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Let’s face it. Sometimes, while working on a project, you come up against a brick wall. Or perhaps it’s better to say a fiberglass wall here, given that most of us these days are messing about in fiberglass boats. Maybe you need to turn that bolt, for example, or immobilize that nut, or somehow snake that fender washer into that dicey, dark, difficult, virtually-impossible-to-get-to spot, and you simply cannot reach it with your hand or any device that presently resides in your toolbox.

Fear not! Here’s an option that, in a very real sense, comes down to us as an evolutionary gift from our cagey ol’ ancestor, the caveman. You know, the guy who invented the real, deep-down basic stuff like the lever, the knife, the wheel and the trusty spear.

Say you simply can’t get a wrench onto that darn nut, which is hiding in a shadowy void inside your flybridge cowling, teasingly out of reach. What you can do as a work-around, at least if conditions are right, is extend the reach of said wrench by temporarily affixing a paint-stirring stick to the wrench’s handle using enough varnishing tape to make a very thorough, strong and tight job of it.

Yeah, I know—very low tech, eh? And I also know—you can buy specialty wrenches with extra-long handles.

But consider this. Often, long specialized wrenches tend to be bulky, heavy and tough to conveniently stow in a toolbox. This becomes gloomily apparent when you stack one of ‘em up against the go-anywhere portability of a nice, lightweight paint-stirring stick, which tends to be amply available at your local hardware store, often for free. And what’s more, long specialized wrenches are expensive as well as pre-formed into particular shapes and configurations. If you temporarily construct your own long-handled wrench as described, your new tool is not going to cost you much (if anything at all) and you’ll be able to customize its shape to fit whatever sort of dicey task you’re faced with.

It’s best to go with varnishing tape for joining the wrench and the stick. Varnishing tape is easy to remove and, if several layers are incorporated, works just about as well as duct tape, which tends to leave a sticky glue residue on the wrench handle after you remove it. It’s also best to go with a paint-stirring stick. Its wide flat surface gives stability to the temporary, wrench-extending joint you just made.

This article originally appeared in the April 2020 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.