Thursday, September 10, 2009


Tools. The implements we use to do our jobs, support our lifestyle, create a positive cash flow. We all use them.

The truck driver has his truck, the broker his ticker tape. Cops have cars and guns. And kids have their toys.

Tools are not restricted to just the metallic gadgets we fix mechanical contrivances with. Tools can be a set of rules, guidelines or strategies we use to make it through our weeks, our months and years on this planet.

Yes, everyone of us has a variety of tools we draw upon to labor successfully or play gleefully. Some tools have serious intent. Their very construction and appearance tell us to use these tools with care. Other tools we dig out just so we can cope, hope, or deal with the travesties and trials encountered on the trip from the cradle to the grave. Tools that have no presence outside of our minds. But are probably the ones we rely on the most.

I am sure I could lose myself and compose many paragraphs on the emotional and subjective tools we use to smooth our ways. However, in an effort to stay on track - this post is really just a tribute to hand tools. Not power tools. Not tools of persuasion. Just tools held in my hand. Tools that tell me by their shape and feel just what they are for. I especially like tools needed to do specific jobs or that are found only in certain areas of repair or production. To narrow it down even further, I will say that I am fascinated by bicycle tools. The more obscure the better. I don't even need to have a tool because I know I will need it. I will acquire a tool just because. No other reason than to just derive pleasure from my ownership of that tool.

Often I am just thrilled to find a hand tool that addresses those small repair irritations cleanly and quickly. Take for instance the "PP-1", the hydraulic piston press from Park Tool. Ever since Disc brakes came on the bike scene a regular problem was how to pry open closed caliper pads without damaging the pads. A screw driver would work, but never gave me a warm fuzzy feeling of confidence. It is not a sexy tool. Certainly not as awe inspiring or intimidating as the TS-2 Truing Stand. But no less important in my opinion.

It is not one tool that turns my head, it is the grouping of tools that does. On those rare occasions when I have put every tool back in it's place and I have cleaned the bench top of the grease and oil spots accumulated over the day, I will often just stand back and look at the collection of wrenches, pliers, cutters and screw drivers. Sometimes I wonder at the process we humans have gone through to even come up with such a collection of implements. How these tools stand out as the major difference between us and the the rest of the animal world. Other times I get lost for a moment in appreciation. Thanking my father for instilling in me a love of tools and the productive things that can be done with them. It always seems to follow then, I will think of my daughter and my own efforts to pass down this appreciation to another generation. And I will smile.

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