User Input

User Input: Tool Joy

Impact Wrench

As spring seems to be reluctantly dragging itself towards us — although it’s currently snowing again outside my window as I write this — I decided it was finally time to swap my winter wheels and tires for my summers. In the past, this would have involved loading them all into the car and driving them to the tire shop. There are a few of them nearby who, every spring and fall, offer to swap already-mounted wheels and tires for free, if you’ll make a contribution to their food bank drive. While this is a great program, it tends to be so popular that you end up waiting at the shop for several hours until they can get you in. As a result, when you factor in the time of trying to fit my enormous wheels and tires into what is really not that large a vehicle, and then unloading them again afterwards, I don’t really save myself any time. The only reason I did it previously was that I didn’t have an appropriate spot to swap them myself.

Now that I have a garage in which to do my very own wrenching, the only drawback is the fact that using the stupid lug-wrench that comes with the car tends to be a lengthy and irritating process. It’s not physically challenging, just tedious, and spending that much time bent over usually results in a very sore lower back for a few days afterwards. None of this is a serious problem, but it’s just enough that the process is not enjoyable in the least.

To that end, this weekend I found a sale on a very heavy-duty electrical impact wrench. I had no intentions of buying anything like this until I was able to shell out the cash to get a proper air compressor and tool set, but the sale price was appealing, and it will allow me to buy and use the various other pieces, bit-by-bit, that I will eventually need anyhow when I do get the heavier-duty air tools.

To my delight, this one simple tool made the whole process completely different. I was done in a fraction of the time, with no sore back and no swearing at all. I’ve long tended to be of the sort who would prefer a good set of hand tools to a power tool that does the same thing, but in this instance, it was worth every penny. Now I need to find myself a good electric ratchet.

What power tool has the ability to actually make you enjoy an otherwise unpleasant chore?

  • Gas powered wood chipper.

    • I had one. Little 6 horse jobbie. Worked ok until the blade thingie got dull. Then worthless.

      • Sounds about like the one I have. I picked it up cheap at a pawn shop. Still seems to be going good, just can feed the big stuff too fast or it jams. Then I have to take it apart to clear it.

      • Wolfie

        No way to sharpen the blade?

        • I got mine free on the side of the road. A tune up and sharpening at a local shop was $60. I could have gotten it done again but got tired of tripping over it in the garage. I think I sold it for $50 at a garage sale.

          • Wolfie

            I got a great old snowblower one time. Sitting on the curb with "free" sign. Needed an hour of work and lasted for years. Got to love freebies.

  • OA5599

    Many tools are intended to repair or to create. The ones used for destruction are better. The power tools used for destruction are better still.

    <img src=""&gt;

    My sawzall is probably my best answer for this question, but I have a special shout-out to my 20-ton shop press. I bought the press about 8 years ago because it was on sale for a bargain-basement price ($40 or $50, I think), and not because I necessarily needed one for any particular task. I have probably used it twice for real jobs, but used it quite a bit more to (deliberately) crush stuff.

  • $kaycog

    I don't use this tool a lot, but it really saves time and does a better job when making a cake.

    <img src=""width="500"/&gt;

    • TheOtherMacLeod

      Not a fan of the Kitchenaid mixer, then?

      • $kaycog

        For no more than I use a mixer, a cheapo hand one does the job.

  • The Professor

    This has made just about all of my woodworking tasks immensely easier. I don't even use a power planer anymore, and I have to do about half of the hand or power sanding that I used to. I love this thing.

    <img src="; width="500" border="2" style="border:2px solid black;" alt=" " />

  • I recently bough a bench grinder. The only thing wrong with it, is that I waited so long to buy it!
    Using its coarse wheel to prep steel before welding is so easy, especially compared to using an angle grinder.
    The best use I found for it so far is creating outside radii on steel plate corners. I can do those with an angle grinder, but the steady location of the bench grinder makes it a lot easier and the result is nicer too.

  • First: Make sure you can still get those lug nuts off with your chintzy lug wrench. Or carry the impact driver around with a generator. No sense having a spare tire if you can't get the flat one off by the side of the road.

    And now this:
    <img src=""&gt;

    I have found this to be the go-to tool when I want to remove my own patella, and can't be bothered to go to the surgeon. The 28v cordless is a real honey. I've even been able to saw through my own steel toed boot from the comfort of a remote construction site.

  • I'll just leave this here.[youtube weES52xpoDs youtube]

  • I finally broke down and bought a portable belt sander during my last remodel. It makes fitting replacement doors so much easier.

  • Backpack leaf blower. the kind the professional landscapers use. In addition to its intended purpose of keeping the yard and driveway tidy I've found the following uses:
    Blowing out the garage.
    Cleaning out gutters.
    Blowing out the car.
    Clearing light snow.

    Also, this. X shaped lug wrench.

    <img src="; width="400">

    • Good call on the leaf blower. I went the other way and bought a very inexpensive electric leaf blower/vac to go with my large gas one. The electric is perfect for the small jobs, like leaves piling up on the front walk over the winter. The mulching feature means I don't have to worry about where I'm blowing them to.

      • The vac/blower is awesome in its own right. Especially during the winter when starting the gas one just to do the garage doesn't make sense.

        • The only good use I found for the vac part of the blower was the time I spilled packing peanuts all over the yard. It was great for getting those up.

      • Dean Bigglesworth

        I've always wanted to drive a lawnmower over a thick layer of wet leaves. I don't know why, but I think it would be a really enjoyable thing to do.

        • Been there done that. It isn't enjoyable. The last mowing of the fall and or the first mowing of the spring I usually end up with enough leaves under the mower to jam the steering. At least with 26hp the mower doesn't usually bog down.

    • jeepjeff

      I carry a breaker bar and the socket for my lug nuts. It's more compact, I get better leverage and just works better.

  • Wolfie

    Right after Christmas most tool wholesalers offer free shipping , last year I got a new gas powered generator and compatible air compressor and saved over $100. on shipping.

  • Felis_Concolor

    Well… all of them. Though I don't have a good set of air tools just yet (first, I want a garage to set up an air system), the one which has proven to be the greatest godsend are low speed drill/drivers. Dealing with long screws and bolts using hand tools is unpleasant long before the first one is sunk or backed out.

    And I love the new wave of compact 12V cordless tools; the lack of long run time is balanced by their ability to fit in places the full size cordless tools can only dream of going.

    I still tout the pressure cooker in the kitchen, however; whipping up a 1-hour bean soup using the half-bar setting still seems magical when measured against how long the prep time normally takes.

  • Pneumatic rachet. The spaces it excels in apparently were only designed for magical ratchets to turn in. Add a air hammer to that list with pickle fork.

  • Dean Bigglesworth

    <img src="; width="600" </img> This has saved me a lot of time compared to my previous, manual deck shim anomorgler.
    Image stolen from some rambom pirate over here <a href="” target=”_blank”>

    • Can't understand why that doesn't come with a built in moron lamp.

      • Dean Bigglesworth

        That was a bit disappointing, but I did mange to snag the last 16-ton hydraulic nail unbender for a really good price.

    • Do they have a left handed version?

    • But I have square not slotted camshanks! It is so hard to find the right tool. I have a standard adjustable wrench, I'm still looking for a metric one.

      • Dean Bigglesworth

        Ah, you need the optional 80-piece rotary nose-picking kit.

  • Deartháir

    I had a university professor — who actually became a good friend, with whom I killed many a bottle of wine some years later — who was something of a gearhead, to my surprise. I showed up for class one morning in my old Rambler, and he pulled in on the other side of the divider in an old convertible. I think it was a Triumph, but you know, I honestly don't remember. He looked at the spots of rust on the Rambler's fenders, which the previous owner had badly patched with industrial fiberglass tape and painted over with a roller in something approximating the colour of the car.

    "You know", he said, with an almost wistful gleam in his eye, "I've got a plasma cutter and welding rig that I've hardly ever used. We could probably fix that right up for you."

    "Why on earth do you need a plasma cutter?", I asked.

    "Why don't you need a plasma cutter?", he asked in reply, somewhat shocked at my question.

    "Good point."

  • jalopjackie

    Oddly enough, an item which has saved us a bunch of time/effort is one of these.

    <img src=""&gt;

    Besides the odd mess, it's proved amazingly adept at both keeping my various computers in proper condition and preventing a catastrophic build-up of massive cat-hair clods in various spots in the house.

    I still rely on my little shop-vac to deal with the car, though. Dyson can only do so much.