The tools you need: Part One
This report covers:
- Pin punches
- Long-bladed small screwdrivers
- Magnifying glasses
- Needle-nosed pliers
- Long-bladed screwdrivers
- A good vise
- Dremel tool
- Where to find these tools
For Americans this series will sound like one from Tim, “the Toolman” Taylor. He’s the main character in a sitcom titled, Home Improvement, that stars comedian Tim Allen.
This report series was inspired by readers Alex2no and Peter, whose recent questions about airgun repairs have inspired me to write more on the subject of airgun maintenance. Alex2no asked about the parts she needed to have to make small repairs to her spring gun collection and Peter talked about a problem he had with the valve on his GunPower Stealth, which is a 12-foot-pound UK PCP made by AirForce Airguns.
I will talk about the tools I use all the time for airgun repairs. Last week I was up to my elbows in the Haenel 312, but fortunately I had everything I needed to get the job done. That hasn’t always been the case. Back in the 1990s I fixed airguns on the kitchen table and had a minimum of good tools. But as time passed and I needed this or that I slowly added things to my tool chest.
Let’s start with my number one tool — the one I’ve had the longest and actually wore out, but will not throw away. I never had a name for him, but Alex2no had an uncle who named his small plastic mallet Thor. That’s good enough for me!
Two plastic and rubber hammers. Thor on top has been with me for 55 years. The new guy underneath has been around about two years. Is he Loki?
As their condition reflects, I use these two hammers for everything. And Peter, the black rubber part on Loki (red on Thor) is what I rap the GunPower Stealth top hat with.
I have owned this set of pin punches for 30 years and I recently broke the smallest one. Gotta get a new set. When I say I drift out a pin — this is what I use.
My pin punches have been through the war! I cannot do much without them.
Long-bladed small screwdrivers
Sometimes there are wee teeny screws that have to be turned. Look at the front trigger adjustment screw on the Haenel 312 trigger for an example. It is bigger than an eyeglass screw but not by much. I labored for 50 years without these screwdrivers and just recently got them. I don’t use them often, but when I need them, nothing else will do.
The front trigger adjustment screw (arrow) on the Haenel 312 is very small. Regular screwdrivers just won’t do.
These long-bladed screwdrivers are recent acquisitions, but have already proven their worth.
I have three magnifiers that I use constantly. One is hand-held and only magnifies about 3X. But sometimes that’s all I need. I have a hood with several magnifying options and for some work it is essential. And I have a 10X jeweler’s loupe that is the recognized international standard for grading diamonds. When I’m not doing that I use it for countless other things.
I’m always using one of these magnifiers. The hood is for close jobs that require free hands. The loupe is for all sorts of itty-bitty stuff. The glass is for when my eye just can’t focus that small. These stay on my desk at all times.
I have several of these, but two pair I almost always use. If you look closely you’ll see that someone has filed small points on the tips of the jaws of the smaller pair so circlips can be removed or installed.
My favorite two pair of needle-nosed pliers.
The tips are made to go in the small holes of a circlip.
I can’t get enough of these. They are seldom used but when it’s time to reach into a deep hole to loosen a screw like those deep buttstock screws, this is the only thing that will work!
I look for these guys in every pawn shop I visit. I don’t need them often but when I do, I really need them.
A good vise
Not a good vice, because they don’t exist, but a good vise is essential to projects. I have several. One is small and quick to mount and gets used a lot. Then my neighbor, Denny, mounted my larger vise to a board that attaches to my workbench that he also made for me. When I need it it installs in less than a minute and when I don’t need it the workbench is bare — well, cluttered — but you know what I mean.
My red vise mounts to my workbench when I need it and is stored below when I don’t. The blue vise is quick to mount for small jobs and is the one that held the grease gun nose when I drilled it out. I included the little pin vise in the picture but I seldom use it.
I bought a set of soft jaws for the bench vise. They are slightly larger than the vise jaws, but who cares?
Yeah, you gotta have one of these or you aren’t an airgunner. How else are you going to mess up so many jobs so quickly? Get a rechargeable one if you can swing it, because they allow you to work anywhere.
Get a cordless Dremel tool if you can and save all those attachments!
Where to find these tools
You can probably find everything on this list for sale online. But I have a different approach. Whenever I go to a pawn shop I browse through their used tools to see what I can possibly use. That way I’m spending ten cents on the dollar for this stuff. Believe me, it’s hard enough to find any one of these things! You’ll never break the bank if you shop this way. That’s because nobody gets rid of good tools. But their widows and kids do, so when you see something you like, make your move!
On the Dremel tool, if you buy a used kit forget the tool inside if it has a cord. It may work but who cares? Buy a used set for the attachments, only. This is a garage sale purchase for which you should only spend a couple dollars. But buy a new cordless rechargeable Dremel tool because it is so handy. And get at least one extra battery.
If you are going to be an airgunner you need a basic tool set. Today I have given you some of the basic tools I have used over the last half century. There are more and no doubt you will want to add to my list. Remember, this is just Part One, so there is more to come.