Shop Talk

The "How To" of April 2010

  • Ensure Your Power Tools are Optimally Maintained


    Preventative maintenance is the ultimate key to keeping your power tools, machines, and working parts in better working order. Making it part of your regular routine to clean and check your power tools will make a staggering difference in the longevity and performance of your tools and equipment. Just like watering the lawn or eating an apple a day, being more conscious of your tools and how you treat them, will make them healthier, happier, and altogether better.

    Now, to get down to business; your power tools, especially your screw guns, grinders, and sanders need to be blown-out after every use. Using an air compressor or canned-air, concentrate a stream of air at and into all the tools messy parts and components. The tool’s vents, chuck, and generally any other opening on the tool require special attention to ensure there is no debris built-up inside the tool; debris clogs internal mechanisms limiting, if not stopping, the tool’s functionality entirely and can totally debilitate your equipment. Ultimately, it’s crucial to keep your tools clean and blown-out with every use – just like flossing, blowing-out your tools is easy, painless, takes only a few moments, and helps you to sidestep the world of very avoidable hurt poor maintenance inevitably inflicts – so do it!

    Secondly, wiping your tools down is truly as simple as wiping them down. Using a shop rag or old t-shirt (and, periodically, a solution of diluted household cleaner) simply wipe-down the tool. Clean off any dust, debris, or residue and your tools and through a brilliant performance, they will show their gratitude. Although simple, this step is certainly not negligible and is vitally important to keeping your tools running at their best.

    Thirdly, oiling your pneumatic air tools is another crucial step and one that an alarming number of people actually do improperly. The “one drop” rule is generally the most effective method of oiling pneumatic guns. Simply plop one drop of oil into the end of your gun (before use) for every 3,000 nails shot. In other words, just “one drop” of oil for every 3,000 nails. Also, be weary of over-oiling! Over-oiling creates a sludgy, sloppy build-up that causes the gun to stick and perform poorly. Under-oiling is another common misstep that causes the tool’s o-rings to dry-up and crack and also creates a metal upon metal friction within the gun that can cause additional internal breakage – an expensive fix for just missing one drop of oil. Simply remember: One drop every 3,000 shots, and your gun should stay smooth and precise.

    Additionally, please periodically (and routinely) top off the oil in your air compressor as well. The more you use your compressor, the more you need to check and refill the oil. It is also hugely important to drain the compressor’s tank after every use. If the tank goes undrained for even a short amount of time, it can cause irreparable (or at least very expensive) rust damage to the tool.

    Lastly, it is fairly common for contractors and other professional craftsmen to leave their tools to weather the, well, weather, on their own. We highly recommend that tool-users keep their equipment in a dry, temperate, and safe environment whenever possible; this means somewhere not outside. No man would like to lay tossed in the back of a truck in the heat, humidity, storms, snow, or freezing rain – your tools don’t either. Keeping them dry and temperate will save your tools and their components (which also effects your pocketbook) in a big way.

    We all know it is easy to forget to maintain our power tools, but in following these few simple upkeep steps, your tools will be much happier to work for you. Preventative maintenance is vital to the longevity and positive, powerful performance of your tools, and as you can see, its easy do. Just do it and you, and your tools, will be glad you did.