The right tool for the job depends on you… and if you can use it as a hammer

Hammres 2

 

“The right tool for the job.” It’s a saying that my father used quite a bit.

It’s a saying, “the right tool for the job,” that’s so popular it’s been co-opted by other, non-trade industries, but I never fully appreciated it until recently.

From experience, I’ve learned it basically means “If you have the correct tool for the job, you probably won’t ruin things, and you’ll curse much less.” For my decades of putting tools to the test, it all comes down to one thing… can I use it as a hammer?

Of course, by that I mean, “Which tool will be the highest quality, most durable and the best bang for my buck?” But also, I’m probably going to use it as a hammer eventually, either because of frustration, rage or pure necessity. There are so many places to find yourself the perfect pipe wrench, drill press, or miter saw for whatever job you’re tackling, that it’s mind-boggling to think about. I’ve narrowed it down to 3 categories to help you decide not what tool is best, but what tool is best for you.

Homeowner tools

Congratulations, you just bought a house! You’ll need tools for up-keep, and repairs. Just go Craftsman, hit up Sears, or find a nice K-mart special-30 piece tool set. That’s all you really need. No need to spend a Corvette’s worth in tools for light-bulb fixtures and table leg repairs. Done.

DIY / hobbyist / garage-r tools

You’re a serious DIYer. You need a quality tool for the job but you don’t need the best tool on the market. I’ve worked on my car since I Corey's Dad-Tool Box purchased it at 14 using whatever tools my dad had. They usually weren’t the best quality, but I still use some of them to this day. Go Craftsman for hand tools or better. Their wrenches, pliers and hammers are perfect for everyone from the weekend track racer to the most Ron Swanson of us all. The higher initial price is out-weighed by the lifetime use of the tool. Just check for the warranty so you can replace it if necessary.

Full-time trade and craftsman tools

If you make a living off your tools, you’re going to want something that will pay for itself over the years. You need power, precision, and durability. The hands down consensus is that if you want the best tool that’ll last a lifetime, you want Snap-on.  If your company is paying, or if you can afford it, Snap-on is the best bang for your buck for any dedicated, daily wrench jockey. They have consistently beat any challenger for best in the business. If that isn’t a possibility, brands like SK, GearWrench, Matco Tools and Mac Tools offer replacements with warranties that are just as good with only a minor sacrifice in strength and durability.

Still not sure which tool is right for you? Start simple and build up from there. You may find that, most of the time, you need the basics but for a few specific jobs, it’s worth investing in the right tools. Like my dad always said, “The right tool… “

Know Your Trade, Know Your Wages

8580148250_0051771403_z

Anyone who works in the trades knows that the one of the most important, and valuable, skills to have is to be knowledgeable about your field. Not only should you be experienced, but you should also be able to use that experience to perform your job to the best of your ability. Being knowledgeable about your trade doesn’t just include knowing how to perform certain functions, you should also have an understanding of wage trends in your specific field. Government websites such as the Bureau of Labor Statistics aggregate data on wages from all over the country and even divide the information into separate fields, locations, and occupations. You can use sites like this to compare your wages to other trades or even to other locations. We looked at the wage trends of some of our most popular user’s trades. We want to be giving the best product possible to users, and the only way to do that is to familiarize ourselves with all facets of the trades. For example, did you know that Plumbers and Pipefitters (steamfitters) have one of the highest mean annual wages of any blue-collar occupation? On average, they make around $54,000 around the nation, but pipefitters out in Alaska can make $72,000 a year!

13552043644_531d1e9938_z

Electricians come after them with an average annual wage of $53,000, earning the most in California, New York, and Illinois respectively. Sheet Metal Mechanics, Wind Turbine Technicians, Elevator Technicians, and HVAC Technicians on average earn around $52,000 a year and as the need for skilled tradesmen continues to grow in our country, these wages will only increase. The Baby Boomer generation that for years has dominated the world of the trades is beginning to retire, and new workers are needed to take their place. Vocational education is taught in our schools with much less frequency and because of it there are less workers with the skills needed to fill up those jobs. It’s never been a better time for a career in the trades, especially with WorkHands by your side.

 

Photos courtesy of: Jun Wang, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers