Mechanical Tools And Their Uses (Beginners Guide With Pictures)
I’m a mechanic for over twenty years, I love my tools. I’m sentimental about them, some I’ve had since I was a boy, others remind me of people, places, jobs and times past.
There are many different types of tools, a carpenters tool box will look different to a plumbers. But you’ll find all tool boxes will overlap in areas like measuring, cutting and gripping.
Most common mechanical tools.
Here’s a list of mechanics tools, divided into three categories, it gives you an idea of what the hobbyist, Diy expert and the Pro mechanics tool box might look like.
Basic Mechanics Tool Set
- Safety glasses
- Torque Wrench
- Mobile tool box
- Chisels & Punches
- Wire brush
- Vice grips
- Adjustable wrench’s
- Wrench set
- Socket set
- Oil filter tool
- Oil pan drain
- Floor jack
- Two floor stands
- LED light
- Test light
- Pliers set
- Jump Leads
Gear Head Mechanics Tool Set
- Chest tool box on wheels
- DVOM (Volt meter)
- Fault code reader
- Impact wrench
- Impact sockets
- Power drill
- Drill bit set
- Vernier calipers
- Cheater bars
- Breaker bar
- Hose clamp pliers
- Hose clamps
- Magnetic pick-ups
- Torx set
- Soldering kit
- Wiring repair kit
- Battery charger
- Tire gauge
- Air gun
- Air ratchet
Professional Mechanics Tool Set
- Fastener bit selection
- Harmonic pullers
- Universal pullers
- Air saw
- Air chisel
- Cut off wheel
- Compression tester
- Fuel pressure tester
- Radiator pressure tester
- Diesel leak back tester
- Bushing removal tool
- Brake wind back tool
- Brake bleeding tool
- Brake line flaring tool
- Tap and die set
Why I Wear Hand Protection
A mechanics hands are pretty tough, but not as tough as some of the chemicals that get on your skin.
While it appears that chemicals like gas and oil don’t actually hurt your skin on contact, they will damage your hands. The skin will absorb them and the liver has to rid the body of the toxins.
Simple latex gloves will protect the skin and the rest of the body from unknown chemicals. My uncle was a argi machinery mechanic and never took to wearing gloves, his hands show it, dry and cracked.
If you use a lot of air tools, like air chisels, impact wrench’s or any tool that vibrates, you’ll need to think about anti vibration gloves.
Hand arm vibration syndrome (HAVS) is a condition that effects mechanics or any one using this type of equipment. The constant vibration causes hand nerve damage, it’s a condition that’s uncomfortable, reduces power in the hands and is irreversible.
You can check out this article on a medical website called “Patient.info”.
This condition isn’t widely know about in the industry, wearing anti vibration gloves with air tools or any vibrating tool should be as compulsory as a hard hat on a construction site.
Why I Wear Safety Glasses?
I’ve been working on the shop floor for more than twenty years and I’ve seen some accidents that were preventable and predictable and some that weren’t.
Sometimes crap just happens, recently I was riding on my lawn tractor and a stone flu from under the deck, hit the front wheel, rebounded and struck me square in the eye.
I’ve cut that lawn hundreds times before with the same mower without one injury, ever.
The message – When working, always wear safety glasses.
Why Wd40 Is My Favourite Tool
This stuff is close to magic, you’ll be amazed what you can fix with wd. It’s great at preventative maintenance, drives out moisture and protects.
It’s especially useful when working on old cars, corroded bolts usually means busted knuckles, rounded fastener heads, vice grips, blow torch, hammers, chisels, basically a right pain in the jacksie.
I always have lots of WD on hand, it’s probably the most useful tool in a workshop, that’s why it’s the first tool on the list.
Is A Torque Wrench Essential?
A torque wrench is a tool that tightens fasteners to an adjustable specific measurement. All nuts, bolts and screws will have an exact torque specification, set out by the manufacturer.
Over-tightening and under-tightening can cause bolts to break and components to come loose, which obviously can endanger life if the component is part of the suspension, braking or steering systems.
Uses: If you’re removing and fitting wheels, they’ll need to be torqued to specification. Wheels tightened by feel is OK in an emergency, but ideally should be checked and torqued at the earliest opportunity.
A torque wrench is also needed when replacing a water pump, front engine cover, camshaft cover, oil pan etc. Over-tightening these components can lead to oil leaks and serous engine damage.
A Tool Box Needs To Be Mobile
When you’re working on a car, its more efficient to take all your tools to the car, if you can’t do that, prepare to burn a lot of time and shoe leather.
Walking over and back to a tool box all day can be sole destroying especially when a job isn’t going your way.
Uses: A small transportable tool box is perfect for the hobbyist, it keeps everything in one place and you’ll know where everything is. More drawers sometimes equals more hiding places for tools.
Not being able to lay your hand on the right tool quickly is annoying. A good tool box should have a wide range of storage space for standard tools while not being overly cumbersome.
Best Hammer For A Mechanic
A hammer is a hammer, right? Well not really. A mechanic needs a few different types, different metals and components need to be treated differently.
Hammers are graded by type, weight and material used. A mechanic will typically need 3 to 4 hammers. A large 3-4 lbs steel head hammer is great for loosening ball-joints, especially if your working on a truck.
The basic Peen hammer will have a ball head on one side and a flat face head on the other.
The peen head was traditionally used to harden metal. In the hands of a mechanic it will likely be used to repair, or shape sheet metal, fastener heads etc. The peen is the ball of the hammer, it leaves a smaller witness mark than a flat faced hammer.
The Rubber hammer, yea I know it sounds like a joke, but it’s real. It’s a metal hammer, with a lead filled head covered in heavy rubber. It’s used to strike softer materials, like plastic, rubber and sheet metal.
A mechanic would likely use a rubber hammer to move a component rather than reshape it.
Brass or copper head hammers are used in engine and transmission rebuilds. Brass and copper are soft metal, and that’s important.
These hammers are designed to be used on harder materials, meaning the hammer face will deform instead of damaging the component.
Hammer heads are commonly made from brass, copper, lead, leather and plastic. The striking face of the hammer are often replaceable.
What Chisels Do Mechanics Use?
Chisels are not all the same, they come in lots of different sizes, and have different functions.
Mechanics use what’s known as a cold chisel, named by blacksmiths as it’s the best chisel to cut cold metal. The striking head is unique in that it’s not heat treated like the shaft and tip. The softer metal in the head is less likely to shatter, and therefore safer to use.
A mechanic will need a 3-4 different size cutting chisels, they’re used for a variety of uses. When working on old cars often they’ll be used to remove old rusty fasteners, cutting sheet metal, exhaust system repairs etc.
A mechanic will also find plenty of uses for punches of various sizes. A punch is used in the removal of old bearings and other press fitted components. The flat faced tip instead of a chisel tip is perfect for catching a bearing lip.
Wire Brushes Types And Uses
A wire brush is exactly as it’s name suggests. It’s a basic tool that you’ll use everyday as a mechanic.
Useful for removing rust and dirt from bolt threads before removing them, cleaning brake components, brake lines, rusty sheet metal etc.
Wire brushes don’t usually last longer than six months or so, the wire bristles wear down and become too flexible.
I especially like the wire brush adaptors for the power tools, they come in all shape and sizes, so’ll easily get one that’s perfect the job at hand, it saves a ton on elbow grease.
Screwdrivers Types And Uses
Can’t be a mechanic without a good selection of screwdrivers, you’ll need a wide variety of Philips (Star) head and flat heads. Long and short reach and with magnetic head which is always useful for stray screws.
Shock proof is preferred, you’ll need to hit them with a hammer from time to time.
I don’t have favourite screwdrivers because they tend to wear out and when they do they’re useless, they slip and damage fasteners which makes a simple job a bigger one.
What’s A Vice-grips?
I can’t remember not having a Vice-grips, I been using them forever. They are the go to tool when things turn to s**t. The original vice grips is an American invention and is simply ingenious.
Designed to be an extra hand, it’s used mainly to grip and hold work materials.
It’s clever design allows you adjust, clamp and unclasp the grips using one hand. The range expanded and come in many variations – chain, clamp, pointy nose, mini and many other varieties, I’d say I use my grips every day it’s a must have tool.
What’s An Adjustable Wrench?
The adjustable wrench is a tool box staple, it’s especially popular with plumbers. Not a tool I would use very often, a mechanic will prefer to have a more precise wrench fit, the adjustable wrench, although very flexible, can be a little cumbersome to use.
The adjustable wrench is a universal wrench, adjust it to fit any nut or bolt. They’re pretty durable kit and can be struck with a hammer when called for.
I use them when working on high pressure hoses, the stout jaws fit the wide hose pipe fittings nicely, a plumber can’t work without adjustable wrenches.
What’s A Wrench Set?
Wrenches are precision tools, each one is a fixed size and will only fit its corresponding nut or bolt size. Commonly made using industrial-grade chromium-vanadium steel.
The standard wrench has an open end on one side and a box end on the other, known as a combination wrench.
The open end is great for easy fast use but grip is compromised, every mechanic has skinned his or her knuckles on a slipping open ended wrench, if you haven’t, your not trying hard enough.
The box end offers the best grip and less likely to damage the fastener head or your knuckles.
In Europe wrench’s are called spanners and the box end is called the ring end.
Double ring head, Stubby, Offset, Ratchet, Flare-nut wrench, C-Type, Double open ended and lots of other combinations.
Box end wrenches are available in 12 point and 6 point. The 12 point allows for greater access to a fastener head, the angel of attack is much wider than a 6 point. The 6 point however, will often grip the fastener more snugly and is much less likely to ring the fastener head.
Two standards are the norm and most mechanics will have both. Metric and standard (Imperial). Metric wrenches are measured in millimetres. Common sizes in a tool set range from size 8mm to 25mm with 8,10,13,17 being the most popular sizes.
Standard wrench sizes are more popular in the US, you’ll find them on older cars, motorbikes and lawn mowers. Popular imperial sizes include 3/8, 7/16, 1/2, 11/16 and 3/4 inch.
The wrench is obviously one of the most used tools in a mechanics tool box.
I use them everyday on various jobs, usually fasteners where you can’t fit a ratchet and socket.
What’s A Ratchet & Socket Set?
A ratchet is a tool used to drive sockets. It is much faster loosening and tightening fasteners than a spanner, however it is a lot bulkier.
The ratchets great advantage is its flexibility. A ratchet set will include a range of popular sizes but also long and short extensions. The set snaps together and allows the mechanic reach deep between components and manipulate nuts and bolts.
For those really awkward nuts and bolts the set includes the knuckle, this nifty kit allows the socket sit squarely on the fastener while the extension is offset.
Of course a ratchet set is useless without sockets. And sockets as you can imagine come in many different forms.
- Deep set,
- Plug sockets
- O2 sockets
- Low profile sockets
- Impact sockets
- Wheel sockets
- Insulated sockets
- Crows feet
Many sockets are available in 1/2 inch, 3/8 and the smallest 1/4 inch drive.
Generally a 1/2 ratchet drive is used with the 1/2 sockets, but adaptors are allow you to mix and match between the sizes. The combinations are endless and if you’re working on modern cars you’ll use most of them and some!
The sockets just like wrenches are available in 12 point or six point, the six offering less flexibility but far greater grip.
The usual standard or metric sizes are also available and if your working on classic cars you’ll need both.
Avoid if you can using an impact wrench with your regular sockets. The walls are thinner and they’ll break or shatter, causing injury.
Excellent for removing deep set fasteners such as spark plugs, header bolts, transmission bolts, starter motor bolts, anywhere your hand movement is restricted, which on modern cars – anywhere under the hood.
What’s An Oil Filter Tool?
Older style car oil filters are a simple metal filter that screws onto an oil filter adaptor on the side of the engine block. Although oil filters are only fitted hand tight (oil filter tools are not needed for fitting), the filters do tight over time and so a tool is needed to remove them.
A strap or chain grips may be used for leverage but only useful when the real estate around the filter is vacant. If the filter is berried between components then you’ll need a claw long extension and ratchet. It crushes the filter and looks kind of unprofessional but very effective.
Modern car oil filters use a cartridge set up and require a different type oil filter tool. Sockets and ratchets are used on later models and on earlier models oil filter removal tools resembling very large sockets were needed.
There are a few different oil filter tools for different applications and so you’ll need a variety, a claw, chain or strap and a oil filter set.