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TOOLS OF THE TRADE: HOW TO BE PROPERLY EQUIPPED

Whether you are a beginner at fixing things or an expert at taking care of all hardware, you know that the right tools can make a world of difference to your efficiency. But unfortunately, identifying the essentials from the clutter at the bottom of your toolbox can be terribly confusing. If you’re looking for a list that details the fundamentals in a toolbox, this article is just for you. Grab your pen (or iPad) and let’s get down to business.

Importance of using the right tools

If you aren’t using the right tools, your productivity and efficiency in applying basic skills can be reduced significantly. Most tools available these days are specialized and serve adeptly in their own separate tasks. Although there are some tools you can multitask with, it is recommended that you have just the right set, which will serve you well in the long-term, to repair or fix any mechanical components. As the saying goes, ‘The difference between an okay mechanic and a great one is knowing what tools to use and when to use them’.

There are several categories of tools including hand tools, garage tools, diagnostic tools, tools for safety, and those for removing and loosening components. We are going to focus mainly on hand tools in this article since these are the must-have tools in an mechanics tool box no matter what job you are working on. You will probably have most of these tools already, but having the right range to use under any circumstances is crucial.

Another point to mention is that most of the tools listed below have multiple variations. For example, pliers can have a locking joint, a slip joint, or another system of locking entirely. Understanding the use and application of each of the tools will help you understand their functionality better.

Wrenches

These are versatile and easy to use tools that are a staple in any toolbox. They are the most useful for auto maintenance and allow the application of torque and a firm grip. They are regularly used to turn (loosen or tighten) fasteners like nuts and bolts.

The three most common types of wrenches are Box-end, Open-end, and combination.

Open-ended wrenches have U shaped openings at each end, while box-ended wrenches typically have six, eight, or twelve points fit at each end. Each has its own applications, but the combination wrench provides the best of both worlds. In this case, one end is open-ended and the other is box-ended.

Ratchets

These are arguably the best tools to use in small, cramped spaces. They have multiple automotive uses and are also called socket wrenches. These tools have a socket on one end which facilitates turning in one direction. They are especially helpful when torque needs to be applied from at awkward angles. Ratchets typically come in three different sizes: Small (1/4 inch), Medium (3/8 inch), and Large (1/2 inch).

Because of their widespread use, it is best to buy a set that contains all three sizes. For the most versatility, your toolbox should contain wrenches ranging from 6mm to 32mm.

Screwdrivers

Screwdrivers are simple instruments that are practically used in all auto repairs. Particularly for an auto repair, you’ll want to have at least these four types of screwdrivers: Flat, Allen, Phillips, and Torx.

Flat and Phillips are the most common screwdrivers with a flat and cross (plus) pattern respectively. Make sure you only use a screwdriver specifically designed for the screw you are using it on. Using the wrong screwdriver can result in damaging or breaking the screw.

Pliers

Just like wrenches, pliers to have a lot of different types and purposes. Pliers generally have three important functions:

  1.  Clamping
  2.  Stripping Wires
  3.  Tightening or untightening nuts and bolts

For your toolbox, you would need at least one of each of these: Slip joint pliers, Locking pliers, Wire strippers, Needle nose pliers, and Hose clamp pliers.

Funnels

Do not let the simplicity of this basic instrument fool you. These can be a vital part of repairs and are most commonly used when adding or removing fluids. Depending on the fluid you are working with, spills can be not just inconvenient, but dangerous too – they can strip paint or damaged parts. You should stock your toolbox with at least a few funnels of different sizes.

Additionally, you can also add a dead blow mallet, a wire terminal crimper, and a set of wire connectors and fuses to your toolbox for more functionality.

Be it shaping, building, maintaining, or repairing objects from a pin to a piano, hand tools play a crucial role in keeping all your engineered items in perfect condition. Whether you are just tightening a few bolts or popping in a nail, these tools are the bare necessities in any toolbox. Make sure you have a reliable range of all these tools in varying sizes to be able to tackle any job that comes your way.

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