Everybody knows that it’s the tools that make any job easier. Having the right tools makes all of the difference. Home mechanics and do it yourselfers typically have a significant amount of tools, but every once in awhile you will comes across a task that requires a specialty tool. The specialty tool needed for a particular job can cost hundreds of dollars. But sometimes, a homemade version can be assembled for much less.
Homemade tools have been commonplace forever. Years and years ago when you needed a certain wrench with a specific curve to reach into a tight space, you simply heated the wrench until it was glowing hot, bent it into position, and voila you had a specialty tool to suit the task at hand. Surely you could have headed to the local tool store and bought the wrench for $30, but your homemade wrench got the job done and cost next to nothing.
The fact is, specialty tools are expensive and many will only be used once in your lifetime. If you have access to a tool rental facility and the tool you are searching for is in stock, by all means rent it and save the time and effort required of making your own tools. If however you cannot locate the tools for a decent price, consider making it yourself. Tool making takes ingenuity, skill, and time.
Below are a few examples of simple tools that you can make yourself and save a fortune by doing so. This is just the tip of the iceberg as countless tools can be made and adapted to suit the job ahead of you.
1. Bearing press. A bearing press is an elaborate device that installs the pressed in bearing on items ranging from bicycles, to lawnmowers, to cars. A typical store bought bearing press will consist of a hydraulic ram with countless adapters to fit each bearing used. A decent setup will cost upwards of $300. A homemade bearing press, capable of being adapted to many applications, will cost around $4. To make a bearing press you will need a threaded rod suitable for the job, several different sized washers, and strong bolts. Assemble by placing the washers and bolt on one side of the rod, then slide the bearing to be pressed onto the rod, followed by washers and bolt for the other side of the rod. Position the bearing in place, tighten the bolts to snug the bearing, then press the bearing into place by fully tightening the bolts. Of course the rod, bolts, and washers will have to be sized according to the job.
2. Stubby screwdriver. A stubby screwdriver is a good investment, but what if the stubby screwdriver you own is still not short enough for the task. Cut it. Simply cut the screwdriver to the length needed with a die grinder, then regrind the tip. Of course this process only works for slotted screwdrivers, but it will only take a few minutes and save you at least $10. As an alternative, use your hacksaw and a file. The job will take longer, but the end result is the same.
3. Stubby ratchet. Everyone has a ratchet set at home, but few people have a stubby ratchet set. The stubby set allows access into tight spaces. So what do you do if you don’t own a stubby set? Take a full length ratchet, preferably an extra one. Take you trusty die grinder, attach a cut off wheel and cut the ratchet handle to length. Polish the end of the handle up with a file and you now have a stubby ratchet perfect for the task at hand. If you don’t own a die grinder, you could substitute the use of a hacksaw, but the process will take hours as the ratchet material is incredibly hard.
The tools above are merely three examples of homemade tools. There are perhaps thousands of tools that you can make or adapt yourself. So next time your task require a complex, expensive specialty tool think long and hard about ways that you could make it yourself. Sometimes it’s as simple as cutting a groove into metal other times it may require welding or bending. If it can be made at home, it will save you a significant amount of money. Trail and error is the key to making tools at home. Don’t give up on making tools simply because your first attempt did not work.