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.
The Next Time I Buy That Tool...
Aug 29, 2012
Some of my best education has come from my mistakes. This especially applies to tools. I've bought a number of tools that worked "okay," but now that I've got them, used them and understand more about them, I'll do things differently if I ever replace them.
For example, I can't imagine working on equipment without a set of pry bars, the kind that are like mega-screwdrivers. They are incredibly useful, but my next set will be even better because I'll make certain their shanks extend all the way through their handles, ending in a metal cap on the end of the handle. That way when I have to pound on the end of the handle with a hammer--and I do--it won't destroy the handle.
I'm always glad I paid the price to buy a 1-inch drive air impact wrench. There are times when that's the only way to loosen mega-bolts frozen in place by corrosion. But I'll be even happier to reach for that time- and back-saving tool when I upgrade to a composite-bodied, light-weight 1-inch air impact wrench. It was cheaper to buy the heavy, metal-bodied 1-inch air wrench, but now I wish I had paid the extra money for the lighter unit.
I wrote in a recent blog about how satisfying it is to hear the "click" of my torque wrench when it reaches designated torque value. It will be even more satisfying when I someday upgrade from my "twist-the-handle-to-set-it" torque wrench for a "dial-type" torque wrench. It's annoying to have to twist and twist and twist the handle to load in a large torque setting, compared to simply turning a small thumbscrew on the dial-type wrench. Plus, twist-type torque wrenches can become inaccurate if you leave them "loaded" for long periods of time. I was trying to save money by buying the cheaper torque wrench, but now I know a few extra dollars for a dial-type torque wrench would be worth the convenience.
Over the past two decades I've slowly acquired battery-powered drills, impact wrenches and other tools. I thought I was saving money, buying them one at a time, from assorted retailers. Someday I'm going to save up my pop cans and trade all of them for a complete set of battery-powered tools that all use the same batteries and battery chargers. I'm tired of having a dozen different tools that each require its own unique battery. It's my own fault for trying to save pennies.
Is anybody else seeing a pattern here, that by saving a few dollars I didn't get the best tool for my money? Duh, Dan.