Every year, at least once (for his birthday or for Christmas, depending) I give my father-in-law the same exact presents: A tape measure, a utility knife, and a pencil. This way, when we are working on something like sheet-rocking the kitchen, patching the bullet hole in the roof of the cabin, or installing the invisible surround sound system there will be a tape measure, a utility knife, and a pencil. The tape measure tells you where to cut, the pencil marks where you will cut, and the utility knife cuts it. There are lots of other tools involved in carrying out these tasks, but these three are the tools most likely to be stolen by gremlins. The table saw and the electric drill seem to lack legs, but the tape measure, knife and pencil are temporary visitors on this earth. Or so it seems.
But as it turns out, no matter how may of these items I give him, or that he picks up at the hardware store, they always disappear.
Sometimes we know why … like the time I left the talking tape measure on the roof of my car when I drove over to the Mule Lake Store to pick up some bait. (I could hear it fall off the roof and bounce into the ditch …. “Heeeellp meeeee!!!” it said … but when I went back to look for it, the gremlins had gotten there first!) Usually we don’t know what happened to these items. Sometimes we’ll suddenly find two or three tape measures, a half dozen carpenter’s pencils, and a sharp utility knife, in various nooks and crannies and over a short period of time, but never when we need them. When we look for them, they always disappear.
Pondering this dilemma1, my mind wandered a bit to what the ideal tool kit would actually consist of. One is always in search of such an idea. For my part, I have a small tool box with small screwdrivers, small cutters and pliers, and a few electrical bits and pieces; a medium size tool box with a range of wrenches, pliers, screw drivers, and other tools; and a very large tool box with cordless drills and saws, as well as hammers and other large items. Aside from this I have a socket wrench set in its original box, a Dremel in its original box, and a couple of cardboard boxes containing smaller containers of hardware. This is me poor of tools. At various times in my life I’ve had quite a few more, and for a while I even worked in a rather well equipped shop with all kinds of gadgets. But now, I’ve got it all in these relatively portable containers. Not that I can ever find the actual tool I need at the moment …
Anyway, earlier today I came across something that I found quite interesting and, if you’ve gotten this far in this blog post, you will find interesting as well (those who went on to do other things because they are not into tools have been weeded out). These are videos of Jamie Hyneman talking about and demonstrating his toolkits. As an archaeologist (we use the word “toolkit” as a term of art) and a poor excuse for a fiddler, I found these videos absolutely fascinating. I want to take them to the hardware store and say “Fill ‘er up” to the lady behind the counter, showing her this video. Well, actually, I do have many of the items Jamie mentions and I can never hope to have the cool cases he has to carry his stuff in. But those chain wrenches and that soldering iron sure are nice ….
Have a look.
Jamie’s Toolkit Part I:
I think Jamie doesn’t know about the gremlins! But they seem to like to take his pencils too! I love the unibits. Jamie is totally correct about the value of the calipers.
Jamie’s Toolkit Part II:
That fishook remover is also good for pulling stuff out of your kid’s nose. I was just telling someone the other day about the importance of a good beefy pair of well made diagonal cutters. The camera man is really into this.
Jamie’s Toolkit Part III:
You can not have too many vice grips. And a square hole maker. Nice. Also, find a unique yellowish or orange color and dab all your tools with it. Easier to find the tools in tall grass, and your “guys” can’t steal your stuff as easily.
Jamie’s Toolkit Part IV
Keep your carbide cutter handy at all times! Jamie could use a Handy Pocket Ref to supplement his in-case chart.
Jamie’s Toolkit Part V
Hey, guys, give him back his stuff!
1Though it is not really a dilemma because there are not two equally pointy choices.