Top 10 Accessories for Engineers
Phillip Keane posted on November 10, 2017 | 2570 views

It’s difficult to choose just ten essential accessories for engineers, partly because there are so many subfields of engineering. An essential item for one engineer may be completely useless for another.

So, I looked to the long-running BBC radio series, Desert Island Discs for inspiration.  In this program, guests (called “castaways”) are asked to select eight albums, one book and one luxury item to take with them to a desert island. We’ll stick with the desert island theme, but our ten items are going to be a bit more practical.

Here are the ten small-sized engineering accessories I'd want with me on a desert island.

 

10. Hammer 

Let’s start with the basics. Have you ever tried to drive a nail in with a large pebble? Or tried to open a coconut with a brick? I have a coconut tree outside my house, and I tried it once…it’s impossible.

Imagine how much easier it would have been for Tom Hanks to open a coconut with a claw hammer in Castaway. You don’t realize how useful the humble hammer is until you really need one.

 

9. Screwdriver Set

Unless you want to live in something like this, a screwdriver set is a worthwhile addition to your desert island kit.
Unless you want to live in something like this, a screwdriver set is a worthwhile addition to your desert island kit.
Imagine again that you’re Tom Hanks and some flotsam washes up on the beach. It looks like trash at first but then you notice that a lot of these larger items are fastened together with screws. If you can remove those screws and re-use them, you won’t have to lash your boat hull together with vines!

Of course, screwdrivers have many uses beyond merely driving screws. They’re certainly more versatile than a pair of ice skates.

Adapt. Improvise. Overcome!


8. MultiTool

The Leatherman Surge. Don't get stranded without it. (Image courtesy of Leatherman.)
The Leatherman Surge. Don't get stranded without it. (Image courtesy of Leatherman.)
MultiTools are the Swiss Army Knives of tools. Okay, that’s a poor analogy. They basically are Swiss Army Knives.

Leatherman and Gerber are probably the two most popular brands. To take one example, Leatherman’s Surge model contains 21 tools, including pliers, screwdrivers, wire-cutters, knives, files and a can opener.

If there is one accessory that could save your bacon in an emergency, this is it.


7. Araldite

In 1983, the British ad agency FCO Univas showcased the strength of Araldite by gluing a yellow Ford Cortina to a billboard in London. (Image courtesy of Robert Messenger.)
In 1983, the British ad agency FCO Univas showcased the strength of Araldite by gluing a yellow Ford Cortina to a billboard in London. (Image courtesy of Robert Messenger.)
Araldite is the tradename of a range of engineering and structural 2-part epoxy resins which can be used to bond pretty much anything. It’s so strong that it’s used to bond the composite sections of the Lamborghini Aventador together. On a desert island, you could strip the fibers from bamboo stalks and manufacture your own composite materials!


6. Tape Measure

(Image courtesy of Trevor Owens.)
(Image courtesy of Trevor Owens.)
Measure twice, cut once, as the old saying goes. As an engineer, you’re always going to need to measure stuff. This especially applies to situations where resources are scarce.


5. Sharpie

Write a message in a bottle. (Image courtesy of Sharpie.)
Write a message in a bottle. (Image courtesy of Sharpie.)
There’s no point in measuring things if you can’t mark them up or write your dimensions down. Get a twin-tip Sharpie to sketch your boat designs on a banana leaf!


4. Vise Grips

Also known as locking pliers, these bad boys are part vise, part pliers and part wrench. You can use them to remove sheared bolts, crush nuts (the food variety), and to clamp things together.

 

3. Angle Grinder

(Image courtesy of Makita.)
(Image courtesy of Makita.)
Precision cutting tools are nice, but in some cases, you just need some raw power. Angle grinders not only cut through metal but you can use the cutting disc to fashion new tools from debris that washes up on the beach. Don’t worry, they come in battery-powered varieties, just in case your desert island is lacking a mains electrical supply.

 

2. Laser Pointer

(Image courtesy of HIGH T3CH.)
(Image courtesy of HIGH T3CH.)
We’re not talking about your 5-dollar Christmas cracker variety laser pointer here.

Many laser pointers on the market are capable of setting fires (very useful for island life) and are particularly useful for signaling, being visible from many miles away. You could even use one for plastic welding. A high-powered laser pointer just may save your life.

 

1. Smartphone

You're doing it wrong.
You're doing it wrong.

Over a decade ago, smartphones wouldn’t have even made the list. However, the computing power and range of engineering apps available for today’s smart devices puts them right at the top.  Need to make some calculations or design some rudimentary tools? Maybe your GPS is down and you need the stars to navigate. There are apps for that.

Indeed, smartphones nowadays go far beyond mere communication devices with a whole plethora of extra hardware addons that transform your handheld device into something approaching a tricorder. You can get boroscope attachments, multimeter probes, thermal camera attachments, 3D scanners, the list goes on.

And if all else fails and you’ve got sufficient network coverage, you can always call for help.

 

So, there you have it. Did I leave anything out? 

Let us know in the comments which essential engineering accessories make your desert island list.

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