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There’s a Tool for That

Tool collections speak to me. You know what someone has done when they’ve got shelves full of well-used tools. If you’re observant, you can tell when they picked up a certain skill along the way too. I walked into the basement of an older gentleman I know who doesn’t get around much now to change out his dehumidifier. His tool collection was accumulated in the 1950’s through the 1970’s. And it could still do the job today.

My own collection of tools grows with every to-do list. It took off when I began working construction jobs during college breaks. And then started rigging boats, maintained a temperamental F-150, pulled network cable and finally as a homeowner a few times over. I added an angle grinder last weekend because it’s the only good way to cut vinyl siding. How I’d gone so long without one is a mystery to me, but now it’s handy for the next odd project that requires that certain tool.

There are some tools you buy in case you need it later. Those tend to grow lonely and still look new years later. Tools shouldn’t be bought on speculation. A tool is best acquired when you’re in need of it. The immediacy of the task demands a quick learning curve, and a lifetime of working towards mastery. Tools patiently wait for you to develop the skills to use it to its potential.

I don’t ever worry about working, because I could leave my dress clothes behind today and start a small construction business. Or simply work for someone else. There’s always work in the trades, and never enough people willing to roll up their sleeves, grab their tools and get to it. What’s more permanent, the forecast I’m contemplating or the brick patio I laid down in 2006?

A guy I worked for a long time ago once told me that there was nothing to any profession but learning the tricks of the trade. Every trick is now easily found on YouTube. Mastery is a different story, but you can make that up with time and patience (and a few do-overs). Those projects just need a willing apprentice to tackle them. And, of course, the right tool.

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