What’s Your Favorite Tool?
My stepfather isn’t a gearhead, but he always had something on the to-do-list (which was almost always drafted my mother). Not to take away from her credit: the stay-at-home mother that raised my siblings and I was never intimidated by any home project, no matter the scale…even after she accidentally dropped an air-conditioning unit out of a second story master bedroom window.
Thankfully, nobody was hanging out on the patio below.
In preparing to accomplish a task on the never-ending home improvement list, dad’s first stop was the garage workbench to collect all the necessary hardware and tools. Moments later, he’d come back in the house frustrated, “Honey, where’s my [insert lost tool here]?” To which mom would holler back, “Oh, I was using it for the [insert random project].” This drove him up a fuckin’ wall, so he bought her a little toolbox full of pink handled tools—problem solved, right?
Well, shortly after his solution, I picked up my first set of combustion-propelled wheels: a radio-controlled and fuel-powered Team Associated RC10GT. Unfortunately, I didn’t have any of my own tools, so I picked up where my mom left off: by borrowing my stepdad’s tools and subsequently breaking, losing, and or failing to put them back in their respective places—in my defense, I was 12 and probably unintentionally high on nitro fumes.
After many talkings to, where I mostly listened, I was told to buy my own “dam” tools—whatever that meant. My journey into garage life began with a mismatched set of heavily worn basic hand tools of various brands. Sixteen was when I was promoted from operating remote controlled stadium trucks to actual adult-sized road vehicles, and my need for sockets-n-such grew. Luckily, I landed my first real job: a sales associate position at Sears that offered a pretty sweet employee discount. I’ve been a Craftsman guy ever since.
As I got older, my kit bag turned into a bigger hand carry toolbox and finally into a rolling “mechanic’s cart” with a nifty magnetic side, a fold out worktop extension, and locking casters—seriously, pick one up, they’re great! Over the years, I’ve assembled a respectable collection of (obsessively organized) automotive hardware, but for the longest time, I didn’t have a torque wrench. After seizing a couple lug nuts on my jalopy Datsun and shearing the head off of a valve cover bolt on my $600 daily beater/hilariously fun-to-drive Honda CRX, I forked over twin Andrew Jacksons for a ½ inch Craftsman Micro-Clicker Torque Wrench.
No, it’s not the snazzy digital face 21st Century updated version, just a good-old-fashioned manual selector operated torque wrench—really all the typical DIYer garage monkey needs. Never has a tool offered as much utility as reassurance. As I’ve gotten older, my patience for tackling auto repairs and modifications has increased tenfold. Not being in a rush means excessive torque wrench use, even on the tasks that don’t require such precision.
I go the extra (often unnecessary) step because there’s something so satisfying about selecting the pound-feet adjuster grip to the recommended digits, twist-locking the power in place, and tightening the bolt at hand…waiting for that rewarding “click” that tells you: “That’s it, old sport. This one’s good to go”.
Granted, there are thousands of tools and they all have their place. Picking a single favorite tool is a little like choosing a favorite Ferrari—you’re going to have to get awfully picky to choose just one—of course, the answer to that question is the 250 GT SWB Berlinetta.
So, there you have it. For me, aside from the one singer Maynard James Keenan fronts, my favorite tool is my Craftsman torque wrench—though, my low-profile Craftsman hydraulic jack gets an honorable mention because I’m unable to leave anything at its factory ride height. We want to hear from you. What’s your favorite tool and why?