The following commentary does not necessarily reflect the views of AgWeb or Farm Journal Media. The opinions expressed below are the author's own.
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.
There are times when I'm glad I have certain cheap tools. Like when I'm dealing with a stubborn Allen-headed bolt. Rather than risk twisting off the bolt head with the sheer, abrupt power of an air- or battery-powered impact wrench, I grab my El Cheapo 3/8" or 1/2" breaker bar.
I put the appropriate Allen-head socket in the breaker bar, fit the socket into the offending bolt, and apply steady lefty-loosey pressure to the breaker bar's handle while I give the business end of the breaker bar and socket a couple sharp whacks with a big hammer. The combination of applying force while pounding down into the stubborn bolt usually magically breaks things loose.
I'd hate to pound on the head of my Snap-on breaker bar for fear of breaking or marring the hinge area, but don't worry about damaging the low-cost breaker bars I keep around for just such an occasion.
The same applies to screwdrivers and open end wrenches. I have repeatedly written blogs about never abusing screwdrivers by using them for prying, scraping or anything except removing screws. I'm adamant about that when it comes to my "quality" screwdrivers. But I've got a drawerful of cheapie screwdrivers that get used for all the things I won't use the good screwdrivers for. The same goes for open end wrenches. It's nice to have some cheapie wrenches on hand when you need to cut, bend or alter a wrench to reach a bolt or nut in a nearly inaccessible location.
Sometimes "cheap" can be synonymous with "invaluable."
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