Basic Use of Tools

A sound working knowledge of tool use is the basis of being a mechanic. Developing good working habits will result in better, more consistent repairs, and in longer lasting tools. This article provides a short review of the proper use of some basic tools.

Hammers (HMR-4)

  • Hold the handle like you are not afraid of it.
  • For light striking, choke up on the handle. This allows more precision.
  • For heavy striking force, hold handle toward the end.
  • Strike with the head of the hammer square to the target.
  • Learn the “dead blow” technique.
  • The Park Tool HMR-4 has a steel and plastic side. Learn when you need each. Steel impacts with more force, but will leave a mark. Plastic will not scratch but can still dent.

    A video review of hammers below:


  • Mount the blade with cutting teeth pointing forward.
  • Get the blade tension tight.
  • Cut with pressure on the forward stroke, draw back lightly.
  • Replace blades often. Compare cutting teeth in the middle to teeth at the end.
  • When cutting carbon, keep the cutting area wet to minimize exposure to dust particles.


  • Mount the vise very securely to the corner of the workbench.
  • The non-moving jaw of the vise should be just over the edge of the bench.
  • Mount with the largest bolts that will fit in the vise base. Get the bolts as tight as you can and check them occasionally.

The video review of hacksaws is below:


  • Hold pliers according to your work requirements.
  • For side cutter, place work in jaws for appropriate leverage. Put the part closer to the plier pivot provides more leverage.
  • For needle nose, hold in line with arm for precision work, hold at 90-degrees for high leverage work
  • Hold cables and compressionless shift housing square to cable cutters to get a square cut


  • Take the time to use correctly.
  • Close jaws down fully on bolt head or nut.
  • Rotate with fixed jaw taking the primary load.
  • Keep the blade sharp.

A video reviewing the use pliers and adjustable wrenches is below:


  • Select correct size of screwdriver for part. The largest size that fits allows the best purchase.
  • Hold screwdriver in line with arm for most work.
  • Get body weight over screwdriver to press downward on seized or tight screws.
  • Replace screwdrivers as they wear out.


  • Hold the knife as if you were not afraid of it
  • Respect the blade
  • Avoid cutting toward yourself. Remember to watch your follow through
  • Keep blades sharp

A review of screwdriver and knife use is below:


  • Have a selection of different file shapes and sizes
  • Cut with pressure in forward direction only
  • Clean file teeth using wire brush
  • Replace files as they wear out
  • Use file handles for all your files


  • Don’t take your hands for granted. They need care and attention like any tool.
  • Before beginning any serious work, remove all rings and jewelry. That includes wristwatches and wedding rings.
  • Race Mechanics- you leave on the watch, you know that thing drives your life.
  • Skin absorbs chemicals. Use mechanic gloves (MG-2) for any toxic chemical work.

The video review of file use and hand care is below: