What's The Most Pointless Tool You've Ever Bought?

Illustration for article titled What's The Most Pointless Tool You've Ever Bought?
Photo: INDRANIL MUKHERJEE/AFP (Getty Images)

After I graduated high school, I came back to Michigan a few times to visit my childhood friends. One of the times I arrived to find that they needed to fill their tires up with air, but neither of them knew how to do it, so they straight up waited two months for me to come help them. And when they did, they presented me with a tire pressure gauge.

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“I think this is what we need,” they said solemnly. “We just don’t know how to read it.”

It was one of the ones that look like a pen, where the pressure causes a little stick to pop out. The only problem was, the numbers had been printed on incorrectly, like the machine had missed and only just managed to print half of one number on each line. It had not occurred to them that, perhaps, the reason they couldn’t read the gauge was because there wasn’t actually anything to read.

That’s an example of a functionally pointless tool, but we live in an era where there has to be a specialized tool for everything. Why do I need one tool to julienne my carrots and another to cube them? Why do I need a specific quesadilla maker if I can just buy a panini press with different burner fittings? Why does a baby need a food processor specifically for making baby food when a regular ol’ processor does the job?

I will admit that, stereotypically, I am more familiar with pointless kitchen gadgets than I am with tools designed for cars (less because I actually cook and more because I like to drink wine and yell at videos where people review dumb kitchen gadets), but I know there has to be a whole world of pointless car tools out there. Tell me all about ‘em.

Weekends at Jalopnik. Managing editor at A Girl's Guide to Cars. Lead IndyCar writer and assistant editor at Frontstretch. Novelist. Motorsport fanatic.

DISCUSSION

bubba-fett
Bubba Fett, Seymour-Baus,Inc.

Cheap tools. I have learned that saving money by buying a cheap tool ends up being more expensive in the long run. Cheap tools will break or fail to work, and will have to be replaced. Just get a quality tool to begin with - especially if it is one used commonly.

If possible, stay away from tools made in China, since they are usually cheap - and are cheap for a reason. Tools made in the US, are usually far superior. Brands like Estwing, Vaughn, Klein, Channellock, Wilde, Williams, Mayhew, Proto, Malco, Mag-Lite, SK, Ideal, and Pratt-Read, among others, make many (or in some cases nearly all) of their tools in the US. Some of these are not easy to find in stores, because stores generally want to move product, and cheaper tools sell faster. However, they can easily be found online. You will pay more. Sometimes a lot more, but sometimes the price difference is inconsequential.

In general, tools made in Germany are about the best you can get, but the price is high. Knipex, Wiha, Wera, and NWS are superb. Tools made in Taiwan are generally high quality, and are more affordable than US or European brands. Taiwan is also a trade partner with the US, and an ally. A lot of wrenches and socket sets that sold under various brands (including some quality US-based brands) are made in Taiwan by the same company.

Also, be careful what you buy at Harbor Freight. Some of their tools have gotten better (i.e. made in Taiwan), but their prices have also increased, nearly matching the price of US-made alternatives, making them pointless. One important thing: never trust anything from HF that could harm your or kill you it if fails.