Tools I recommend that aren’t normally in folks tool boxes – #8

by Evan on May 17, 2010

by Henre’ Neville

10 May 2010


I admit it, I’m a tool fanatic. My business, hobby, and inclination is to fix things wherever I go. If they need it I will tighten posts on rope dividers in banks while waiting in line. Broken hand dryers in restrooms benefit from my washing up. Restaurants have traded me lunch for tightening the bolts on their toilet seat.

The better you are at fixing, the more specific and picky you get about your tools. Some do a job better than others because of design, quality, or uniqueness. That doesn’t always mean they are more expensive. (well, except for the “quality” tag.) But if you are gonna ‘Survive in Place,’ you may need to fix things for which you can’t get parts, don’t dare leave home to get them, or don’t have time to do so. Or, God forbid, maybe you just can’t afford the part to do the fixin’.

The assumption is made here that you already have Screwdrivers, (Regular, Phillips, and Square), good pairs of pliers, (slip joint and Chanel locks, pointed, locking, etc.). At least a dozen different hammers, pin punches, cold chisels; Crescent, Socket, and box end/combination wrenches. I could go on here for pages. (If you want some recommendations for this let me know with a comment or two.) Here I wanna tell you about some not-so-regular tools that I have found indispensable.

A few years back at the gun show was a fellow with a booth hawking a “hose clamp” type gizmo that used wire to make a working hose clamp. Now I am normally skeptical of folks hawking in a booth at the gun show, but I was intrigued by the concept. (I was brought up to believe that if you have enough bailing wire and a good pair of pliers you could conquer the earth.)

So I stood and watched the man work, then tried it myself. And then I bought one, took it home, and put it to work. I fixed split wood bars in a folding chair and got a couple more years service out of the chair. Wrapped a split axe handle before it could break, and it is still working. Fixed countless hoses; garden hoses, air compressor hoses, science experiment hoses. Once after breaking three regular screw type SS hose clamps on a garden hose with ribs on the inside to prevent kinking, I went and got my special tool, and it clamped tight enough to make the hose leak-proof-perfect.

After a year or so testing, I went back and bought two more, one for Wifey’s car, and one to give to my best friend. Look here to see how to make it work:

I use 0.045 in. Stainless Steel wire with this tool, having found that SS has far more tensile strength than regular steel, and offers the rust proof bonus. I give this tool five stars, or an A+.
You can take a look at the various permutations at the website:
or talk to Jeff Summers or Julie at: 909-437-7469 or 909-268-5377. Please tell them Henre’ sent you.

The next thing I never travel without is a palm sewing tool. This isn’t something that I have a brand name for you, or even an actual place to buy one other than some recommendations, but know that I have repaired straps on backpacks out in the middle of nowhere for myself and others, repaired outer pouches, camera pouches, and made hidden pockets in day and backpacks, repaired belt loops on my jeans, and pulled out waxed string for a few other projects that didn’t actually require any sewing.

With a heavy duty waxed thread you can do sewing on ripstop, leather, canvas, cardboard, and even shoe lasting.(For heavy leathers I recommend drilling holes prior to sewing to prevent shearing the thread on penetration of the leather.) A hollow handle like a four inch piece of mop handle holds a spool with twenty yards of thread, enough to last me for a few years of projects, and has a place inside the handle to store the needles that come with it to protect you or your belongings. The needle has a groove down one side, just like a sewing machine’s, for the thread to feed down to the needle’s eyelet.

Pull out six or twenty inches of thread, and stick the needle through your project. After poking through, back the needle up a half an inch, and a loop forms in the thread on the smooth side of the needle, makeing it easy to grip or feed through. Hold that loop, (I actually insert a spare needle through the loop to prevent the thread from pulling back through), and pull the needle back out, then with the loop pull the end of the thread out the far side of the project, about twice the distance of the repair plus half a foot to do your knotting.

Then poke the needle through in the next place on the sewing line, an eighth of an inch or so away from the first time through, and then back up a bit, pass the length of thread on the far side through the loop, (I find it actually helps to manage the thread’s end if you thread it through the spare needle a few inches), then pull the needle out and pull the string on both sides taught. Repeat.

There are two versions, one has the spool exposed and the axis is through the handle from side to side. The other has the spool inside the handle, with it’s axis the same as the axis of the dowel of the handle. They both work well, but I prefer the exposed spool as it allows me to both tension the thread with a finger on the spool and keep an eye on thread supply.
You can get this gizmo at most hardware stores, Tandy and other leather crafting stores, Harbor Freight, Tack stores, Major Surplus – (…wl-P14624.aspx), the list goes on. Costs about ten bucks.

Next I want to extol the virtues of my Leatherman tool. Now there is a tool that I don’t want to leave home without unless my truck is under me. I have used it to cut fruit and shred tinder, open cans of food, tighten or loosen screws, (it even has a number 2 phillips), filed knives sharper and back pack pipes smooth, awled holes through leather belts and aluminum back pack frames; used the pliers to push, pull, twist & cut wire, grab hot posts, tighten bolts in back pack frames, squeeze ticks to death, (no it wasn’t attached to me), and once pulled a fish hook from the back of my hand. This by no means limits it’s usefulness, and this whole tool box fits in a pocket knife’s space. Airlines won’t allow it to be carried on you, but a cruise ship, while it won’t allow a Buck on your belt, does allow a leatherman! (Go figure.)
There are many knock-offs out there, and while I would give a six dollar fake to one of my kids, I wouldn’t trust one out two days from civilization. The screwdrivers have rounded edges, the hinges have slack, can openers break on second use, wire cutters don’t work, and the steel itself doesn’t have the toughness to stand up to real use. A real Leatherman comes with a 25 year warranty. The warranty just ran out on my first one. I now own three, (all originals, I wish for a Wave), to keep in various places. They come in half a dozen styles now, running from sixty to a hundred bucks. Five stars for this one too.

Perhaps more in a week or so.
In Your Service:
Henre’ Neville.

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