Applied Minimalism in Your Tool Bag

By Kurt Benedict

When I go into a site, I have several things on my mind. “What’s wrong with the machine,” to start. Next, I am hoping to have all of the parts needed to fix the machine. One question not on my mind is whether I have the tools to complete the job. I have worked very hard to avoid this simple question. At the same time, I have worked very hard to keep my tool bag as small as possible for many reasons. Let’s see if I can persuade you with my reasoning.

First is a bit of a selfish reason, I simply don’t want to carry a heavy bag. If you like the workout of carrying around a 25-pound bag, you’re a stronger tech than me. In all seriousness, If I have to walk around a major metropolitan area, I would rather carry a 5-pound bag. Who wants to spend 20 minutes finding parking only to schlep around a heavy bag of tools? You could shed some weight and then have more capacity for parts, that way you only make one trip to and from the customer’s site.

The second reason that I strive for minimalism in my tool bag is in consideration of the Baristas. If I can keep myself confined to one small area on the counter, I’l stay out of their way. Plus, I hear all the time how greatly it is appreciated that the store is allowed to keep their flow. Another plus is if your bag is on the counter with you, it’s not getting kicked and being coated with the debris of wonderful café delicacies.

Hopefully I have you thinking about shedding some of those big clunkers in your bags. One of my favorite items is Knipex Pliers, I personally carry a set of 7-inch cobra jaws and a set of 7-inch flat jaws. I also carry a 4-inch flat jaw.

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The beauty of carrying these three items is I shed all adjustable Crescent wrenches (aka: bolt strippers). Also, I no longer have a need for traditional tongue-and-groove pliers. I can leave my clunky pipe wrench in the van for actual plumbing work. My wide variety of wrenches now sits in my toolbox at home collecting dust or waiting for heavy engine work on my old truck. Just try a set, they won’t tell your other tools. 

Next, I carry a Bahco mini ratchet set for day to day repairs. 

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Team this up with a ¼ ratchet full size, a 4-inch extension and a ¼ hand driver and there is whole other list of tools I’m shedding, screwdrivers(plural), Torx Drivers(plural) and a large set of sockets. Let’s be honest, most machines don’t need above a 13 mm unless you are rebuilding it. Plus, you can still keep all of it in your van for those bigger jobs.

Add in a few other small items, 4-inch diagonal cutters, a brush, a good multi-meter, maybe a machine specific tool or two; and it all will fit into an electrician’s pouch. Easy to carry, all will pass through TSA for traveling or those pesky airport repairs, and your customers appreciate it too.

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