10 rules for making your hand tools last

The site week 12Tools are like British summers. We want them to last as long as possible. But sometimes all it takes is some unexpected rainfall to finish them off.

When you’re a professional tradesperson, your tools are your livelihood. Like your van or your trade knowhow, you need your tools to get the job done.

A good tools insurance policy can save you money when your tools are stolen or damaged. But how can you avoid damaging them in the first place?

Since tool maintenance is so important and can end up saving you serious money, we thought we’d put together our 10 best suggestions for keeping your hand tools cared for.

1. Give you tools a regular clean: Easily one of the last things you’re likely to want to do after a long day on site. It can be a drag, but it can also be one of the easiest ways to keep your tools ticking over. Dust, grease and debris can build up quickly and regularly wiping down your tools with a rag or towel can help prevent this.

2. Check the condition of your toolbox regularly: It’s hard to stay clean and dry when the place you spend most of your time isn’t. A spillage in your tool box or damage to its exterior can spell trouble for the tools inside. Make sure your toolbox is in tip top shape.

3. Where is your toolbox? Time to think outside the box – literally! A toolbox can only offer so much protection if it’s sitting in a damp garage every night. Make sure you’re keeping your toolbox somewhere relatively warm and dry.

4. Keep rust out: As if we hadn’t made it clear enough already. Rust is an easy way to ruin your tools. Why not try adding a silica gel sachet to your toolbox? It’s a great way to keep moisture out and save your tools from a rusty demise.

5. Proper storage is key: Now you know how key it is to maintain your toolbox. It’s also important to make sure you’re using proper storage in the first place.

6. Be strict with your striking tools: Striking tools take a walloping like few other tools do. The surface of the metal head can end up forming a ridge when the metal mushrooms. This lip can continue to split and curl until the metal head breaks entirely. You don’t want this to happen while you’re using it! If you start seeing edges form on the metal head, consider using a powered grinder to grind them down.

7. Not every tool is a multi-tool: It sounds silly, but using the right tool for the right job is the most important thing. It’s easy in a bind to use a tool for something other than its intended use. This can wind up damaging your tools in unpredictable ways in the long run. Save yourself some money – if it needs hammering, use a hammer!

8. Catch defects and damage early: Remember how we mentioned cleaning your tools regularly? One of the other benefits of this is you can check your tools for defects. Cracks and splits can grow gradually over time if left untreated. Checking your tools regularly means you can catch damage like this at the first sign.

9. Sharpen those bladed tools regularly: Tools with a sharpened edge only work if they’re sharp – the clues in the name. Ideally bladed tools should be properly sharpened once per season. If not they’ll get blunter, you’ll have to work harder to make them work, and things will only get worse from there.

10. Track your tool conditions: Ever check over one of your tools, see a crack and think “how long has that been there?” A handy way to avoid these kinds of riddles is to track the condition of your tools each time you clean them. Every time you spy any small changes in condition, note down the tool and the date (maybe even take a picture on your phone), and you can use it as a reference next time around.