Mastering the Art of Facilities Maintenance

managing time and resources effectively

The Right Multi-purpose Tool for the Job

I’ve been working in the field for quite a long time and I’ve tried most of the multi-tools. The right multi-tool can make your job easier, and make you look like a pro when you don’t have to go running for a toolbox every time you need to open an access panel on a building walkthrough.

There’s times when you know you are working on a project, and you know that you have to lug out the toolbox (or boxes) and set up and do a job. Then there’s those other times when all you need to do is open a panel cover or unscrew a cap. You don’t need a whole tool pouch, you just need a few things to make your life easier. Here’s my top 5.

1. The 6-in-1 screwdriver. This baby started life as a 4-in-1, and someone got the bright idea to add the 5/16 and 1/4″ nutdrivers, and now we have a handy multi-purpose tool that’s useful for opening panel covers, tightening loose screws, adjusting door hardware, and for general inspections and maintenance. I find that even when I have all my other tools, the screwdriver i usually grab is this one.

2. Swiss Army Knife. I have to admit, I’ve only ever owned one of these, but I’ve been able to hold onto this one longer than many other tools I have. I got it for Christmas over two years ago, and I have found it to be one of the handier things I have. For one thing it fits in my front pocket, so I don’t have to strap something else onto my belt. I mostly use the knife, and the two screwdriver blades, and I have been known to use the bottle opener as well. The one I got has an LED light in it, but I never replaced the batteries in it when they died.

3. The Leatherman. This classic American multi-tool is a handy knife- plyer set that anyone who does a bunch of control or small electronics repair should have. The screwdriver takes a little getting used to balancing the handle and turning a screw, but the more you use it, the more handy it becomes. The only drawback is that the handles don’t lock back when you are using the plyers, so don’t exert too much force on it trying to crank on a small nut or bolt.

4. The Gerber multi-tool. At first glance it looks like a knock-off of the Leatherman, but once you get it in your hands, it as a little more heft, and the lockback feature means you can tork on it a little more. I’ve left two of these in burning hot attics in the summertime, so I refuse to let myself buy another. Not because it isn’t a good tool, but because I let myself lose two of them at over $60 each. One thing to remember about this and the leatherman, the handles aren’t insulated, so stay away from live electricity with it (even 24v can startle you when you aren’t expecting it)

5. The CRT Lil Guppie . I don’t personally have one of these, but a great friend of mine does, and he swears by it. The little crescent wrench, wire stripper, knife and other things fit nicely in a tiny ergonomic device that is fitted with a belt clip, or will go comfortably in your pocket.

All of these tools come in handy, and anything that you don’t have to worry about taking out of your back pocket when you sit down is always a plus.

June 7, 2008 Posted by | tools | , , , | 2 Comments