Creating tools for specialty applications isn’t something tool companies started a year ago. Hell, most modern tool conglomerates started out looking to solve just one problem. Milwaukee originally founded to provide a 1/4″ power drill light enough for Ford’s assembly line, for example. That’s why I used to love rolling ’round the flea market tool tables with my Dad when I was a kid. Sometimes we’d find a usable wrench or socket to add to the collection, but the real joy came from picking up some weird-looking tool and asking “What it it?” Or, maybe even more importantly: “What is it for?”
What you see above is called a “spud wrench.”
It was designed to solve a problem common to workers assembling steel structures. On one hand, they needed a wrench to tighten the bolts. But they also needed to make fine adjustments to alignment to line up the bolt holes. With that in mind, you can pretty much guess how they use the spud wrench.
Despite its special application, there’s nothing special about the idea of custom tools for custom apps, even when you have to modify the tool yourself. My favorite example of this is a socket we found in the seat box of the old BMW bike Sean and I picked up years back (and had to part out due to lack of available time, dammit). It was a normal Craftsman socket, but someone had clearly machined down the outside of it for clearance. But clearance for what? We found out months later when we went to remove the bent forks. The main fork nut was slightly recessed and BAM: we found the use for that modified socket.
What’s your favorite custom tool, either one you’ve run across or made yourself?