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Well-Known Member
Dec 20, 2007
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These are definitions of common tools found in and around the shop.

In fact every tool on this list has been in my shop at one time or another.

123 Blocks:

Interesting tool used in the setups on milling machines. All the ones that I have are defective; the holes do not allow a standard 3/8-16 bolt to pass through to allow them to be bolted to the mill table. Trying to drill the holes larger is a good test for the strength of drill bits. The also only seem to come in one size.

7X10 Mini Lathe:

A collection of parts to make a lathe. Some assembly is not required, but disassembly is! After many hours of cleaning and modifying is known to become a good serviceable lathe. Sold by just about every tool supplier under their own name in a variety of colors.

7×12 Band Saw:

A metal cutting band saw that has a unique stand designed to wobble and dance when running. Those that are not fond of dance, quickly replace or redesign the stand. Also known for its ability to produce smoke from its motor to test the shop smoke detectors. The built in vise is designed to frustrate the operator with its inability to hold small or short items being cut. See also 7×10 Mini-Lathe, substitute Bandsaw for the word Lathe. This is one of the most used tools in my shop.

Adjustable Crescent Wrench:

One size fits all, but you will need multiple sizes. Used for Metric and SAE Bolts and Nuts. Closely related to Pliers and Vise-Grips, in its ability to round off nuts and bolts.

Alan Key Wrench:

They come in many sizes Metric and SAE. They come in many different hardnesses. Hard ones snap off while soft ones round off. The ones of the correct hardness have a tendency to round out the Allen head screws. A special variety comes with a plastic T handle that has the ability to slip in the handle. I have been told that this is to prevent you from over tightening the Allen Head screw or set screw.

Ball Peen Hammer:

A Hammer with one usable end, the other end is shaped like a ball so you know not to use it. Common features include loose handles that float in the hammer head.

Central Pneumatic Air Tools:

These are static display models of real air tools. They are very life-like and can usually be picked up cheap. They look good spread around your shop, and are designed to fill your tool box until you can afford real air tools.

Cutting Oil:

Designed as an insect repellent for the shop. High sulfur content oils work best. When heated they release a pungent smoke and odder sure to run everything out of the shop. Also good for testing the smoke detectors in the shop, or as a reminder to the wife that you are working in your shop if said shop is located in your basement. Also used to coat the walls behind your lathe in nice patterns that paint will not cover up.

Drill Chuck Key:

These come in many sizes. One of the unique things about them is that no two drill chucks use the same size key. Much shop time is spent by the shop owner searching for a key that approximately fits the drill chuck they are using.

Drill Press:

A tall upright machine useful for suddenly snatching flat metal bar stock out of your hand, spinning it around and smacking you in the knocks with said metal. Also good for raising burs on your drill bit shanks if you do properly clamp your work piece to the table.


Often sought after add on to the milling machine, and lathe. No machine has ever been designed to have one added, and no two installations on any machine are the same. Scales are sold in different lengths none of which is what is needed for the machine.

Electric Hand Drill:

Used to shorten drill bits. Also used to spin pop rivets in their holes. Almost every model I have has a button on it that keeps the drill from turning off when you are drilling a delicate hole. I believe there is a federal requirement that it be placed within easy reach of your finger or thumb while holding said drill.

E-Z Out Bolt Extractor:

Known for its hardness which allows it to easily grab a broken bolt. Common practice is to drill a hole in the broken bolt, insert E-Z Out into the hole. Attach wrench or socket and turn counter clockwise. It will grab and break off even or below the drilled hole. This works good in preventing anyone from removing the broken bolt, and the ability of anyone attempting to re-drill the hole out. known to be harder than any drill bits in the shop.


George is a 4 foot long pipe designed for the insertion of Open End Wrenches, or Ratchet Handles into one end. The other end can be leaned on, jumped on, or hit with a hammer. It has the ability to test the strength of most tools, and fasteners. Common tests performed would be to test the ability of a ratchet to slip before the test bolt snaps off. Another common test is to test the ability of a bolt or nut to not round off before the wrench slips off, bends, or breaks. My Grandfather had a similar tool, mine is a little bigger and longer.


A cutting tool designed to not follow a line. It defies science in that a force in one direction causes an equal or greater force in the opposite direction. Also good at removing skin from knuckles from blades breaking.

Hand Taps:

Designed to fill drilled holes with an item harder than most drill bits, to prevent someone from re-drilling the hole at a later time.

Machine Parallels:

Common use for supporting workplaces in the milling machine vise. Come in varying heights and widths. An interesting feature is that once machining has started they will move to a location directly under the drill bit, or into the path of a milling cutter. Due to their hardness they are designed to as a audio alert the operator when the drill bit or cutter has broken through or cleared the work piece. This is usually followed by the operator speaking in french to confirm the operation.


A tool similar to a C-Clamp, only useful on flat parallel surfaces. They have a tendency not to clamp well on uneven surfaces. Common problems are handles that slip easy which will not allow them to tighten them down all the way. The frames are known to bend and spring if tightened too tight. They have a very small clamping range and are very expensive. I recommend a good set of C-Clamps.

Mini Mill:

Sold by many manufactures in many colors. This mill is known for its ability to strip gears in the head. It also has a unique feature of a floating head that allows it to move about while milling. The more precise the finish you need the more the head moves. Also see the 7×10 Mini Lathe, substitute Mill for the word Lathe.

Needle Nose Pliers:

Designed to not be able to hold on to much of anything. Also known to always be too fat or short to reach any given part.

Open End Wrench:

Come in a variety of sizes, Metric and ASE. Used in the toughing up of knuckles. Also has the ability to disappear at will. It is common for all wrenches of the same size to disappear at the same time. Other common uses are the insertion of the wrench into a long pipe (See George) to allow the removal of bolts by snapping them off instead of unscrewing them.

Oxyacetylene Torch:

Used in the home shop for heat treating, loosening stuck parts, welding and cutting. Can deform parts very quickly. Also good at testing nearby objects flammability.


Sometimes used with the wire wheel to hold parts. They improve the chances of throwing parts across the room. Universal in that they work for both Metric and SAE bolts and nuts equally in their ability to round off the heads. They come in many sized and shapes.

Propane Torch:

A small torch found in many home shops, mainly designed for plumbing work were it works well on setting studs and rafters on fire. Usually does not develop enough heat for use in heat treating. The shop owner can usually be found testing its ability to not heat something hot enough.

Pry Bar:

A lever primarily used to test the operators ability to stack odd items under it fulcrum point, then test his balancing ability to stand or bounce on its raised end. Works well at deflecting, deforming or driving into the ground any item placed at its fulcrum point.

Quick Change Tool Post:

This tool is designed by the manufacture as a sales tool to sell their matching tool holders. No two lathes in any shop will contain the same type or size.

Screwdriver Philips Head:

This tool is good for changing Philips screw heads into secure rounded out screw heads that can no longer be removed.

Screwdriver Standard:

This is a good tool for enlarging the slots in common screws. Also useful as a pry bar, or for stirring liquids.


A highly sought after machine that is not made any longer. Features include incredibly long machining times. Complex set ups, and hard to find parts. No metalworking shop should be without one.

Sherline Lathe and Mill:

These are small versions of their bigger brothers sometimes costing as much, if not more. They are designed to teach the shop owner that larger is usually better. However they do not teach the shop owner the art of moving heavy rigid equipment.

South Bend Lathe:

An older lathe that is highly sought after by many people, based on rumors that they were highly accurate based on the number of them being used and sold. Know to be badly worn and in need of repair. More hours are spent rebuilding these lathes than using them in most cases. In most cases an old South Bend is kept as a 2nd lathe as you need another to build the repair parts.

Sheet Metal Snips:

Used in an attempt to make persuasion cuts in sheet metal. Also see Hacksaw

Slip Jaw Pliers:

These are a flawed design that has been around for a long time. In fact they are named after their main flaw, and most manufactures advertise them as such. That flaw/feature being when you need to hold something tight the jaws slip to the next larger size rendering them useless for holding the object you are trying to hold. Also good at rounding off the heads of bolts and nuts.

Taig Lathe and Mill:

See Sherline Lathe and Mill!

Trouble Light:

A device with a long extension cord designed for the destruction of the common 60 watt light bulb.


A tool for removing metal splinters from your body. Also works well for launching small parts across the room.


Used to deform parts and mar said surfaces while attempting to working on them. If designed with a swiveling base, the included locking mechanism will only clamp hard enough to keep the base from spinning with a little less force than is needed. The tommy bar on said clamp is always made of a grade of metal that will allow it to bend in such a way that you will not be able loosen it with out it bending, or binding in such a way to further keep the user from loosening or tightening the clamp.


Generally used to finish the job for the job of rounding off of bolts and nuts. that an adjustable wrench or pliers did not complete. They have the ability to lock onto an item just hard enough so they will not self release unless hit with a hammer

Welding Gloves:

These are designed to give you a false belief that you can touch something hot without getting burned. In fact their design is interesting in that once you touch something hot the glove heats up, retaining the heat in a prolonged transfer to your hand. Trying to remove the gloves once they are heated seems to be directly related to the amount of time it takes to get the glove removed from your hand.

Wire Wheel:

Used in the cleaning or rust and paint removal from small parts. Randomly throws said items across the room at incredible speeds. Sometimes the parts are thrown so fast that they disintegrate on impact. I have seen this happen many times in my shop as the part is never recovered, even though its impact with something was heard. Also works well at removing skin from fingers, and testing your ability to withstand holding hot items. Another common use is to test your ability to remove wire splinters from multiple locations of you body with tweezers.


This is an attempt lubricant. A quick dissipating lubricant used in the attempt to keep two surfaces from sticking, or rusting. Sold in both spray cans and liquid form.

I hope your enjoyed these and hopefully picked up a tip or two along the way!


Thanks. That was a good read. Had a few good laughs. :bow:

Cheers :)


Those were good!!!

I think we own the same Allen wrenches and drill press!!!

Still looking for that elusive shaper though.... ;D

Thank you for the laugh

I think I have done most of those!

:big: :big: can relate to most of them. Just one bit needs to be added to the wire wheel, they turn into a random accupuncture machine when the wheel is due for retirement.
Thanks for the giggle Dale
South Bend Lathe:

An older lathe that is highly sought after by many people, based on rumors that they were highly accurate based on the number of them being used and sold. Know to be badly worn and in need of repair. More hours are spent rebuilding these lathes than using them in most cases. In most cases an old South Bend is kept as a 2nd lathe as you need another to build the repair parts.

OHH yea! I can relate to this one :big:

A good reminder to not be too serious in the hobby. In the same spirit:

Machinery's Handbook

A reference for the machine and manufacturing trades you have to have to prove you are serious about your work. It actually takes two hands to lift. If shown to smart-aleck junior-high grandchildren it will convince them either to study more math and become nerds or to avoid math and science and try to be pop stars.

3-in-1 oil

Another attempt at a lubricant. Bored hardware clerks will sell this if they are out of any other lubricant or even if no lubricant is needed. Guaranteed to burn-out bearings in electric motors and run out of whatever is being lubricated ensuring that you will get shop practice repairing appliances for your relatives.


Formerly a precision measuring device for troubleshooting electrical and electronic devices when determining which individual component to replace in a circuit. Now a bargain tool all homeowners are convinced they need to buy at discount stores when individual components are no longer replaced and consumer electronics are disposed of rather than repaired.

Complete Professional Tool Set:

A sales promotion created to convince newbies or relatives of newbies that one purchase will provide EVERYTHING you will need for the shop of your dreams. In basic form, it will include "fine-tooth sockets" that complete the job of rounding off bolts you started with the pliers and vise-grips. In extreme creative form, it will include seven sizes of ball-peen hammer and 16 flat-blade screwdrivers with the same-size blade but different size handles. The advanced version will include a level that isn't and a measuring tool calibrated to 32nds with 1/16-in. wide marks poorly screen-printed in a color that is hard to read in bright light.

Combination Square:

Either a precision ruler with sliding 90/45 square from a long-established precision tool manufacturer that costs $$$ or a rough-cut ruler with erratic graduations and a slipping 90/45 square from a bargain tool importer. In any case, the usefulness of this device is proportional to the user's ability to apply pressure while holding it against the work without making it unsquare in the process.

Tram (Tramming)

A fancy term used by a wannabe to "prove" that the mill appears to be cutting square since he eyeballed it last month and it was OK then. Also a term used a a truly experienced machinist to mean the mill is really OK after checking it with real test instruments.

Dial Indicator

A neat-looking mechanical device with a clock scale that proves to average people that thousandths of an inch really exist. Or a high-priced digital indicator that serves the same purpose and also needs batteries. Primarily purchased by newcomers to the mechanical hobbies when they saw it on a list of "must-haves" and did not yet know they really wanted a dial test indicator. Usually sold in a "kit" with a magnetic base and impossibly-hard-to-use adjustable arms that keep it from staying in position long enough to complete a set of readings.

Dial Test Indicator

(See Dial Indicator) A Measuring device for settling arguments about how much more precise one is than the next person. Useful for all kinds of set-up procedures on the lathe and the mill. Serves the advanced function of being able to create arguments about which brand of indicator is more accurate.


A computer controls the machining process to make the shop more productive. In a one-off hobby environment, great times can be had fighting computer problems as well as solving machining challenges. People who have never made anything, ever, will argue that nothing precise can be made without it. Old-timers who would never use it, ever, will argue that they than can eyeball thousandths without a scale (And count RPM as well.)

Vernier Scales

A right-of-passage in the learning curve of measurement. You are one-of-the-club if you can read a traditional micrometer or true vernier calipers. If you use dial calipers or digital instruments somone will accuse you of cheating.

Cylindrical Square

Bonus points for catalog reading. A great term that seems like it isn't but can be used to prove that your new hobby is just as good for esoteric knowledge as any other.

Compound Angle

A "straight and square" cut after "cleaning up" with a file.

Surface Feet Per Minute.

The correct speed of your lathe or mill after using a whole lot of math and consulting Machinery's Handbook and several other people. Usually easy for the experienced machinist to determine or easy for the beginner to ignore out of an extreme desire to get out in the shop and make chips.


Fancy name for metal cut into small pieces and deposited around the house in carpets and rugs. The true end goal of a machining session.

Mild Steel

A term used by everyone by tradition that has no true specification but sounds good to the uninitiated. Can be used to imply that you carefully spent a lot of time choosing exactly the right material for your project when you just wanted to get started on something and found an old piece of rusty shafting or angle iron under those old wheel rims you were saving for the trailer.


The ultimate metal for home machining. Cuts very nicely on the lathe and is not too expensive in the smaller sizes. Just scale up your plans to order a piece of 6-inch round bar then decide you can use aluminum AND buy a new lathe.


So I bought all these things and then I bought a tool box to put them in.

Tool Box
A box made of either metal or wood with multiple drawers in varying sizes to place all tools in when finshed with them. Unknown to the owner who would never leave a tool someplace other than the proper drawer, is a teleportation device in each drawer that moves tools all over the shop when placed in said drawer. Thus causing many hours of repeating the french lessons you picked up from others who own tool boxes. Second special effect of walking miles around the shop thus getting your daily exercise.

Pappy Frank


I can relate to that, just purchased another roll around tool box for the shop, reorganized everything, and I can not find a thing. Time to the labeler out and mark some of the drawers!

By the way the newer red tool box from Harbor Freight that is 2 pieces Top and Bottom is really nice. I only purchased the bottom as they had a real good deal on it last time I was at the store. Ball Bearing slides and build real well. Its much better than the last craftsman box I purchased. In fact I think I am going to buy another with both the top and bottom next time I get to HF.


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