated dealers.
5:12 PM Dec 1st
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