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Garage, Shop & Fab Tools Buyer's Guide - Tech

Posted in How To on November 1, 2008 Comment (0)
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Contributors: James J. Weber

While wrenching and building our ultimate trail rigs, we have all experienced the benefit of having the right tool for the right job. This month we bring to you some of the latest and greatest items that hopefully will make working on your rig much easier, faster, and convenient. Having the correct handtools, tool-storage boxes, and other items can save valuable time, other components of your rig, and tremendous amounts of energy. Everything from handtools to garage accessories has been included.

Craftsman AXS Tool-Storage System
In typical Craftsman fashion, the new AXS tool-storage system is so advanced that there are over 150 worldwide patents on it. With its structurally enhanced stacked I-Frame construction, the six-drawer chest/seven-drawer roll-away combo sits on four durable 5x2-inch polished chrome casters that allow the unit to be moved easily - even when fully loaded.Each of the full-length drawers slide out effortlessly thanks to the ball-bearing slides. For extra convenience, there are slide-out LED lights for task lighting. A Master Lock One-Key locking mechanism is included along with a multifunctional LED message center that displays the date and time and features various alarm clock functions. For added functionality, a six-outlet, 120-volt power strip and 12-volt power outlet have been incorporated into the system as well. The system is available in a variety of colors and finishes.
For more information, contact: Craftsman, (847) 286-2500,

Proform Billet-Aluminum Adjustable Wrench Set
Proform's billet-aluminum adjustable AN wrench set is the perfect nonmarring tool for underhood plumbing work. Offered in two sizes, -3 to -8 AN and -10 to -20 AN, the wrenches are constructed from solid pieces of billet aluminum and anodized to an impressive finish. Built for decades of durability and use, the easily adjustable units feature punched handles for weight reduction and ease of cleaning.
For more information, contact: Specialty Auto Parts USA(586)

Elevated Shop Creeper
The Elevator is an elevated shop creeper that takes the hassle out of trying to work on the engine of a lifted Jeep, truck, or SUV by placing you over the engine or area that you need to get to. Built from a high-strength powdercoated steel frame to support a mechanic or hobbyist, the Elevator features a stable three-step-high standing platform and equally strong laying platform that is fully adjustable and lockable once positioned. To keep from damaging the front of your vehicle, bumpers are integrated into the front of the unit, and a tool shelf helps to retain tools, nuts, and other parts from entering the engine compartment.
For more information, contact: Nomad Mfg., (403) 862-6937,

Digital Tire Gauge With Built-In Tread-Depth Indicator
Precision Meter's digital tire gauge serves as two tools in one by incorporating a tire-depth gauge and a tire-pressure gauge. Built from steel tubing, the gauge features a dual foot chuck and a backlight display.
For more information, contact: Precision

Craftsman Lift N Secure Jack System
Craftsman's exclusive all-in-one Lift N Secure jack system eliminates the need to transfer the load of your rig from a jack to jackstands by incorporating both acts into one. By simply positioning the jack under the chassis, raising the vehicle to the desired height, and then removing the jack, the jackstands that have been embedded into the jack are left securely in place. With a 2-ton capacity and a lifting range from 5-1/2 to 17 inches, this will surely be a well-used tool. A saddle that converts the system into a conventional jack with a lifting range from 6-1/2 to 13 inches is included.
For more information, contact: Craftsman, (847) 286-2500,

GearWrench Indexing Prybars
GearWrench's indexing prybars are available in six sizes and are adjustable to 14 various positions with an index of 180 degrees. Built to exceed ANSI requirements, they are the perfect tool for tight workspaces. Each bar is available with either smooth or grooved feet, depending upon the application, and are sold in lengths from 8 to 33 inches.
For more information, contact: GearWrench, (800) 688-8949,

MechaniCool MX18
Gone are the days of working in the hot, unbearable conditions of your garage. The MechaniCool MX18 portable A/C system transforms your garage or work area into an oasis of cool. Completely self-contained, the 18,000-Btu unit operates on 110 volts of electricity and draws only 15 amps. The four casters make maneuvering the unit a breeze. Directing the cool air right where you want it is achieved via two top-mounted bidirectional air ducts.
For more information, contact: iCool, (903) 445-9601,

Miller Millermatic 140 MIG Welder
Miller's new Millermatic 140 MIG welder features its Auto-Set technology, which requires the operator to simply set the wire diameter (0.024 or 0.030 inch) and the material thickness to be welded. The machine does the rest of the work by automatically establishing the best welding conditions for smooth and spatter-free start-ups. A durable cast-aluminum feedhead incorporates dual-groove, quick-change drive roll and a spring-loaded tension arm with calibrated tension knob for easy machine setup. This all-in-one machine is best suited for light fabrication, auto bodywork, and maintenance and repair projects.
For more information, contact: Miller Electric, (920) 734-9821,

Kreepscoot Seat
The Kreepscoot is an innovative way to maneuver on a ground level around your rig without having to constantly relocate your tools as you move. The rolling seat contains tool trays on both sides to hold whatever tools, parts, or miscellaneous items required for your project. Built from high-strength aluminum, this unique pressure-activated antiroll system provides stability for standing up. The smooth urethane wheels with parking brakes secure the unit when needed. It is available in either silver or black powdercoated finishes with a choice of a red or black tool carrier. Once you have one of these items, you'll be thanking us.
For more information, contact: 4tek, (866) 996-3918,

A Vise-Grip for Any Occasion
Can you ever have too many Vise-Grips? The answer, of course, is NO! Vise-Grips come in a vast array of configurations and sizes to clamp and hold everything from rusted-on nuts to sheetmetal to tubing. The round, serrated jaws of the LC-6 clamp (center of photo) readily clamp around tubing and make a great handrest while welding. The 6R C-clamp (lower left) can be used to pinch off a rubber brake line when changing a brake caliper. How many ways can you use Vise-Grips? How big is your imagination?
For more information, contact: Irwin Industrial Tools,

Mini Welding Table
Fullsize welding tables are great to have, but if you do a lot of work on small parts, this ProtoFab mini welding table is the way to go. Constructed from heavy steel plate and square tubing, the ProtoFab mini welding table can be set up nearly anywhere and provides a rugged, electrically conductive surface on which to weld. The TIG torch is not included, but it does show how compact the table really is.
For more information, contact: ProtoFab, (714) 674-0099, Hot Foot Amperage Control
A secure foot pedal with a positive, predictable feel is just as important in TIG welding as it is in your trail rig. offers its Hot Foot pedals for Miller, Lincoln, and ESAB TIG-welding machines. The Hot Foot boasts heavy-duty metal construction, a high-profile heel stop, a return spring that feels just right (not too stiff or too soft), and a nonslip pedal surface. This particular Hot Foot has seen hundreds of hours of use and works as well as the day it came out of the box.
For more information, contact:, (800) 944-2243,

McMaster-Carr Transfer Punches
When holes need to line up perfectly, you'll need a transfer punch to mark the hole center in the undrilled material. Select the appropriate-size transfer punch, lay the drilled material over the undrilled material, and insert the transfer punch against the raw surface. One good smack with a hammer, and the new hole's center is perfectly marked and ready for drilling. Transfer punches are available individually or in sets.
For more information, contact: McMaster-Carr, (562) 463-4277,

Hougen RotaCut Sheetmetal Cutter Kit
Conventional hole saws are pretty good, but they're nowhere near as precise as the RotaCut hole cutters. Thanks to precision-ground high-speed steel construction, RotaCut annular hole cutters produce burr-free holes with superior accuracy compared to conventional hole saws. The RotaCut hole cutters only cut the outer perimeter of the holes, so no time is spent boring through material in the center of the hole as is the case with a conventional drill bit. These features make RotaCut hole cutters more accurate than traditional hole saws and faster than traditional drill bits. Hougen RotaCut hole cutters can bore through sheetmetal, plate, and plastic up to 1/4 inch thick and are available in a wide range of sizes. This convenient set comes with seven cutters, a drill arbor, center punch, wrench, two pilot points, and stop washers.
For more information, contact: Hougen Mfg., (800) 426-7818,

Van Sant Angle Level and Base
A gap-free fit is the first step toward a world-class weld. Keeping your notches and bends in their desired planes is much easier when using an angle level and base from Van Sant Enterprises. The base attaches to round tubing up to 2 inches diameter, and the angle level magnetically attaches to the base. The inner wheel of the angle level swivels 360 degrees and is liquid-filled to stabilize the indicator needle. Yes, you can use your calibrated eyeball to track your bends and notches, but take our word that getting a tool specifically built for this task makes for faster and more accurate fabrication.
For more information, contact: Van Sant Enterprises (877) VAN-SANT

Van Sant Tab and Bracket Holder
This cool tool holds weld tabs and brackets in place for tack welding. Height and lateral position can be adjusted, and the clamp holds securely to round or square tubing. The Van Sant tab and bracket holder is clasping a ProtoFab prestamped weld tab.
For more information, contact: Van Sant Enterprises (877) VAN-SANT


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