Many Happy Returns From Small Tools

Published on: 01:01AM Jan 08, 2015

It's easy to be enamored by large, fancy, expensive tools, but some of best money I've spent was for small, economical tools.

For example, long ago I spent $15 on a nifty little tool for cleaning acetylene torch tips. It's hard to describe, but it's a small, hollow aluminum handle with a little mandrel in one end. An assortment of teeny little drill bits are stored in the handle. When one of the orifices in a torch tip gets plugged, I select a drill bit of the right size, clamp it in the mandrel and spin the tool between my fingertips to clean/drill out the plugged hole. It's so much better and effective than using a piece of wire to unclog torch tips that I almost smile to myself every time I use it.

Another impulse buy that cost less than $20 was a storage tube for welding rods. Few things are as annoying as trying to create nice welds when the flux on welding rods has absorbed humidity. The rods may look like new, but "humidified" flux makes it hard to strike and hold an arc. I found at a local farm supply store a welding rod storage tube that has improved my welds by keeping my welding rods dry. It's just a simple plastic tube 5 or 6 inches in diameter and as long as an average welding rod. One end has a threaded plastic cab with an O-ring seal to keep out humidity. Every time I pull out a "fresh" welding rod and lay a nice bead, I thank myself for spending the few bucks it cost to add that storage tube to my service truck's inventory.

I think I got my first "mirror on a stick" in a grab bag during a gift exchange. It's just a small mirror on a gimbal mounting at the end of an extendable handle. I don't use it every day, but when I need to peek behind a gearcase to see if a seal is leaking, or peer inside a housing, I appreciate the value the little mirror offers.

I've come to learn that price and value can be different. Some of my low-priced tools provide some of the greatest value of any of the tools in my toolbox.