Tools are under-appreciated by most of us officey types. Whether it’s a circular saw, a drill, a planer, an arc welder, or just a simple car jack, too many of us aren’t ready to get our hands dirty.
It’s not the dirt, of course. It’s just that certain tools can be outside our bubble of competence, and it’s human nature to shy away from getting involved in something we probably, in the beginning, won’t be much good at.
But here’s the really great thing about tools: If you have the right tools – and the skills to use them – you can turn anything into anything.
You can turn a discarded old oak pallet into a beautiful jewelry box. You can turn scrap metal into sculpture, or a rusty steel pipe into a gleaming barbecue pit. You can turn a ragged old house into a welcoming home.
You can turn garbage into gold. Metaphorically, at least.
Three rules for tools:
- Buy the best tools you can afford.
- Learn to use them safely and thoroughly.
- Never lend them out for any reason.
Rule 1: Anybody who’s bought a cheap tool has lived to regret it. That bargain socket wrench set that LOOKS just like the more expensive ones, is not. It’s a cheap knockoff of something better, and it will neither last nor perform as well. And there’s nothing worse than getting halfway through a critical job and having your socket or screwdriver or router bit fail on you. The cheaper ones are also dangerous. If you’re leaning on a wrench to try to break free a rusty nut, and the socket breaks loose, it’s gonna hurt. Buy the best, always. Good tools are made well enough to last pretty much your entire lifetime. Which means they’re cheaper in the long run.
Rule 2: Power tools aren’t kid stuff. Get some safety training if you’re unused to, say, a circular saw or a jointer-planer. If you use it wrong, it really can take your hand off in a split second. The same blade that rips into a length of pine can put you in the hospital, or worse. Keep your insides on your inside by being damned careful.
Rule 3: Can I borrow your new mower? Can I borrow your expensive wheelbarrow? Can I borrow your paint sprayer? No, no, and no. Find a way to gracefully beg off, or just be blunt about it, but don’t lend your tools to your neighbors, your friends, or your kids. Go over and use the tool for them, if you must, but don’t lend it out. It sounds harsh, even unfriendly, but there are some good reasons for it. First, if your chainsaw rips into some kid’s arm, or your powerful mower slings a rock into somebody’s eye, oh boy are you going to feel bad. Not to mention the lawsuit. And then there’s this: Nobody loves your tools like you do. They WON’T take care of them the way you do. The guy who loves tools as much as you do – and yes, there are plenty of them out there – probably has his own, and won’t be asking to borrow yours. There’s also the fact that most tools have a service period built into them. Well-maintained, they just might last forever. Poorly taken care of, they won’t. You do the math.
Finally, Rule 4: Use them! Turning garbage into gold is exciting! Satisfying! Fun!