Saturday, December 27, 2008

What to Look For When Selecting Hand Tools

Hand tools can be easily judged for quality, long life and usefulness if you just learn a few simple rules. Here are some tips and tricks of the trade for making great selections without breaking the bank.

Look for add-ons and gadgets
The reason that all the great tools never change is they were already perfect. Improvements to grip, contact surface toughness and ergonomics can be very useful and add to the life of the tool. Big changes like changeable bits, reversible shafts, and ratchets contained in small handles are not true improvements. These kinds of changes only make the tool have weak points that are bound to fail in anything other than light and occasional use.

For instance a hand screwdriver that has inch hex recess and magnet in the end of the shaft and multiple bits with a ratchet in the handle has inherent problems. The shaft is weakened because the hollow to accept the bit is very thin walled and has a tendency to warp and enlarge allowing the bits to wobble. This can also make alignment difficult. The ratchet in the handle doesn't last because the parts are so small and inexpensively made even the torque an average person can apply with one hand is enough to cause failure.

Look for tolerances in manufacturing
Hand tools with moving parts are especially subject to failure. Just because a tool has a nice chrome or matte finish does not mean it is a quality tool. Two-part hand tools such as hand pliers and water pump pliers can be judged by how smoothly they operate without being loose. If one handle can be twisted in comparison to the other than you can bet the tool is of low quality. Unfortunately tool manufacturers are all too familiar with the average consumer's weaknesses. If the packaging is attractive enough and the appearance of the tool is expensive, they know they can skimp on the actual quality of the tool itself.

Look for comparisons between two tools
Many times you can quickly tell the difference in the true quality of a tool by comparing it side by side with another brand. A ratchet wrench, for instance, should have very little turn in the driving shaft before it clicks into the next locking tooth. Turn two ratchets upside down and turn the drive observing how far it turns before it clicks. Pick another and perform the same test. If one is higher quality than the other, the difference will be obvious. Take some time to play with the tools in the store before you decide which one to buy.

Autor: Robert Rockefeller

Robert Rockefeller is a freelance writer for Bic Warehouse offers broad range of carpentry hand tools, laser measuring tools, automotive tools, tool sets, and tool boxes for construction.

Added: December 27, 2008