How much do you have invested in tools? Consider not just the tools in your shop but also the rusty Crescent wrenches in tractor toolboxes and the screwdriver you use to jam closed the latch on the machine shed door.
Take a moment, make a guess at a total price and lock it in your head. At the end of this column we’ll see how close your estimate comes to reality. In the meantime, here are current retail prices for a range of mid-quality tools commonly found on farms:
- A SK 47-piece set of 3⁄8"-drive sockets, metric and standard, from ¼" to 7⁄8" and 6 mm to 19 mm, including ratchet and breaker bar: $190.
- A 47-piece, ½"-drive SK socket set, ½" to 11⁄8" and 10 mm to 24 mm, including ratchet and breaker bar: $330.
- Blackhawk 14-piece combination wrench set, open end/closed end, 5⁄16" to 1¼": $125.
- Blackhawk metric combination wrench set, open end/closed end, 10 mm to 30 mm: $135.
- Craftsman ¾"-drive socket set, with ratchet and breaker bar, from 19 mm through 42 mm: $230.
- Craftsman 12-piece ¾"-drive socket set, fractional sizes from 7⁄8" through 1½", sockets only, without ratchet or breaker bar: $100.
- Craftsman four-piece Crescent-wrench-style adjustable wrenches, from 6" to 12": $60.
- Assorted crescent-style adjustable wrenches, 16" and larger: $200.
- Assorted pipe wrenches and slip-joint pliers for dealing with rounded off bolts, rusty pipe fittings and stripped out poly spray fittings: $150.
- Generic set of ball pein hammers, including 1-lb., 2-lb. and 2½-lb. hammers: $135.
- Craftsman 18-piece punch and chisel set: $115.
- 12-piece GearWrench screwdriver set, flat and Phillips heads: $107.
- 29-piece set of Irwin drill bits, from 1⁄16" through ½", in 1⁄64" increments: $150.
- DeWalt 7.8-amp, industrial quality ½" drill: $180.
- Schumacher 200-amp battery booster/battery charger: $350.
- At least three Lincoln hand-actuated grease guns to scatter between various tractors, the combine and the bed of your pickup, $22 each: $66.
- DeWalt 8", dual-wheel bench grinder with a ¾-hp motor: $120.
- Ingersoll Rand ½"-drive air impact wrench: $250.
- Campbell Hausfeld 5-hp, 80-gal. tank, 230-volt air compressor capable of 175 psi and 14 cfm: $1,100.
- CamSpray 3500 psi electric-powered, cold-water pressure washer, industrial quality: $1,700.
- Lincoln 225/125 Model K1297 arc welder, welding helmet and an assortment of welding rods: $750.
- Victor acetylene welding/cutting torch kit, with gauges, hoses, tips and handles, without acetylene or oxygen bottles: $125.
- Wilton bench vise with 5" jaws: $150.
- Owatonna Tool Company 20-ton hydraulic bottle jack: $100.
- Waterloo rolling 13-drawer tool cabinet ($1,200) and Waterloo nine-drawer "top box" ($775): $1,975.
- DeWalt WorkSite shop radio, able to bring in local AM stations for country music and farm market reports: $110. (No shop is an "official" farm shop without a radio tuned to a local country music/farm market station.)
That brings our total to more than $9,000, and that’s a conservative estimate. It’s safe to say many farmers would have to spend between $10,000 and $12,000 to replace their tools. Those who have invested in professional-grade or specialty tools can easily add another $10,000 or more to their replacement price.
If your guesstimate on the value of your tools was low, don’t feel bad. Tool costs have skyrocketed in recent years. It’s good every so often to compare what you have with replacement cost, in case theft or fire makes purchasing a new tool inventory a necessity.