Dear Colleagues,

I was wondering whether our marketing manager has limited faith in my abilities as an engineering professional as she dropped a neat booklet entitled The Pocket Guide to Nuts and Bolts (by Steve Ettlinger) on my desk. She assures me this is not the case.

The booklet is chock full of useful information. Although, I would suggest mainly common sense (although as another friend of mine remarked darkly after a particularly bad design decision for a mineral processing plant yesterday: Common sense is not so common around here).

Some of the tips are great:

Hammers of ~450g (16oz) are good for most carpentry work but ~570g (20 oz) are best for driving long nails into wood. Nothing is more frustrating than having insufficient momentum for a hammer. Ensure you go for a hammer with chamfered edges to avoid the head chipping. Try to use your wrist rather than your arm when hammering nails in.

Crowbars (“Wrecking bars”)
Ensure you always stand on something firm when putting all your weight onto a crowbar in levering something. Otherwise, when the crowbar suddenly comes free, you will fall (sometimes badly).

Always select a good quality screwdriver with a tip that fits the screw head snugly. Otherwise you will damage the screw head (and probably the screwdriver eventually).
Avoid cheap and nasty screwdrivers – get ones with bigger and softer handles.

With stubby screwdrivers, try and get a large handle to grip properly.

Electric Drills as Screwdrivers
When using electric drills as screwdrivers, use Phillips (or star) head screws. The drill driver is less likely to slip out of the slot. Screws can be easier to drive in if you put a little lubricating compound on them. Do not use water-based soap as it may cause rust later.

Long-nose pliers
Obviously, don’t try and cut live wires with pliers. Check and cross check whether there is a dangerous voltage on the wires. Remember that most plastic coated handles aren’t necessarily insulated. In cutting anything thicker than a wire; use a bolt cutter.

This comment from De la Lastra's Corollary is so true (well; at least for me):
After an access cover has been secured by 16 hold-down screws, it will be discovered that the gasket has been omitted.

Yours in engineering learning,


The Engineering Institute of Technology (EIT) is dedicated to ensuring our students receive a world-class education and gain skills they can immediately implement in the workplace upon graduation. Our staff members uphold our ethos of honesty and integrity, and we stand by our word because it is our bond. Our students are also expected to carry this attitude throughout their time at our institute, and into their careers.