- Buyer's Guide
True or False: Railroad spikes are best driven with a tack hammer?
The question may seem a bit absurd and the answer to it a resounding "FALSE!", but it does point out two common attitudes that are responsible for many injuries related to using hand tools improperly.
The notions "one tool does all" or "any tool will do" result in wasted effort, poor quality work, damage to the misused tool, and exposing the user to possible injury, according to the Hand Tools Institute, an association of American manufacturers of quality hand tools.
As with hammers, pliers, wrenches and all other hand tools, design is a key element to the type of work a tool is intended to do properly and safely, says HTI.
Clamps are no exception and should be selected to conform to the work they are to perform.
Clamps are first cousins to vises and the most common relative is the C-clamp. Although C-clamps are extremely versatile, they will not, however, suffice for every job.
HTI suggests that C-clamps serve only as temporary devices for holding work securely in place. Clamps should be removed from the work as soon as the job has been finished.
Always select the proper clamps by determining the required opening, depth, strength and weight. The hindrance of a screw extending beyond the frame can be eliminated by selecting a clamp with a smaller screw.
Before each project, evaluate the type of clamp needed, whether it shall be a bar clamp, C-clamp, spring clamp, hand screw clamp, web clamp, miter clamp or any of the other varieties available.
The finest clamp, like any tool, can be damaged by rough handling, improper selection and overloading. Clamps should be kept in a rack to protect them from damage.
Some other suggestions for using clamps properly include:
- Use pads with C-clamps to avoid marring the work.
- Discard any clamp that has a bent spindle or frame.
- Before using, make sure the swivel end of the screw turns freely.
HTI also recommends wearing safety goggles at all times when using hand tools to guard against possible eye injuries.
The Hand Tools Institute suggests selecting the right type of clamp for the kind of work it is intended. Although there is a large selection of C-clamps available, opening size, depth, weight and strength are important criteria. C-clamps come in a variety of sizes and styles; there is even greater variety in the clamp family, from web clamps to bar and pipe clamps.
About the author:
The Hand Tools Institute (HTI) is the trade association of North American manufacturers of non-powered hand tools and tool boxes. The objectives of the institute are to promote and further the interests of its members relative to manufacturing, safety, standardization, international trade and government relations. For more information, visit www.hti.org.