Thursday, March 15, 2012

Trusty or Rusty Tools

A superb crew works for me.  The success of my projects depends on that team.  When they show up, smart, well-dressed, strong, and well honed, there is little that can stop us.  That's how I like it.

The "crew" are my tools.  The team varies and is always being fine tuning, being assembled from the best I have--my 10" Makita Compound Miter Saw, a tape measure, a good screwdriver with variable tips, a Makita cordless drill, a hammer (borrowed from my husband), and a tri-square/level.

Before cleaning
The tri-square appeared awhile back on our workbench though we can't remember from where.  My husband's tri-square, as it hangs on the pegboard above the workbench, is shiny new-looking. This come-lately one is crusted, rusted and unappealing.  For the woodshed venture, I picked the gnarly one--thought I'd give it a little workout and attention on the job.  It worked well enough to line up those roof boards and give me straight/square lines when I was measuring lumber.  And I didn't mind getting it wet.


I want to prove a point to myself as one of the Things I get to do today: Shiny, clean tools work better than rusty, dirty ones.  That means for this tri-square to stay on the job with me, it needs to clean up its act. Since I'm responsible for my crew, I need to clean up its act.  During the steel-wooling of the ruler section, I pondered my hypothesis about clean vs. rusty. The marks on the rule do not change with the surface condition; however, it is harder to adjust accurately if it's rusty. So the tool actually does work slightly better when it's clean.

More important, however, is how one feels when using the tool.  Frustrated, unsure, fumbling, grumpy, impoverished, unclear; or confident, abundant, masterful, accomplished, smart, professional?   The thought and the attitude of the person determines how skillfully the tool is used. I work better when I wear makeup, and I work better when my tools look sharp and work well.

One final observation:   Look-like-new can be kept that way.  Maintain your crew and they'll work faithfully for you forever. You don't want the "before" and "after" labels above to be reversed.  Few tools can be salvaged as easily as this vintage Stanley Handyman No.H1222 1/2.


  1. I am so bad about taking care of my tools.

    1. Oh, Sweetie, you may want to take another look at that whole idea. These guys are on your side. You might say to yourself: "I'm looking forward to having nicer tools" and then take one baby step toward making one of them prettier. Good Luck!

    2. i have nothing of significance to say here! the tool i try to use most is my brain, rusty, old, and not always reliable, but it's mine! i try to polish it up every day by doing the Boston Globe crossword puzzle, not very difficult, by reading something thoughtful from any number of places (books, on-line quotes from Word-a-day, Thich Nhat Hahn, Pema Chodron), and generally write a little "something," some times about the past day/current day, some times about an issue i'm trying to figure out, sometimes a description of wee Robbie and his hunts in the backyard. sorry: no picture of rust-free brain at work!

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    4. Well, Karen, it would certainly seem that the best and most convenient tool is our brain. Use it well enough to do the creation and few other tools are needed. Brilliant you are! And since you mentioned wee Robbie, so is he, but then we both knew that.