Tool misuse story isn't dull

Paul V. Arnold, Noria Corporation

In the Reliability Forum department of Reliable Plant magazine, suppliers provide their insights to a question posed by editor Paul V. Arnold. This issue, the call went out to manufacturers of hand tools. They were asked: “End-users frequently misuse hand tools for tasks they weren’t designed to perform. What is your favorite story about improper tool usage (a bad decision and its outcome)?”


The best reply came from Ed Liss, the marketing manager for distribution at Snapon Industrial. Here is Ed’s story:


“I’ve found that most hand tool failures are actually caused by misuse of the tool, usually for one of two reasons. Either the user is in a hurry and doesn’t want to take the time to go get the right tool, or that person simply doesn’t own the right tool. My all-time favorite broken tool story, however, involves another reason: intentional breakage.


“I started my career with Snap-on on a tool truck, and I had a very good customer named Nelson who always managed to push the envelope on our very generous warranty policy. I walked into his shop late one afternoon and he told me he wanted warranty replacement on a pair of diagonal cutters because they were dull. At the time, we offered a sharpening service for dull cutters, but Nelson insisted on a new pair of pliers. When I politely declined, he asked me what I would do if they were broken. I told him that we would gladly replace them with a new pair. Without hesitation, Nelson clamped the pliers into his bench vise and yanked on the handle. I heard a loud snap, and then the yelling started. The pliers were still in one piece, but his vise was not. The entire movable jaw had broken in half! He was like Popeye after downing a can of spinach. Smoke was pouring out of his ears and his face was an ugly shade of crimson. It probably didn’t help when I told him I would be glad to sell him a new vise, and that I had one on my truck.


“He quickly wrote me a check for his weekly payment, muttering loudly. I left rather abruptly, and we never discussed the incident again.”


For more information from Snap-on Industrial, visit www.snapon.com.

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