Monday, March 14, 2011

Just a user...

..with an embarrassingly wide range of tools from which to choose.

I'm not sure at what point I thought it was a good idea to flout one of the fundamental rules of galootdom and put all my hand tools in one place, but learn from my mistake and don't do it. Just don't. Yeah, so you find a few things you were looking for (plumb bob) and others you didn't know you had (six glass cutters. Six?! I've never cut a piece of glass in my life), but it's not compatible with peace of mind.

But anyway, I did it. More or less. The planes were a step too far, and there are some things with a place to live that made no sense to move until I reach stage two (saws f'rinstance), but pretty much all my woodworking hand tools now reside in boxes of groups. Viz: Measuring and marking to the right; boring to the left.

Yes, that is a whole box of auger bits. No, that is probably not normal. On the plus side, a lot of them are already clean, sharpened and sorted into types. But not all of them. And hey, the measuring and marking box has actual space in it. Okay, so all the things I actually use are in other places and there are a dozen different gauges in a rack on the wall to add in, but still...

The screwdriver/hammer/mallet box is ridiculous. Why do I have all these screwdrivers?! The blue plastic box is not full, but it does have quite a few Yankee screwdriver bits. And adaptors. Let's put it this way; more than I thought I had, although I bet there are three times as many of one sort and barely one of another. The box of spares, parts, blades and raw materials for the repair and making of more tools is even fuller than when I started. I have been ruthless in the stripping of defunct tools for their parts. That hurt.

But you probably want to know the chisel and gouge damage, eh? It's pretty bad, if you chuck in the ones that are hanging on the wall as well. The group at the back of the tool tote is just handles though, honest. Like that makes it better... And yes, those are brand new, unused chisels in their plastic sleeves at the back. And yes, I'd forgotten I had them. And no, I don't think that's healthy either.

Now look, don't throw things. It's not as though I went out and deliberately bought another "X" or "Y" (except for chisels) - this is the result of about three too many bulk purchases. i.e. Tool chests, contents of tool chests, that sort of thing. The trouble is I've never quite got on top of the last one before the next came along and swamped me in more rust. As a result, I've turned into exactly the kind of person who used to annoy the hell out of me when I was starting. "Look at all those tools!" I would rave. "He can't possibly use all those. Why doesn't he sell them so others can have a chance to use them?" Well I know the answer to that one; the sheer logistics of getting them in a condition to pass on is a pretty big incentive to think "Well you never know; I might need a spare..."

But I'm going to try, I really am. Thus, I've just started stage two; go through each box and separate the keepers from the ones that can go. Now whether I clean them as I go, or that happens at stage three (or possibly four) probably depends on my mood at the time. Perhaps more pertinent a question is whether I'll be willing to part with anything at all. Fear not; not even I can find a reason to have four mortise gauges.


  1. But you hit on a fundamental issue. If you are going along and come up on a lovely old tool that is even potentially useful, you grab it when you see it. The combined price of the extras and the users combined is still less than new purchase price.Even if you don't use it yourself, they are great for barter and the occasional gifting.

  2. Don't feel bad about it!

    1 You have all those tools because you care about them! You appreciate the design, the ingenuity, the craftsmanship. You want to care for them and make them well again.

    2 You do have a few more than I do - and that makes me feel better!

  3. Gordon Bennet.

    Are you sure that your not contributing to the slight gravitational anomaly in your neck of the woods?

    But, there should be no shame whatsoever in tool guardianship - future generations will give thanks.

    Thank you for the slightly voyeuristic tour.

    Stephen Ruddock

  4. You clearly need to implement a strict one-in-one-out policy here. For every new item you acquire you have to throw something else out on ebay for the rest of us!


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