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6 product picks from farmers

09/05/2012 @ 3:09pm

Having the right tools when you need them is key when it comes to repair and maintenance in the shop. If you've walked down the tool aisle lately, you know there is no shortage of choices.

To check out the latest innovations, Successful Farming magazine enlisted a group of Iowa farmers to test more than two dozen tools.

Five men at Nelson Farms in Belmond, Iowa, put everything – from welders to wrenches to a pulling device – through their paces for more than two months this past winter.

Brothers David, Dennis, and Neal Nelson, along with their employees, Steve Schrage and Loren Wenzel, used the tools for a number of repairs in the shop.

“We tried to find as many uses for these tools as we could,” says Dennis.

Some performed well; others didn't quite measure up. When it was all said and done, there were clear standouts. Following are their top six picks.

6. Stanley Fax Max Mechanics Set is a 187-piece professional-grade mechanics socket set, which includes ¼-, ⅛-, and ½-inch drive sockets, patented lock-on wrenches, and a number of accessories.

It is priced under $250, yet what made it a top contender for the men was the nice variety of tools in one set.

“We had to haul corn at another site, and it was a nice way to gather a whole set of tools and take them with us,” says Neal. “The only downside is we just about needed a crowbar to get them out of the container. They are in there so tight, and frozen fingers wouldn't be able to remove a socket very well.”

The upside is the tools won't spill all over when the case is opened in the middle of a field.

“This is definitely a nice one to have in the truck,” says Neal.

Learn more at www.stanleytools.com.

5. Dewalt 20-Volt MAX Lithium-Ion Recip Saw is part of DeWalt's 20 Volt MAX Series, which launched with 10 other tools in June 2011.

Well known in the construction industry, reciprocating saws made their way to the farm years ago, and farmers quickly realized what invaluable and versatile tools they were.

“Reciprocating saws are handy tools to have around the farm because they can cut through just about anything,” says Neal. “The main thing I noticed about this saw is how lightweight it is. We put a lot of hours on this saw and have yet to run the battery down.”

An added bonus is that the charger for the 20V Max batteries can also charge the 12V Max batteries – a huge advantage DeWalt has over its competition. This Series can also use a compact 1.5Ah or a regular 3.0Ah battery.

Suggested price is $249. Learn more at www.dewalt.com.

4. Lincoln Electric's 180 Dual MIG Welder is a MIG and flux-cored welder that touts top features like dual-input power capability, Diamond Core Technology, and the fact that it's spool gun-ready. Priced at less than $950, it is a top choice because of its ease of use and portability.

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