Tools are expensive and budgets are tight, so you need to perform tool maintenance. If you want your tools to last, you need to look after them. Here are four simple tool maintenance tips that will ensure your gear will last as long as possible.
Store Your Tools Properly
If your tools are rolling around in the back of your van or ute, they will be getting damaged. Your power tools come in their own cases. These are designed to keep them dry and safe from knocks. It can be annoying to put them back in their cases, but it will save them from damage. For those tools that don’t come in a case, get a toolbox to store them in. It’ll keep blades sharper, minimise unnecessary breakages, and help you be more organised.
Storing tools properly also reduces damage from rain and humidity. Rust can seriously shorten the lifespan of your power and hand tools.
Get Power Tools Tested & Tagged
As part of your regular health and safety checks, many employers require you to get your power tools signed off for electrical safety. The inspector will come to site and check off your tools to make sure there are no exposed wires or electrical faults.
If your power tools aren’t starting as easily as they should, take time to do some basic maintenance. If that doesn’t help, get it serviced. Don’t continue to push the machine, it may be causing damage.
Perform Tool Maintenance
Tools should be put away clean and oiled. A quick blast from an air compressor will get any dust or residual dirt off your power tools. If you’ve got sticky sap, resin, or grease on cutting tools, you can use turps, isopropyl alcohol, Simple Green, or a specialty pitch and resin remover. Oven cleaner also proves to be quite effective but it can damage carbide.
Rust is a common problem for tools, especially those not stored properly. Spray on WD-40 and scrub with steel wool or a wire brush. Rinse with warm soapy water, and dry thoroughly. Apply a quick coat of WD-40, wipe off excess oil, and they are good to go. If there is a lot of corrosion, try soaking overnight in an acidic solution such as vinegar. Wash thoroughly afterwards to remove the acid, and protect afterwards with a spray of WD-40 or similar.
Tools with wooden handles that are splintered can be lightly sanded and then use linseed oil to protect and rejuvenate.
For power tools, follow directions in your user manual to lubricate any moving parts. You may also need to occasionally calibrate your tools if they have a lot of moving parts. Worn parts need to be replaced to maintain the rest of the machinery. Carbon brushes and drive belts need to be checked frequently to ensure they aren’t worn and placing extra stress on the motor.
Power Tool Battery Care
You will likely have a range of lithium ion batteries that run your tools. Don’t let these get too hot, try to minimise exposure to extreme heat and cold (avoid storing them in your truck year-round), and don’t let them corrode. Also don’t let batteries run completely flat or leave them plugged in and charging constantly.
Basic tool maintenance will save you money and wasted time on site. A few minutes at the end of a job will make sure your tools will last a lifetime.