This week's question is about the tools you never realized how valuable they truly are... until you actually used them.
I am first offering up the "Can Gun", a Made in the USA tool that slips into the well of some (not all) spray paint canisters to let you have better control over your paint job. In this case, I recently used the Can Gun to lay down a few layers of flat black on some junkyard "Electronic Fuel Injection" emblems for one of my cars.
If interested, read on about the other tool I can't believe I did without all these years.
That's right, the X-acto knife! It did a great job removing the paint and a layer of baked on grime to get the emblem to really shine atop the flat black background. I also have Testors paint markers, which work great when it comes to restoring just about anything...but I didn't need it for touch ups this time.
My thanks to both the Can Gun and the X-acto for making this photo happen.
A few years ago I bought a big pipe cutter at one of those antique malls for $5. Think “brake line cutter” on steroids for a mental image. Lord knows I’m not smart enough to be a plumber, and not sure why I bought it. It wasn’t beat up and all the rollers/blades were still sharp, but it looked pretty forlorn with a lot of dirt and surface rust. But it was CHEAP. At least that’s how I tried to explain the purchase to my wife. Anyway, I got it to the shop and let it soak a day or two in the parts washer before giving it a good scrub, a generous shot of PB Blaster and then hanging it on the pegboard... until a week or so ago.
I don’t have a fancy bandsaw but needed a clean and square cut on an exhaust pipe. That thing worked like a charm and earned its keep on that one single job.
Afterward, I came home and bragged to the wife like “yeah, I knew it all along”. 😉
Me too! Actually , I picked one up at a yard sale few years back. With the tool fully threaded open it's about 16" long. I too paid 5 bucks for it. After a good cleaning I painted it red , white and blue and hung it in my shop where I have a wall dedicated to all First responders of the WTC attacks as well as our Military. Soon as I saw it . I knew . Big and heavy. It just "looks " American made.
And now sir, you have found the use for the one I bought years ago. I owned it for almost a decade until, like you, I needed a good square cut on a piece of exhaust. Purchase justified!!!
Torque wrenches... I always knew I needed them, but I was so surprised by how many things I really needed them for that I just torqued by feel previously! They've also given me confidence to take on some more difficult jobs.
Soda blaster - makes parts actually look new, not just over-cleaned to try looking new. Un-like the glass-bead blaster, residue can be washed out with hot water, whereas one glass bead in the wrong spot can really jam things up. Think SU carbs, for instance.
Silk screen…. When I bought
our 1951 Ford Victoria last year, I wanted to put YOM tags on it. Maryland allows restored tags, but they must be actual MD expired tags from the year of the car’s manufacture. The only pair (yes, it has to be a pair) of 1951 MD tags I could find that were at least straight, had almost no paint remaining. The background was easy as it was supposed to be bare aluminum. The embossed lettering was a whole other matter. Sure, I could try to hand paint the lettering or use a paint pen, but that would never look right. I them came across someone on the Internet who was making a business from restoring old tags. One of the things he advertised was that he did all of his embossed numbers and letters with a silk screen and silk screen ink. I went onto Amazon, bought a silk screen, some black ink, and a squeegee and had a go at it. After a couple of tries, I finally found the touch and the plates eventually turned out about as perfect as they were coming from prison in 1951 (meaning not perfect, but very period correct). So yes, the tool I used that I never would have imagined using was a silk screen!
Clear nail polish, ladies makeup little foam pads on a stick are great for touch up. I have also used fishing line to cut thru the sticky material behind car badges. Seen it being used on a car repair show, tried it and it worked.
Long live the can gun! Used one to repaint the bumper on my '95 f150 (that and high temp silver paint-real close match to the factory silver) with fantastic results.
Nylon rope. I have used it for everything from tying down cargo, to using it to hold up valves while doing valve springs and valve seals. Eat your heart out, Charlie Bronson (Boondock Saints reference. sorry.)!!!!!
Sure the Can Gun offers good control but I think its best attribute is keeping the paint off your index finger. Because I never think I'll need to pull a glove on until it's too late.
I'm going to say the tilt/swivel bench vise. Mine is a gift of appreciation for a favor and for something I didn't really need and wouldn't've bought for myself I can't even guess how often I spin that thing around to reposition whatever I've got in it.