Excavating Hand Tools/ your must have’s.

   / Excavating Hand Tools/ your must have’s. #1  

Mud2Money

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Michigans thumb.
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Lb2202, 63’ 630 COM, MF85, MT573cps
Hi everyone, a little background info. I went from being a machinist/Cnc Tec to going out on my own getting into dirt work. I’m still fairly new considering most guys around me are 20 years plus in. I have trucks trailers etc. My lacking is on hand tools/small engine things.

My question to you guys who run your own companies. What are some of the must have hand tools and small equipment you keep in your Arsenal ? I currently rent compactors , breakers , etc. I have levels , lasers , shovels, etc. Most of my jobs end up being drainage related. From installing tile to ditches and grading you name it. I always feel like I’m missing something or maybe some betters tools to help things along. Just curious what kind of tools you guys consider a must have.

Currently I would like to step up my hammer drill so I can use a spade bit to locate utilities and pipes easier.

Open ears for me.
 
   / Excavating Hand Tools/ your must have’s. #2  
I have post spades/digging bars for encounters with rocks and the 3’-4’ wide aluminum rakes for raking & seeding jobs where a lot of hand grading/raking is to be done. I do quite a bit of erosion work, dirt work and drainage work, too. A good walk behind grass seed spreader helps.
String lines are another good thing to have. I also keep some 1-2’ re-bar pegs on the truck for running string from one point to another.
I am bidding an erosion repair job today.
 
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   / Excavating Hand Tools/ your must have’s. #3  
It all depend on your contracts to me when you need something go buy it then you will have it for the next job eventually you will have what you need but its good to be pro active like what you are doing now by asking, I would purchase a small compactor instead of constantly renting one there is potential to save some money in the long run there... usually for earth work you don't need much Hay dud said a few good a must have, I would add a wheel barrel, string level and long level, orange inverted spray paint and a inverted spray gun, long measuring tape, wood stakes, axe, pick axe, chain saw and flagging tape.
 
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   / Excavating Hand Tools/ your must have’s.
  • Thread Starter
#4  
Yeah for the frequency I use them it’s killing me to keep renting. Hay dude you gave me a good idea. I have rakes , spud bars you name as for manual hand tools. I keep the truck stocked with tape , batteries , stakes , flags , tools , levels and usually my laser. I was a long time scout and the motto be prepared is something to live by. I have a decent walk behind seeder. I didn’t consider re seeding as something I should offer for the smaller residential place but I think I will now. Normally I pass along a friends company that does hydro seed.

I have a hammer drill but I haven’t found spade bits for sds plus. Only sds max. 9 times out of 10 I’m usually trenching in thick clay. I’ve seen the hammer drill/spade but combo used in trenching and crawl space conversions. They seem to work really well and I could see the value in not spending more time and energy trying to hand dig.
 
   / Excavating Hand Tools/ your must have’s. #5  
The only thing I have to add is that I'm getting ready to start a similar business and have become fascinated by the idea of a diy hydroseeder. Saw a couple of YouTube and they look pretty easy to build. I have a bunch of seeding to do along a ditch at my farm that I'm straightening and am going to build something like this to do it.

He has a couple of follow up videos to this one:


and this one:


Finally, I concur with @haydude about the 3-4' aluminum rake. It's my favorite hand tool in the world behind my 18v cordless drill.
 
   / Excavating Hand Tools/ your must have’s. #6  
Decent measuring wheel; not those little ones real estate guys use; man hole hook; probe rod; great big channel locks (never the right tool, but usable for almost everything); phone app that stamps GPS coordinates/date/time; BaseMap/OnX app for property lines/ROW; concrete saw (they get expensive renting but thats an option); machete; sledge hammers; 4 ft level; string line; caution tape; white and pink marking paint (pink for lay out; white to "white line" for 811 locates); roll of contractors trash bags; first aid kit; fire extinguisher; Hi-Vis vest; note pad;

Edit: add in a good power inverter (not just the ones that plug into the cigarette light) and a light duty air compressor

Also; either a leaf blower or push broom; 18v battery leaf blower is fine; just something to clean up; makes things look Way more professional if you sweep/blow off stuff and pick up your trash.

Couple traffic cones

Handful of survey lathe; either to mark off a hole or to mark something/lay something out

If you can rig up a cordless battery charger; maybe carry an 18v drill, grinder, Sawzall and blower of whatever brand you like, and avoid the concrete saw till you find your self needing one atleast 1/week.
 
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   / Excavating Hand Tools/ your must have’s. #7  
Have you ever heard of a "pelican pick"?

It's originally a coal-miner's hand tool but is extremely handy/useful in excavation and gardening. Our large hardware stores ("Bunnings" is were I bought mine) sell them.

Fossickers use them too.
 
   / Excavating Hand Tools/ your must have’s. #8  
Add on to that list a can of Rain or Shine blue PVC glue for when (not if) you cut sprinkler lines.
 
   / Excavating Hand Tools/ your must have’s. #9  
Decent measuring wheel; not those little ones real estate guys use; man hole hook; probe rod; great big channel locks (never the right tool, but usable for almost everything); phone app that stamps GPS coordinates/date/time; BaseMap/OnX app for property lines/ROW; concrete saw (they get expensive renting but thats an option); machete; sledge hammers; 4 ft level; string line; caution tape; white and pink marking paint (pink for lay out; white to "white line" for 811 locates); roll of contractors trash bags; first aid kit; fire extinguisher; Hi-Vis vest; note pad;

Edit: add in a good power inverter (not just the ones that plug into the cigarette light) and a light duty air compressor

Also; either a leaf blower or push broom; 18v battery leaf blower is fine; just something to clean up; makes things look Way more professional if you sweep/blow off stuff and pick up your trash.

Couple traffic cones

Handful of survey lathe; either to mark off a hole or to mark something/lay something out

If you can rig up a cordless battery charger; maybe carry an 18v drill, grinder, Sawzall and blower of whatever brand you like, and avoid the concrete saw till you find your self needing one atleast 1/week.
Really excellent post @paulsharvey
 
   / Excavating Hand Tools/ your must have’s.
  • Thread Starter
#10  
Sounds like we all have about the same arsenal of equipment . I guess I shouldn’t feel as though I’m missing much. Out of almost all that you guys mentioned a concrete saw, blower , and power inverter are the only things I don’t have. I always have brooms etc with me for clean up and cleaning the trailer off. I would like to get a power broom especially to get rocks out of lawns. Concrete saw is on my list to purchase our local stihl shop/ rental is 7 minutes away. I know the owners and they have been very helpful. They swap out small engine rentals every year or two and sell them off. They will usually give me a dirt cheap price. I’ve gotten trash pumps , power washers , attachments etc.

One thing tool related I need is more storage. My current rig is a 04 f350 cab n chassis with a 12’ flat bed. I have tool clamps etc on the headache rack. I need some under body boxes for the small stuff like messy jugs of glue , primer , sawzall , batteries etc.
 
 
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