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.
Do-It-Yourself Tools Revisited
Jul 13, 2009
Several months ago I put up a blog about cutting, welding and grinding tools and wrenches to customize them for unique repair jobs. Someone asked if there is a market for customized or one-of-a-kind tools.
Aside from going through the process and paying the price to self-patent, produce and market a tool, there are companies that buy ideas for specialized tools. Many tool magazines that target mechanics frequently have advertisements for companies that will, "Turn your tool idea into money!" If a mechanic sees a need for a new type or design of tool, he can submit the idea to that company for them to produce and market. In return, the mechanic gets a fee for the idea, and possibly residual payments for future sales of the tool.
The Lisle Corporation in Clarinda, Iowa (www.lislecorp.com/ideas) is one target for mechanics or do-it-yourselfers who think they have ideas for new or improved tools. Snap On Tools, Mac Tools, Matco Tools and other major tool marketers are also interested in new ideas for tools, and accept ideas through their websites.
If you have ever invented a tool to meet a need on your farm, and found neighbors clamoring to borrow it or have you build them a similar tool, it might be worth talking to Lisle, Snap On, or another tool manufacturer. As long as you keep careful documentation of the genesis and design of the tool, you shouldn't have to worry about anybody "stealing" your idea. If the idea is good, actually goes into production, and makes it to the market, your home-grown idea might put a few dollars in your pocket.