Tool room

Shop Spotlight: Tool Room

How does the F&S Tool Room operate?

Andy Harpst, Tool Room supervisor: In the Tool Room, I recommend, determine, and procure tools, technical equipment and safety/personal protective equipment needed to satisfy the job requirements of journeymen in all crafts and trades within F&S. I also recommend modifications to equipment and tools.  These decisions on tools and equipment are procurement-based on intensive research and knowledge involving the functions, reparability, life expectancy, and anticipated use of the tools and equipment. Often, I make recommendations for substitute items based on current tool and equipment availability to always meet customer needs. Whenever anyone asks me what I do here at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, I tell them, “I have one of the best jobs in the world, because I get paid to play with tools all day!”

Some trade-specific tools and equipment are purchased for permanent assignment to shops or individuals.  This pertains specifically to F&S staff. The Tool Room doesn’t loan/purchase tools or equipment to anyone but F&S employees.

The Tool Room also maintains a vast inventory of thousands of tools, items that would be considered more “common” rather than trade-specific. These items are loaned out to F&S staff on a daily basis and are returned to the Tool Room upon completion of a job.

What’s the most commonly used tool? Why do you think that is?

Harpst: Probably a screwdriver. Because everyone needs one to tighten or loosen a screw.

What are some rare tools you have? Why are those important?

Harpst: Probably one of the most “rare,” or unique tools I have is a battery-powered threaded rod cutter. It’s a powerful motorized tool used to cut threaded metal rods. 

What’s the most “powerful” tool you have? What’s the most “delicate” or precise?

Harpst: It’s difficult to single out one tool as the most “powerful,” because there are so many used for vastly different purposes. A jackhammer is a very powerful tool and is probably one of the most powerful hand tool here in the Tool Room. But I’d also say that our 135’ boom lift is far more powerful than anything else in the Tool Room in terms of sheer power. 

The most precise tool would be a set of jewelers, or precision screwdrivers used for tightening/loosening very, very small screws.