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Automotive A.D.D. - The 10MM


E. John Thawley III
Jun 1, 2008
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Automotive A.D.D.
Rare is the day in my garage when I won't hold a 10mm socket at some point-that, or my best, most favorite combination wrench, also a 10mm.

Sure, Honda guys find plenty of use for the 12, 14, 17, and occasionally 8, or 19mm wrenches but day in and day out it's the lowly 10mm that finds its way out of the toolbox and into my hand. Since that's the one I most often use, it's also the one most often misplaced. Not lost mind you, just misplaced. The difference between the two is a matter of if, not when the tool turns up again. Lost means gone forever; misplaced simply means I can't find it when I need it, and for the 10mm, that's just about always.

Sometimes they're neither lost or misplaced-they're just inaccessible. Like the time I left one attached to the cordless drill I took to the fabricators when I went to use his lift. Or when I dropped a 10mm x 1/4-inch drive socket behind the workbench at a time when it was so loaded with parts it would have taken longer to retrieve it than to run to the store for a new one. In such situations I write a note or tape up a reminder sign not unlike that for a map to buried treasure: "10mm socket behind workbench, Aug. 2007." The system has its limits though. It's dependant upon me actually retrieving the socket before the sign winds up on the floor...or in the trash.

There are other methods for keeping the "runaways" close at hand. My favorite is planned redundancy: having more 10mm tools than I need. I buy extra 10s whenever it occurs to me. It's like buying toilet paper or beer at Costco-it's good to stock up even though there's not an immediate crisis. I've picked up quite a few extra 10s at Sears during those times I've found myself there for other reasons yet felt flush with an extra $4 in my pocket. I've got 10mm nut drivers, 10mm box-ends, 10mm deep-walls, and 10mm standards. My toolbox contains 1/4-inch drive and 3/8-inch drive versions. I think I've even got a 10mm 1/2-inch drive impact socket.

One of my 1/4-inch drive extensions became useless one day when its detent ball popped out and rolled across the garage floor. In an instant it became virtually worthless. Not exactly a crisis-I had another. So rather than trade it in for a new one, I stuck a clean 10mm socket on the end and welded it in place. Since that day it has become one of the most used tools in my garage, not to mention the least misplaced.

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Because 10mm tools are small they're nearly always affordable. Even off the mobile tool trucks that I run into at any of the race shops I frequent, a pro-quality, polished, steel jewel tool is cheap enough that I can justify the expense. Those purchases create a surplus of cheaper versions that come with Christmas gift sets, sale assortments, and garage sale items that I just couldn't see not giving a quarter for. These inferior 10s-as they could be called-are not the ones to use. They are the ones to lend out. In the center of my bottom box's weirdo deep drawer lay the junk tools. They're too good to throw away but not nearly good enough to attempt using. Whenever anyone needs to borrow a tool, that's the go-to drawer. If it never makes it back, then the quality of the gene pool has been raised in two garages at once. The lendee gets a tool he needed and the lender rids himself of one that might be mistaken as useful. It's a win-win in the Darwinian selection process that is my garage.
- E. John Thawley III

By E. John Thawley III
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