What to do with that tool you didn’t end up needing?

David S.
By David S. Wallens
Oct 18, 2022 | Tool, Discussion

Let’s say that you bought a tool for an upcoming job–a tool you have gone your entire life without needing.

Then, to your surprise, the tool wasn’t required for that job.

Do you keep the tool or return it?

Discuss.

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Tyler H
Tyler H GRM+ Memberand UberDork
10/18/22 10:49 a.m.

I keep it, then I loan it out, then when I need it again I rebuy it.

Noddaz
Noddaz GRM+ Memberand PowerDork
10/18/22 10:51 a.m.
Tyler H said:

I keep it, then I loan it out, then when I need it again I rebuy it.

this!

BTW, if you keep the tool, you will never need it.  But once you get rid of it....

wspohn
wspohn SuperDork
10/18/22 11:06 a.m.
Noddaz said:
BTW, if you keep the tool, you will never need it.  But once you get rid of it....

 

That has always been my theory.  Every time I had a parts issue on long trips, when I returned home I bought a replacement part and stowed it in the boot.  Ended up driving around with a bunch of parts (head gasket, ignition, water pump) but the Car Gods knew what I had back there and I never again experienced a failure of anything I had a spare for.

thedoc
thedoc GRM+ Memberand HalfDork
10/18/22 1:27 p.m.

If you thought you needed it once, then didn't, you will surely need it again.  Keep it.

dculberson
dculberson MegaDork
10/18/22 2:43 p.m.

I always keep tools. That has lead to a lot of tools I don't use, and several cabinets full of tools, but it also means the number of times I have to stop working to go buy a tool has gradually reduced to nearly zero.

Sparkie
Sparkie New Reader
10/18/22 2:45 p.m.

It would depend solely on the cost of the tool to me. If it's a $10-20 tool, I won't think twice about keeping it, but if it's up in the $50+ range I'll probably return it, unless it's something BMW specific that i might need again for one of my other cars...

Toyman!
Toyman! GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
10/18/22 3:24 p.m.

I keep it and add it to my box of toys. 

Then I'll loan it out, but I require your full name, address, ss number, and the name and location of your eldest child or favorite car. (Not really)

I have a 4' wide x 6' tall shelf full of oddball tools bought for a purpose. I even keep the oddball tools that I don't buy. Most of them get used. I even have a Swench 750 that came with SanFord. 

 

Tom1200
Tom1200 UberDork
10/18/22 3:44 p.m.

If it wasn't really expensive I'll keep it around.

CrustyRedXpress
CrustyRedXpress GRM+ Memberand Dork
10/18/22 4:08 p.m.

In reply to Toyman! :

The Swench is pretty cool. Whats up with Sanford these days?

CrustyRedXpress
CrustyRedXpress GRM+ Memberand Dork
10/18/22 4:12 p.m.

I got a golden HF Icon ratchet for father's day and I love it. 

Not sure if it's destined for occasional use or as a tool bench trophy.

JahjahSQC
JahjahSQC New Reader
10/18/22 4:33 p.m.

Any job I do where I need to buy a tool typically already has the cost of the tool added to the cost in my head. So, If I end up not needing it, it's not a big deal.

Most likely I'll keep the tool & then when someone else needs it later on, I'll have made a friend.

Toyman!
Toyman! GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
10/18/22 5:14 p.m.

In reply to CrustyRedXpress :

Still languishing behind the shop. He's coming out in the next few weekends and some decisions will be made. 

Floating Doc (Forum Supporter)
Floating Doc (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand UltimaDork
10/18/22 5:23 p.m.
Toyman! said:

In reply to CrustyRedXpress :

Still languishing behind the shop. He's coming out in the next few weekends and some decisions will be made. 

I'm a member of the Sanford fan club. Please keep us posted. 
As for the original question, first I consider whether I can see actually ever needing the tool. Cost is the next factor. 

Curtis73 (Forum Supporter)
Curtis73 (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
10/18/22 7:42 p.m.

I almost always keep it.  Even if it's a uni-tasker.  Tools I have never used (yet) 

Body hammer set
HVLP and detail gun which I've had for probably 20 years, and I plan on using it in about a month
chain-style pipe cutter
complete Helicoil kit with taps, assorted coils, and installation tool
LS harmonic balancer installing tool (which will get used on the LQ9/LS6 hybrid one of these days)

Probably a dozen others.  I just like knowing that if I ever did need them, they're on hand for a quick repair instead of having to order them.  Most of it is stuff I picked up at auction sales, yard sales, or swap meets for cheap.

jeffr586
jeffr586
10/18/22 7:54 p.m.

My wife and I have been in our house for 21 years... bought it brand new and every paycheck I buy new tools. Why??? Because I hate going to the store in the middle of a project. It takes up time and quite frankly pisses me off. So now I have almost run out of tools to buy but when I end up in the store I always see something I don't have. So my answer is I am keeping it unless it costs more than 150 bucks and even then I might still keep it. Just buy new tool boxes ...LOL!!!

jeffr586
jeffr586 New Reader
10/18/22 7:54 p.m.

My wife and I have been in our house for 21 years... bought it brand new and every paycheck I buy new tools. Why??? Because I hate going to the store in the middle of a project. It takes up time and quite frankly pisses me off. So now I have almost run out of tools to buy but when I end up in the store I always see something I don't have. So my answer is I am keeping it unless it costs more than 150 bucks and even then I might still keep it. Just buy new tool boxes ...LOL!!!

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
10/18/22 8:01 p.m.

So, the story behind this post.

I was getting my old BMX bike ready for Radwood. 

One last thing on the to-do list: reinstall the original rear brakes. I no longer had the original brake cable, so I ordered a suitable replacement, a Dia-Compe cable said to be for the rear of a BMX bike.

Of course it will be too long, I told myself. Since I didn't have any cable cutters, figured I should (finally) order some. Not sure how I went this long without having them.

Anyway, I went to install the cable, the clippers at the ready.

The cable–both the inner and the outer housing–fit perfectly. Not one millimeter too long, not one millimeter too short. 

Woody (Forum Supportum)
Woody (Forum Supportum) GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
10/18/22 8:53 p.m.

Never discount that magical feeling you get at 5:30 on a Sunday afternoon when you remember you have exactly the right tool that will make your evening go a whole lot easier. 

kb58
kb58 UltraDork
10/18/22 11:40 p.m.

Like always, it entirely depends on one's situation. Because of that, articles like this are... well... just content.

But since I'm here, I want to make sure we're talking about a tool that was never used in the first place, not used once and then possibly returned. The latter is mighty uncool... and should forefit major man points.

 

te72
te72 HalfDork
10/19/22 2:26 a.m.

I regret buying parts I didn't need (looking at you, Carillo 1jz rods...) for the intended use of the project, but I can't say I've ever regretted buying tools.

914Driver
914Driver GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
10/19/22 7:56 a.m.

Like the Saab 900 fuel pump removal tool or some specialty BMW stuff, a real GRMer will think his way around them.  That kit however looks like a universal I can do anything kit David.  Return it if you need the money - some of these crazy tools can be rented.

914Driver
914Driver GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
10/19/22 7:57 a.m.

Like the Saab 900 fuel pump removal tool or some specialty BMW stuff, a real GRMer will think his way around them.  That kit however looks like a universal I can do anything kit David.  Return it if you need the money - some of these crazy tools can be rented.

Nockenwelle
Nockenwelle New Reader
10/19/22 10:27 a.m.

jeffr586 said: "Because I hate going to the store in the middle of a project. It takes up time and quite frankly pisses me off."

Woody said: "Never discount that magical feeling you get at 5:30 on a Sunday afternoon when you remember you have exactly the right tool that will make your evening go a whole lot easier."

These two nuggets of truth are flip sides of the same coin. Breaking out a special or unusual or even really nice tool to do the job it was made for is deeply satisfying. I've never regretted putting more options in the toolbox, but I try to avoid outright duplicates.

Ian F (Forum Supporter)
Ian F (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
10/19/22 10:50 a.m.

In reply to David S. Wallens :

I have some bike tools in my box that are about 40 years old. They were some of the first tools I ever bought. BMX bike freewheel tools.  They are still in my box. Next to zero chance I'll ever use it again, but it's not going anywhere.

When thetoolwarehouse was in business, I would often browse that site and randomly buy a tool that looked like it might have been useful on a project I had previously done. Most automotive specialty tools are like that - can you make do without it? Probably. Would the tool make the task go a lot easier/faster?  Probably as well. When I have limited time to wrench on projects, a special tool that speeds up a task is worth it to me.

mtn
mtn MegaDork
10/19/22 10:59 a.m.

Almost always keep it. There is something about holding a tool that makes me happy...

 

Seriously though, I like having tools. Unless it is overly expensive, I'm keeping it. 

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
10/19/22 4:17 p.m.

In reply to Ian F (Forum Supporter) :

Funny you mention a freewheel puller, and I think I'm going to need one soon.

Will I ever need it again? Good question. (Plus, my main bike has a cassette hub.)

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