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How do you mark your tools with your ID?

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  • How do you mark your tools with your ID?

    There are two basic objectives when marking your tools with your ID:

    1) Discourage theft in the first place by plainly showing they are labeled, and
    2) Assist in recovery effort if a lost/stolen tool is found by the police or some honest person who will return it to you.

    How do you mark your tools? Do you permanently etch/engrave them, or use stick-on labels? Besides your name, do you put any other contact info (phone #, drivers license #)?

  • #2
    I'm not in the trades but of course as a home owner worker and as an illustrator, I have all kinds of tools, including some that were my Father's (he was a plumber, steamfitter).

    I started marking my tools with an one of those vibrating etchers. Our local library at the time had a handful that you could could be 'checked-out' like a book. I borrowed one a couple of times to etch my initials and the last four digits of my SS#. The local police recommended that as your initials alone could be 'explained' by the thief as something else, like their girl friend or other fake meaning; but there's no explanation for having a tool with both YOUR initials and last four SS numbers. So most of my expensive tools are marked "CWS9999" for example.



    • #3
      An etcher was the first thing I thought of. I don't have one, but I have a Dremel and they sell etching bits for the Dremel. But they describe the bits as usable for soft metals. My hand tools might be made of hardened metal, not sure. I will look into this some more. Thanks.


      • #4
        The problem isn't etching into the metal, or plastic, because the thief can grind that down and make his or her own marks.
        i would suggest if you are going to etch, or scribe,do it in multiple places on the tool. If there is a serial number, etch or scribe your information close by and take a photo.


        • CWSmith
          CWSmith commented
          Editing a comment
          Good points Frankie!

          My thoughts on tool theft are more towards the losses one might suffer on the job site, or in my case the office. It's amazing how many so-called co-workers will 'borrow' your tools and then claim them as their own within a an hour or day or two. Often well before they would have time to remove any markings.

          We had a woman in one department that I caught a couple of times, going through her co-worker's desk drawers after normal work hours (I always worked late and would catch her all too often.). Then I had a manager on the other end of our floor who just loved to come to my office and 'borrow' my electronic catalog or technical manuals in kept in my office library. Damn guy had a Bachelors Degree in Accounting, but he never could account for why he'd too often have one of my manuals in his office!).

          Outright theft from your truck or elsewhere is tough as too often the perpetrator has time to grind away any I.D.. My Dad used to paint many of his tools purple... took some razzing for it, but they were easily spotted if they drifted too far on the worksite.


      • #5
        When I worked for a auto garage there where 2 mechanics and me .. we all had tool boxes and the same brand tools me having the least seniority I had to marked all my tools with 3 notches with a grinder..... lead mechanic never marked his and 2nd mechanic 2 dots of color ... nowadays most of my tools in truck ( for drain cleaning ) have id serial numbers that are registered to RIDGID and others to show proof of ownership.

        I also documented all my tools with pics and added additional insurance to my vehicle and homeowners policy in case of theft especially my see snakes... monitors ... transmitter locators all add up to 15-20 k to replace.


        • Bob D.
          Bob D. commented
          Editing a comment
          Used the same marking trick many years ago working in an auto shop. But the more notches the less chance one of your tools migrates over into another toolbox. It's tough to erase notches, but easy to add more. So a tool with no notches = zero protection, a tool with 3 notches can only be pilfered by someone with more notches. :-)

      • #6
        We did the notch thing, and they would get ground down as well !


        • #7
          After 35 years in the business, I still don't mark my tools. Just a personal preference.


          • #8
            I have quit lending tools to people. This way the tools are never abused, broken, or lost.

            During the past 30 years I have buggered up 1 phillips screwdriver, broke a Harbor Freight screwdriver plastic handle,
            Buggered up one 1/4x7/16" socket.

            Regarding power tools I have destroyed a DeWalt sander electronic speed control due to dust, and a Delta direct drive
            table saw motor by abuse.

            Cactus Man