Tools tips from experts: wrenches and pliers

Wrenches and pliers are both very useful tools. But wrenches are good for working on nuts and bolts and pliers are not. That's just one piece of advice to help you make your hardware last longer. Here are some more handy tool tips:

  • When you're working on a nut, open your wrench's jaws and slip them over the nut. Then tighten the moveable jaw so that your wrench securely grips opposite flat sides of the nut. Nuts are always screwed on in a clockwise direction, so turn your wrench in that direction to tighten and turn it counter-clockwise to loosen it. Always use reasonable force when you're loosening or tightening a nut to avoid stripping it.
  • Putting a short length of pipe over your adjustable wrench's handle can give you more length and leverage to work with on stubborn jobs.
  • If you don't have an open-ended wrench small enough to work with a nut, then wedge a coin or washer between your wrench and the nut. You might have to try different coins or washers to find the right size of wedge, but this space-filler will make it possible to turn the nut.
  • When you're loosening a stubbornly tight nut or bolt, push the wrench with only your open palm instead of grasping it with your hand. This way, if the nut or bolt suddenly loosens or breaks, or your wrench slips off, you won't smash or scrape your knuckles.
  • If you need to get a nut started that's in a space too tight for your fingers try this: stick the nut to the inside of your wrench with a piece of masking tape. The tape will hold the nut during that otherwise tricky first turn and can be ripped off afterwards.
  • If you want your nut to hold fast for good, dab some clear nail polish on the bolt before tightening the nut.
  • Beware of cheap wrenches that are likely to make burrs or snap in use. Quality wrenches will have the words "chrome alloy steel" or "chrome vanadium" stamped on them.
  • Locking pliers work as a third hand that can grip small objects while you assemble, solder or clamp them. Slip a rubber band over the handles of a pair of ordinary pliers to turn them into a quick fix pair of locking pliers. The rubber band will keep the pliers' jaws closed while you work, effectively making them a very useful third hand.

Keep these tips for wrenches and pliers in mind, and you'll be able to more effectively and efficiently use these two useful tools.

Tools tips from experts: wrenches and pliers
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