I’ll get off the tool train soon and back to my regularly scheduled programming soon as I managed to FINALLY snag a Raspberry Pi 4. They’ve been next to impossible to get for about a year or more now.
Anyway, you can’t be a Tech Blog Geek without good tools. That’s really all there is to it. Over time my tool needs have evolved in several different directions.
After my first stint in the Navy I got a job at an FAA Repair Station. Obviously my mix of tools were aviation related and we had one specific issue where tool handles needed to be chemical resistant due to the use of a commercial hydraulic fluid called Skydrol. Even if you had a decent set of Craftsman hand tools those handles would get all sticky and melt.
Fast forward a few years and I’m working for the government who provides me tools at work but I’m starting a family and need basic home tools. Not much use for a pair of safety wire pliers around the house. So I retool as much as I can afford to.
Then I move to Japan and put all my tools in storage. While I once was an Aircraft Structural Mechanic I somehow evolved into an Electronics Tech Rep. Time to retool again.
Now I’m retired but I have lots of electronics hobbies, not to mention I have a camper, and all manner of Maker gear and by that I mean a Vinyl Sign machine, 3D printers, lasers, and a CNC machine. My tool needs are way different again. About the only constants along the way have been screwdrivers, socket sets, wrenches and pliers.
But man oh man have tools taken some engineering leaps and bounds over the last decade or so. When I was a kid my Dad had Craftsman tools and they were a STATUS SYMBOL as well. Right after Craftsman any working man longed lovingly for a set of Snap On Tools. Talk about a status symbol.
That’s all changed. Tool makers are innovating and making improvements. Even if the basic tool mission in the same, there are tiny engineering differences. Let me preach on it.
Look at the sockets in the pictures below:
The ends are ridged like the side of a coin. That allows for some extra grip to finger tight a nut or bolt. Instead of worthlessly swinging that ratchet for the first ten turns until something meaningfully engages you can spin just the socket with all that extra grip. Smart.
The sockets are color coded, and they are laser etched as well. And look, in larger kits that contain extensions, the extension also has ridged edges and it has a sleeve that free spins that you can hold for stability. Who ever thought you could improve the design of an extension?
And yet there is more…….See the green dot on the end? That is a button which allows the detent ball to lock so the socket cannot fall off or be removed accidentally. It is red on the other side, kind of a slide lock mechanism.
Now slap some sockets on a velcro rail and add twist locks to the rail. The rail is durable, flexible and lightweight. The twist lock mechanism is BRILLIANT and you can’t see it in the pic but there is a rubber piece that you push down in the socket to extract the nut that gets sometimes stuck in the socket. It also has a carabiner. With the twist lock and hooking this to a belt loop you could actually run up and down a ladder or crawl through a crawl space and not worry about losing any sockets.
None of these things are earth shattering but they are an evolution on sound principles. Sockets haven’t changed in my lifetime. Until now.
If I’m making a point here is that tools are finally beginning to evolve with subtle improvements.
If I’m some kind of techie…….why not have higher tech tools, that is, provided they meet my current mission which is to fix things around my house and camper and keep all my Maker gear in good working order. I’ve discussed my love of Wera Tools in a couple of other posts and this is the general direction I’m leaning in regarding retooling for retirement.
I’m not 100% Wera and never will be but I am getting a bunch of their offerings. Their screwdrivers are top notch. Some of the best. But I can’t figure out if they are Skydrol resistant or not……..not that I need that anymore. The only thing I can find is that the handles are Multi-Component Material……..not helpful at all.
But I do want to speak towards one more innovative tool. Knipex Combo Wrench.
Quite simply it is a pair of slip joint pliers with a crescent wrench grip……..THAT LOCKS. Absolutely 100% a marvel of engineering. Everyone should have a couple of these things.
Well, that might be it for tools for me for a bit. If you are re-tooling give some consideration towards companies that are improving and innovating the common hand tools of old.