Every new hobby or activity is an excuse to buy new tools. Tools for guys are the same, I suppose, as shoes or clothing for some women: any reason, however slim, is sufficient reason to buy more. For me, a guy with a wide range of interests (or maybe just a short attention span), I’ve had lots of reasons to buy lots of different types of tools. And lots of tools, period. Much as I try to keep them organized they end up scattered all over the place — in an organized fashion, of course.
How many sets of tools does a guy need?
There’s a tool box with just the basics in the truck, just for emergencies, of course. There’s the bag of tools I carry on the motorcycle, just the basics again, but also including a few specialty tools because it’s a BMW. There’s a smaller bag that goes under the seat of the each bicycle, also for emergencies. Then there’s the primary tool chest, required for any well-stocked basement or garage. A few simple tools in the kitchen drawer. A couple of jeweler screwdrivers and a couple of pocket knives in my desk drawer. There’s the tool box for electronics tools, accumulated primarily while I was doing ham radio. Some automotive tools including a few specialty leftovers from my days restoring the MGA. A couple of big boxes of specialty professional-quality bicycle tools from the two attempts at running a bicycle shop, and the tools from my bookbinding days. Have I forgotten anything? Oh yeah, building construction, plumbing, and electrical tools from the couple of houses that I’ve built and for home repair projects. And yard implements, of course.
You could follow the history of my life by examining my tools.
I think that my favourite are the bookbinding tools. Not that they’ve gotten much use lately, but because of the special connection I feel for them because I made a lot of them myself. When you make a tool yourself, to meet your own personal needs, you feel a special bond with the tool; it somehow becomes as extension of yourself. The wonderful thing about the craft of bookbinding, and probably other craft sorts of activities as well, is the need (or opportunity) to make your own tools. Do you have a specific task that needs to be done and can’t find the right tool? Then just make one. A piece of bone or chunk of teflon is easily turned into a folder for creasing paper. A broken hacksaw blade is easily modified into a thin, flexible blade called a lifter, used to separate layers of paper. If the business end of the knife is the wrong shape, or if the handle doesn’t fit in your hand just right, then modify it by cutting and/or grinding, then refinishing.
I did this as well for my bicycle frame building projects I engaged in 25 years ago. There weren’t a lot of tools commercially available, and the ones that were came from Europe and were terribly expensive, so I made a lot of my own. With a machinist friend I built a frame jig to hold the tubes in the right position for brazing, and I used various files and other metal-working tools for cutting and shaping the tubes before brazing and then finishing afterwards. I had to make various blocks to hold the tubes while working on them, and jig for the fork as well. Except for the primary jig, which my friend gave away after I had lent it to him, I think that I have all of the rest still in a box somewhere.
Add one more to my sets of tools.