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Toolmongers know that tools don’t always perform the way we want ’em to. Similar to Ambrose Bierce’s Devil’s Dictionary, “What a Mechanic’s Tools Do” tells the truth about what really happens with some common tools. Here are a couple of examples:

ELECTRIC HAND DRILL: Normally used for spinning steel pop rivets in their holes until you die of old age.

VISE-GRIPS: Used to round off bolt heads. If nothing else is available, they can also be used to transfer intense welding heat to the palm of your hand.

These definitions got a few chuckles out of me, but I’d really like to hear Toolmongers’ takes on common tools. What definitions would you give? Tell us in comments.

Note: Thanks to Flickr member spacematters for the photo.
What a Mechanic’s Tools Do [SodWork.com]
Toolmonger Photo Pool [Flickr]


14 Responses to Toolmonger’s Dictionary

  1. joelfinkle says:

    Standard Screwdriver
    A straight solid-bladed tool used for opening paint and mastic cans, removing putty and caulk, stirring mortar, and occasionally inserting fasteners partway into hardwood in such a fashion that wears down the slot in a way that it can neither be inserted nor removed, providing another function for vise grips.

    And the old favorite:
    Phillips Screwdriver
    Vodka, Orange Juice and Milk of Magnesia

  2. rick says:

    Phillips Screwdriver – translated to wife speak as “the criss cross one”. however asking for it is usually pointless as they are always missing while the extra large flat ones appear to be breeding.

  3. Toolaremia says:

    POWER SPIRAL BLADE CUTTER – Electric device used to create abstract patterns in expensive materials, in place of the simple holes that were desired.

    TAILGATE – Rear portion of a pickup truck. Folds down to form a convenient platform for dropping expensive items to the ground.

    MIG WELDER – Handy, high-powered electrical device for making miniature imitations of dog doo piles on steel, and for blowing holes in otherwise perfectly smooth sheet metal.

    1/2″-DRIVE RATCHET WRENCH – Hand-held device useful as a hammer to hit combination wrenches on stuck nuts and bolts. Also useful to facilitate swear-word generation when an interfering object unexpectedly flips the direction lever.

  4. Frank Townend says:

    Adjustable Wrench – The only wrench remaining in the tool chest after repeated trips by you, to me under the car.

    Garden/Yard Tools – See toolbox, see toolbox sit, see toolbox rust in back yard because child of said toolbox owner left it outside after misusing tools.

    Hammer – Useful for smashing thumbnails.

    Tool – A critical piece of equipment which typically provides a mechanical advantage in accomplishing a physical task. Typically purchased one week before a major sale on such tool.

  5. Ray says:

    Slide Hammer Gear Puller.

    A tools who’s primary function consists of forcibly compressing that little bit of skin between your thumb and index finger, thereby ridding the body of excess blood and pent up swear words.

  6. Paul says:

    Fish Tape: A coil of steel designed to be pushed into a conduit until binding in last bend, after which much swearing is required to coax it through the remaining 3 feet. Once connected to the wire intended to be pulled, it will release said wire 3 feet before reaching the end of the run.

    Tool Belt: A series of pockets attached to a piece of webbing designed to catch the debris and sawdust from the construction process. Also designed to hold drywall screws in a vertical, tip up, position.

    Spark Plug Socket: A tube of steel with a rubber grommet designed to fit snugly over a spark plug and detach from the excessively long extension required to insert it into the plug well.

    Scissor Jack: A type jack designed to neatly remove the bits of skin from the tops of knuckles when used properly on asphalt.

    Lug Wrench: A tool designed to fit on a lug nut and be jumped on similiar to a spring board.

  7. Old Coot says:

    Paul re Fish Tape: You nailed it with that one!

  8. Bill says:

    Crescenthammer – Looks exactly like a crescent wrench with the exception of multiple dings chips and dents along the top aquired while using said tool to strike fasteners rather than turn them.

    Screwchisel – Similar to a screwdriver with top of handle having been modified by striking it with a hammer while using the screwchisel like the unused chisel hanging on the pegboard in the basement workshop all the way back at the house.

  9. Bill says:

    Prydriver – Screwdriver bent while using in place of a prybar, now usful for driving screws around corners.

  10. DeadlyDad says:

    Circular saw – Less expensive version of the tablesaw; both of which are used to cut wood 1/8″ shorter than required. Circular saw has the added bonus of refusing to conform to the perfectionist’s shackle known as the ‘straight line’.

    ### piece tool set – Each useful tool is only used once, at which point it runs off with one glove and/or one sock. Set to be henceforth referred to as ‘door stop’.

    Stud Finder – Perpetuator of a myth; studs do not exist. To prove this, simply drill a hole where it says it found one.

    ‘The right tool for the job’ – You don’t own this, so you use something else, which takes three times as long, requires three times as many bandages, and looks like hell. Bought only after ‘making do’, so you’ll be ready for the next time. This will never occur.

  11. Fred the Fourth says:

    Not strictly on topic, but:
    Drinkwater’s law of tools: You’re never done with a job until you’ve used every tool in the garage.
    1st Corollary: Buying new tools makes things worse, not better.
    Hofstadter’s law: Everything takes longer than you plan, even if you take Hofstadter’s Law into account.

  12. Manny says:

    1) New Safety Goggles – super comfortable and actually help you see things clearer when working making it a pleasure (for the first 24 hours only).
    …each day after thay mysteriously become cloudier, restrict you vision, and a lot less comfortable than day one until they become just a pain in the ass to wear no matter how well you take care of ’em.

    2) Electric drill (corded) – why bother manufacturing it with that 3 – 4 ft cord? might as well make it only3 – 4 inches than we don’t have to worry about rolling it up when done . your gonna put an extension cord on it anyhow cause your work is never that close to a power source.

    3) Slotted screwdriver – ummmm actually I mean prying tool…or do I mean palm stabber??

  13. Chris says:

    “Electric drill (corded) – why bother manufacturing it with that 3 – 4 ft cord? might as well make it only3 – 4 inches than we don’t have to worry about rolling it up when done . your gonna put an extension cord on it anyhow cause your work is never that close to a power source.”

    Yep. I have a Craftsman drill at home from the 1970s that fits this description pretty much exactly. Always hated getting out a giant extension cord to do work with it on the workbench, though. Does anyone make a four-foot heavy-duty extension cord? 🙂


  14. Scott says:

    Hammer: a heavy steel “head” attached to a wood, metal or composite “handle.” Useful for scraping dirt off boots, throwing at surly customers/co-workers, breaking holes in newly plastered walls and driving screws.

    Linesman’s Pliers: an electrician’s hammer. Used to check for live wires by gripping wire then contacting grounded panel box.

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