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.
Good Christmas Gifts
Nov 27, 2011
There's always a temptation to "go big" when buying Christmas gifts for farmers and do-it-yourself guys who already have most of the tools and gadgets they need. Most guys would definitely appreciate a battery-powered impact wrench or other high-ticket tool, but there are small tools that are handy, useful and will be appreciated for years to come. They aren't flashy, they don't have a big "wow!" factor on Christmas morning, but their recipient will appreciate them every time they use them:
-a battery terminal clamp puller. For removing battery clamps from battery posts without profanity or damage to the battery posts and clamps. $15
-a chain breaker. For "breaking" roller chains without muss or fuss. They generally come in two sizes, for roller chains #40 and below, or roller chains #40 and above. Farmers have more use for the larger size chain breaker. $20 to $35.
-a set of motorcycle/ATV tie-down straps. Adjustable nylon straps that have a million uses to hold, support or secure just about anything. $15 to $30
-a 1/4-inch socket and ratchet set. A cheapie set to keep in the house for household repairs. Saves a trip to the shed for the "real" tool set that's probably all greasy and missing the teeny sockets needed for household repairs, anyway. $25 to $40.
-flashlight(s). Any size, any shape. A man can never have too many flashlights. I like the new pencil-type high-intensity LED lights that are easy to carry in a shirt pocket. I have customers who are fond of little LED lights that clip to the underside of the brim of their farmer's cap, and illuminate wherever the farmer turns his head. No manly man would turn down one of those long, policeman-type aluminum-tube flashlights. They're not especially bright, compact or handy, but they're definitely cool. $10 to $60
-gotta-have tool. Every farmer has a set of pliers, a pocketknife, a pocket tape measure, or some other small tool they can't stand to leave the house without. Maybe it clips to their belt. Maybe it's part of their pocket clutter. But at some point in the last year, they were stomping around the house in a foul mood because they couldn't find that particular tool that they can't farm without. Get them a spare. Be careful to match the exact size, brand and design of their pet tool. Once you find the exact match, get them two of them---one for Christmas and one to hand them later next year when they're in search of the one they lost. Priceless.