Make sure the compressor's output matches the pounds-per-square-inch requirements of the tool to be used. Check and change the oil regularly. After a day of use, empty the air tanks and drain any water build-up inside the tank through the drain tap at the bottom of the tank.
To keep your retracting tape measure working smoothly wipe the metal blade with a small dab of car wax, then wipe with a clean cloth. This will help protect the blade's finish and keep it retracting smoothly.
Having a trigger-type oil-can close to your drill press is handy when drilling metal. To make oiling more convenient, find a container that will hold an oil-can that you have available. Then cut two small slits in the upper part to accept a worm-gear hose clamp. Slip the clamp strip into one of the holes and out the other. Then wrap the hose clamp around the post of your drill press, about 5 in. down from the upper assembly. Drop the oil-can into the holder. From then on oil will always be just an arm's reach away.
Ratchets have a square shaft that holds the socket. The size of this shaft determines the drive size. Heavy-duty automotive work generally requires the strength of a 1/2-in. drive tool which has a longer, thicker handle to provide maximum leverage. A 3/8-in. ratchet is a good all-round size. 1/4-in. ratchets are smaller and ideal for lighter tasks in tighter work areas. Drive adaptors are available that convert sockets from one drive size to another. You should avoid using a small socket on a 1/2-in. drive ratchet, because the excess torque can damage the smaller tool.
Don't rely on eyeball measurements alone as sight lines can often be deceiving. Take a few seconds and use a measuring tape or level to be sure.
If you need to cut a bolt to proper length, first thread the nut on, past the cut mark. After cutting, file- off sharp edges, then back the nut off to clean up the threads. To clean up rusted or damaged threads on a bolt you want to salvage, cut a slot through the side of the right-size nut. Clamp the nut halfway into a vise with the slot down, then run the bolt into the nut. For more cleaning action, tighten up the vise on the nut.
A piece of pipe insulation wrapped around a screwdriver handle will give you a better grip when you need more torque, or when the handle is just plain slippery.
On jobs where you don't want to be held up, like felling trees away from home, consider having two chainsaws available. Make sure both are in working order before starting. Then if one needs its chain sharpened, you can use the second one to finish the job. By using two saws any maintenance can be done between, rather than during, the project. Also consider doubling up on other small tools, like pliers and screwdrivers, so they can be kept in different areas to cut down on running from house to garage.
If you have a ladder you carry around from project to project, it often takes a couple of tries to find the right spot to grab it so it balances in a horizontal position. To solve this trial-and-error handling, do this: Grab one side and adjust your hand until the ladder balances. Then put a dab of bright paint or tape on that spot. Then you will always know exactly where to grab the ladder to move it.
Ask any pro, they will tell you that the key to a great project is not only having the right tool for the right job, it's also taking advantage of the best tool features available. New tools, such as those shown here, offer dozens of new ways to power up for your next project, large or small.