The Walt Kowalski Toolbox

by Brett & Kate McKay on March 12, 2012 · 86 comments

in Manly Skills, Toolmanship

“Take these three items right here. You can have this. WD-40, vise grips, and some duct tape. Any man worth his salt can do half the household chores with just those three things.” -Walt Kowalski

The other day I sat down to watch Gran Torino for the first time, and boy was it awesome. While there are plenty of great lessons in manliness that I took away from the film (look for a post on that hopefully in the near future) one scene that stuck out to me was when Clint Eastwood’s character, Walt Kowalski, showed his young neighbor and protege, Thao, his workshop. When Thao lamented that he’d never be able to put together such an impressive collection of tools, the grizzled Korean War vet introduced the young man to what I’m calling the “Walt Kowalski Toolbox.”

The Walt Kowalski Toolbox consists of just three things: WD-40, vise grips, and a roll of duct tape. According to old Walt, “Any man worth his salt can do half the household chores with just those three things.”

To showcase the power and utility of the Walt Kowalski Toolbox, below we give a short primer on each item and highlight a few of the many things you can do with them.


The different uses for WD-40 are legion, and its versatility has made it a DIY legend. Created in 1953 by the Rocket Chemical Company to prevent corrosion on metals, its development was a task so difficult it took chemist Norm Larsen several dozen attempts to get the formula just right. If you’ve ever wondered what WD-40 stands for, it’s “Water Displacement, 40th attempt,” indicating that the formula we know and love today was Larsen’s 40th try at creating a water-displacing fluid. Aerospace engineers found the final product so handy, they started sneaking the stuff home, and the Rocket Chemical Company soon saw the wisdom in selling it in stores to the general population.

In the decades since WD-40 hit shelves in 1958, consumers have found myriad uses for it; WD-40′s official website has a list of over 2,000 uses for the stuff. Such as:

  • Removes and protects rust from metal tools like saws, hammers, and wrenches
  • Loosens rusty nuts and screws
  • Lubricates rusty hinges, chains, and bearings. Basically, if something squeaks, apply WD-40.
  • Cleans lawnmower blades and the bottoms of cast iron skillets
  • Removes splattered bugs from the front of your car
  • Drives the moisture out of just about anything–electrical wiring, locks, bearings, bike chains…
  • Cleans the gunk out of pistons and bearings

Vise Grip

Vise grips are adjustable pliers that you can lock in place, and they come in handy when you need an extra hand but only have your own two mitts to work with. Vice grips work great for removing stubborn nuts and screws, and are an incredibly versatile tool that can be employed as:

  • Pliers
  • Pipe wrench
  • Adjustable wrench
  • Wire cutters
  • Ratchet
  • Clamp
  • Hammer (in a pinch!)

Duct Tape

Ah, duct tape. Strong, flexible, durable….what can’t you do with it? Entire books and Mythbusters episodes have been dedicated to this modern marvel. Red Green called duct tape “the handyman’s secret weapon” (Steve Smith, the comedian who plays Green, actually put out a movie back in 2002 called Duct Tape Forever). While there is some dispute about the origin of duct tape, the generally accepted version of events is that it was invented back in 1942 by Johnson and Johnson to act as a sealing tape for soldiers’ ammunition boxes. The tape was created by attaching multiple layers of adhesive to a polyethylene-coated cloth backing. The result was a tape so durable, tear-able and water-resistant, GIs ended up using it to fix everything from their guns to their aircraft.

After the war, homebuilders and HVAC service providers started using duct tape to connect heating and air conditioning ducts together (modern HVAC manufacturers don’t recommend this practice). In the 1960s, duct tape joined the space age by becoming a regular on Apollo missions. Its most famous use was during the failed Apollo 13 mission, when it was utilized in jury-rigging the lunar module’s CO2 scrubbers.

Here back on earth, duct tape can also be used in the following situations, along with many, many more:

  • A temporary patch on a car hose or PVC pipe in your home
  • Patch holes in your tent or water resistent clothing
  • Unclog a sink
  • Secure frames on broken eyeglasses
  • Repair a cracked fishing pole or laptop shell (I know about the former from experience)

So how do you know which of the above tools you should use for a particular problem? Well just remember the old saying: “If it doesn’t move, and it should, use WD-40.  If it moves, and it shouldn’t, use duct tape.” And I guess if that fails, see if the vise grips will help!

The Walt Kowalski toolbox is a great starter’s DIY kit for the young man beginning to try his hand at fixing things himself. When you’re ready to add a few more tools to your supply, throw in a hammer, some pliers, and a Philips screwdriver, and you’ll be able to tackle most of the other half of household chores that these items can’t fix. And you’ll be well on your way to having a man’s well-stocked toolbox. 

What are your favorite uses for the items in the Walt Kowalski Toolbox? Share them with us in the comments!

{ 86 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Charlie March 12, 2012 at 6:17 pm

Come on Brett! We told you to go watch Gran Torino when you did the “100 Must See Movies” post back in July ’09! I’m glad you finally got around to watching it. By the way, this another terrific post from you and your wife. Thanks to the both of you!

2 Jimmy March 12, 2012 at 6:20 pm

Tris is a great article but you should mention that WD-40 is not a permanent lubricant and can actually attract dirt to any surface over time. there’s an article on lifehacker that goes more in depth on this.

3 Shawn March 12, 2012 at 6:31 pm

I was wondering why there hadn’t been an AoM article on Gran Torino yet.

4 Seth March 12, 2012 at 6:52 pm

Duct tape can also hold shoes together. I was backpacking near the AT once when one of my shoes decided to come apart. Out came the duct tabe! It held the shoe together, not only for the rest of the trip, but for another 6 months or so after that. Granted, it wasn’t pretty, but for tramping around the woods it worked pretty well.

5 James Petzke March 12, 2012 at 6:59 pm

I love that movie! Classic manly movie all around for sure.

6 Morris March 12, 2012 at 6:59 pm

You have to add “Shoe Goo” to that list. It will stick to anything and keep it water tight.

7 Augustus March 12, 2012 at 7:03 pm

Duct tape, containing aluminum, can conduct electricity . As such should never be used on wires!

8 Dan March 12, 2012 at 7:09 pm

Duct tape is also great for preventing blisters. Putting some on your feet when a blister is just starting helps keep the blister from forming. Plus, it will stay on no matter how sweaty your feet get, and keep dirt and grit from getting to your foot. It’s also slippery on the outside to help your foot avoid whatever has been aggravating it.

9 Dewayne March 12, 2012 at 7:36 pm

Favorite quote from Gran Torino……Errrrrrrr! Love it!

10 Rob March 12, 2012 at 7:41 pm

I’d add a lighter. Fire is always a good thing to have around.

11 Joe March 12, 2012 at 8:04 pm

Back in the day if I would have used my dad’s vise grips as a hammer, he would have shown me how they could be used to pull out fingernails. I guess he was a believer in “the right tool for the job”.

12 Andrey March 12, 2012 at 9:57 pm

I just watched this movie twice this weekend; great movie! I carry duct tape with me in my backpack; WD-40 is downstairs, got get Vise Grips.. And I have to agree with Shawn, the movie is a classic!

13 Chris Morehouse March 12, 2012 at 11:28 pm

I agree with Charlie here Brett. When the top movies were listed i even saw that Gran Torino was missing. I made the suggestion for it to be added. Get your Clint Eastwood on ! Thanks for the replacement Manvotionals.

14 Paul March 12, 2012 at 11:47 pm

I knew a guy in college who kept his backpack held together with duct tape…actually, more than half the backpack was made up of duct tape!

15 Casey March 12, 2012 at 11:53 pm

I hate to be “that guy”, but WD-40 REALLY isn’t a lubricant. It can work in the short term… but it has a nasty habit of making the problem worse in the long run. It’ll attract dust and grime, and corrode the metal if left to it’s own devices.

16 Tyler March 13, 2012 at 1:23 am

Just don’t use duct tape for a long term bandaide. I’ve heard that the glue can fester wounds.

17 CPT Mike B March 13, 2012 at 2:01 am

Not to mention that he carries a 1911, an M1 Garand and drives an awesome ole pick em up truck

18 The Dutch Dastard March 13, 2012 at 3:24 am

Great article!
When i was a student at Delft University of Technology we used to proud ourselves on our ability to fix anything ourselves, and not pay other people to do it, most often using duct tape.

The university’s badge of honor was the fact that our library is officially waterproofed with duct-tape. No need for anything else…

Can’t wait for Manly Lessons from Gran Torino!

19 Shea March 13, 2012 at 4:07 am

I sometimes use WD-40 to help start a fire when the wood is a little damp and I’m in a hurry. Just make sure it has time to burn off before breaking out the marsh-mellows.

20 Devin March 13, 2012 at 9:18 am

It should be added that the lubricating properties of WD-40 are over-stated and not in any way permanent, which is why frequent applications are required. As WD-40 evaporates, so does it’s lubricating properties. You just can’t beat the lubricating ability of good ol’ fashioned grease.

21 Thomas March 13, 2012 at 9:29 am

I use these three things all the time (except maybe the WD-40, which I use sparingly). I recently found a pair of self-adjusting vice grips. You can change the tension it puts on whatever you’re gripping, but you don’t have to adjust the size of the jaws. It’s amazing! I can’t remember where I got them now, but I would highly recommend them to anyone.

The only other things I would say needs to be added to this list are two good screwdrivers — one standard and one Philips-head. They do come in handy.

22 Cam March 13, 2012 at 9:36 am

Walt Kowalski is the definition of manliness. Grand Torino is one of the greatest movies of the past 50 years. WD-40, Duct Tape, Vice Grips. I always keep those 3 things both in my home and in my truck. It should be a man law that every man obeys.

23 Steve March 13, 2012 at 10:11 am

I love it!! The movie, and the comments, but most of all the comments about WD-40. There are very few problems/questions that can’t be handled by simply reading, instead of jumping the gun or having to have someone hold your hand through it. All these comments about WD-40 regarding it’s lubricity, or lack there of, are not unfounded, just un-neccessary. READ THE CAN!!! Nothing there about being a lubricant. Loosening parts, penetrating, and displacing water, yes. Lubricant, no. Also, I don’t remember reading anything here, or mentioned by Clint, telling me to use it as a lubricant, merely to get a part that isn’t moving to move etc. Lets start reading and answer our own questions. . . . again, more self-sufficient as men, not needing to rely on the general population, which typically does NOT consist of good ol’fashioned gentlemanly, respectful, knowledgable, common sense weilding men.

24 Devin March 13, 2012 at 10:22 am


I don’t know if you actually read the article or not. For you:

“Lubricates rusty hinges, chains, and bearings. Basically, if something squeaks, apply WD-40.”

25 Jared March 13, 2012 at 10:42 am

There have been many times that a liberal use of WD-40 would’ve made the task at hand a good bit easier. The adage in our house was more “if you can’t break it loose just by hand, break out the cheater bar.”, which for us was a 5 foot section of pipe with one end clamped down.

I think there is some sort of lesson in there, but I’m not sure.

26 Another Smart Steve March 13, 2012 at 11:31 am

“Lubricates rusty hinges, chains, and bearings. Basically, if something squeaks, apply WD-40.”

What’s untrue about that statement? That’s exactly what it does. My father used WD-40 on squeaks and so do I. It does lubricate those things, and even after it “dries” the squeak doesn’t come back. Is it the best lubricant? No. Does it last as long as grease? No. But it works.

I think what first Steve was amused at was the modern demand for caveats where everything has to be spelled out. Personally, I prefer to just get the basics and figure the rest out on my own.

27 Gary March 13, 2012 at 11:34 am

I would have to add a multitool. Most good ones have a knife or two, a flat head screw driver, a phillips head screw driver, and some form of pliers, normally with a wire cutter. I’m not sure how you cut wire with vise grips, but I suspect it would some doing.

28 Piper March 13, 2012 at 11:47 am

My grab and go tool kit is a Klein Tools 5-in-1 Screwdriver or the Buck Bros. 6-n-1 Screw Driver, Vise grips, pliers, a medium crescent wrench, WD-40, Duct Tape, and a utility knife wrapped in shop rags secured with 2 strap down ties and a bungee cord.

The screwdriver changes as people need them around the house. The Buck driver is around $3 and I always have 5 or 6 around the house. I really like the Klein, $10, so I end up putting it in a job bucket and replacing it (temporarily) with a Buck.

29 Nyteshades March 13, 2012 at 12:10 pm

I wouldn’t call this a DIY toolbox, it’s more like a patch kit. It would work great to get something fixed temporary to get you out of a jam than anything.

30 DAN March 13, 2012 at 12:23 pm

Mr. Kowalski was right. Walt is the same kind of man as my dad. Me and by brother watched the movie together in the theater. Some one was pumping CS gas into the room we were in irritated our eyes. Weird.

31 em March 13, 2012 at 12:23 pm

PB Blaster > WD-40

Fencing Pliers > Vise-Grips

32 Brookston John March 13, 2012 at 12:30 pm

I prefer “Gaffer’s Tape” to Duct Tape. the adhesive doesn’t break down and cause a gooey, nasty mess that can only be removed with WD-40,
Nobody’s mentioned “3-in-1″ oil, which I don’t like because it’s vegetable-based and oxidizes into varnish. I use Tri-Flo, wheel bearing grease, white lithium grease, and Rem-Oil (gun oil) for 90% of my household needs. And White Lightning for the bike and moped chains.

33 Paul L. Smith March 13, 2012 at 1:10 pm

I used duct tape for a 200 mile section hike. I would apply patches of it to my heels to keep them developing from hot spots into blisters. They did leave quite a bit of residue on my skin that I cleaned off in the evenings with dabs of olive oil. The upshot was that I successfully completed that section of the A.T. by effectively using my resources. That is also the message that I take away from Gran Torino. Eastwood wasn’t neccesarily giving instructions on how to jury rig things. He was teaching a kid how to be self reliant and penny wise.

34 Paul L. Smith March 13, 2012 at 1:16 pm

btw. Penny wise doesn’t have to always be associated with pound foolish.

35 Jon March 13, 2012 at 1:37 pm

I work at the maintenance department at my university. We never use WD-40. Instead we use something called Houdini.

One of the older guys explained that WD-40 is actually more of a cleaner, while Houdini’s primary purpose is a lubricant. We’ve fixed a lot of sticking locks with that stuff.

36 Steve March 13, 2012 at 1:46 pm

As the saying goes…

Dear Lord,
Grant me the WD-40 to move those things that are stuck,
The Duct Tape to fasten those things that are loose,
And the wisdom to know the difference.
~The Engineers Prayer

37 Dad's son March 13, 2012 at 2:50 pm

“Removes and protects rust”…
I’m not sure why you’d want to protect rust, but…

38 Sethpaul March 13, 2012 at 3:02 pm

I second the Houdini recommendation. I use it at work all the time for stubborn locks, squeaky van or elevator doors, and just about anything. Does a better job than WD-40 at not attracting dirt and gunking up.

39 Nick Johnson March 13, 2012 at 4:27 pm

I’ve used vise grips as a regular screwdriver before…just clamp it down tight on a coin (nickel, quarter, etc). Works like a champ!

40 Saint Vital March 13, 2012 at 4:55 pm

As far as duct tape goes, in the video field production world, we call it “gaffer’s tape”. In fact, I’d never seen the stuff before until I encountered it in the video context, so to me it will always be gaffer’s tape. It’s invaluable for stuff like taping down long audio cable and AC cord runs so passersby don’t trip on them and send your portable lights crashing spectacularly to the floor.
In fact, if this column were adapted to video production, the three key items would be duct tape, a small flashlight and a decent multi-tool.

41 Christopher Mack March 13, 2012 at 5:05 pm

I have WD-40 in my glove box, a roll of duct tape hanging around my stick shift, and a set of vice grips clamped onto the passenger seat tilt lever. (Lengthens the lever so its easier for the kids to pile in!) There is also a multi-tool in the glove box as well as a pair of gloves. Being prepared with some basics can not only bolster your own confidence, It can provide you tools to render aid to others as well.

42 rowdy March 13, 2012 at 5:30 pm

I don’t think Walt Kowalski would appreciate you using a pair of vise grips as a hammer. In a pinch or not if you need a hammer use a hammer, Walt doesn’t seem like the kind of man that misuses his tools to me.

43 Hal March 13, 2012 at 7:18 pm

The Vise Grips I can see. They’re like the .30-06: not quite the right tool for EVERY job, but they’ll DO every job. I’ve got a workshop full of tools for when the “right tool” is really needed, but if you’re in a pinch, you can do a lot with Vise Grips. I keep one in my truck.

The duct tape I can also see. Again, not perfect for every job, but in a pinch, you can do quite a bit with it.

The problem I have is the WD-40. The concerns have already been established. I prefer Ed’s Red (equal parts acetone, mineral spirits, kerosene, and a bottle of ATF). I leave the acetone out and put it in a plastic spray bottle. The acetone makes it work better, but being able to put it in a plastic bottle is awful handy. Great stuff.

44 Ak-adventurer March 13, 2012 at 11:08 pm

Well, i general theory, OK.

Regular Water Displacing WD-40 is a crappy penetrating agent though, for stuck bolts etc. You want the new penetrating oil made by WD40, or even better get PB Blaster(it smells a lot worse though!).

But, I refuse to use duct tape. It melts in hot weather and doesn’t sick. and freezes and doesn’t stick in cold. No thanks.

Bailing wire can do marvelous hings though.

I prefer the new vice grip made by Stanley I believe, its a cresent type adjustable jaw with a vice grip tensioner. Otherwise, I prefer cresent type adjustable wrenches to vice grips. more useful.

45 Michael March 14, 2012 at 1:23 am

I would definitely agree that using WD-40 as a go-to lubricant is not a good solution- often enough, it acts as a de-greaser of sorts, and any lubrication it provides is very short-lived. That’s why bicycle mechanics advise against using WD-40 to lube bicycle chains.

And on the topic of bicycles, I’ve found a vice grip to be a rather effective and inexpensive substitute for a spoke wrench when it comes to truing a bicycle wheel!

46 Bob in London March 14, 2012 at 7:15 am

My wife and I went to a wedding last summer where the bride and groom had placed little wrapped gifts at every guest’s place for the reception dinner. For the ladies, fancy soap. For the gentlemen, a small can of WD40. I guess that was his answer when she asked him “What do all men need?”

47 Dave March 14, 2012 at 9:38 am

The Royal Marines’ toolkit: gaffer tape and a hammer [according to the Royal Navy, anyway].

48 Rob March 14, 2012 at 10:53 am

One thing that I need to mention because I’ve seen it done before: do not, repeat, do not attempt to “fix” a mechanical clock by spraying down the mechanism with WD-40. While the clock might run for awhile, the WD-40 actually managed to gum up the workings even more so it takes longer to clean and repair when you finally take it to get done right.

49 Ben March 14, 2012 at 11:52 am

I knew a guy who used WD-40 when he cleaned his gun. Don’t do that.

50 matt March 14, 2012 at 1:39 pm

I was deployed to afghanistan and we carried duct in our med kits. it can be used as temporary stitching, tourniquet, and even for covering up sucking chest wounds. something useful to remember if you get hurt on the jobsite, it could buy you some time get to a hospital and seek professional treatment.

51 Moeregaard March 14, 2012 at 2:56 pm

WD40 is only good for drying out a distributor cap after you find that the creek you just crossed was a lot deeper than it looked. It is a crappy lubricant. I prefer PB Blaster for penetrating stuck fasteners and Tri Flow or Aero Kroil for light lubrication. I knew an airframe/powerplant inspector who would lecture any airplane owner on the evils of WD40, if he saw a can of it in the guy’s hangar. Regarding tape, I’m never without a roll of 3M strapping tape. As a frequent business traveler, I’ve found it very handy for securing my luggage after the TSA manhandles it, and for keeping everything together when the latches break on my luggage.

52 Steve March 14, 2012 at 6:51 pm

Hey there, been reading your blog for about a month now and have really liked it. Having said that, as someone who does a lot of tinkering the Walt Kowalski Toolbox can do more dammage in the long run than good. It’s designed to tug at heart strings, not get anything done. Guaranteed these tools never touched Walt’s car.
First thing’s first, I’m 100% in favour of duct tape. I worked at an airbase once and they called it 500-mile-an-hour tape because you could fix planes with it. Totally true. I saw a fellow fix the bottom of the inflatable section of his zodiac one day with it. It held air and stuck till his patch kit came in. Did I mention the thing did 75mph?
Having said that WD40 is only for water displacement and should not be used alone. It can clean metal etc up in a pinch (though there are better specialized products out there) but it leaves a residue that needs to be cleaned off anyway, collects dirt (terrible for bearings etc) after it dries, and is simply not a lubricant.
Vise grips should only be used on sacrificial things and things that aren’t being kept. If you’re removing rusty bolts go out and get a rusty bolt remover set, they’re like 20 bucks and you’ll have them till you die. Vice grips are very strong and their teeth dig into even metal. If you use them on bolts you’ll round them off and typically wear off the anti-rust coating. Vice grips are a must for a tool box but should be a LAST RESORT.
Tools that you should start off with are these: A good set of screwdrivers (including robertson, the square Canadian screws), a good socket set with both standard and metric sizes (a lot of things come from countries who use metric, so you WILL use metric), needle nose pliers, a good sharp knife, channel lock pliers (use these before you try your vice grips), and a set of spanners (wrenches). You can fix nearly everything with these tools.

53 Daryl J. Yearwood March 14, 2012 at 10:46 pm

Duct tape and vise grips saved me in a heavy blow (on our local lake) when the reef point in my mainsail blew out. I grabbed the tape, used foot-long strips to support the reef grommet, and held the reef line in place with the vise grips. It worked well for the next two days of storms with 15-20mph winds and gusts to 35. I learned to sail that weekend. It was do-or-die!
I also blew out the top of the head sail at the halyard which flew to the top of the mast or I would have taped that sucker, too. The only other tool I needed was the shot glass I used at anchor that evening.

54 Aficionado March 14, 2012 at 11:55 pm

I used to keep a can of WD40 handy for fly fishing trips to the river, where it was inevitable that both me and my M1911 were going to wind up taking a bath. Since it displaces water, I’d unload the gun, soak it with WD40, then detail strip it and clean it when I got home.

Ben makes an excellent point above, though–the stuff’ll kill primers, rendering your ammo non-functional, so as a general rule, not a great thing to use in the mechanism of your gun.

55 Moeregaard March 15, 2012 at 11:24 am

In all fairness, I have to admit that WD40 doesn’t make a bad cutting fluid when turning/threading aluminum, when I find myself out of Tap Magic.

In one of my (very) rare moments of brilliance, I just realized that Walt Kowalski’s toolbox is the male version of what women have used to fix things for years: a butter knife (the original “multi-tool”), coffee mug (hammer), and a high-heel shoe. I once had a gal tell me that if she couldn’t fix something with those items, it needed to be replaced.

56 Luke March 15, 2012 at 11:55 am

Gorilla Glue!

57 Daryl J. Yearwood March 15, 2012 at 12:26 pm

Gorilla Glue is wonderful. I use it for everything. Their version of duct tape is also in my box for those times when duct tape just won’t do. The gorilla tape is uber-sticky and won’t turn loose.

58 Gary Huber March 15, 2012 at 1:22 pm

Before I left on a cross-country bike trip, I was told by a bike mechanic that you could fix almost anything with hose clamps, which can be found in any small town along the way and come in a variety of sizes. He was right! By the end of the trip, lots of things on my bike were held together by hose clamps.

59 Darren March 15, 2012 at 2:04 pm

If your shifter rattles off your motorcycle simply clamp vise grips to the shaft and you’re back on the road. I’ve done it myself and I have a lazy buddy that rode his bike like that for over a year!

60 Daryl J. Yearwood March 15, 2012 at 10:42 pm

I also keep a stash of zip-ties in several sizes, a habit from my days of pulling computer cable. They are useful for holding together just about anything, and I even use one to hold my bundle of zip-ties. When I pull out two or three (or a dozen,) I just pull on the one wrapped around the bundle, and voila, nice and neat. I am especially fond of the ones that have a release tab so that I can reuse them.

Gary, I like the hose-clamp idea. I have some just gathering dust, so I think I’ll toss them into my tool box. Thanks for the idea.

61 carol March 16, 2012 at 1:41 am

My last use for duct tape was to fix a small hole in a window screen that was acting as a moth trap. Took about 15 seconds, and doesn’t look too bad.

62 mark March 16, 2012 at 7:21 am

I second Brookston John’s preference for Gaffer tape over duct tape. I’ve used gaffer tape to cover holes in the leather cover of a bicycle saddle. These repairs have stayed put for several thousands of miles of riding, where similar repairs using duct tape fail within days. Gaffer tape is quite a bit more expensive, though.

As for WD-40, I consider it more a solvent than a lubricant. One non-obvious use is to dissolve the oily grime that accumulates around the base of stoves and to remove black scuff marks from vinyl floor coverings. Just be sure to follow up with a good degreaser so you don’t slide around afterwards.

63 Chris M March 16, 2012 at 10:10 am

I’m sure Walt’s tools and tool box were all Made in USA too. Check the label before you buy.

64 Jive Dadson March 16, 2012 at 2:32 pm

The chief mechanical engineer at a precision robotics company where i used to work called WD-40 “slow drying glue.” Any instructions on how to use WD-40 should contain a chapter on when not to use it.

Despite that fault, Gran Torino is a great movie.

65 Jive Dadson March 16, 2012 at 2:35 pm

One more thing. Does he intend to cut the duct tape with the vice grips?

66 Wuchak March 16, 2012 at 4:05 pm

Breakfree CLP really is what most people think WD-40 is. Breakfree is a Cleaner, Lubricant, and Protectant (hence the name). It’s made for firearms but works great on everything else. You can get it in the firearms section of Walmart or at your local gun shop (good excuse to stop in). I have replaced WD-40 in my toolbox with it and never looked back.

67 snoebay88 March 16, 2012 at 5:51 pm

My dad used to say “It’s not how many tools you have but what you can do with the ones you do have.”

68 Trelow March 16, 2012 at 5:55 pm

Kano Kroil > WD-40 and everything else.

69 Real Man March 16, 2012 at 7:44 pm

I am a Liquid Wrench fan from way back. It has worked miracles for me. WD-40 is for pole smokers!

70 Paul March 18, 2012 at 1:28 am

This is a GREAT movie and there so many lessons of manliness in it. Even in the man knowledge bit of this very site it says “There are 2 things every man’s toolbox should have. Wd-40 and duct tape. If it’s moving and it shouldn’t, use duct tape and if it’s not moving but it should, use WD-40.” So many great lessons, I recommend this movie to anyone. Especially to those males who are not men.

71 SPFlanagan March 18, 2012 at 1:34 am

Kano Kroil and Gorilla tape. Kowalski was from a different day.

72 KZFisher March 18, 2012 at 2:06 pm

Military Deployment Min. Tool-Kit:
1) 100 Mph Tape (similar to duct tape only mil grade)
2) 550 cord (aka Parachute chord – too many uses to list!)
3) multi-tool (go w/ good quality name – not dept store knock off)

73 This Guy March 18, 2012 at 4:54 pm

How to fix most things:
-Something moves, but shouldn’t? Apply duct tape.
-Something doesn’t move, but should? Apply hammer.

74 Krzysiek March 19, 2012 at 9:21 am

One of the most unusual work I did with WD40 was removing motor oil stains (leaked from old filter) from my car’s upholstery.

75 Moeregaard March 19, 2012 at 10:56 am

Real Man, out here in the People’s Republik of Kalifornia, Liquid Wrench is sold in a formula that doesn’t work all that well. The old stuff was great and smelled nice, but what we have now sucks. They call it the “unscented” formula, but it stinks on ice. I now use PB blaster.

76 Weston March 19, 2012 at 9:34 pm

Good work Jimmy, I had to make sure someone said something about about lifehackers WD-40 post after reading this. It is great stuff, but it’s not as universal as people tend to think.

77 Dick March 20, 2012 at 3:22 pm

Good article. I wonder if you are related to Bobbett Kowalski, I was an old boy friend in school and lost track when my parents moved. from Calif, Dessert.

78 Anthony March 20, 2012 at 7:27 pm

Awesome movie! When watching it, remember taking a special mental note about the vise grips, WD40, and duct tape remark. Glad to see this made it onto AoM!

79 steve schwertfeger March 22, 2012 at 1:45 pm

Hi !
just wanted to let you know how much I have enjoyed your site the past couple of years. One of my most favorite posts of yours have to do with the Greatest Generation, and how they lived their lives (several thumbs up)!
After reading them, I began to wonder how I could actually help these veterans. Well, here in Chicago there is an organiztion called Honor Flight Chicago, but there are branches all over the country.
I have attached a link showing one of my trips to Washington DC with these veterans. It is really an awesome experience to share the day with them.
I was thinking that maybe a post in the future would be appreciated by un-informed guys all over the country who want to know the greatest Generation from a whole new level. Thanks for all your work !

80 Johnny Charles March 29, 2012 at 2:04 pm

Beware! WD-40 on a bike chain should be immediately followed by a thorough wipe-down with a shop rag and then a splattering of a proper chain lubricant. I’d recommend Pedro’s or (my personal favorite) Pro-Link, which works as a cleaner and lubes your chain simultaneously. While WD-40 will get the job done, for a more specialized cleaner be on the lookout for Speed Degreaser. The stuff works like a charm and smells great to boot.

81 Dra April 1, 2012 at 4:16 am

I love WD-40. It provides me with endless income tearing apart sticking deadbolts and the like because people use it to make the thing work smoothly, and it gets worse, and worse, and worse, and worse over time until it has to be torn apart and cleaned out properly.

These items are stop gap measures at best used when something has to work right now, and can be cleaned up and properly repaired later.

WD-40 is great for what it was intended for, not the BEST rest remover, but a viable option.

duct tape is good for short term repair of things in a emergency. You need to stick something to something else, and you don’t care that it won’t last more than a week or so…or a few minutes if heat is involved? Sure. use it.

82 Chase Christy April 2, 2012 at 9:17 pm

I wrote a blog article in response to this one a couple of weeks ago, but forgot to put a link here. My bad.

83 Diocletian April 5, 2012 at 12:34 am

The best tool you have is the one between your ears.

Without it, WD-40, vise grips, duct tape, and any other external tool is worthless.

My favorite part of Gran Torino was the barber shop scene, wherein Walt teaches “Toad” how to talk like a man.

84 mike April 10, 2013 at 9:55 pm

Primary, Leather man wave, wd 40, duct tape, vice grip, zip ties
Secondary, marine epoxy, sand paper, file, crowbar, tape measure or square
Recommend aluminum putty, can repair a carburetor with this stuff.

I use the wd on wasp nests, works great.

85 Larry January 12, 2014 at 5:00 pm

Pure silicone tape (one brand is Rescue Tape) is much better for patching car hoses and plumbing leaks than duct tape. It’s self-vulcanizing and lasts darn near forever.

I also agree with all those above who favor gaffer’s tape over duct tape. It’s pricier, but worth it.

86 Bryan J. Oates April 14, 2014 at 6:48 pm

Brett, I’m still waiting for a lesson in manliness or some kinda post for Gran Torino!! Can’t wait for one to show up in my inbox.

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