This month's feature tool is for the anal-retentive among us, who will, no doubt, nod approval at our hyphenation. You see, for as long as we've been bolting parts on European cars, we've also been installing accessories-often European accessories. And almost all of them have one thing in common: Somewhere in the directions will appear something on the order of, "Next, whilst securing the part appropriately, bore a 6mm hole at position A on retaining flange B." Yet conspicuous by its absence from our drill bit collection, housed in an old cigar box, are metric bits of any sizes. Now, truth be known, you can drill the hole with an "American bit" and no one will know unless it is a precision assembly. But you will know...

On the other hand, modern German cars in particular often mandate drilling very small metric holes to install factory accessories from their huge glossy catalogs. Now, with large bolts, it really doesn't matter if you drill inch-holes. But to fit the small screws that come with installation kit hardware, if it says drill a 2mm hole, you'd better drill a 2mm hole. Otherwise you'll be ferreting through your screw drawer for larger screws. And sometimes we do work on precision assemblies. For some reason, it usually involves drilling and tapping a 6x1.00mm threaded hole in a nice piece of aluminum or steel, to install an engine part that isn't supposed to be on the engine in question. To smoothly tap 6x1.00mm threads, it's nice to drill a 5.5mm hole first. Have you ever seen a 5.5mm drill bit? To paraphrase Senator Kerry, "I had not, until I did."

The Fastenal 11-piece metric drill bit set includes 1mm through 6mm sizes in a genuine steel case, not plastic, for forty bucks-not cheap. But they are excellent quality tools, made in America. And they can be augmented with larger sizes for future jobs. The bigger story here besides these metric drill bits is Fastenal itself. BMW E30 M3 race driver Jimmy Pettinato turned me on to Fastenal back in the '90s. The company sells every sort of fastener in every sort of material imaginable, and some that are not, as well as grinding tools and equipment, stock metals, and all manner of fabrication materials. If you are into building cars, especially race cars, Fastenal deserves a look. The company was founded in 1967 in Winona, Minn., by company chairman Bob Kierlin. From this beginning, Fastenal has expanded to become the fastest growing full-line industrial distributor, and is now the largest fastener distributor in the nation. Fastenal owns and operates more than 1,800 stores with locations in all 50 states, Canada, Mexico, the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, and Singapore.

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