Wrenchin’ Wednesday: How to stop losing your spanners and your mind

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Phillip Thomas

Sometimes, your tool … needs another tool. That’s especially true with fabrication tools, which often have different locking mechanisms to attach implements for different types of work, like a drill chuck or the spindle of a grinder. Many of these accessory tools are uniquely shaped and tricky to replicate with pliers or some standard toolbox fare.

A habit I got into after a lot of frustration from misplacing these secondary tools was to zip-tie or twist-tie it to the power cord, especially with rotary tools like grinders. I noticed this was common with off-the-shelf power drills for securing the chuck key but rarely saw it with other power tools.

The reasoning behind today’s trick is two-fold, with one idea more obvious than the other.

Phillip Thomas

It obviously keeps the secondary tool with you at all times, but still out of the way. It’s not dangling from the tool handle to get caught on your surroundings, and I’ll even take the twist-tie that typically wraps up a brand-new tool’s power cable and recycle it for this trick on the spot, instead of tossing it.

Phillip Thomas

The second reason is my main focus, though. It builds the habit of unplugging the tool before you put your hands near the malevolent spinny bits. With grinders, for example, some people grab the cut-off wheel itself while holding the spindle lock, using the wheel to break the spindle nut loose. But while trying to leverage the wheel against the spindle lock in the handle, it’s all too easy to bump or accidentally grab that power switch. It’s a classic “save a few seconds” technique that has immense consequences the second something goes wrong—and the best-worst case is that you’ll sometimes still need the spanner in order to break the spindle nut loose. Even the best of us know that losing a tool that halts progress can make you lose your mind, especially under a deadline.

By attaching the secondary tool to the power cord, especially near the end, it becomes a forced habit to unplug it before swapping accessories and it’ll never leave your side.

Save time and some fingers, will ya?

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