”Hi – my name is Phil, and I’m a tool addict.” It doesn’t matter whether it’s a relatively mundane hand tool like a framing hammer, a handy cordless oscillating multi tool or finish nailer, or a clever update to an old standard, like the Centipede sawhorse. If it’s well made, and performs its intended function well, I WANT IT!! Because of this, I’ve amassed a pretty fair assortment of tools. I occasionally loan some of those tools out, and I occasionally don’t get those tools back. I generally don’t discover this unhappy circumstance until the next time I want to use said tool. Since I have a memory like a steel sieve, I usually have no recollection who borrowed the damn thing. This leaves me having to find a workaround, and eventually buying a new one. The Tool Safe app is aimed at helping those of us with generous natures and minuscule attention spans to retrieve those wandering tools – or at least to know who to blame.
Between my neighbor Steve and I, we have pretty much any tool an average project could require. I have the framing nailers, he has the tile saw. I have the chainsaws, he has the flooring nailer. You get the idea. We have a most excellent symbiotic tool relationship, and we are diligent about returning the tools we borrow. As a bonus, we generally share a beer or two while discussing how those tools were used.
From time to time, though, I get a call from some other friend, that goes something like “Hey, buddy! Mind if I borrow your chop saw? And your impact driver? Oh, yeah, and your multitool? And could you drop them off, since you have a truck?” This will usually cause me to utter some words from my not-suitable-for-children vocabulary. Being a slow learner, though, if the person making the request is a good friend, and hasn’t screwed me over recently (as far as I can remember), I’ll usually comply.
Since I’ve never had any system to track where my tools are, much less what tools I own, it’s all a crap shoot as to when – or if – I get them back. Most of the time I do, but there have been a few that got “mine nowed” by whoever borrowed them, never to be seen again. Since most of these tools ain’t cheap, and my memory is definitely not improving, I decided it’s time to come up with a Tool Retention Strategy. I recently took a step in that direction, when I bit the bullet and invested a whopping 99¢, and downloaded the Tool Safe app from the iTunes App Store.
Making A List, Checking It Twice
The Tool Safe app was a quick download, and it installed with no problems. Tool Safe is a basic app designed to do one very useful thing: Keep track of your tools. No multilevel menus, obscure icons, and most importantly, no pop-up ads! When you download the app and open it, there are two example tools listed. You can easily edit or delete them, and start adding your own tools by touching “Add Tool.”
Each tool has its own little page, with fields where you can enter the manufacturer of the tool, along with its name (jigsaw, table saw, 18V drill driver, etc.), model, serial number and purchase date. You can also take a picture of the tool, or choose one from your phone’s library, which will appear at the bottom of the page, and in the listing of all tools.
The last three fields on each tool’s page are the cure for the Feeble-minded Tool Lender (that would be ME). You can enter the name and phone number of the person to whom you loaned the tool, along with the date it was loaned. If, after a reasonable period of time, say twenty minutes, the tool has not been returned, there are buttons you can press to call the transgressor or send them a text message. If you choose the “text” function, it even composes the text for you: “Hey, do you still have my (name of tool)?” Pretty slick! If you feel the message isn’t quite threatening enough, you can modify it before sending.
There is also an EMAIL button. Choosing the email function populates the email with all the information on the tool page, including the photo. Having all this info assembled is an excellent idea, and not only for your own use. In the event you have to file a police or insurance report, it will save you a lot of time and aggravation. I had several tools, including some expensive ones like a compound sliding miter saw, stolen from a job site once. Since I had no serial numbers for anything, and couldn’t initially remember some of the tools that were there, I came up way short on the insurance reimbursement. Having the Tool Safe app would have allowed me to browse through the list, refreshing my memory as to what else was missing, while documenting my ownership through serial numbers and photos.
Got At Least A Buck’s Worth Of Tools? Get The Tool Safe App
The Tool Safe app is new – this is version 1.0. The basic app is great, very simple and useful, but…if the author is looking for suggestions for improvements for version 1.1, these would be mine, all very minor. (The first suggestion? Fix the spelling for “Keep” on the closing screen!)
It would be nice to have the first letter automatically capitalized when you click on a field to enter information. While it’s not a huge deal, it would also be helpful to be able to have two pics per tool, so you could take a picture of the serial number or some accessories. One other picture-related comment: When you are on the screen for a particular tool, if you click on the existing picture of the tool, rather than enlarging it, the Tool Safe app prompts you to either take a new picture or choose one from the library. The only way to cancel is to choose one or the other, and then cancel the operation.
When you display your list of tools, it shows the name of the manufacturer, and the tool name you gave it, for example “DeWalt 16 ga. nailer.” This is fine, but it lists the tools in the order they were entered into the app. It would be handy for those with large collections of tools for the list to be sorted alphabetically. Next request: If the app could “learn” entries, I wouldn’t have to try to type “Milwaukee” ten times with my fat fingers.
The ability of the Tool Safe app to email the tool info is great. A nice upgrade to that would be the ability to email the entire tool list at once, rather than one at a time. This would be a huge time saver if you ever DID have to file an insurance claim. I am totally tech illiterate, and have no idea how tough it would be to make any of these improvements, I’m just tossing ‘em out there. Like I said, it’s a basic app, it does its job, and for 99¢ it’s hard to complain!
I really like the Tool Safe app. I’ve started loading my tools onto it, and will continue doing several a day until I have them all listed. I have a fair bit invested in my tools, and having a complete list of them is something I’ve been meaning to get around to…for about the last three decades. With the Tool Safe app, it will be relatively painless, and I’ll have pictures to boot!
If you have tools you’re fond of, and you have an iPhone or iPad, cough up a buck and download the Tool Safe app. Hopefully an Android version will be forthcoming; we’ll keep you posted.