One of the pleasant surprises last weekend is that my parents and my brother and his wife lavished me with early birthday presents while I was in Fort Stockton. The Big Day is actually next week (the 28th, in case you’re computing shipping time for that new Crossfire…but I’m willing to wait as long as the 30th), but we weren’t likely to see one another before then.
Among other goodies, I received a 5 1/2″ Craftsman cordless circular saw, complete with laser guide. This little gem is bound to be a big time saver since my household jobs are usually small enough that it takes as much time to haul out the big saw, string an extension cord and then reverse the process when finished as it does to make the cuts.
Anyway, all the guys were impressed while the girls made polite remarks before resuming their discussion about the latest catalog from Talbots. Now, I’m not trying to read too much into this, but it does seem to me that guys just naturally get more excited than girls about hardware and tools. I know there are exceptions — on both sides of the aisle — but, generally speaking, it’s a valid differentiator of gender.
And it occurred to me that I’ve never seen a tool meme in the blogosphere. That’s a crying shame, and someone should do something about it.
- What’s the last tool you bought? It was a 4 pound short-handled sledge hammer. It’s not often that I need a sledge hammer, but when I do, nothing else will fit the bill…not the clawhammer, not the rubber mallet, not the phenolic mallet or even the ballpeen. And the short-handled sledge matches perfectly to the 50-pound anvil I bought a few years back.
- Which tool do you enjoy using so much that you make up jobs for it? That would have to be the little 110 volt wirefeed (MIG) welder (another gift from mi hermano). Having worked around welders in the oilfield when I was in college, I always admired the way they brought a certain artistic eye to the shaping of even the most massive pieces of metal. And even though I don’t have a tiny fraction of those skills (I once set my own pants on fire), there’s just something special about putting electrode to steel and generating sparks. Plus, it keeps the neighbors wondering just what you’re up to.
- What’s the most obscure and yet useful tool in your collection? That’s a tough one, but I think the tool that’s bailed me out of more tight spaces, literally, is my angled ratcheting screwdriver. They’ll generate a surprising amount of torque for such a small tool, and they’ll sometimes save you from having to completely dismantle a mechanism just to fix one part. (Like, when one doesn’t necessarily follow the assembly instructions to the letter, but the problem doesn’t become obvious until late in the process. Not that I would know anything about that!)
- What tool do you use most often? This is easy. Hardly a day goes by that I don’t find a use for the little cordless screwdriver that came with my 19.4 volt Craftsman cordless drill. Now, the cordless drill is a fine piece of, um, Craftsmanship, but I can stick the screwdriver in my pocket and it will do the smaller jobs that the drill would just overpower. Tim Taylor wasn’t always right with his primal call for “more power.”
- Which tool do you admire most for its sheer craftsmanship? I answer this with a certain amount of melancholy, as the tool in question is no longer with us. It was a Japanese folding pruning saw, which I bought years ago from Garrett Wade. As with any good pruning saw, it cut on the pull stroke, so as to reduce binding. But this jewel of a tool sliced through branches so quickly and smoothly as to be effortless. I do believe that all the shrubs and trees in our yard breathed a collective sigh of relief when I managed to snap the blade. I’ve repressed the memory of how I did it, but the sadness lingers.
- Bonus question: Box or bag? I grew up with toolboxes, and only late in life have discovered the utility of a well-constructed toolbag. If you must be annoyingly well-organized, go with the box…but if you must be well-equipped, the right bag will let you carry everything you need, and then some.
The idea of tagging someone for a meme like this is just too girly, so I won’t do it. But if you’re similarly inspired by things that shape, break, attach or otherwise modify other things, then feel free to pick this one up and work with it.