A good set of tools will always serve you well, provided you take care of them, protect them against rust and damage and keep them stored neatly. High quality hand tools can cost quite a bit of money, although many people assume they require no maintenance or care and throw them carelessly into a drawer or cheap plastic toolbox. Here’s a look at the proper way to take care of your screwdrivers, pliers and all other metal tools to make them last you a lifetime.
Step One: Cleaning
All tools should always remain free of dust and debris, which can cause damage over a long period of time. If your tools get dirty or wet during use, take the time to clean them afterward. Most tools can be cleaned with a simple soft brush that you keep near your tool cabinet. Rust, the main enemy of metal, can cause permanent damage if left unchecked. Rust forms from moisture, although you can prevent it with most tools by applying a light oil on rust-prone areas. When rust does form, use a fine scrubber and oil to remove it but remember, rust will also be prone to reforming on this area in the future. If you can afford it, invest in tools that are made from high-quality metal alloys to make them resistant to rust and corrosion. Finally, any moving parts should be lubricated occasionally so they remain in good working order.
Step Two: Proper Storage
What’s the point of cleaning your tools regularly if you don’t have proper storage in place? Depending on your needs, a simple toolbox will suffice. If you have a large collection of tools or use them professionally in a trade, a metal cabinet is a good option. Tools should always be organized and sorted and put back in their designated area after each use. This way, they’re always there when you need them. Ideally, tools won’t touch each other while they’re stored. A few companies have developed storage systems to address this. Keep all of your instruments in a dry area free of moisture, dust and direct sunlight. For sharp instruments like chisels, keep them in a holder so you won’t accidentally hurt yourself when you get them out. Tools should never be left on the ground or a working area as they can pose a serious hazard. Try to group your tools together in a way that makes sense to you.
Step Three: Maintenance
Most people are injured using their tools when they aren’t kept sharp or in good condition. Metal blades should always be well oiled and replaced when they lose their sharpness. Regularly inspect your nuts, bolts, screws and other small parts for damage so you know when they need to be replaced. If you own hand tools with a wooden handle, take the time to sand and oil it regularly to prevent splinters and splitting.