17 March 2008

Cool Tool Tips

Regardless of what kind of vehicle you have or what type of work it needs, tools are always essential. Here are seven cool tool tips that will make your life easier without breaking the bank.

Plastic fruit jars like the ones that Dole mandarin oranges and tropical fruit come packaged in make excellent, unbreakable, see-thru storage containers for your nuts, bolts, washers and other small hardware and parts. You can label them with a P-Touch or simply use masking tape and a permanent marker (or you can use the marker directly on the jar, too, if you wish). The best thing is that they won’t shatter and break if they fall off the workbench – and they’re free after you finish the fruit!

If you’ve ever reupholstered the seats in your collector vehicle, then you know what a chore it is to stretch the seat fabric and, while keeping it taut, load a hog ring into your hog ring pliers; at times like those a third hand would certainly come in handy. Well, how about the next best thing? Simply pre-load the hog ring into your pliers and loop a rubber band around the handles to put pressure on it, which keeps the hog ring from falling out. Stretch the fabric, grab the pliers and squeeze the ring on with no fumbling. Simple but very effective – try it!
Ever have to thread a nut onto a bolt or stud and it keeps slipping out of your socket? Use a piece of masking tape to wedge it in the socket – this is especially useful in cramped quarters where you can’t start the nut with your fingers – it works like a charm!

You can prevent the base of your jack stands from digging into the blacktop of your driveway, especially in hot weather, by putting a square piece of ½”-thick plywood between the jack stand and the driveway. It’s a very effective – and reusable – solution that will keep your blacktop from showing the scars of battle.

Need to do some work under your vehicle? Get yourself a sheet of 4’x8’ foil-sided ¾”-thick exterior insulation from the local home improvement center for under $12.00 and slice it into four 2x4’ sections for use as “cheaper creepers” when you need to go under. Light, cheap, comfortable to use and disposable, they’re a step up from lying on a cardboard box while you work on your vehicle’s underside, so what’s not to love?

Have a screwdriver with a broken or worn tip? Don’t be so quick to chuck it out! Regardless of whether it’s a flat-blade or a Philips, you can use a bench grinder to grind the tip off and taper it for use as an awl, a center-punch, a seat bolt-hole locator (particularly handy if you’re replacing the carpeting in your collector car) or as a drift-pin. It’s also a good screw-starter for projects around the house.
You can make a great disposable squeegee for body filler and glazing putty applications from an empty half-gallon or gallon plastic milk or spring water container. Use a marker to outline the shape on the side of the container and cut it out using a pair of scissors. You can get at least 4 squeegees from a carton and the best thing is that they don’t cost a cent! Fiberglass/SMC body fillers and glazing putty won’t stick to this plastic, so you can reuse them again and again. What about the portions of the container that you’re not using? Into the recycle bin as usual, of course!

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