What's in your toolbox #1: Manufacturing Engineer's First Line of Defense

This is the first in a series of installments that I hope to show what people carry for tools for a given trade. I will provide the first few articles; toolbox for a manufacturing/process engineer, home bike mechanic toolbox, and maybe a couple from the various tradesmen I deal with daily. Eventually, I want to have examples of electricians, pipe fitters, HVAC repair guys, maintenance workers, but also people like architects, doctors, computer programmers, and others you wouldn't normally think of. I encourage others who read this blog to share their toolbox.

With that out of the way I entitled this the first line of defense for a manufacturing engineer for a reason. When I started out no one shared the basic tools that I needed for my engineering job, I had to develop it. What follows is the basics items that you will find yourself using again and again.

Leatherman squirt P4

Don't let this key chain sized, fold-up beauty fool you, the features packed in this multi-tool may as well regulate it to a heavyweight boxer. I use this everyday at least ten times, it's more useful than a mountain sherpa. Let's go through all of the options: spring action needlenose pliers w/ wire cutters, straight knife, eyeglasses sized flat screwdriver, medium flat screwdriver, small flat Phillips screwdriver, combo single/cross cut file, awl, opener, and key/lanyard attachment. I use the needlenose to grab screws, strip electrical wires, cut zipties, and the end is precision enough to use as a reliable pair of tweezers. The screwdrivers are all well-made and easily bust rusted screws, open electrical panels, and fix any nerds broken glasses. The files are good for fingernails and cleaning up metals. It is just so handy!

Pilot Mini G2 Pen

Simple, small, and fits in any shirt pocket, the Pilot mini pen is perfect for tucking itself away just about anywhere. My GF calls them midget pens and sings songs about them, that is how cool they are.

Engineer's Grid (Computation) Notebook

And the final item for this installment is the gridded notebook. No one tells you this secret in the beginning and that is to carry a notebook around and write everything down ALL THE TIME! People's names, project specifics, evaluations, specs, drawings, meeting minutes, etc, put it all in there. Another tip: use only one notebook. That way you have all the info in one place, and you are constantly looking at the material instead of putting it on the shelf and ignoring it until a later day. Always write down the days date, notes to cover your ass, and what people exactly asked of you, it well help you a thousand times over.

Next time I will actually pull out the real toolbox...

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