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Your favorite indispensable FREE tool?


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What is your favorite ,most used indispensable tool you got for free? Can be found,given to you etc. Not stolen👹.

If you have an anecdote include it.

 

Mine is this 24inch long,5000!!! RPM "Skill " 10 amp geared grinder I use with a fine wire wheel.

 

In high school in the mid 70' we used this in the autobody shop class ,till a student drop it and one side of the handle broke..Joe F. the  shop teacher said "well,that's the end of that" and promply tossed in the trash barrel near the overhead door.

 

At the end of the day I passed though the shop to see if it was chucked out yet..It was gone..

but I found it in the dumpster outside and took it home.

Next day I brought to my welding class and welded the handle.Perfect!

 

The following week I brought it back to autobody class to use it on a Model "A" chassis frame project I was cleaning in class and the teacher tried to take the grinder back .

 

To shorten a dumb story that got too long,the school principal got involved and I have the grinder.

 

It's been loned out many times to gear head and grease monkey friends and stolen twice and recovered.

 

At 5000 RPMs. it does a serious quick job on anything rusted or painted especially chassis and drive train related junk.

 

It can get unwieldly fast if not careful and is heavy .It was designed to be used hanging on a body harness .

 

 

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Many, many years ago driving to work before daybreak I see an 8ft ladder sitting next to the curb.

I swing around and go back to check it out as it looked to be in good shape.

Very nice heavier duty fiberglass ladder with really no scuff marks, it's in near perfect shape.

I open the hatch on my tiny, '90 Toyota Tercel, put down the back seat, fold the front seat down and it's still too long for me to close the hatch.

Too far from home to go back home and drop it off as it would make me late to work.

So I proceed to drive the hour and a half in traffic to work, stash it at work and then drive home with it sticking out the back of the car.

I've used that ladder countless time over the years.

Edited by zepher (see edit history)
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7 minutes ago, zipdang said:

My indispensable tools? Anything I have from my Dad.

 

I will add to that, my Father bought my first electricians tool kit when I was accepted into the IBEW apprenticeship in NYC. He also gave me a Klein pocket knife that was his, I used it for most of my career and then passed it to my son who is in the trade, (4th Generation).

 

The other one is a holding screwdriver that a Mechanic gave me when he retired when I was an apprentice. I still have that in my tool bag.

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It's in the trunk of the car for tomorrows weekly Flea Market, will post photos. Simple three wheel jogging cart for Mom and a little one I picked up at the dump. Took all the seating out, add a large milk crate with bungee cords and have a swap meet shopping cart that has turned heads for over 10 years now. Cheapest most essential thing to have at a swap meet. Bob

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Edited by 1937hd45 (see edit history)
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You can always tell swap meet novices! They're the ones with nothing to haul their treasure in! I get a kick out of some of the swap meet haulers people have.

 

My best free tool was a 100' 10/3 extension cord that was tossed in the contractors' dumpster at work. I had to put a male plug on it but it then functioned as new. Have you priced those cords lately?🤑

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I guess this qualifies as a tool.  I have several of these Harbor Freight LED lights I got free with a purchase or just plain free with a coupon.  The small lens on the edge is a flashlight while the larger one is a worklight.  It uses three replaceable AAA batteries and has a hook and a magnet for attaching it to whatever.  I have them distributed around the house and garage.  They sure do come in handy!

 

63878_W3.jpg.c95f18b1683656fb25df4fcd5b4a688c.jpg

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5 hours ago, CHuDWah said:

I guess this qualifies as a tool.  I have several of these Harbor Freight LED lights I got free with a purchase or just plain free with a coupon.  The small lens on the edge is a flashlight while the larger one is a worklight.  It uses three replaceable AAA batteries and has a hook and a magnet for attaching it to whatever.  I have them distributed around the house and garage.  They sure do come in handy!

 

63878_W3.jpg.c95f18b1683656fb25df4fcd5b4a688c.jpg

X2.   We have loads of them as well and they're very handy.  

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I went into a small welding shop about 15 years ago to have a small piece welded.

 

I was standing right beside the welder waiting for him to finish his welding and I looked into a 45 gallon drum he used for garbage.

 

At the bottom were two Record vices Made in England that had been thrown out and replaced with new ones.

 

I asked if I could have them and he said sure I gave hime $20 a piece so there would be no trouble.

 

I gave them to my son in law who loves them even though they have some slag and chips on them.

 

It has to be worth a few hundred dollars ?

 

This is a stock photo not the actual vice.

 

image.png.5a8ee9648282e8bcdf464559b17abf3d.png

Edited by Mark Gregory (see edit history)
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My favorite tool is an Old Timer pocket knife given to me the day I went to work for Southern Railway in 1976 by the shop manager. He gave a new pocket knife to all the new hires. I've carried other knives in my pocket over the years but now that I'm retired I carry that Old Timer knife in my pocket to remind me of my years at the railroad.

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 My blue handled dykes. The blue has been gone from handles for about 30 years. Found in rest area in early 70’s. Sharpest dykes ever. Can’t dull. Some kind of weird language country of origin stamping. Don’t know where they were made.               

  Currently misplaced. Always show back up.  Once misplaced for 3-4 years. Found in front bumper of van when changing radiator. That was a great day. I think I’ll go look for them some more.

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My collection of small black Harbor Freight FREE flashlights that use 3 AAA batteries.  I have them in every car, every tool box and on every workbench.  In the house too!  To many dark nooks and crannies in every car to work without a bright flashlight.  It was not that dark when I was

younger.

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This lift was gifted/given to me about 20 years ago by a client, who in the process of relocating his sizable collection to a new building wanted to upgrade all related equipment, including having a new 2-post lift, which they ended up buying couple of exactly like I already had.

This came with all original paperwork from when they had bought it new in 1991 (and paid nearly $5K).

I don't use it as much as my "standard"-type bolted-to-floor 2-post, but its mobility is very convenient. 

 

OTOH, not sure if they qualify for "free" but about half of my shop equipment I've designed/engineered and fabricated myself, due to either not having enough $$'s at the time to buy equal quality or discovered some non-existing at all, forcing me to invent them and even patent couple.

In the course of my "career", I've also been having to make lots of custom specialty hand-tools, often buying/using high quality (SnapOn, etc) as a starting point, but obviously those weren't "free". 

 

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13 hours ago, rocketraider said:

You can always tell swap meet novices! They're the ones with nothing to haul their treasure i

 

Then there are the veterans that have barely running or highly modified golf cars.

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1 hour ago, Jubilee said:

 My blue handled dykes...

I had to look up the meaning of dykes relative to tools.  Never heard it used in that context - figured you didn't mean what I thought it meant.  🤣

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1 hour ago, Paul Dobbin said:

My collection of small black Harbor Freight FREE flashlights that use 3 AAA batteries.  I have them in every car, every tool box and on every workbench.  In the house too!  To many dark nooks and crannies in every car to work without a bright flashlight.  It was not that dark when I was

younger.

If you mean this one:

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I also have a couple - they're OK but I find the blue one more versatile:

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I also got one of these free from H-F - it's pretty handy in some situations:

63598_W3.jpg.b7e6d7204d2a4e14fa497406666a9843.jpg

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Unfortunately over the past year or two HF throttled-back their freebie program, from over a dozen competely free items, to flashlights only, to flashlights 'free with any purchase', to no more freebies at all.   My inner cheapskate sighs in disbelief....

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12 minutes ago, CHuDWah said:

I had to look up the meaning of dykes relative to tools.  Never heard it used in that context - figured you didn't mean what I thought it meant.  🤣

 

 

My first reaction was Dykes Automotive Encyclopedia, it doesn't need a handle. My dykes have to have been in my took box since 1966 when I used them to take apart my first Model T. Yesterday they were trimming weights on my Grandson's Cub Scout Pine Wood Derby car. 

 

Bob

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37 minutes ago, 1937hd45 said:

My first reaction was Dykes Automotive Encyclopedia, it doesn't need a handle. My dykes have to have been in my took box since 1966 when I used them to take apart my first Model T. Yesterday they were trimming weights on my Grandson's Cub Scout Pine Wood Derby car. 

 

Bob

I'd only heard "dykes" used as a pejorative for lesbians.  We called the tool wire cutters or simply nippers.  The official name is diagonal cutters so I suppose dykes is a reasonable abbreviation.

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Hd45, are those dykes Kleins? Going by the red grips which IIRC were replaceable.

 

Part of a powerplant Operator's gear was a pair of dykes to cut danger tags off tagged-out equipment when restoring it for service. For years I kept a pair of Kleins, Channel-Locks, Craftsman etc and they would invariably sprout legs on my time off. Bought a pair of no-names from some discount store and kept those for 11 years, brought 'em home when I retired! And with an occasional dressing and drop of oil they worked as well as the big-names.

 

One of those young Operator punks ended up outing himself when he mentioned I no longer kept a good pair of cutters. Hmm... how did you know what brand of tools I had, grasshopper? Esp since you and I have never worked on a crew together?🤔

 

Busted!😼

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This isn’t a free instrument I got, but rather a free instrument I’ve given. I’m a dentist and when we have stainless steel instruments that break or can’t be used/sharpened, I save them because I have several patients that are old car guys and I offer them to them.   They seem to love them, for their small delicate unusual applications.  Being stainless helps. Often they are perfect for doing something precise in a small tight space.   I have given about 20 of them to a patient who does recreations of vintage military ships for museums. An 8 foot ship recreation of a 700 foot ww2 ship, detail like you wouldn’t believe. Each one takes him a couple of years. 
stuff like this:

88D53AF5-38DF-4B87-9469-96388A62F12F.jpeg

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2 hours ago, CHuDWah said:

I had to look up the meaning of dykes relative to tools.  Never heard it used in that context - figured you didn't mean what I thought it meant.  🤣

wire cutters,  

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This picture shows several items that qualify.  The Kennedy tool chest belonged to a friend of the family who was a machinist for Republic Aviation for forty some odd years. He gave me the chest, fully stocked, when he retired. They don't seem to make precision tools like those anymore. The Craftsman drill press belonged to a client who owned an R & D business specializing in electronic measuring instruments. He retired and sold the business in the mid-1980s which happened to coincide with my constriction of a new shop.  He gave me the press, an eight foot heavy metal work bench and a number of eight foot fluorescent light fixtures that are used almost every day. I don't think I've had to replace more than two light tubes over the years although they're sometimes a little slow to light up in the morning when it's cold and before the electric heat kicks in..  

Drill Press Bench (3).JPG

Edited by ejboyd5 (see edit history)
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4 hours ago, CHuDWah said:

If you mean this one:

63599_W3.jpg

I also have a couple - they're OK but I find the blue one more versatile:

63878_W3.jpg

I also got one of these free from H-F - it's pretty handy in some situations:

63598_W3.jpg.b7e6d7204d2a4e14fa497406666a9843.jpg

  That's the one!  I also have the others too, but  may have had to buy something to get them, (like a $1.00 phillips head bit for my drill.)

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42 minutes ago, Paul Dobbin said:

  That's the one!  I also have the others too, but  may have had to buy something to get them, (like a $1.00 phillips head bit for my drill.)

When the local H-F opened, they were giving away stuff with just a coupon.  Now that they've established a clientele, you have to buy something to get the freebie.

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30 minutes ago, Bush Mechanic said:

An air flow metre, (carb balancer) under the seat of an MG that I bought in the US. It was accompanied by a good quality set of drill bits.

 

The 'Dykes' had me wondering as well. Called side-cutters in Aus. (And all of my 'Dykes' have blue covers).

My Dad called them side-cutters - and he wasn't even Australian.  😁

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51 minutes ago, 1937hd45 said:

No, They are marked SS-57 DIMALLOY Diamond Duluth MADE IN USA

That's as good or better!

 

One of my last good auction finds before the pestilence was a toolbox that, when I finally got into it and looked close, had some 1918 patent date tools which I found were for Model T engine work. There were also a few ancient adjustable and monkey wrenches in it including a Diamond Duluth which I gave my Pontiac bud for his birthday. He has more old tools than I do.

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7 hours ago, Bush Mechanic said:

The 'Dykes' had me wondering as well. Called side-cutters in Aus. (And all of my 'Dykes' have blue covers).

 

My Dad called it a “diagonal cutter” or “pair of dikes”. Not sure where he learned that name for them or why pliers are in pairs. But he was trained as an electronics technician in the navy during WW2 so maybe he learned it there.

 

If wikipedia is to be believed, “dikes“ is a pretty standard term for them in the US.

 

7 hours ago, CHuDWah said:

My Dad called them side-cutters - and he wasn't even Australian.  😁

 

I’ve not heard them called side-cutters before this thread. Only “dikes” for short or diagonal cutters if not shortened.

 

1 hour ago, Frank DuVal said:

The proper misspelling (ha!😄) is dikes. That is why some people were confused.

 

Being interested in electricity/electronics since elementary school,  I was using dikes long before I understood the other word!👍

 

 

My father showed my how to solder up circuits when I was in elementary school. When my parents passed away my siblings were discussing who should get what and my big request was that I could have Dad’s WW2 vintage diagonal cutters, needle nosed pliers and lineman’s pliers that he used in teaching me those skills.

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My most used indispensable tool WAS free.

 

My Dad's advice: "Son, just good enough is NEVER just good enough!".

 

And yes, it took awhile for this fact to be properly learned, and appreciated.

 

Jon.

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12 hours ago, Frank DuVal said:

The proper misspelling (ha!😄) is dikes. That is why some people were confused.

 

Being interested in electricity/electronics since elementary school,  I was using dikes long before I understood the other word!👍

 

Doesn't help - dikes are things to hold back water.  😉

 

 

4 hours ago, Ben Bruce aka First Born said:

 Called dykes when I was a kid!  LOOONNG time ago.

 

  Ben

 

The tool or the lesbians?  🤣

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