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Top Tools

Top Tools Published: 25th Apr 2019 - 0 Comments - Be the first, contribute now!

Top Tools
Top Tools
Top Tools
Top Tools
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Before you even start on your project you need to be properly tooled up – so spend some of budget on a good quality tool kit that’ll last a lifetime

While it’s nice to have a garage and tool kit that would do a Formula One racing team proud, you don’t need to spend bundles of cash to be all tooled up to restore your classic just yet.

On the other hand you risk damaging your project vehicle and yourself by fudging it with substandard tools barely good enough to change a domestic plug with. When making out a budget, factor in the cost of tools as part of the restoration spend or you’ll soon be regretting it because you’ll come up short and won’t be able to do the job properly – or worst still be unable to finish the project and perhaps sell at a loss.

While some hardy heroes have restored a classic by the kerb or in the driveway, it’s hardly a just recommendation for you to do the same. Even a modest lock up (plus don’t overlook a tent-like temporary garage or a car port either) provides much needed shelter in which to work and, unless a garage is remote from your home, it’s fairly easy to rig up the necessary lighting and power by taking mains power supply from the house by using a suitable circuit board/‘trip’ cut-out system. If in doubt, employ an electrician to carry out the necessary work. If permanent power isn’t feasible, fear not, there’s plenty of good generators and excellent cordless tools and equipment, including lighting, which could see you right.

Here’s a thought – why not build a garage from scratch – read our special feature elsewhere in this supplement. As we remarked earlier, a tool kit any Formula One mechanic would be proud of having is wonderful but you don’t need it so concentrate on the essential most used instruments first… but only after fully going through your existing collection and so not to duplicate – it’s easily done and wastes money.

It’s amazing how you’ll get by and only add luxuries, such as cutting, welding, forming machines and so on later on and only when they are justified and the budget allows. In fact, do you need to buy such equipment, which you may only use once, when it can be hired out at quite reasonable rates? It really boils down to whether this restoration is the start of a long term hobby or you simply just want to restore one vehicle – it’s best to decide on this point now.

Visit any car show autojumble and you’ll see a massive selection of tools to suit all budgets. However, their quality varies enormously and a £5 set of low quality spanners aren’t going to last that long! Good tools have always been, and will always remain investments, as they last a lifetime so cut corners here and you’ll end up paying the price – maybe to yourself.

Yes, don’t neglect yourself because your welfare – not some bit of metal – is the most important thing of all. Working in shirt sleeves, tatty old jeans and slippery worn out trainers is totally unsuited for any workshop environment and is simply asking for trouble.

Good quality overalls are essential yet not expensive while more involved working demands purpose-designed protective goggles, ear muffs and gloves (see separate feature). If you intend welding, you will also require flameproof overalls, thick gauntlets and, appropriate eye protection. And think safety when working with fire extinguishers and a good first aid kit ready at hand.

Taking tools seriously

Set a high benchmark

A good, solid workbench is as essential as a set of spanners and if you can’t find one that fits, make your own (it’s not terribly difficult) with enough work space and somewhere to store tools where they can easily be found and not lost!

Going up in the world…

If funds can run to it, there’s some fantastic new takes on traditional jacks and stands well worth looking at and not that expensive either. Buy good quality – after all, it’s your life at stake when working underneath the car…

…Or over and under?

A work pit is a boon and makes life so much easier – and safer; quite affordable as well. Or you go upwards with a ramp which can double as an extra car space! Such equipment can be leased or hired if you wish – see our separate features

Five top tips

Lock up lore

Before you even buy that project, make sure that you have the space and means to carry out the restoration. If you already have a garage, then get it prepared beforehand, making it clean, orderly (with plenty of shelving) and free from leaks and draughts

Timed out tools

Don’t be put off of buying old tools at an autojumble as some of this gear is good old fashioned quality and will last a lifetime. Similarly look out for dedicated auctions selling off redundant garage and wholesale equipment

As you go along

The majority of handy home mechanics probably have all they need to get started so only add things as and when or wait until there’s special offers and promotions bandied around, usually at shows

The knowledge

Having tools is one thing – knowing how to use them properly is quite another…You Tube is useful but you can’t beat some first hand experience. Check out any local evening schools, club seminars, and such like that will help you greatly and improve your skillset. The forthcoming major Restoration Show, held at the NEC this month will feature live demonstrations, for example and it’s a great place to start learning

Club together

If you, like so many of us, have like-minded friends, consider starting up a tool club where you all pool resources to buy specific equipment. And talking of clubs, many owners’ clubs operate a tool hire service which is great if you need a specific tool for your classic just for that one job and will probably never need to use again


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