- Arts and Design
Hand Tools and Hands - Wondrous Workhorses
Wondrous World of Tools
I am a tool girl. I love tools...files, rasps, screw drivers, wrenches, sanders, dremel tools. It is empowering to make things or fix things with your hands. This is why I prefer a dremel tool with a tiny cutter or file attached to it over a computer mouse. What would we do if we didn't have that flathead or philips screwdriver to take things apart? The other day my vacuum cleaner wasn't working very well. I took it apart, and oddly enough, instead of being aggravated, I found myself enjoying finding out how my vacuum cleaner works. I got out all of the stuff that was blocking it, put it back together (thanks to my handy dandy philips head screwdriver) and finished vacuuming. I would love to go back in time and meet the person who invented the philips head screwdriver. An invaluable tool.
Out in the garden, you have to have sharp pruning tools; from time to time, most plants require judicious or severe pruning to save the plant. If you don't have very sharp tools you will mangle your plant you're trying to save and open them up to disease or injury. I have a metal file that works wonders on my pruners. A couple of swipes with this metal file and my pruners are good to go. I wonder who developed the metal file and for what reason, but of course, to sharpen other metal tools!
Power drills or hand drills can be your best friend. Sometimes I grab my husband's power drill...no wonder guys like these things. Pick your drill bit, tighten it in and you can drill through just about anything. Or, conversely, use a hand drill. These are perfect for more delicate work. My dad used to have a hand drill and I think we still have it somewhere in the basement. Still works and it must be at least 40 years old.
Hand Tools Equals Hand Made
Today, many things in manufacturing are computerized and robot driven. Computer driven robots with tools in their "hands" put together many parts of the cars we use many times quicker than humans ever could. These robotics are utilized in a multitude of industries and it ihas greatly streamlined the manufacturing process. Robotics have revolutionized certain industries, but automation isn't everywhere, and that's where us human beings come in. What hand tools allow us to do is to continue to create hand made objects which require originality and craftmanship. Contrary to what might be the popular view, I think the market for handmade items has grown over the past few years and with this comes the need for the indispensable array of hand tools that are available.
I watched a segment on the show "How Its Made" which showed wood being cut for a surfboard (I think it was a person using a bandsaw to cut the shape of the surfboard), and, the final finish of the board was hand sanded with a hand sander tool. The final coats of shellac were put on with a brush (by hand), yey! This keeps the artisan level work of making surfboards by hand alive and kicking, and continues to allow all of us surfers (or would be surfers) to be able to catch a wave. We couldn't participate or enjoy watching some of the best surfers in the world without the skill of the artisans who make the boards. There is a sensitivity in your hands that translates to the tools you are using, which tells you how much "just enough" pressure is when you are sanding or hammering. Your hands have thousands of nerves in the fingertips which send information whizzing to your brain, which tells you what your next move should be. How cool is that. No robot could do that!
Some Favorites of Mine
The five 'n one tool is great for professional house painters and weekend house warriors who feel adventurous with their spackled on wallpaper. This tool is great for cutting lines into wallpaper and lifting it off the wall. It can also be used as a scraper and chisel (to dig deeper if need be), and a paint roller cleaner. There is a rounded part to the tool where you run your roller under/over the curve to push the paint from the roller. Some wallpaper seems to be spackled to the wall. All I can say is don't even attempt to get the old glue and paper off without your five 'n one tool! Kudos to the man or woman who invented the five 'n one tool.
Another favorite of mine is the metal tubing cutter. I make copper curtain tie backs with 1/8" or 1/16" solid copper tubing. I also bend swirls of copper tubing to put around my terra cotta pots which I have in lots of different sizes. This very useful tool is used to cut lengths of metal tubing with ease. It is a gadget with a cutting wheel on one side and small rollers opposite the wheel. You place the tubing between these two parts, rotate the cutter a number of times until your piece of metal breaks apart cleanly. I love a tool that works well!
A few more of my favorite tools are the rubber mallet and the tile nippers. As you may be able to tell from my other hubs, I am a very creative kind of girl. When I work on sterling silver wire jewelry, my rubber mallet is never far from me. One end is true rubber and the other end looks like a type of soft acrylic. To aneal (strengthening the silver by hardening it), the sterling silver, you actually need to pound on it with a mallet. This tool is never far from my side.
I have been working on a Mediterranean mosaic table which requires fitting pieces of old ceramics or glass into a specific design. This could not have been done without the tile nippers. After you break the ceramics, you need to shape them. You do this by nipping off pieces of the larger piece until it fits into your design. The nippers are simply a plier like tool, but with a flattened head with a sharp edge. Put your piece of ceramic in the nippers, squeeze firmly and quickly and presto you have a piece of your design ready to go! These are the tools I wouldn't be without and this is why I am a tool girl! How about you, what's your favorite tool?
Sources for Your Tools
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