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Suitcase breakage of tools?

I was in San Diego and then I had to go to Ocala, FLA…During these
two trips the famous TSA security guards saw through their x-ray some
wires sticking out of a box in my clothing suitcase. I simply had no
room for this Foredom Micro-Motor Rheostat to be sent ahead of time,
which is the normal route with me now. I opened up my suitcase with
this hard to break plastic motor speed control in PIECES all over my
case. I ran to the nearest wall socket and hoping that it still
worked, it did, thankfully. All it would have taken was a simple
screwdriver to open it, not that a sledgehammer was the only way to
smash it open. I do not believe that that person had any idea on how
to open machine tools. Now I have to bind the two coverings manually
to keep all for the parts together


Traveling with tools with the terrors of TSA is always a gamble. My
last tool debacle was teaching at Revere Academy last summer and
spending hours dividing supplies to make up flex shaft and soldering
kits. I wrapped the equipment in a pillow case with some large rubber
bands. Each piece had a picture of what was inside from a supply
catalog. I enclosed my contract from Revere and a letter on Metalwerx
letterhead explaining that I am a teacher. The equipment was fine,
and literally untouched. However, even though the kits were in clear
plastic bags, each one was opened and scattered back into my
suitcase. I spent two hours reconstructing the kits, hunting out tiny
drill bits, pearl paddle drill bits, pieces of shell, Radial Bristle
discs…you get the idea.

Yes, I should have shipped it ahead, but I thought I would take a
chance this one time. Figures, my luck!

Next time, I’m having my kits in a hard case with hopefully my name
all over the place. This of course was the very day that the problem
of the foiled bombing in England. I understand their need to be
thorough, but geez.

You will be happy to know that my toothpaste and deodorant arrived


School for Jewelry and the Metalarts
50 Guinan St.
Waltham, MA 02451
781 891 3854

I HAD to fly 4 days after major surgery so there was no way I could
do any carry on. I usually travel light but I must travel with a
CPAP. The guys at LAX completely destroyed it even tho there was a
note attached by the check in desk as to what it was. And no,
insurance would not cover its replacement.

Judy Shaw

I was in Albuquerque for Xmas one year. We went to Home Depot, and I
bought some industrial adhesive to take home, just because we were
there. The kind that goes in a calking gun - harmless stuff. I packed
it in luggage, not carry on. When we got home, there was a note in
place of it, saying I couldn’t have Butane gas cylinders in my
luggage. And these are the people in charge of our national security.

When I travel to do my seminars I take 3 suitcases each weighing 50
LBS for my tools and portable benches. My wife travels with me so I
can take 2 suitcases and she can take the other one and one for
clothes and toiletries, etc.

In all my travels I’ve NEVER had any problems with my tools. From my
experiences and from talking with TSA officers at the airports I’ve
learned two lessons that I always follow.

  1. Pack all your tools in clear see-through containers. I bought
    some cheap disposable food storage containers at the grocery store
    made by Zip-Lock or Glad. I sort my tools out and pack them in the
    different size containers and place a large heave-duty rubber band
    around it to keep it from coming open. I routinely have my suitcases
    opened by TSA but they have never opened the boxes of tools. The TSA
    personnel can easily see into the containers and what they contain so
    there is no need for them to open them and I’ve never had my tools

It’s always better to pack several smaller containers than one large
one as it is easier to see what is in each container that way. If you
pack all the tools in one large container it is hard to see what is
in the center of the container without opening it, and you just might
have something dangerous in there hidden by the tools.

  1. Never list what is in the package or leave a note explaining what
    is inside. If you pack something so they cannot see what is inside,
    like placing it in a pillow case or in a cardboard box taped shut,
    and then leave a note as to what is inside it only makes the TSA
    officials curious as to what really might be inside. If you keep
    them from seeing what is inside and then go to great length to try to
    explain that what is inside is really legal, you must be trying to
    hide something. At least that is what they think.

Pack your tools so that when they open your suitcase they can easily
see what you have and don’t try to explain the reason for caring it
and you will probably find like I have that you won’t have any
trouble traveling with your tools.

Also remember that most items that get damaged inside suitcases, is
from the baggage handlers and have nothing to do with TSA. Suitcases
WILL get tossed around and other heavy suitcases will be thrown on
top of yours. Pack anything that might get damaged to the middle of
the suitcase and pack things around and underneath and on top of
fragile items that can withstand the blows of being tossed around.
Also make certain to pack the suitcase tightly so that when closed
nothing can move around inside. If things are loose and every time
the suitcase is picked up the contents tumble around inside something
is bound to get damaged. I use empty Zip-Lock containers and bubble
wrap to fill any voids in my suitcase as they fill the space without
adding a lot of weight. I make certain that when I close the suitcase
I can pick it up and shake it around and nothing will move inside.

Brad Simon
Bench Media