Hand tools are your money makers, they ensure that you can carry out daily tasks, professional services and your customers requirements.
Poorly maintained tools will not only affect the efficiency and quality of your work but will also cost you money when they inevitably need to be replaced.
At loadout we offer a 5 year warranty on all hand tools, regardless of the manufacturer's specification because we only stock quality products, but even the finest of hand tools need to be maintained properly.
Here are 5 ways to keep your hand tools well maintained and ready for action.
1. Clean after use
Hand tools get dirty, it's part of their job, but excessive dirt and grime can build up on the tools effecting their operation and longevity. It's important to keep tools clean especially after particularly dirty tasks, while we aren't saying you need to wipe them down after every use, you should certainly give them a clean when you're next organizing your van.
PRO TIP - Use PTFE Spray to clean your tools, it's great for removing grime and keeping joints moving freely, it's a non-sticky lubricant so it doesn't attract dirt. It leaves behind a water-repellent surface layer which is great to battle moisture.
2. Keep them away from moisture
Some of us have to work outside, in the UK this means we'll probably be getting wet at some point and therefore so will our kit. Moisture eats away at our hand tools like a rot, sure a new set of pliers or a stainless steel blade will have some element of protection against moisture but small imperfections and scratches on the metal after use can create openings for moisture to get into the alloy, which left to its own devices, creates rust.
Whenever your tools get wet make sure you dry them with an old towel or blue roll after use, every time they get wet, without fail. If you leave them wet and put them in a dark sealed environment the rust will spread exponentially. You also need to be cautious of damp or cold environments as this can lead to passive moisture on your tools, think back of the van on a cold winter night.
PRO TIP - Use silica gel to control moisture in your van and tool bag, you can get the little sachets for next to nothing and they absorb any moisture that may be lurking in your bags, tool boxes or van!
3. Store them properly
Tools need to be stored properly, having them loose in the van or in a trade bucket is going to expose them to unnecessary wear and tear that is slowly eroding their lifespan. Un-proper storage will also lead to dirt and rust accumulation on the tools, potential for loss or misplacement and a unprofessional image when arriving on site.
Tool bags and Tool boxes offer convenient, professional and protective storage for you expensive kit. Some of the solutions are modular or on wheels which can make using your tools super efficient too, ultimately quality tools need quality storage.
PRO TIP - Select a storage solution with lots of pockets/compartments, each can then be designated for a specific tool, when it comes to packing up for the day you will immediately know if anything is missing, and the following day you will have unobstructed access to all your kit.
4. Keep them sharp
Some tools incorporate blades or cutting edges, for example a knife or a set of cable cutters. Now the obvious recommendation is to keep tools with replaceable parts equipped with fresh, sharp blades... Duh. But it's also important to keep tools with non-replaceable or fixed cutting edges sharp too, this can be via sharpening tools like knife blocks and files.
Careful and considered use is important too, It's very common to see electricians cut screws with their cable cutters. This immediately ruins the cutting jaws, requiring a whole new set of cutters, and then they repeat. A similarly priced set of bolt cutters could be purchased just for cutting screws, resulting in a far longer life of the cable cutters as they aren't misused.
Sharp tools that are ready for action will keep you efficient, productive and save you money.
PRO TIP - Learn to use a whetstone or knife sharpener, this is an invaluable skill that isn't that hard to master for simple tools, it means tools with fixed blades can be maintained and reused for years to come.
5. Choose the right tool for the job
When it comes to selecting a tool for a task it's very common we choose the wrong one, we may have a 4mm terminal screwdriver in our hand, and a PZ2 in the other room, we opt to use the tool in our hand because its convenient. While this may not immediately break the tool (Although its very common with this example) it will slowly reduce the integrity of the tool until it does fail.
It's important to know the specifications and limitations of the tools you are using so you are aware of when you are asking to much of them, most manufactures should supply the various working capacities of their tools, and at loadout we try to provide as much technical data and specification as possible for all our products, including manufacturers data sheets.
PRO TIP - Build multiple mini loadouts for specific tasks, then if your going into a job you know you have everything you need, and wont need to return to the van, this also means you won't be tempted to misuse tools because you've got the right ones for job!
Hopefully you have found these tips helpful, at loadout we try to offer as much information about the tools and hardware we sell and All our products are also backed by a loadout exclusive 5 year warranty, But it's important to also maintain your tools yourself to ensure they last the test of time and continue to provide you value for years to come.
- Team loadout