The Tool Corner: Tool Maintenance

The overwhelming majority of tools that are returned to manufacturers of top tools are not defective. Most tools show obvious signs of misuse and/or lack of maintenance. Even under correct use you have to realize top tools are not lifetime tools. If you have used your tools properly and taken the time to maintain them you will generally find you get your money’s worth.

The following photos will give you some idea how simple it can be to extend the life of your tools. When reworking tools, the most useful piece of equipment in your truck or shop is a belt sander or disc grinder. The belt sander serves a dual function, it can also be used to bevel or dress shoes. Most rework is done with no heat in the tool. If you try to forge the tools back into shape you will probably destroy any heat treatment that has been done or create problems with the weld between the mild steel handles and the tool steel head.

Photo 1.
Any struck tool will need cleanup and maintenance on a regular basis. A driving hammer with its edges and the off center blows on a clinch cutter will cause minor mushrooming and then small chips to break loose. Be sure to dome the struck end of your tools and put a good chamfer on the edge.
Photo 2.

Photos 1 and 2. Any struck tool will need cleanup and maintenance on a regular basis. A driving hammer with its edges and the off center blows on a clinch cutter will cause minor mushrooming and then small chips to break loose. Be sure to dome the struck end of your tools and put a good chamfer on the edge.


When the head of your forging tools are struck off center often enough this is the result. Both ends of the tool have been deformed. Better hammer control and early cleanup would fix the problem.
Photo 3.

When the head of your forging tools are struck off center often enough this is the result. Both ends of the tool have been deformed. Better hammer control and early cleanup would fix the problem.
Photo 4.

When the head of your forging tools are struck off center often enough this is the result. Both ends of the tool have been deformed. Better hammer control and early cleanup would fix the problem.
Photo 5.

Photos 3-5. When the head of your forging tools are struck off center often enough this is the result. Both ends of the tool have been deformed. Better hammer control and early cleanup would fix the problem.


Photo 6.
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Photos 6 and 7. This e-head punch has been held too long in hot material and was struck while the tip was too hot.


Photos 8 and 9. Grind back to desired nail dimension.

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Photos 10 and 11. Check against nail or use a guide. This one is made from aluminum.


Photo 12.

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Photos 12-14. Put point on all forepunch ends. Right: Maintained and ready to go back to work.


Photos 15. The tip of this drift was broken. Grind the end back flat.


Photo 16.

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Photos 16-18. Grind back to desired dimension, note slight grind curvature behind the tip to keep drift from changing your forepunched hole. An easy fix and it’s good as new.


Photo 19.

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Photos 19-21. Pritchel with broken tip. Grind end flat. Grind to desired dimension. Use this approach to the wheel for aggressive stock removal.


Photo 22.
Photo 23.

Photos 22 and 23. Use this approach for finish control. Back to work but be more careful and you can avoid the breakage.

This article is from The Natural Angle Volume 3, Issue 3. For more Natural Angle articles and tips, click here.

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