Tools I wish I had bought years ago … #1

I have never regretted buying good tools. I have regretted buying bad tools, and I have also regretted not buying tools.

Perhaps I need to explain. Recently I have bought one or two tools that have turned out to be excellent for their purpose. They were quite ordinary, easy to find, not expensive, and I could perfectly well have bought them years ago, and that would have saved hours of frustration, swearing, skin-removed-from-knuckles and time wasting. If only I had known, it would have been a good investment.


This is a good example. A set of long, ball-ended hex keys.

The long 'handle' makes it easy to do things up tight and, more importantly, easy to undo bolts that have been over-enthusiastically tightened.


The ball end allows a bolt to be rapidly screwed or unscrewed even when there is no straight access to it. You can't do a bolt up tight with the ball end: there is not enough leverage with the short handle. That is a good thing as the ball has a limited amount of metal engaged with the bolt, and things would wear. Just spin the bolt most of the way with the ball end and the short handle, and then tighten the last quarter turn with the key reversed. An excellent, simple design that works naturally in your hand.

But if you go out to purchase a set, make sure that it is a good one. The metal should be hardened with a clean finish and a 'ring' to it. The good ones are cheap enough, and could last a lifetime if you buy them young.

3 comments on “Tools I wish I had bought years ago … #1”

  1. Garry wrote:

    I totally agree. I have a set. Another tool which is a must have is a really good cable cutter. I've had the same one for 20 years, a Swiss one. Still slices through a cable or cable-housing like a knife through butter.

  2. Nick wrote:

    Hi Garry,

    You are so right about the cable cutter, and stealing my thunder: that was going to be the next 'tool I wish ...' Now I'm going to have to post something about cutting cables when you don't have the correct tool !

  3. Patrick wrote:

    ... the cable cutter ... stealing my thunder

    I think it would still be good. Even better if you can explain not only how good your cutter is (with a pic) but also how you might manage without it. Or the other way round. I remember you mentioning your cutter on the CTC forums, but not which one it is.

    Recently, I bought my first ever 'track pump' – a JoeBlow Sport. One of my brothers has been pressing me to get one for years, which is probably why I didn't. It beats a mini pump.

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