You may find it challenging to determine whether you should keep working with a tool or replace it. But working with damaged equipment can cause accidents and injuries, so it’s important to pay attention to the condition of your tools. Keep reading for all the signs you need to replace your machine shop tools so that you can keep your workshop running as safely and efficiently as possible. We’ll also be covering how to keep your tools in the best condition to get the most use out of them.
When They’re Beyond Repair
Sometimes, you’ll find that your tools are so broken or worn that you can’t fix them and they’re not worth the continued maintenance. Replacing worn tools is important for workshop safety, as accidents are more likely when tools don’t work properly. Here are some of the warning signs you can look for that mean it might be time to replace your old tools, especially if multiple signs occur at once.
Decreased Efficiency or Production
It’s only natural that tools break down over time. One of the first ways that you might notice this deterioration is not through the equipment itself but through your workshop efficiency. If your tools are deteriorating and becoming more difficult to use over time, this can cause your workshop’s production to drop, possibly before you even recognize the aging equipment problem. The more time an employee has to spend to start up, realign, or just generally fight against a piece of equipment, the less time they’ll have for production.
The next step in identifying deteriorating equipment is to judge by sound. You and your employees operate around your shop machines daily, and if you notice a machine making a sound that it previously hadn’t, it’s best to stop using the equipment until you can identify the source. Any repetitive screeching, grinding, or creaking noises could be signs of damage, and your machine could need replacing. Use of equipment after you notice such noises could lead to failed projects, wasted materials, and injuries.
Visible Wear and Tear
Visible damage is one of the most concrete signs you need to replace your machine shop tools. Wear and tear are the most obvious identifiers of damage to your workshop machinery. Damage can occur to any part of the machine simply due to repeated use, but it’s often evident on the blade, handles, wires, cords, etc. This type of damage can also result from misuse, exposure to the elements, or simply the age of the machine. Damage looks different on various kinds of tools, but if you notice any of the following conditions on your machines or hand tools, it’s time to retire them:
- Bending parts
- Chipping parts
- Complete breakage
- Rust and discoloration
- Fraying power cords
- Smoke coming from the unit
You should always unplug damaged or broken machinery from a power source and mark it with proper signage. Make sure to alert your employees so that they don’t accidentally plug in and operate the tool again before you can make a proper repair or swap. Not only is it not safe to use damaged equipment, but it can also cause the condition of the machine to worsen if someone were to attempt to use it further.
The Age of Your Tools
How long you have been using certain tools has a lot of bearing on their condition. Using anything for a long enough period will cause it to wear down eventually. Even trusty old tools that have been with your shop for years will break down if you don’t take proper care of them. Deterioration in your tools is a natural process that comes with daily use—you can slow it down, but you can never eliminate it entirely.
You may also want to consider replacing and updating your tools simply because they are outdated. If you have the budget for it, replacing your old machines with new, updated models can increase production, efficiency, and ease of use, all leading to more products coming out of your workshop.
How To Make Your Tools Last Longer
Now that you understand when to replace your tools, here are a few tips for avoiding these common deterioration problems. You can make your tools last longer and get more use out of them with proper care and procedures in your shop.
Ideally, you want to inspect your shop equipment regularly and set up a schedule to do so. Routine tool inspections can help identify signs of wear and tear before it worsens to the point that you must replace or repair your tools. Keeping an eye on your equipment also helps prevent injuries by identifying inevitable wear early on in the process.
To protect tools from dust and the elements (if working in a garage or outdoor space), storing them properly is critical. A great option for traditional hand and power tools is to store them in their original packaging. A tool chest is also a great option that will keep equipment and hand tools organized. Always remember to unplug larger, stand-up machinery or power tools atop benches when they’re not in use.
Keep Your Tools Clean
Since larger pieces of equipment and machines are too big for storage, they often collect dust and workshop debris. Make sure to clean these larger machines after every use. Proper cleaning helps ensure precision in your work and slows down the long-term deterioration of your equipment. Don’t miss exhaust vents, and make sure to keep moving parts well-oiled and lubricated. A handy way to remove dust from delicate machinery and power tools is to use a can of compressed air to blow the dust out of tight, intricate spaces.
We hope this guide has helped enlighten you on the signs of when to replace your mechanical workshop machine tools. When it’s time to replace your own workshop equipment, turn to Penn Tool Co. for all your needs. Penn Tool Co. carries a wide variety of machine tools, hand tools, power tools, and more to replace your old equipment with new and improved models you can trust for years.