Everyone knows a farm needs a tractor (or maybe an ATV). And it doesn’t take a tool expert to know that basic hand tools (shovels, rakes, etc.) are practically a prerequisite for living on a farm.
But the list of tools needed to thoroughly flesh out a farm toolbox goes on and on, encompassing many obscure (but no less useful) tools you’re bound to need at one time or another. Sometimes you don’t even realize you need them until you read about them and think, “Oh, that would be useful.”
With this in mind, let me introduce you to three tools that are less obvious than shovels and rakes, but nevertheless abundantly useful in their own underrated ways.
1. Snap Ring Pliers
Snap ring pliers might be the handiest tool you’ve never heard of, at least in very specific circumstances. Snap ring pliers aren’t as versatile as regular pliers, but for two jobs—installing and removing snap rings—they’re lifesavers.
Snap rings are finicky little rings that snap into position and hold things together. For example, the front wheels on my garden tractor are held in place with snap rings. Removing a snap ring requires inserting a pair of small prongs into two small holes, and then widening or narrowing the distance between the prongs to expand or contract the snap ring.
This is where the snap ring pliers come into play, providing and controlling the necessary prongs.
Installing or removing a snap ring is almost impossible without snap ring pliers. Believe me, I’ve tried. It’s possible you’ve encountered snap rings without realizing there’s a special tool for handling them. So if I’ve opened your mind to the possibilities … you’re welcome.
Enjoy the time you’ll save by handling snap rings with the right tool.
2. Bungee Cords
Bungee cords are versatile. And awesome. And I have dozens in various lengths around my farm, because there are so many ways to put these essential farm tools to use.
A typical bungee cord is an elastic band or rope with a hook on either end. Depending on their length, they can hold down tarps, or tie down wagonloads of brush, or keep hay bales from falling off a sled in winter, or bind an elevated garden bed to a fence so it won’t blow over in the wind. I’ve used bungee cords in all these ways and more.
You never know when bungee cords might come in handy, so buy a mixed set of various lengths and keep them around. You might be surprised how often you find yourself using them.
3. Digging Bar
The definition of a digging bar can be a bit vague, but it’s basically a heavy steel bar measuring 5 to 6 feet long with something useful at each end. Maybe that’s a wedge, or a chisel, or a tapered point, or a flat circle used for tamping.
In any case, a digging bar is useful for far more than just digging. True, I’ve put them to good use as levers to pry large rocks out of the ground when installing fence posts or planting trees. But I actually use my digging bars far more often in winter. They’re heavy enough to break up hard ice layers, and the tamping end makes an effective battering ram for bursting open frozen doors. It might sound extreme, but when cold nights follow warm days, a few blows from a digging bar can be the quickest way to get doors unstuck.
So there you have it. Snap ring pliers are perfect for one task, bungee cords are ideal for many, and digging bars are actually winter weather wonders. Three tools, many uses, all worth having around.