How well do you know your tools?

Most of us have a collection of tools, gadgets and gizmos stashed in the garage or under the stairs – but how much do we really use them? And do we even know how?


British Gas engineers really know their tools, so we caught up with Iain Bell, 48, for a guided tour of his toolkit…

Hi Iain! What would you say are the most common tools you need on the job?

Hello. I’d have to say, apart from safety tools like my Volt Stick that tests for live electricity, it would have to be screwdrivers and spanners.

British Gas engineer

And what tools would you suggest every home should have? That are safe for a non-expert to use, of course!

A good set of quality screwdrivers, adjustable spanners and gland pliers. 

What’s the weirdest tool you own?

I’d have to say a brass clock-winding key, used to wind gas lamp clocks.

That does sound niche! What’s the most-used tool in your van?

That would be my gland pliers.

And the least?

My testing tee piece, I think.

Those gland pliers are coming up a lot. Are they your favourite tool of the trade?

Yes, I think they are!

And what else is essential? A tool you really couldn’t live without?

My radiator bleed key.

What’s the hardest tool in your kit?

Has to be my mash hammer. It’s big and strong and hard as nails!

British Gas engineer

And the biggest tool?

A 24-inch cold chisel!

What about the weirdest shaped and the funniest named?

Weirdest shaped is my basin spanner. Funniest named would be my Martindale tester, which is another type of current checker, or my Yankees. That’s a nickname for the old gland pliers!

What about parts? How many parts do you carry at any one time?

I have 500 parts in the van.

Wow. Do you ever get jealous when you see another engineer's kit?

Sometimes when I see other tradesmen’s screwdrivers. .

Megameter engineer

Which tools do British Gas engineers use, that most homeowners would be familiar with?

Screwdrivers, again.

And what are the most unknown, do you think?

That would be my gland pliers.

Great, thanks Iain!

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