A shop is as good as the people
who work in it, of course. And people can usually do better work with the
Here's a quick pictorial visit
to our ProKeys shop - and some of the useful
tools that we just can't do without.
I'll admit it - I must be
somehow related to Tim Allen. There's nothing like having a shop
overflowing with every variation of every tool that you can imagine. When
you look at all the tools, it's kind of like imagining a brand new Corvette and
a Mercedes parked there.
click picture for
Included here are quite a
few of our little treasures. After using some of these tools for 20+
years, I've grown to really love them. I wouldn't take $200 for my
favorite little bent nose plier! Almost all of our tools are Xcelite, and
they've stood up remarkably well for a long, long time. The Makitas and
cordless screwdrivers have probably gone through $500 worth of batteries through
the years. They get used! For very precise measurements, we
have digital calipers and some good stainless rulers, too.
Another really great tool is the Dremel. Besides use as a hand held, we have a drill press fixture, router
table, and a router base fixture, too. An old Kurzweil sustain pedal
volunteered to work as a foot switch.
Our Shopsmith is a really neat tool - and
it's variable speed, so it allows a lot of flexibility for polishing, wire
wheel, drilling, and all the other purposes. Besides that, it's a table
saw, drill press, wood lathe, belt sander, disc sander, and an array of other
Soldering Stations: I've been
using Wellers for a long time. The cables from the transformer to the
pencils were kind of short, so we replaced them with some new 6' cables. We
have dozens of tips in various shapes, sizes, and heat configurations.
This is another tool that we just can't
live without. It tilts, rotates, and swivels, and has a holder which is
perfect for working on printed circuit boards. We also have another small
vise - I haven't got a clue who makes it, but it gets plenty of use.
A shop without air is like a shop
without air! This is our 2nd compressor, we also have a smaller 4 HP, 25
gallon portable roll around. The blue one is 6 HP, 60 gallons, and it does
not move. It weighs about 400 lbs., and I'm not as crazy as some
people think. In the quest for dry air, we ran about 100' of PVC pipe
through the attic with gravity traps for water. We use air with several
different tools, including spray guns, airbrushes, grinder, cut off tool,
stapler, nailer, and a sand blaster. Through the years, we've really been
amazed at how versatile compressed air can be. One of our newer additions
is the Porter Cable HVLP gravity feed spray gun. It's really wonderful to
use, and sprays very accurately. We recently added Iwata Eclipse and
Badger Crescendo airbrushes to the collection, too.
Meters: Our Fluke Model 85 is a real versatile
DMM which I've used for a long time, and been very satisfied with. It
reads Hz as well as all the regular functions. Also shown are an
inexpensive ECG capacitance meter and a B+K 3001 signal oscillator. We now
have a new Fluke 87 Series III, too, which reads true RMS voltage.
A 1970s kind of scope, the
465 works perfectly for audio type work, which, of course, includes Leslies and
Hammonds. We also have a pretty fair collection of hookups, including Tek
P6106 and P6134C probes.
539C Tube Tester:
Not too much
needs to be said about this tube tester. It's one of the best in
the world. We're able to test and grade for shorts, heater-cathode
leakage, transconductance, plate current, and several forms of gas
leakage. Future plans for this tester include having a new case made to
When working on Hammonds and
Leslies, it doesn't take very long to collect thousands of little parts and
pieces, so a good storage location really helps. We've got 2 of those
great 60 drawer resistor boxes where the labels fall off all over the floor
about every 6 months. And about 100 of those super neat AkroBins which not
only hold billions of little parts, but they also get so full of dust that
you're not exactly sure what parts are in 'em anyway. For our electronics
stuff, we use some Plano tackle boxes in place of toolboxes, and they serve our
purposes just fine. BUT - we also have the "good ol' boy"
model - that 800 lb., two story, roll around, fire engine red monster on 2 ton,
ball bearing wheels. It lives in the compressor room, and it never comes
out, either. We looked at the $32,000 "Super-Pro" model
toolboxes, and realized that they could serve not only as a tool box and
a dressing room, but they were nearly big enough to live in
- just like a small apartment.
Honesty: We're not always as
organized as it might seem.