Thursday, May 27, 2010

Tools of our trade

I really should continue with the tools we all need day-in, day-out.  Let's have a look at a few of the basics.

These don't have to be expensive to get some real quality.  There was a time when the cheap stuff available was likely to leave you with skinned knuckles when used on anything more than Meccano.  However, I'm pleased to say that a lot of the cheaper brands are quite capable of everyday use. 

If you do want the best then you'll want Snap-On - lots of money, lots of quality.  I also use SK, Kamasa, Trident, Britool, Draper, Stanley, Teng, SP, Sidchrome and the list goes on.

The combination spanner set on the left (open one end, ring the other) is a low-cost brand sold by SuperCheap Auto.  Ranging from 10mm to 19mm, I've found this set to be great so far but I do only use them at home.  The longer combination spanner in the picture is a Snap-On, long 10mm, and for home use is probably overkill due to the cost. 

The 16mm/17mm ring spanner is made by Trident, I've had it a fair few years and, again, has been superb considering its cost. 

The metric adjustable (doh) on the right is another Supercheap Auto special and is ideal for those huge, stubborn nuts but be careful on smaller stuff as they will slip and ruin the fastener. 

Wherever possible, use the ring when initially undoing or finally tightening.  The hexagon on a nut or bolt will become rounded if too much torque is applied with an open-ended spanner.

The best ring-type to use on very tight fasteners is a six-point.  This matches the nut or bolt's hexagon and has far less chance of slipping.  Cheaper makes are usually only available in 12-point so care is needed if it needs a lot of force to get moving.

Always use the correct size for the actual fastener.  If you are working on Japanese bikes, you'll want metric spanners.  An old Brit bike?  Whitworth spanners are your friends.  Some sizes will match each other.  For instance, a 5/8" AF spanner is pretty much the same as a 16mm metric and a 9/16" quite close to a 14mm.  Just be careful if it feels a little slack.