Sunday, June 2, 2013

Hand tools

Pry bars / wrecking bars
A - Mini, about 6" long for detail work.
B - Standard pry bar, about 12" long
C - A variation on the standard pry bar; this geometry gives additional leverage for pulling nails on the long end.
D - A 24" wrecking bar which is tailor made for quick & dirty framing demo and applications where maximum leverage is your top priority.

Torque wrench & sockets
A good ratcheting torque wrench is very useful for framing work using carriage bolts, lag screws, and is an absolute necessity for auto maintenance and maintaining lawn tractors and other mechanical equipment.  Look for a minimum 1/2" drive shaft and a maximum torque range over 100 lb-ft.  Drive extensions will allow access to bolt heads buried where there is no room to work the ratchet action.  Start off with a standard kit of Imperial and Metric sockets (3/8" to 15/16" and 13mm-27mm shown).  You'll also pick up specialty sockets on the way, such as a deep-well socket for removing / installing spark plugs, or the 32mm socket pictured at lower left that I picked up specifically to do work on the front axles of my car.

Screw-set clamps are best when you need maximum grip force.  Quick clamps (the trigger kind) are a boon to the DIYer, since they're great for a lot of solo projects where you're trying to clamp something one-handed when your other hand is busy holding a workpiece.  Quick clamps work great to clamp something temporarily while you go back and get one of the screw-set clamps to really secure your work.  Some of the quick clamp designs are reversible, converting the lever action from clamping force to spreading force.  A lot of people love the old-fashioned C-clamps but I've gotten by without them.  I forget what I bought the funny red C-clamp (center left) for.  I'm sure I'll find a use for it someday.

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