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Cool Tools

Stuff you may not have, but definitely need!

General/Safety Items | Socket Wrenches | Wrenches/Spanners | Shop Specialty Tools

So what I've found over the years is that I discover the perfect tool immediately after I figure out a bodge workaround to not having had it. Or I'll go visit a buddy only to discover some cool widget out in his garage/toolbox. Then, I also have a compulsion to walk up and down every aisle in Sears, Autozone and Harbor Freight just looking for new things that I've never seen before. I went ahead and started compiling this page so that I can share out all the tools I have in my arsenal. So if you are a tool junkie like me you may just find something on this list that you were not aware of. Or, if you're buying for a tool junkie, this will give you a good list of possible gifts.

General / Safety Items

Yeah, I know that Shop Glasses aren't at the top of everyone's list of things to have. For most people they are an afterthought, something that you put on after you've gotten something in your eye. Well, I traditionally hate safety glasses, they are only good when something comes at you head on. When you're eight feet under a car and you've got greasy bits falling on your face there's no way to keep them out of your eyes, unless you have these safety goggles. And the best part is that they are comfortable!
So, I was given my first headlamp around 8 years ago. I still have it. A girlfriend's father was into camping/hiking and had a geek streak to him. So, he got us each one for christmas (I eventually stole hers as well). It wasn't long after that I realized that this was not just a good tool for finding the lavatory in the middle of the night while camping. So, I integrated that first lamp into my toolkit for working under the car / in the engine. Later I aso got into caving (a.k.a. spelunking). That's when I bought this headlamp. LED technology has come a long way in the past few years. This headlamp gives great brilliance without having to have the battery pack on the back (which means you're not bonking the back of your head on stuff). The wife sometimes jokes that I look like a miner when going to work on the cars with the combination of the lamp and the goggles.
This is another caving based discovery. We used these to go through "clean areas" in caves. In other words, areas that we didn't want to contaminate. Where I've found these invaluable is when you know you're going to get disgustingly dirty or you need to protect yourself from the environment (like sand blasting or painting). You get in, get zipped up, make a huge mess and come out clean on the other end. The only downside (for me) is that I have to wait for the winter months to be able to wear them in Arizona because it's just too danged hot here. (They come in packs of 25)

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Socket Wrenches

If you've read any of the spark plug change articles you've seen this thumbwheel ratchet. I think I use it almost as much as my primary ratchet. What I love about it is that you can tighten long bolts much faster than using a traditional ratchet while minimizing the effort expended. I'm at the point now that I'd be lost without it, and can't figure how I lived without it.

I don't think that it's possible to have too many socket wrench extensions. In the old days I'd try to cobble together a super long extension out of all the short extensions I had on hand. These days I just reach for one of these extensions.
There are times when your good old ratchet just won't fit where you need it to go. These low profile flex head ratches work and fit where others won't! These are also longer than traditional ratchets which means added torque when you're trying to loosen that frozen bolt.
When it comes to getting in there and delivering serious torque, this socket set addition can't be beat. The long T handle allows you to get the socket in where it needs to go and really put some "oomph" into it. I additionally modified mine by wrapping the top of the T handle with grip tape to improve the grip while wearing mechanic's gloves.

Wrenches / Spanners

` So a few years back the folks at GearWrench revolutionized the lowly spanner. These have a ratcheting head on one end, which means no more removing the wrench from the bolt/nut you're tightening. As far as I'm concerned these are worth their weight in gold!
Then a year or so later they came out with these. All the nifty ratcheting capabilities plus a flex head!
And once I'd been able to get the first two sets they come out with these stubby version wrenches!
And these are the final insult from Gear Wrench. All the cool ratcheting features with a 500% increase in hand surface area and up to 25% more torque. These things are really sweet.

Specialty Shop Tools

For whatever reason I've had a rash of projects lately that require compressing suspension springs. I hate using old fashioned spring compressors, they're annoying, dangerous, and hard to work with. What I really wish I had in the shop was one of these, and considering I have to redo the Triumph springs (because I bought different ones) and the Explorer needs new struts I may just have to order one of these.

General/Safety Items | Socket Wrenches | Wrenches/Spanners

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Contents copyright 2008, 2009 - Jody F. Kerr

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