Tuesday, April 04, 2006


I am a tool fiend. I love tools. All tools. Implements made by Man to fix, build, or tear down the objects of Man. I am not an anthropoligist, and most likely do not fully appreciate tool usage as one of those important dividers between us and the rest of the animal kingdom. But I do recognize that I can use them and my dog can't. All my dog can do is chew on them and make them all slobbery.

My infatuation with tools has created a sizable collection. I just love a project that means I have to buy or make a new tool. I have definitely graduated from the ordinary tool box. I now seek single purpose tools with obscure and odd intents. The special sheet metal cutter I bought many years ago to cut sheet metal in curves and leave the edges clean was used for one project. It now sits in a box in almost brand new condition. I should sell it. It would probably bring a good chunk of jingle, but I cannot. A tool bought by me, remains bought. I only rid myself of them once they are worn out. And even then I agonize. A major pile of dead and decrepit tools lie around waiting for me to rob the handles or think of a new use for their worn out condition.

I would say that this tool fetish is a man thing, but I cannot. My wife has the same sort of interest. Her collection differs from mine, but is nevertheless as complete as mine is. Her sewing machine is top of the line and is supported by a huge drawer of tools, bobbins, specialty needles, and countless doodads I have no idea what they are for. Her basket making toolkit includes tools I drool over but know I cannot have. I can borrow them when needed, but that is not the same as ownership.

To counter my love of tools, I hate cheap tools. Or tools that do not deliver as promised. My daughter was headed out camping with some other kids her age. Up to that point, she had always relied on one of my knives to see to her knife needs when we camped together. My wife, woefully ignorant of what a good pocket knife is, came home with one of those last minute pick it up impulse knives that sit on the counter of the hardware store. A cheap knock off of a better, well known knife. I almost tossed it. A child's first pocket knife is a big deal. Their first knife needs to be well made and simple. Forget the gee gaws and extra spoon for eating.

I went right back to the hardware store and plopped that poor excuse of a knife on the counter and gave my hardware guy Hell. He had not sold the knife to my wife, but he agreed with me. A child's first knife should not have been that one. It was way too big and had entirely too much going on. We both went back to the glass enclosed boutique knife section and spent 20 minutes coming up with just the right one. Not too big, but with at least 2 blades. Afterall she wasn't looking for a means of self defense or skinning a moose, she just needed something to whittle with and maybe cut a twinkie in two.

My daughter still has that knife 10 years later. Having been raised by both parents to appreciate a good tool, she keeps it sharp and clean. And she uses it when the situation warrants a sharp knife. Unlike me, she will most likely have it forever. But like me, she appreciates it's simplicity and dependability.