Monday, October 27, 2014

Duct tape, knitting needles and other essential tools...

Oct. 5
What’s in your toolbox?
I used to think, when I was growing up with an engineer dad, and later married to a physicist/engineer/woodworking/model-building husband, that tools were not a vital part of my personal life, or anything that need concern me.
As an otherwise liberated executive woman friend used to say of our mechanically skilled hubbies: “We have kitchens and laundry. Anything involving cars and tools is their mess.”
I pretty much held to that view later, when I moved on become a single householder. I decided the most important things in my toolbox are the names and contact information for those who can wield tools more skillfully than I’d ever be able to manage. And I must confess, I noticed that it was considerably easier and quicker to hire someone to do odd jobs than it was to nag one’s recalcitrant spouse to do something.
To be honest, it can even be cheaper, when you consider the funds and resources a perfectionist hubby might invest in tools, books, online instructional items and even, in some cases, expensive instructional courses.
I could tell you the tale of a hapless wife who just needed a few feet of crown molding replaced or repainted. Six months later, her husband had located a set of tools used many decades ago by a long-departed relative, a carpenter maestro from the old country. He had them shipped to his home and they arrived in a beautiful old trunk. That sparked an interest in modern tools that could almost, but not quite, replicate the effects of ancient craftsmanship, and an obsession with exotic woods. Soon, most of their garage and their guest bedroom were filled with his collection of rare woods and his new library of books on wood and ancient and modern carpentry techniques. He joined woodworking clubs and signed up for classes at the local community college.
And, as you’ve probably guessed, the hunk of forlorn crown molding remained untouched.
When I bought my semi-adobe abode, I was surprised how pleased I was to receive a nicely outfitted toolbox of my very own. My thoughtful amigos had probably noticed my own makeshift toolkit (still a favorite that’s in regular use). It’s a pretty little tin cylinder with blue and white fauns and flowers. It’s stocked with nails, a tiny hammer, little pliers, a screw driver and knitting needles. (If you aren’t a girl or a knitter, you may not appreciate how handy a basket of yarn, twine and various sized of knitting needles can be, for prying, retrieving and a variety of household emergencies, as well as for creating chic scarves and sweaters).
My little tin was also supplemented by my large stash of art supplies: brushes, paints, frame wire, glue guns, fusable web and other sewing and crafts staples that I’ve found very handy for home repairs and decor projects.
My gift toolkit has all the basics, but in serious sizes and many forms, plus a staple gun, calk and nail guns, a nice little saw, lots of cool tapes that made me want to create cool art projects and yes, even a power drill. (That intimidated me a little at first, but now I not only use it but have even began to understand the guy thing about power tools. It’s all in there in the name: there really is a sense of power, control and competency in skillfully wielding ‘em. You begin to believe we could bring order out of chaos, save the planet and usher in an era of world peace, if only we could find just the right tools.
Now I have two whole shelves in the pantry and part of a lazy susan in the kitchen, all filled with helpful tools. I still call in the pros for the big and most of the medium stuff, but I find I can do a surprising amount of useful little jobs on my own.
I feel I have even improved on some small tasks, like using cooking spray instead of WD-40 for squeaky hinges.
It smells better.
S. Derrickson Moore may be reached at dmoore@lcsun-news, @DerricksonMoore on Twitter and Tout, or call 575-541-5450.

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