Definitions - for anyone spending ay time in the garage or workshop this winter

DRILL PRESS: A tall upright machine useful for suddenly snatching flat metal pieces out of your hands so that it smacks you in the chest and flings your beer across the room, splattering it against that freshly painted wing you’ve just painted.

WIRE WHEEL: Cleans paint off bolts and then throws them somewhere under the workbench with the speed of light. Also removes fingerprint whorls and hard-earned guitar calluses in about the time it takes you to say,…“Ouch…”

ELECTRIC HAND DRILL: Normally used for spinning pop rivets in their holes until you die of old age.

PLIERS: Used to round off bolt heads.

HACKSAW: One of a family of cutting tools built on the Ouija board principle. It transforms human energy into a crooked, unpredictable motion, and the more you attempt to influence its course, the more dismal your future becomes.

MOLE-GRIPS: Used to round off bolt heads. If nothing else is available, they can also be used to transfer intense welding heat to the palm of your hand.

OXYACETYLENE TORCH: Used almost entirely for lighting various flammable objects in your workshop. Also handy for igniting the grease inside the wheel hub you want the bearing out of.

WHITWORTH SOCKETS: Once used for working on older cars and motorcycles, they are now used mainly for impersonating that 9/16 or 1/2 socket you’ve been searching for the last 15 minutes.

HYDRAULIC FLOOR JACK: Used for lowering a Lotus to the ground after you have installed your new brake pads, trapping the jack handle firmly under the sill.

EIGHT-FOOT LONG DOUGLAS FIR 2X4: Used for levering a Lotus upward off a hydraulic jack handle.

TWEEZERS: A tool for removing wood splinters.

PHONE: Tool for calling your neighbour to see if he has an other hydraulic floor jack.

SNAP-ON GASKET SCRAPER: Theoretically useful as a sandwich tool for spreading mayonnaise; used mainly for getting dog **** off your boots.

STUD EXTRACTOR: A tool ten times harder than any known drill bit that snaps off in bolt holes you couldn’t use anyway.

TWO-TON ENGINE HOIST: A tool for testing the tensile strength on everything you forgot to disconnect.

CRAFTSMAN 1/2 x 16-INCH SCREWDRIVER: A large prybar that inexplicably has an accurately machined screwdriver tip on the end opposite the handle.

METAL SNIPS: See hacksaw.

WORK LIGHT: The home mechanic’s own tanning booth. it is a good source of vitamin D, “the sunshine vitamin,” which is not otherwise found under cars at night. Health benefits aside, it’s main purpose is to consume 40-watt light bulbs at about the same rate that 105-mm howitzer shells might be used during, say, the first few hours of the Battle of the Bulge. More often dark than light, it’s name is somewhat misleading.

PHILLIPS SCREWDRIVER: Normally used to stab the lids of old-style paper-and-tin oil cans and splash oil on your shirt; but can also be used, as the name implies, to strip out Phillips screw heads.

AIR COMPRESSOR: A machine that takes energy produced in an oil-burning power plant 200 miles away and transforms it into compressed air that travels by hose to a Pneumatic impact wrench that grips rusty bolts last over tightened 58 years ago by someone B****D, and neatly rounds off their heads.

PRY BAR: A tool used to crumple the metal, surrounding that clip or bracket you needed to remove in order to replace a part.

HOSE CUTTER: A tool used to cut hoses too short for their intended purpose.

HAMMER: Originally employed as a weapon of war, the hammer nowadays is used as a kind of divining rod to locate the most expensive parts not far from the object you are trying to hit.

MECHANIC’S KNIFE: Used to open and slice through the contents of cardboard boxes delivered to your front door; works particularly well on contents such as new seat pads, vinyl records, liquids in plastic bottles, magazines, refund cheques, and rubber or plastic parts.

F*** IT TOOL: Any handy tool that you grab and throw across the garage while yelling “F*** IT” at the top of your lungs.


I had a really crap socket ratchet which would randomly grab then slip.

I remember screaming C*************nt and hoying it as hard as I could towards the river near where we lived. It stuck straight in the mud on the opposite bank and the chuffer is still there!

Excellent, and sadly too close to the truth for comfort.