Ask Adam: Most Important Tool (Used Least)

Adam Savage talks about low-frequency tools generally and well as specifically when he answers the question: What is the most important tool that gets used the least in your shop?

Comments (21)

21 thoughts on “Ask Adam: Most Important Tool (Used Least)

  1. That last part about putting your tool where you think you will look for them. That has been my technique too and it works great.

    Everytime i store something with the thought : I’ll put this somewhere clever so i won’t lose it, i lose it.

  2. Yes!

    Even though his set of long-handled grabbers is awesome (and would have come in handy so many times in my life) his advice about storing infrequently needed tools is even more crucial. Usually, when storing anything, the true (but unspoken) problem you are solving is, “How do I get this out of my way?” and the instinctive satisficing heuristic often defaults to, “the first place you come across where its fits without major problems.” But the problem you should be solving is, “How do I make this thing retrievable?

    “Where would I instinctively want to look first, if I had completely forgotten where I put it?” is an excellent question to ask yourself.

  3. Least used Most important is a hard dangerous question. the answer is always and should always be Safety Equipment 🙂 IE the Fire Extinguisher!

  4. I leave my tools with the project I’m working on. Seems a bit messy, but the clean up when a projects is done makes it much more satisfying.

  5. There is a variant of the narrow reach forceps with a tiny set of scissor blades instead of gripers. I bought a pair and stashed them in the bottom of my toolbox for “that day”. I’ve only needed to use them once in more than 30 years working in the film business but that one use was on set, with an entire production company waiting for the problem with a mechanical arm to be fixed that had stopped filming. That one little obscure tool saved thousands of dollars in production time!

  6. I know how important organization is in the shop. One of the big problems I have is whether to sort tools by type or by task.

    If everything is organized by type and I need to do some plumbing, it takes a few minutes to put together all the tools I might need and there are some tools like valve body wrenches that that’s the only thing you’ll ever use it for, but making kits for different types of tasks means a lot of duplication, and maybe not being able to find something that might fit several categories.

  7. Here’s a corollary to that method of putting things where you’d first think of looking: if you’re ever unable to find something after turning your workshop upside down, always remember the first place you actually looked for it. Then, when you eventually do find it, move it to that place.

  8. We just moved into a new house and I organized my kitchen that way. If I opened a drawer/cabinet expecting to find something, it immediately got moved there. It worked great! I now have everything where my brain naturally wants it and I rarely have to look twice for something.
    Great advice!

  9. Man, I love those grabbers. I used to have a bigger version when I did a lot of fishing. When a fish swallowed the lure to far down, or if it had teeth it was PERFECT for getting the lure out.

  10. With a shop the size of Adams, i’m surprised he hasn’t got a laminated catalogs everywhere – like the ones you find at the end of supermarket isles.

  11. Is there anyone that knows where those tools can be aquired (inexpensively…if possible)? I can think of a few times when those would have been so handy to have.

  12. Forceps of all kinds can usually be had quite inexpensively at fishing shops. Another place to find the more obscure stuff is flee markets, look for the dudes selling random military stuff. Usually one of them will have surplus medical equipment that’s like 30-40 years old and hardly ever been used. That’s of course if you have a strong enough stomach to rifle through used bone saws and stuff like that.

    I sort my shop rather the same way, everything gets organised by what I use it for, electrical pliers go in on drawer along with connectors, strippers, crimpers etc. I also get multiple copies of the same tool (or variants from different manufacturers) if it has drastically different uses so that I can have one in each category. Another thing I’ve been doing lately is organising tool boxes in the same manner. All my tools for doing electrical work go in Systainer box, all construction related tools in another. That way when a friend calls and wants help with fitting light fixtures in a new apartment, I just grab the appropriate box and instantly know that I have every single thing that I’ll ever need to fix anything that particular task might throw at me.

  13. #AskAdamSavage

    How can makers be more environmentally conscious? Especially finding a means to recycle materials like failed urethane resin casts, dried out silicone molds, old pants, scrap foam?

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