Tech 2 Tech: Tools of the trade

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On a daily basis there are a handful of items that we as technicians use to make our jobs just a bit easier. Generally, they are a not much more than an everyday 6-in-1 screwdriver. Ask around as to whether or not there is a preference to which multi-bit screwdriver is the best, I’m sure you’ll get more opinions than you bargained for.

Surprisingly, a device which could be labeled as a simple tool, can be a very complex device in the same package. Models varying in features from LED lights to retractable magnets to ratcheting handles with on board storage, with costs ranging from $15 to nearly $100 for a high end models. In the last 20 years my tool box has carried it’s fair share of individual blades and multi-bit super drivers. Here are a couple notable models:

One of my favorites over the years has been the Klein 10 in 1 model 32505. It has a compact length at 7-3/4” and featured the most commonly used bits and drivers needed for daily plumbing/HVAC service needs. When this driver is brand new, it is probably one of the most comfortable in my hand. That said, it is not my daily go to for a couple of reasons. The bit holder/bushing that the bits fit into become worn when used as intended. After frequent nut driver use the bits will become loose and most likely lost, turning a great tool into a door stop. All in all this model has been popular and works well.

Recently, I have been carrying a Milwaukee 48-22-2302 ratcheting multi-driver. I like the stowed length at 6”, as it fits comfortably in a pocket without having a protruding bit to tear holes in the truck seat. The ratcheting feature is nice, but could use a bit of work to prevent the direction from being changed during use. The 3-1/2” long bits along the user to reach recessed fasteners easily. One of the features I most like is the magnetic bit retainer. I use this with the common 1/4”, 5/16” and 3/8” power nut driver bits, which I find are in my pockets anyway along with a t-20 and t-25. The combination seems to really work well.

One of the issues I have had with this model is the bits are retained in the handle with an O-ring to provide a friction fit. With use this o-ring becomes dry and dirty making removing the bits difficult. Any self-respecting plumber or HVAC tech should have a few drops oil or stem grease on the truck, lightly wipe the bits and you’re back in the game!

Lesson to take away today is: Even though what you have seems to be working, don’t be afraid to give the new model a whirl, besides the manufacturers have spent a pile trying to make it better anyway!

Good luck and may the Profits Be With You!

549598_165984733538360_770406564_nAndy Mickelson is owner of Mickelson Plumbing & Heating, Missoula, Mont. Andy has built a solid foundation for his business through hard work and perseverance. His performance on high profile jobs in the Missoula, Montana area have placed him at the top of the list for area customers seeking a knowledgeable contractor in the plumbing, hydronic and HVAC field. Andy has served as a United Association Instructor at the Missoula Joint Apprentice Training Center for the Local 459. His passion for industry education, advancement and professionalism make him a well-respected local businessman.

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