Want your tools to last longer? Here’s how the pros care for them
Posted: September 16, 2022 | Word Count: 720
From a simple hammer to the most complex power tools in your garage, it’s vital to practice constant maintenance if you want to use them as long as possible. The good news? It’s not as hard as you think. Following expert advice for storing, cleaning and maintaining your tools will help you use everything safely, for years to come.
Keeping your tools in top shape
Many tools may look indestructible, but they're not. Exposure to dirt, grease and moisture could lead to rust and corrosion, making them less effective down the road and even leading to damage. Tools with moving parts that collect dust and debris may not only become less effective but could also be a serious safety hazard.
But with a few simple steps implemented into your regular routine, you can add significant time onto the lifespan of your tools.
“Taking proper care of your tools makes a great difference in their overall usefulness,” said Allen Gerling, a service technician at Northern Tool + Equipment. “Clean and well-maintained tools typically last longer as functional tools and are safer to use.”
Follow these tips to keep your tools in great working order.
A place for everything, and everything in its place
Proper tool storage is not just about being able to find things when you need them (which is a definite plus) — it also helps your tools stay in good working order. Tossing tools haphazardly on a workbench or inside a toolbox can damage them, as well as leaving them exposed to dust, dirt and the elements, which may lead to clogging, corrosion and rust. For power tools, wind up cords and air lines carefully, checking belts and cords for fraying or breaks.
- Keep tools clean, dry and protected from the elements, especially moisture, extreme heat and extreme cold.
- Make sure toolboxes, carts, shelving or wall racks are neat and clean to keep your tools free of dust, dirt and grease.
- Organize tools to make them easier to maintain, plus easy to see — so you’ll spot when anything needs repair.
Create a clean routine
Make a habit of cleaning tools immediately after each use before storing them. This prevents dirt, grime or debris from hardening on your tools, potentially damaging or clogging them over time. Keep rags and other cleaning materials near your tool storage to make clean-up easier.
In addition to your regular cleaning routing, doing a deeper clean on a seasonal basis can make a huge difference, especially for tools with moving parts. Beyond wiping tools clean with a cloth, tackle tough-to-clean areas using oiled cotton swabs or soft brushes. You can also use a can of compressed air to remove dirt from areas inside tools that are hard to reach. Especially for power tools, make sure to follow your manufacturer’s instructions for cleaning and maintenance.
Maintain and watch for signs of disrepair
Many tools require regular oiling and/or sharpening of parts to keep them in top shape. Gather useful cleaning and oiling equipment including rags, all-purpose oil, rust remover and linseed oil (for wood), plus files and sharpening stones. Use safety gear like heavy gloves and safety goggles as you work, and make sure you have sufficient space and a sturdy table to complete your maintenance. Try designating a seasonal or semi-annual weekend for tool maintenance.
As you clean and maintain tools, look for signs of damage or wear that could require repair — or any signs that your tool needs to be replaced.
Get help with repairs as needed
Don't have enough time, energy or know-how to maintain or fix all your tools? Turn to the experts, like the service technicians at Northern Tool + Equipment who can tune up, repair and help maintain your tools and have access to any part you might need.
Start with high-quality tools
Caring for tools and keeping them in great shape is even easier if you start with high-quality tools in the first place. When you’re in the market for new tools, you can find high-quality brands preferred by the professionals at Northern Tool, including Milwaukee, Lincoln and Stihl — plus Northern Tool-exclusive brands such as NorthStar, Powerhorse and Klutch.
“Good quality tools are an important investment,” added Gerling. “So you should care for your tools just like your car or your home.”
Find tools you need and more at NorthernTool.com.