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.
Confessions of a Tool Abuser
Oct 11, 2012
I've long advocated proper care and maintenance of tools. I just haven't done it myself. My toolboxes are full of examples of how NOT to use and care for tools.
The toolboxes in my service truck are good examples. I was too cheap to pay the extra price for "road boxes" when I outfitted my truck. I bought normal tool chests designed for use in a shop. "Normal tool chests" aren't designed for the vibration and bumps and jolts common to highway transportation, let alone bouncing across corn rows at 30 mph. That's why I eventually had to drill and rivet gusset plates in the corners of those mis-used tool chests--the corners had begun to buckle and sag because I was using them in ways for which they were not designed.
I've got a couple flat-blade screwdrivers, and one Phillips-head screwdriver, that are my designated "beaters." I religiously try to use my other screwdrivers only for removing or installing screws, but there are occasions when I need to use a screwdriver as a temporary chisel or punch. I console myself that of all my screwdrivers, I only abuse those three.
I'm ashamed of the way I abuse drill bits. I'm always in a hurry, rarely able to use a drill press, and I end up trying to force one of my oft-abused drill bits through a piece of metal using a hand-held drill. It would help if I'd at least squirt some WD-40 or other lubricant while I'm drilling, but I'm usually hanging upside down or dangling off the edge of a machine, so I don't have a free hand to spray while I drill. The result? I've got a drawer full of drill bits with blue, burnt tips. Last time I checked, damaged bits outnumbered "good" drill bits 3 to 1.
The list goes on: my sockets get used as seal drivers, my wrenches get used as pry bars, my steel toed boot gets used as a wheel chock (it's a long story...) and the 9-inch pliers I carry in a pouch on my belt get used as a hammer, pry bar, can opener, and splinter-puller. Now that I think about it, the only tools I own that get used ONLY for their proper purpose are my hammers.
But I use them a lot, and enthusiastically.