Thursday, October 15, 2009

Ten Tools

The best part of my job, as a Maintenance Man, is the collection of tools I get to use on a daily basis. I love tools. Tools rock. I now get the same rush from heading into Home Depot or Lowe's that I once got from walking in Toys-r-Us. It's the same rush that I get from going into Borders or Barnes&Noble! Tools rock.

Since I do general maintenance work at The Store, I have to have a fairly wide variety of tools at my disposal. People who work in specific trades will find themselves using some tools and almost never any others Some fall into the category of tools that I don't use very often, but which are indispensable when I need them. Others, however, are my everyday tools, the ones I find myself reaching for most often. Here's a rundown on ten of these:

Eleven-in-one screwdriver.

This is on my person at all hours of the job, and I use it a lot at home, too. Most tool manufacturers make a multi-headed screwdriver, but the eleven-in-one from Klein Tools is my favorite: it's solidly built and includes, as the name implies, eleven different driver options: Slotted 1/4" and 3/16", Philips #1 and #2, square drive #1 and #2, two Torx sizes, and three nut drivers (3/8, 5/16, and 1/4"). If I were a wizard in the Harry Potterverse, this screwdriver would be my wand.

Tape measure.

Well, of course. I always need to measure stuff. I carry a 30' Stanley Leverlock tape. I think their FatMax tapes look cool, but I suspect they would simply add too much weight to my belt.

Diagonal pliers.

Occasionally called "dikes" for short, or "small wire cutters". I use these many times throughout the course of a typical day -- so much so that I actually wear the blades out every so often. I have to buy a new pair once a year or so. I don't mind because these tend to be fairly cheap; I get 'em at Target for five or ten bucks.

Telescoping magnet.

This gadget is extremely useful to me, although one's mileage may obviously vary. It's a nicely strong magnet about the size of a pencil eraser, stuck on the end of a pen-sized tool that can telescope out to a length of about two feet. The obvious use is grabbing screws that one drops inside a piece of machinery or equipment, but for me, the true use of this thing is in my usual duty of hanging advertising signage throughout The Store. For this task we use thin steel hooks of varying lengths, and it's in this type of job that the telescoping magnet really earns its keep.

Cordless drill.

By a very wide margin, this is the most frequently used power tool in my arsenal. (Mine is a Dewalt 18V, if anyone cares.) Drilling holes, driving screws of many types -- rare is the day that I don't get the drill out of its case at some point.

Utility knife.

I also find myself often having to cut things, score things, or mark things. The utility knife is indispensable. I use a standard one, the familiar kind of knife, the most often, although I'm probably going to buy a smaller utility knife as to cut down on the size of stuff in my pockets.

Voltage tester.

Sometimes called a "tick", this is a highly useful device in my job, where I often have to move electrical equipment -- refrigerated cases, food prep equipment, and the like -- from one place to another. I often have to test a power line to see if there is voltage present. Just hold this doohickey to the line or insert the probe into the receptacle's hot terminal, and if it beeps, you've got voltage.


Pliers are important tools; I use them almost daily. I use groove-lock pliers ("Channellocks") the most, with the linesman's pliers and the needlenose pliers coming in second, depending on the job I need to do. Interestingly, the most traditional kind of pliers, the good old slipjoint pliers, are the one kind of pliers that I nearly never use.

Spirit level.

As noted above, I am frequently tasked with the hanging of signage throughout The Store, be the signage directly fastened to walls or hung from the ceiling. A level is essential to this task, because, believe me, if you hang a sign so that it is crooked in the slightest degree, you'll hear about it.

Miter saw.

Of the power saws at my disposal, the miter saw is the one I use the most, because I most often need to cut trim pieces or other kinds of similar materials for various "finish" jobs throughout The Store. The other power saws that I have at my disposal are a table saw, a circular saw, a saber saw, and a reciprocating saw. Cutting things is fun!

Of course, the tool I actually use the most frequently, far and away, is the pencil, but that's boring -- who wants to read about a pencil?

1 comment:

Thee Earl of Obvious said...

Would you stop calling them dikes if somebody told you they thought the term was malicious and insensitive?

What if they did not ask politely but rather demanded?

What if they did not ask at all but rather called 911 and the police arrived to question you for saying this atrocious word?

Note the "victim" called it the F-word