Essential Tools: My Fluke and My Mike. And Other Stuff.


It’s Spring cleaning time in the shop, and I find myself fondling all manner of tools that were pretty much dropped by the wayside in the middle of a project – some on the floor, some in even worse spots, but never, ever does that happen to my all-time faves.  In my defense, my shop isn’t heated and it was colder’n hell out there this winter, my fingers were numb from about November to last week, so you’re gonna have to cut me some slack.

I do get asked a lot what tools you need to get started in this madness might be, and I’m for sure a confirmed tool junkie.  Mostly, though, a lot of stuff I’ll just pick up from Harbor Freight since I may only use it once, for the task at hand. But my Fluke? I love it. It’s hands-down the best multimeter you can buy, and my lovely wife bought it for me on the advice of none other than David O’Brien one Christmas. I was, apparently, very very good.

Take a look at it here, for one example of what they offer, but the coolest thing is the way you can get stuff for it – like the inductive amp-measuring clamps – to adapt it for just about any specific task: FLUKE 15B+ F15B+ Auto Range Digital Probe Multimeter

Yeah, and that shot at the top of the page?  Not me, or my meter, but I’m too lazy to go out and take a shot myself at the moment.


Next? My calipers.

You can call me a snob, but I feel like if you’re going to buy a precision measuring tool, get a precision measuring tool, and that’s Starrett.  Yeah, there are plenty of cheap calipers out there, but just stop it.  Get the best, take care of it, and you can pass it on to your kid (he’s probably going to steal it from you anyway).  Oh, yeah, and go with digital.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve scratched my head and written down the wrong numbers off an old dial caliper I had for a while… So yeah, this one’s nice: Starrett 799A-6/150 Digital Caliper.

41EICuzA1FL._SL500_AA300_#3 in the Top Three is my little lug crimper. Right? At around $20 this thing is always bouncing around the bench, and I use it with either the intended hammer, or vice, or in my 12-ton press. I’ll even bring it in my tool bag, just in case a connector pulls out or is loose. ‘Cause that happens. This is what I’m talking about, for example: Forney 57637 Lug Crimping Tool

Oh wait.  Did I mention the 12-ton press?  I’m going to bring this up, because this puppy is something I bought on the cheap for a very specific purpose and even considered selling it after I got the job done.  318xd8ctzLL

Long story short, I found it to be one of those things that, once it’s in your shop you realize you can use it for all those things that you’re usually trying to mickey-mouse some other way, and usually in a way that breaks stuff – either your tools, or your work.  This is what I’m talkin’ bout:  Central Hydraulics 12 Ton Shop Press .  At 12 tons, this gently applies far more force than you can even lend with a small sledge.  Forget about trying to do it with a vice.  And, you can see when things are going to start to go horribly wrong, before they actually do.  At around $150 or so, you can’t go wrong.

OK, coffee’s ready and the heater’s been going for a bit.  Time to get to work.

April 10, and it’s still only 40º out there.  What the hell.


4 responses to “Essential Tools: My Fluke and My Mike. And Other Stuff.

  1. Instead calling you a snob I would suggest buying Wiha (there are also digital ones for lazybones engineers :D)

    • Bingo! Nothing is more convincing for purchasing one of those than big spark and few months without eyebrows.


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