11 top shop tools

  • Top 6

    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, the guys at Nelson farms in Belmond, Iowa, tested more than two dozen tools.

    Click through the slideshow to find out what their top six picks were.

  • Stanley FatMax Max Mechanics Set

    Stanley FatMax Max Mechanics Set is a 187-piece professional-grade mechanics socket set, which includes ¼-, ³⁄8-, and ½-inch drive sockets, patented lock-on wrenches, and a number of accessories.

    “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 you,” says Neal Nelson. 

  • DeWalt 20-Volt Max Lithium-Ion Recip Saw

    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. 

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

  • Lincoln Electric’s 180 Dual MIG Welder

    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 it’s spool gun-ready.

    “This is a nice little unit,” says Steve Schrage. “When we have a larger project to work on, one guy can tack with the 180 welder and the other guy can do the major welding.”

  • Air Comb Filter Cleaner

    Air Comb Filter Cleaner extends the life of your filters. This device can also blow out dust and debris from radiators, condensers, and more.

    The patent-pending multiport nozzle design focuses high-pressure and high-volume shop air at a 90° angle to access those hard-to-reach areas.

    Available in four different sizes from 12 inches all the way to 48 inches.

  • Viking Tribal 3350 Series DF Welding Helmet

    Viking Tribal 3350 Series DF Welding Helmet is an auto-darkening, solar-powered helmet that offers continuously-variable control for shade and sensitivity. It has 6 to 13 shade control and was popular among the test team. Here’s why.

    “The guys really liked the tinting variability,” says David Nelson. “and the delay of time that it comes on. Plus it’s lightweight at 21 ounces.”

  • Easy Puller

    Easy Puller combines locking pliers with a 2-pound hammer to create a powerful pulling force. Simply clamp the pliers on any item you want to remove and slide the hammer quickly along the slide bolt to the end, creating a powerful pulling force. 

    “We used it to remove a cotter pin in a tough spot on the skid steer loader,” says Dennis Nelson. “I don’t know how we would have gotten it out without it.

  • Let there be light!

    The Nelsons were looking for a light that is compact enough to fit in tight places, gives off a decent amount of light yet isn’t too bright and has a magnetic base to adhere to equipment -- something I found difficult to find as well. So I asked for your help in our Shop Talk discussion group at agriculture.com. The following are what you suggested.

  • Cooper Lighting’s Might-D-Light LED 130

    Cooper Lighting’s Might-D-Light LED 130 is an 80 LED rechargeable folding work light that has an AC/DC charging adapter. It sells for around $40 and has a swivel hook as well as integrated magnets.

  • True Power’s 21 LED Work Light

    True Power’s 21 LED Work Light with Flexible Neck and Magnetic Base (far left) has a powerful magnetic base, an overall length of 18.5 inches and can be adjusted to a number of positions. It uses three AA batteries, which are included, and retails for under $35.

  • The Rotating Magnetic LED Worklight

    The Rotating Magnetic LED Worklight by Ullman (red light in center) lets you rotate the lighted head to adjust the angle of the beam where light is needed. It’s powered by three AAA batteries and sells for under $16.

    This light ended up being the favorite at the Nelson farm!

  • Joby Gorillatorch

    The Joby Gorillatorch (far right) adjustable and flexible tripod flashlight. For under $20, this light’s wrappable legs and magnetic feet let users attach it to just about anything. This light is powered by three AAA batteries, which are included.

Here are 6 must-have shop tools.

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