Tools and fools


When I was but a lad and establishing my first household, I quickly learned that accumulating the day-to-day tools everyone needs had to become a priority. When I would invite my father over to help me change a light switch or such, I would caution him that any tools he saw in my toolbox that happened to look identical to tools he remembered from his own toolbox were the result of mere coincidence. Friends and family soon understood that tools were always a welcome gift for our young household. And I quickly learned, after making a few tentative tool purchases myself, that the right tool, and the best-made tool, was the correct choice to make.

But I’ve never really lost my inclination for the old five-fingered discount when it comes to tool acquisition. And so, on with today’s post.

Our tree work involves (as I’m sure I’ve bored you with enuf) fencing them with chickenwire. This chickenwire comes in long rolls, and Pablo and Libby must cut off sections of it for each tree. We’ve tried various tools to do this including pliers with wire-cutting blades built in. The black-handled set you see above was our most promising. Not only was it new (and presumably sharp), but the handle was spring loaded so that after clamping down on the chickenwire, it would open on its own, thus saving our hands one extra step (which can accumulate over a morning of snipping).

But the new tools were disappointing. We managed to get all of our daily cutting done, but job seemed to require more effort than it should. Each time, as we turned to the task, we recalled that back at home, in some dusty pile of otherwise forgotten tools was an old red tin snips that might work better. And we’d recall this old tool just as soon as we were already down at Roundrock and unrolling the chickenwire.

Well, through some cosmic influence, one of us remembered to pack the old red tin snips before our latest trip to the woods, and when we unrolled the chickenwire, Libby took the snips in hand and began cutting. And she flew through the fabric of the chickenwire! So, once again, the right tool for the job made all the difference. (Libby used this better tool not out of some gentlemanly courtesy of mine but because the old red tin snips had been “liberated” from her father’s toolbox many years ago.)

I’d say we’ve fenced about half of all of the plantings we have made, so there is still more chickenwire work to be done. I wish we had made this tool discovery sooner, but I’m glad we managed to make it at all.

Missouri calendar:

  • Young gray squirrels search for home territories.

6 Responses to “Tools and fools”

  1. Ed Abbey Says:

    Even though I own a couple tin snips, I’ve always used a pair of side cutters for my wire snipping needs. Never thought about using the tin snips on light guage chicken wire.

    Speaking of tin snips, I rarely even use them. Most of my tin cutting needs are filled with a skilsaw with an old blade put on backwards. I really only use them for cutting trim pieces.

  2. Duane Keys Says:

    I had to laugh to myself, as my dad still thinks half the tools in my tool box are his. My brand preference was heavily influenced by my primary male influence of course (my dad).

    The difference between my father and I when it comes to tools is that I know exactly where every one of my implements is located and when I use them I put them back where they belong. Growing up that job was tasked to me by my father for his tools. So it stuck with me, but since I’m out of the house he can’t ever find any one of the multiple of a single tool he owns (he continues to buy replacements, then promptly loose them following a project).

    Now that’s not to say I won’t be returning some of the tools I actually am borrowing from him!

  3. Mark Paris Says:

    Oh the right tool is definitely the right tool. I learned that with a $40 hose clamp pliar set from Sears. You might need it only once, but when you need that tool, no other tool will work anywhere near as well.

    The choice of quality is a little harder these days due to the presence of the ubiquitous Chinese tool sets (sometimes Indian). Some are quite good, but some have a lot higher tolerances than anyone who really uses tools can accept. The alternative is, of course, much more expensive. Unless you can find an old version of that tool in your father’s toolbox. Chances are, that tool was well made.

    I have several of several different tools, because I have learned that it is sometimes more time efficient for me to buy a new one than spend half the day looking for the old one. That also gives a perfect excuse for wandering the aisles of the hardware department at the home center.

  4. Hick Says:

    Tools! GACK. A person very close to me (cough*Uberhusband*cough) “acquires” my tools because he can never find his own. I even bought pink tools so that he would be too embarrassed to use them…but that didn’t stop him.

  5. FloridaCracker Says:

    Yup, the tin snips were the right thing for chwire. I really love linesman pliers for most wire work. I learned to love them as a construction worker tieing steel rebar in footers.
    My latest pair has a curved handle that is so ergonomic.

  6. Tjilpi Says:

    Dad gave me one of his files. He often bought two tools if he came across a good brand and a good tool, and he may have been anticipating the five-finger discount. He was like that. I don’t remember his giving me any gifts after boyhood; but I’ve sure got a lot of his tools. The one I like most is the file – it is officially known as a “flat bastard file”.

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