What would you do if someone stole the entire contents of your workshop? Jerry wonders how he’d replace all the essentials – and decides to take out some insurance
The cost of being under-insured
Sunday night, cup of tea and the local paper, reading a report about a chap who had his workshop completely cleared by burglars. I know worse things happen but this hit home because my workshop is such a personal thing. There wasn’t much detail in the story but it was sufficient to get me thinking... Heaven forbid this should happen, but what if I had to start all over again with an empty shed? What would I choose to replace first?
Before I even started considering tools, I reckon I would start with modifications to the shed itself. For example, I’ve always regretted not building what I term a ‘dirty area’. Into this would go a blast cabinet and a strip bench, somewhere that initial disassembly and cleaning could be done without spreading all the dust, filth and oily detritus into the rest of the shed, inevitably covering what has already been restored with a fine layer of nastiness.
Hand tools would be a given. At the very minimum, I’d plump for a nice set of combination spanners in all the imperial and metric sizes, ideally two of each of the more useful ones, plus top-quality sockets to match. Jacks and axle stands, obviously, and an engine hoist goes without saying.
What I couldn’t live without After 20 or so years of owning one, I would be unable to live without a lathe. I resort to mine three evenings out of five, making everything from one-off bolts to simple spacers. This would need to be directly replaced.
While I was at it, a friend of mine owns a milling machine of the same make as the lathe. I’ve been gently hinting to him that it needs to be re-homed, so my enforced shed replenishment would be the ideal opportunity to pile on the pressure and get it into my lair.
Over the years, I’ve also accumulated a load of air tools, everything from air-screwdrivers through impact wrenches to grinders. On reflection, I wouldn’t be replacing anything other than the grinders and the right-angle drill, which is an awesome piece of kit. I find the rest just a bit too brutal.
My imagined re-equip would also be the ideal opportunity to reduce some of the clutter. I do wonder if I would bother replacing some of the larger items that have found their way into the shed. My 25-ton shop-press is useful when it’s needed, but it’s not used often enough. The same goes for my tool cabinets. I have two, one of which is filled with most of the useful tools while the other contains everything else, mostly in the wrong drawers (yes, I can do something about this!).
I started this column thinking that while it would undoubtedly be a horrible thing to have the contents of one’s workshop stolen, provided you were adequately insured (and there is the rub) it would be something from which you could recover; maybe even an opportunity to change and improve.
But as I continued to write I started to realise that for me, and probably most others, it would be a disaster of epic proportions, especially when I consider all the stuff that’s taken for granted and not thought about until needed; things that I could probably never afford to replace. Take my lathe (actually, please don’t take it). It has loads of associated gear like a big rack of collets. These came with it but to replace even secondhand they cost more than £5 each and I’ve got 48 of them! Then there’s the extra gearing to convert from imperial to metric and things like steadies. The list goes on and on.
Extra security measures
What about all the special tools, bought or made? I reckon that if I had to start again today I would have to spend at least five years trying to replace the essentials I used to own. The reality has dawned that I could never adequately replace all the contents of a workshop that’s taken 35 years to build up. And now I’m scared.
Prompted by this, I’ve had a think about a few things. First, my security arrangements. Big locks are all very well – but, if a burglar is determined, they’re not much of an obstacle. So I’ve gone out and spent some cash on an alarm system that’s both mains-powered and has a battery back-up. It’s sensitive enough to detect a human being but not so sensitive that shed mice would set it off.
Second, I’m going to take out a proper standalone insurance policy for the workshop. I’d be willing to wager that most of us are woefully underinsured when it comes to the contents of our garages and workshops.
The contents of my house are adequately covered, but I let my workshop fend for itself under some half-imagined clause on that home and contents policy. For a few quid every month I could become one of the small percentage of Land Rover tinkerers who are properly covered. Considering that I have agreed value policies for my vehicles and nothing on the workshop itself when its contents are worth almost as much as the vehicles in it, I must have been mad!
‘The contents of my house are covered by insurance, but I let my workshop fend for itself. I must have been mad!’