Tuesday, March 8, 2011


There's nothing quite like using a good tool. Conversely, there's nothing worse than using a poorly designed or crafted tool. On the good tool side, I recently picked up two that are a joy to use. The first one is like an old friend. The second one is my new best friend.

I remember when we added the Hozan 14/15 ratcheting crank bolt wrench when I worked at Pacific Coast Cycles in Carlsbad, CA. This was at a time when all cranks were installed with either a 14mm or 15mm crank bolt, not the current 8mm hex key bolt. The Hozan was an easy to use wrench. The shape of the grip area and the length were perfect. The length was just long enough to move your knuckles away from chainring teeth waiting to take a bit out of your knuckles.

When I opened the shop, I initially was going to purchase one of these because I just liked the tool so much from my wrenching days 20 years ago. However, I didn't 'need' the tool. I already had a Park ratcheting 14/15 wrench. Well, about a year ago, the 15mm socket on that tool cracked but I kept on using only the 14mm side. About a month ago, the ratcheting mechanism of the 14mm side failed. Now, I had a good reason to step up to the plate and purchase the Hozan tool I always wanted. After over 20 years, the tool is exactly like I remembered. The handle. The smooth ratchet mechanism, the ease at removing bolts and the effortless feel of installing bolts. Some shops might not have a use for a 14/15 crank bolt wrench if all they work on is new bikes. However, I work on bikes with this size crank bolt that I use the tool on an almost daily basis.

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The other tool I recently picked up is the Efficient Velo Tools Right Arm Clamp. This replaces the Park wide range clamp that seemed to develop all kinds of play in it and made working on a bike frustrating because the bike would rock back and forth, moving with the play in the clamp mechanism. The EVT clamp isn't cheap, but after using it only once, it's totally worth the price of admission. In fact, I'm planning to purchase a second arm for the other side of my Park double sided work stand.

When the bike is clamped in the EVT clamp, it immediately has an incredible secure feeling. There's no play in the arm. It's incredibly solid. It fits into the Park receptacle much like a seat post fits into a perfectly reamed seat tube. The height of the clamp where it holds the seat post is much shorter so raising the seat post an adequate amount for the Park clamp is no longer needed. The leather covered jaws secure the bike very securely. The mechanism used to secure the clamp to the seat post is a smoothly threaded screw. There's a thrust bearing and the handle rotates effortlessly on the handle. Such a damn nice tool.

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Time to go put both tools through their paces some more.

(What's playing: KWMR)


Louis said...

That Hozan ratchet was also my favorite when I was at PCC. It just felt so right to use. My other favorites were the red Felco cable cutters and the sphincter tool for cable tips. The Phil Wood spoke machine was fun too once I was allowed to use it.

The first ship I was on after I got out of school was built in Japan in 1980. There were quite a few of the original wrenches kicking around the engine room. For whatever reason nobody else wanted to use them. They wanted to use the "better" cheap Grainger stuff. I was able to migrate them all over to my tool bench without any fuss. They made work a joy. They fit beautifully, were very comfortable on the hands, and looked like they meant business. I was really sad when I came back to the boat and found one of them ground down for some one time job.

Oh, I just remembered a couple other of my favorites: The VAR third hand tool, and the little no-brand clamp for holding the chain together before the pin or masterlink was put in.

Thanks Mike, now I'm going to have to go pay Chuck a visit (:

Gloria said...

EVT is the one that Sky was talking about. Great stuff. More people/shops should reward them for making wonderful stuff.

Now, move aside tools, let's see WHAT'S IN THE STAND!

I really like that FD clamp.

jonty said...

I to have, and love that Hozan tool.
The Japanese have a nack for making a great thing and not messing with it.
Lots of the Hozan tools look like they were designed 40-50 years ago.
Thanks for the blog.

Tim Joe Comstock said...

Your "Things I Like" posts always have a strong Krenovian flavor...good work. Have you seen "A Cabinet Maker's Notebook"?

By the way, how is Sport?

Oli Brooke-White said...

I too own the Hozan 14/15 tool and use it often. Mine is the same one I have used since 1992. I really like the look of the EVT arm as well, he said enviously...

Ari said...

I use both. The Hozan tool is a winner and I will order another for my neighbor station. The EVT clamp has saved my back since I am 6'4" tall. I absolutely recommend it.

Wally said...

Man, you write about the coolest stuff.

I've always appreciated good tools, from my early days spinning wrenches on cars and drag racing, to my days working on aircraft (where I often built my own tools), when I had my motorcycle performance shop to now, where its just fun to work on bicycles. I still love to tool shop.

Nice subject...I like a lot of the EVT tools...good stuff.

blackmountaincycles said...

TJC - have not read that. Will need to add it to the list, thanks. Sport is doing very well, thanks for asking.