What's in your toolbox #2: Manufacturing Engineer's Toolbox

The last time I posted about this we just threw out the basics (and most important items) of what I use day to day. This time around I will concentrate on the down and dirty, essential tools necessary for a manufacturing / factory / process engineer. So enjoy:

The second line of defense (aka more crap for you desk):

Machinery's Handbook
The greatest book ever, also known as the Machinist Bible. This book is the go to place for screw size, tap size, drill size, dimensioning, slip fits, compression fits, material properties. tooling, machining, fasteners, and more. It's just a handy, handy book. I learned the power of the book back in my machinist assistant days and still use it when designing tooling. Any edition ever made is a good edition, I have the 25th addition at work and the 13th edition that I bought from an old Ford machinist at home in my toolbox. Go to Ebay and get yourself one today...

Small AA Maglite
I have three of these, they are just powerful enough to shine bright in large empty room and still fit into a small pocket. Notice mine has some hockey tape on the end, that's for biting with your teeth.

Small Torpedo Level
It's something you just learn to have due to equipment installs. Seems like every piece of large equipment I have installed, needs to be level for proper usage. Mine has a magnetic side which is handy for steel equipment and storage upside down on my desk.

30 ft Tape Measure
This will be a constant theme for my tools, equipment to measure crap with. Some days all I do is measure out areas for new equipment, new rooms, ducting locations, electrical runs, and more. Buy two cause everybody will be borrowing this one. Don't forget to put you name on them, something like stolen from ___. This one is my loner.

Magnetic Pickup Tool
What can I say, I am lazy. Had a employee that worked in one of my areas who was 'older', this was his way to keep up with the young guys. Ever the expert, no bolt got away from his assembly cell. This was the one he gave me, pretty neat.

20 in Toolbox
Bought this on special at Sears for $10. It is the perfect size for me. I have seen engineers with full size tool carts before, but I tend to think that if I am hauling around something that big I should just give in and become a full on maintenance guy. So for me, I don't want to be any bigger than this or I need to find a new company to work for.

A quick note on the tools I keep at work. You won't be impressed, there isn't any Snap-on and just a few Craftsman tools for that matter. The reason is simple, at work tools walk away. Everything I have works fine, its above the quality of Harbor Freight, and some may look a little beaten up, but that is all on purpose. As the maintenance manager here says, it's just enough stuff to get me in trouble. The measurement tools however, usually are pretty nice because I need accurate readings for accurate parts.

The top of the box

30 ft Tape Measure
This is the nice one, the one I don't loan out. It is a Craftsman, if it breaks, I can replace it for free. Alternatively, if it is stolen, it costs me $10 to replace. That is why it is the nice one.

100 ft Surveyor's Tape
For outdoor usage and times that 30 ft of tape isn't enough. Handy for laying out a space for large installs on the factory floor.

Sonin Laser Targeting Range Finder
Work bought toy, very cool. Excellent for finding ceiling heights, or wall to wall lengths. Has a little laser targeting device that helps make sure you have the right distance in mind.

Handy if you need to cut up extrusion, wood, metal tubing, and bar. Nothing like a nice straight line. Has 45 degree side as well. Heck, I've pulled the metal ruler off sometimes just to use as a straight edge. Just another handy measurement tool.

Complete Screwdriver Set (#0, #1, #2, #3 Phillips & from small to really large Flat-head)
Needed items, really just self explanatory. Get the big Phillips and Flat-head kind as well, you will thank me later.

6 in, two 8 in, and 12 in Crescent Wrenches (aka Third World Combination Wrench Set)
No I don't carry a combination wrench set at work, it's one of those things that I think is overkill for an engineer. My box isn't big enough, and frankly I never know what I will need. Also, you'll learn that factory stuff gets beat on all day anyway, so these won't affect the already rounded nuts you find everywhere. Important though is the two 8 in Crescents, it will be the most common size you encounter. No doubt will be used on a bolt on one side and nut on the other situation.

Crappy Pocket Knife
Good for cutting stuff, duh. By being crappy, it will stay in my box (see the theme).

Needlenose and Regular Pliers
Both come in handy quite often. The needlenose in particular are handy for the electrical work since they typically incorporate the wire cutters in the design. The regular pliers are good for the already rounded nuts you find everywhere.

Wire Strippers
This is the newest addition to the box. At my latest job, I find myself stripping wires a little more than my past experiences. These are the nice Klein brand kind and work infinitely better than the old cheap standby.

Paint Pen, Permanent Marker, and China Marker
Great for marking stuff, duh. Remember sometimes the stuff you are working on is colored black, white, red, etc or it can be greasy or dry, so keep a variety of marking tools on hand to cover your needs.

Standard and Metric Allen (Hex) Key Set – Folding
Just a set I keep on hand to handle all the hex cap screws. I really prefer the L-shape sets, but this ensures that all of mine stay together in one place.

Base of the Box

Master Mechanic Socket Set (48-ish piece)
Okay everything I said about the justification of the Crescent Wrenches can be thrown out. I have a socket set to make sure that I have precisely the right size socket to fit whatever bolt I am playing with. This set isn't quite as well made and reliable as a Craftsman set but is pretty close. Also it fits in the toolbox. I will say however to get a “Guaranteed for Life” set because I constantly am replacing the ratchet. Or at least get a spare ratchet that is of higher quality. My set is both a 1/4” and 1/2” drive with small to medium sizes (4mm to 15mm on the metric side). When the job calls for bigger bolts, I usually borrow from the maintenance guys. They probably should be there anyway.

Allen (Hex) Head Socket Set
This set is standard, but I probably could use a metric one as well. Great addition to the regular set.

L-shaped Allen (Hex) Key Set
How did that get in there? These are the best for bolts. Long side for better torque, short side for twisting speed.

Mitutoyo 8 in Dial Calipers
Leftover from my machinist assistant days. I prefer 8 inch because well, it has the same accuracy of a 6 inch and I always seemed to need a measurement just over 6 inches. It's a machinist thing. Regardless, get one, I have bought one for every intern I've had. If you are looking for one don't buy the cheap-o, no-name brand. Go to Ebay, find gently used Starrett, Mitutoyo, Brown & Sharpe, Fowler, & Mahr calipers. I like dials over digital but each of the brands listed above make nice digitals that are oil resistant and highly accurate.

That's it, put something together like this and you should be good for years to work out on the factory floor.

So now that I have shown you my toolbox, what's in yours?

1 comment:

Grant said...

The hockey tape on the mag light... I love it!

I've got a blue mag light, except for the end, the paints been chewed off...

I've used electrical tape, but that just gets hot and slimey...

I'll have to give the hockey tape a try.