In The Shop: Still Discovering Tools

Published on: 07:51AM Nov 17, 2019

I've been around tools since I was old enough to toddle after Dad as he worked on equipment. I get visited at the dealership each week by three professional tool dealers, tempting me with tools off their tool trucks. I'm surrounded by tools each day, yet I keep discovering tools that somehow escaped my attention.

Most recently, I've been researching and discovering tools for cutting metal. I thought I knew most of the traditional options. Heck, an acetylene torch is more than an option, it's my best friend. I already knew about the versatility of a die grinder with a cut-off wheel when it comes to making small, short, precise cuts in metal. I've used a plasma cutter, and admit they tempt me to sin ("That shall not covet..") I own a metal cutting circular saw that looks like a regular circular saw used by carpenters, but my has a high-torque motor and is equipped with a special metal-cutting blade to cut steel up to inches thick. And a battery-powered reciprocating saw (think "Sawzall" built by Milwaukee Tool) is on my short list of tools that I'll buy in the near future.

But the tool that I wish I'd known about years ago is called a "nibbler." It's designed for cutting tin and sheet metal. It's the go-to tool for HVAC workers who need to cut curved, circular or odd-shaped holes in ductwork. Nibblers can be air-powered, 120-volt powered or battery-powered. Heck--they can even be HAND-powered. Imagine that.

I wish I'd known about nibblers all the times when I've had to cut sheet metal on farm equipment, and ended up with bloody fingers and knuckles courtesy of my tin snips. I wonder how many other cool tools are around that I've ignorantly overlooked? So many tools, so little time...