Hand tools are great for everything from fixing your kids’ toys and installing batteries to major home repairs. However, people who do not know that much about tools often misuse them, which is both dangerous and not very smart. Here are the top TEN DON’Ts for using hand tools, and why they are “don’ts”.
- DON’T use the wrong tool for the job. So many people who cannot find the right tool use the wrong tool for the same purpose. One example that comes to mind is using your adjustable wrench or plumber’s wrench as a hammer. Sure, it is heavy enough to hit hard, but you could damage the wrench, damage what you are trying to hammer, and injure yourself in the process. That’s an all-around BAD idea.
- DON’T use an unfamiliar tool without learning how it is used FIRST. If you have ever picked up a hand tool and thought, “Hey, I bet this would work to a,b,c,” and then found out that was not the tool’s intended purpose, you know exactly what we’re talking about here. A hacksaw is not the same as a straight saw, and there is a reason for that–learn what they are meant for and use the tools for their intended purposes.
- DON’T load down your tool box with every tool you can buy. There are LITERALLY dozens of different drill bits, saw blades, driver sizes and types and wrench sizes, both metric and standard. Unless you are a carpenter or a mechanic, owning every tool will not benefit you for most of what you do.
- DON’T leave your hand tools laying around. Some hand tools are dangerous just as they are (e.g., saws, awls, crow bars, etc.) and can cause serious injury when left laying around. Additionally, tools that are left out of a tool box have a tendency to rust or corrode faster, siince they are exposed to the open air, humidity, rain, etc. Put them away when you are done and solve all of these problems simultaneously.
- DON’T soak or drop your tools in anything wet and then leave them dirty and moist. This hearkens back to Don’t #4. Dropping your best screwdriver in a bucket of paint is an accident. Leaving it coated in paint and/or not wiping or washing it off will only lead to the tool’s destruction. Tools are not usually cheap–clean them up and dry them off by hand or you will be replacing them frequently.
- DON’T attempt to fix a broken tool. There are shops and technicians for that. If your favoritie hammer just came apart or the wooden handle has completely split in two, take it to somebody who knows something about tool repair. Your hammer’s head will have to be removed (if it isn’t already) and the handle replaced before it is restored to good use. The same holds true for other tools with loose or dysfunctional parts.
- DON’T use a lesser tool when a greater tool will do a better job. In short, when a diamond drill bit will bore through the sheet metal in front of you in just seconds, do not wreck a steel bit trying to scrape a hole through the metal. You will wear the bits (or tool) out and have to replace it with something else before you can complete the job. Use a better tool or better quality tool and you will spend less time in the shop and less money on replacement tools, period.
- DON’T lend your best tools out to neighbors. Sure, you want to be neighborly and helpful, but what if your tools don’t come back? What if that neighbor on the corner hordes tools? You don’t really know, and then your best tools are gone. It is a good idea to have a back-up set of tools that A) you can lend to others who ask, and B) you can use and lose without fretting about how much money the cheaper tools cost you. The loss of a five-dollar wrench is less disconcerting than the loss of a fifty-dollar wrench.
- DON’T cut, turn, aim or pull a tool in the direction of your body. You would not believe the number of people every year who end up in the emergency room because they were using tools and faced the tools towards their bodies. One slip and you have a screwdriver to the gut, a chisel that slices open your hand or a severed finger from a saw blade. Shop safety first, and the primary rule of shop safety is POINT THE TOOL AWAY FROM YOURSELF AND KEEP IT MOVING AWAY FROM YOU. You do that and you will spend less time in an emergency room and more time in your shop.
- DON’T confuse hand tools with power tools. While many power tools can be used with one hand (like hand tools), that does not make them hand Just think of it this way–power tools require POWER, specifically electrical power, to do what you need them to do. Hand tools rely on your own strength to do the jobs you expect them to. That is it–that’s the difference and how to keep them apart. You will want to remember that so that in case you “talk shop” wiith someone else who knows more about tools than you do, you do not come off sounding like a “nube rube.”
As you can see, some of these “dont’s” relate to safety with tools, while the other “dont’s” refer to the use and storage of tools. Regardless of which viewpoint you take, it is still important to understand what a tool “don’t” is, and why it’s a “don’t.” Using hand tools and using them properly requires a bit of a learning curve, but once you get the hang of them, you will be impressed with what you have learned and how far you have come with your exploration into the world of hand tools. Other people (like your significant other) may be impressed too, especially if you can fix a lot of things around the house!