Wednesday, June 07, 2006

There are some tools that I recommend every mechanical engineer have. These tools should be of value whether you are in design, or manufacturing. This list is intended to be a general list of simple tools that you have ready access to. The list is not an all inclusive list of every tool that you will ever use or intended to cover specialty applications.

Electronic calipers – Whether you are designing or checking items that have been fabricated you will need to take dimensional measurements of parts. I have a set of Mitutoyo mechanical calipers. I used to think that a mechanical set was adequate. Since taking a machining course and getting the rack and pinion gummed up with chips I have decided electronic is the way to go. A six or eight inch span should be adequate for general use.

Depth micrometer – The calipers above are for measuring outside dimensions. The depth micrometer is for measuring depths of holes. If your experience is like mine these will see a lot less use. I have a 0-6” range set from Mitutoyo.

Set of allen wrenches, metric and imperial – These are used for taking things apart, adjusting relief valves, adjusting sensor setpoints, etc…

Crescent wrench – good all purpose tool for tightening or loosening bolts, taking things apart, or putting things together.

Tape measure, the longer the better – you will inevitably have to take field measurements: measure the size of a room, determine the distance between structural columns, measure the envelope of a piece of equipment.

Measuring wheel – eventually even the longest tape measure runs out, particularly when measuring building exteriors. I include this separately in addition to the tape measure because I find it not as accurate as a tape measure. I have a Lufkin measuring wheel.

Digital camera – a must for documenting hardware. Your pictures will wind up in reports or emails.

Infrared thermometer – It is very handy to measure temperature remotely. You really don’t want to put your hand on that steam trap do you? Being able to remotely measure the temperature of valves, motors, pipes is a very handy feature. Omega has a wide variety.

Surface Finish Comparator Plate– Quick do you know what the difference between an 8 rms surface or a 32 rms surface? I find it handy to refer to see what the difference in surface finish looks like. I purchased mine from MSC direct.

Multimeter – You will need to check continuity when installing instrumentation , you will want to check voltages when troubleshooting sensors.

Magnifying glass – You will need this to check small parts or fine print on drawings. After a certain age you will find this in use more and more frequently.

Brother P-touch labeller - If you do field work you will find you need to label pipes, wires, manifolds, terminal blocks. Its also handy in the office for labeling folders and notebooks.

That’s it for my list of basic tools for the mechanical engineer. Now someone out there will email me saying how could you forget a framistat for checking the zubgub. If you need a framistat then add it to your tool list.

This list is intended to be a list of general tools that you will keep in you desk for general use. This is not an all inclusive list of all the tools you will ever use.


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