Making Tools from Scratch

Tools for specific needs can be expensive or hard to come by in some places in Africa. It could be something as simple as a certain sized wrench that is needed to remove a particular bolt.

I decided to take a short walk in Nairobi and just see what caught my eye. Bernard runs a small engine repair shop on the outskirts of Nairobi, Kenya. Mostly, he fixes lawn mower engines for the wealthy people living nearby, however he also fixes about any other small engine that you can think of.

The tools shown below are just what he works with. Many times he has to fabricate pieces that would be impossible to buy, or to expensive for him to make a profit on. It is really amazing to see him work, and to watch the problem-solving take place. As Bernard shows us in this video and pictures, your imagination and ingenuity are the only things holding you back.

Tools Made from Spare Parts

Below, a piece of rebar is bent, and the end hollowed-out to make a specific sized wrench:

rebar wrench Rebar Wrench 2

Below, a bolt from a truck tire is welded to a piece of metal to make a specific sized Allen wrench for small engines:

Truck Bolt = Wrench

A video explaining how Bernard created the tool.

Author: Erik Hersman

Erik is the owner of White African, a blog about technology and Africa. He is the co-founder of Zangu, a new web and mobile phone application that he hopes will change communication in Africa. AfriGadget is another web project of his, not that he doesn't have enough of those already...

8 thoughts on “Making Tools from Scratch”

  1. Tool making is so important and this post is quite informative. There is a great book by Alexander Wegers, “The Complete Modern Blacksmith”
    (Sorry for my ignorance about how to insert links)

    I mention the book because the illustrations, Weyger’s own drawings, are great. LOL I should put up a few somewhere. True that imagination an ingenuity are what’s needed, but it seems to me important to share how people are making tools broadly.

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