Basic Hand Tools
Basic Hand Tools
by Brian PollardWhen choosing hand tools go
for a reputable make. Cheap tools open up, wear and fail when you most need
them. Spanners come in three main styles: open ended, ring spanners and socket
Open ended spanners allow access to restricted areas such as lock nuts
etc. They are designed to provide sufficient leverage to tighten the nut/bolt
without shearing the bolt. Cheap spanners are oddly sized and can shear a bolt
or spread their jaws before reaching the correct torque. Being open they do flex
slightly under extreme pressure and will take the corners off a nut or bolt head
if not used correctly. The spanner should be used with as much of the jaw as
possible in contact with the nut or bolt head. Choose with care and enjoy using
them for years to come. If they wear to the point burrs appear at the jaws then
it’s time for buying a new, decent, replacement.
Filing the jaws is a very short term workaround.
In exceptional circumstances spanners can be modified to slim the jaws in width
or thickness but this variance must be viewed in the light that it is deviating
from the manufacturers specification and will not perform as designed. It
becomes a tool for a specific purpose and saved for just this purpose. A prime
example is a spanner cut in half to access the mixture jet on a mini cooper.
Don’t be afraid to build up specialist tools at the expense of cutting or
grinding a spanner. Be encouraged by knowing all top tuners have a handful of
favourite, sometimes modified, spanners.
Tip: tape up the shank of that
pair of spanners used for that essential ‘tune up’ just prior to the
final. You can then lay your hands straight on to them and do the job correctly
Ring spanners are great for applying maximum torque to a nut/bolt, if
access is sufficiently clear. They must be correctly fitted to the nut or bolt
head to prevent accidents when tightening. They must be used with care if the
bolt is tapped into alloy, or of smallish diameter, as the force required to
shear the bolt, or the internal thread, is not very high and as manufacturers
make small ring spanners quite long care must be taken.
Tip: you will
inevitably use ring spanners with open ended spanners so tape them the same and
make finding the ‘pair’ so much easier.
Socket spanners are a great
boon when tightening or slackening a bolt with long lengths of thread. The
average kart can be built with a socket set of 1/2" iand a few 3/8"
drive sockets. Typical, normal length, sockets suit most applications, with long
reach sockets needed for wheel nuts and some engine work. Quality is again of
paramount importance in choosing tools that will perform correctly and not
damage the hexagon heads of any bolt or nut.
As well as a range of sockets for your kart I would suggest
a couple of extensions, both short and long, a ratchet for easier working and a
speed brace for quickness. If possible double up on purchasing the tools
necessary for rear wheel removal and you will be able to press another pair of
hands into service when next changing to wets for that crucial heat or final. A
final socket spanner tip: when removing spacers, from front stub axle set-ups,
place them on the shaft of the socket extension and they will be there for when
you change back to previous set-up.
Files are for removing small amounts of metal.
The metal should be held securely in a vise if possible. The file is used in two
hands and always with a handle on the file. The metal found on a kart is likely
to be either
Files come in different grades. They are coarse, for
rapid removal of large amounts of metal ( which belies my opening statement
regarding files...), medium for normal metal removal and fine for finishing the
job and for draw-filing a piece of metal until it is smooth enough to 'ring'
together with a mate,
- Mild steel, which is easy to work with,
- Stainless steel, which is difficult to work with,
- Alloy, which is easy to work with
- Cast steel and cast iron which are reasonably easy
to work with.
Let me explain a few of the previous phrases...
Normal metal removal is achieved
by holding the file horizontal and pushing it across the metal, and thus
removing metal as it passes over it. At the end of each stroke the file is
lifted clear of the work by a very small amount, just sufficient to avoid
friction. The next stroke is now attempted, again in a horizontal plane and of
just sufficient pressure to remove a small amount of metal. The principle of
filing is to gradually remove the excess metal, while keeping the profile of the
job as square as necessary. Long, controlled strokes will achieve the requires
During the filing
process take care to maintain accuracy by stopping before tiredness causes
errors. A short rest will refresh your arms and allow you to continue
accurately. Many a job has been spoilt by rushing to finish it. If you are
filing metal that clogs the file then brush the excess filings from the file
with a brass wire brush, or a piece of wood. Look after the file and it will
perform well, Misuse the file and it will tear great lumps from the work and
cause great problems. Draw-filing is when you hold the file in two hands across
the body and at 900 to the work. You stand in line with the metal instead of at
right angles to it. Instead of pushing the file across the work you draw it
towards yourself, and the push away from yourself, along the edge of the work,
removing very small amounts of metal each stroke. This method only uses a small
area of the file but produces a very fine metal finish. When used accurately the
work can be so flat after filing that it can be made to stick to a similar piece
of metal just by twisting them together. This is called ‘ringing’.
Files come in differing cross sections. Most useful are flat, round and half
round. Look for the 'safe' edge of a file and use it to protect work when filing
Hacksaws are used to saw metal and remove excess metal prior to
filing. There is the normal hacksaw and the ‘junior’ hacksaw, which
use much shorter blades. There are two main types of blades - fine, with lots of
teeth per inch, and coarse with fewer teeth per inch. Coarse blades are for
cutting soft, thick material.
Fine blades are for cutting thin material or higher grade steel. A guide
to which blade is best is by using my rule of thumb which states there must
always be three teeth on the job at any time during cutting.
Hacksaw frames are designed to tension the blade.
Finger tighten the blade until slack is not evident and the further tighten the
blade by three turns to tension the blade and allow yourself to cut a straight
line. With practice accuracy will come and filing will only be necessary to
finish off any cut. Use the full length of any blade, when sawing, and build up
your arm muscles to the point you are in control of the blade and not vice
Telltale signs of a
blade wearing out is when it does not cut smoothly. This is caused by the
‘set’ of the teeth wearing down and the clearance becoming too small
to allow cutting to take place.( the set is the wavy appearance of the blade
when view from above).
Tip: use old/damaged blades as scrapers, but make up a
handle of thick tape to protect your fingers from cuts.
This article was produced
Pollard, author of "Preparing the Gx160 for 'open' racing" which
is available on CDROM, in multimedia format, as an e-book, and in paper form.
All enquires should be sent to the above e-mail address.
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