Craft

Titanium forceps

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Greater precision than needle nose pliers

Hemostatic forceps are a non-obvious but remarkably versatile tool. They have long been a standard in my toolkits, from garage tool chest and electronics kit to my EMT medical bag. Forceps offer greater precision than needle nose pliers, and small forceps are vastly more effective than tweezers at grasping small slippery objects like tiny wires, metal slivers or thorns stuck in one’s skin. I have found them a godsend on more than one occasion when attempting to remove bits of tick mouthparts after an unsuccessful attempt to persuade a tick to let go of me or our dog.

The hitch is finding a forceps that is small and precise enough to do the job. The best are made of titanium (Ti) for medical use. Titanium matters because it lighter and more flexible than stainless and has a tensile strength equal to carbon steel. This means the teeth in the tip align perfectly without any gaps or worn edges even after long use. And because titanium is a particularly non-reactive metal (non-magnetic, anti-bacterial and corrosion-resistant) titanium forceps are suitable for everything from working on circuitry to extracting splinters. There are no shortage of sources on the web, but one has to be careful to avoid forceps that merely titanium coated or poorly-made units with simple anodizing.

My current favorite forceps ($49) are from Countycomm, a Silicon Valley-based seller of arcane tools and other gizmos that are often overruns from government supply contracts. They typically cost more than other sellers, but I have found their products to be consistently of the highest quality, and they often offer specialized items found nowhere else.

-- Paul Saffo 02/10/20