In The Shop: Tiny Tools

Published on: 09:53AM Jul 28, 2011

 There is something "manly" about wielding 4-foot-long breaker bars and 1-inch drive air wrenches, but there is also something to be said for having small, precision tools. 

When working inside tractor or combine cabs, it's nice to be able to grab a well-packaged 1/4-inch drive socket set and know that you'll have everything you need to remove or install panels and covers all in one tidy toolset, without climbing up and down the cab's ladder to get additional tools. Maybe I'm weird (my wife says there's no "maybe" about it), but I get a certain satisfaction out of the precision inherent to a good 1/4-inch drive ratchet and socket set. 

The same applies to mini-screwdrivers, o-ring picks, miniature roll pin punches and even small ball peen hammers. When working on electronic circuitry held in place with teeny-tiny Phillips head screws, it's very satisfying to have a tiny Phillips-head screwdriver that fits precisely into the miniscule crosshatch in the screw head. More than once I've been happy I paid the price for a set of o-ring picks with a variety of twisted and hooked tips that enabled me to remove and install otherwise inaccessible o-rings hidden deep inside hydraulic components. I've grinned with satisfaction when my 1/16th-inch roll pin punch allowed me to remove a teeny, tiny roll pin that some sadistic engineer used to connect a teeny, tiny shaft to a teeny, tiny coupler in a teeny, tiny electro/hydraulic control box.

And, as difficult as it may be to conceive, there are times when a small, compact ball peen hammer works better than my usual 32-ounce ball peen "Persuader." Sometimes all a component needs is a tap, a carefully controlled impact, to remove it, install it, or modify it. A good, well-balanced ball peen hammer is a precision tool that allows accurate, controlled impacts.

If that doesn't work, if all the precision tools don't allow careful disassembly and installment of delicate components...I've always got The Persuader available to vent my frustrations and convert those tiny parts and pieces into crumbled plastic and flattened metal.