Thursday, August 12, 2010

Retrotech in the Shop: Tools

I am not a handyman. Oh, I have managed to provide some home maintenance over the years. I even worked for a few building contractors from time to time. I learned a few things. But I am grateful that I do not have to put bread on the table today using the skills of carpentry, woodworking, masonry, plumbing or mechanics. I know enough about most of those fields to be a danger to myself and any inattentive bystanders; although I can drive a nail or a screw. I can measure a board and cut a pretty straight line.

My father was a craftsman. He could do more with a pocketknife and a pair of pliers than most guys can do with any tools that might be at their disposal. I let most of my dad's equipment go at auction, but I kept a few handtools, mostly for sentimental reasons. But I still use them from time to time.

I have a crosscut handsaw which may be the first saw I ever used as a child. It is small, easily carried in a handy-man tool kit. The upper ear is missing and has been ever since I can remember. I have a brace and several bits. These virtually never get used. I kept a pair of forceps (dental) which belonged to my maternal grandfather and which my dad used to pull teeth-- mine, from time to time, when I was a child. Squares, wrenches. I regret a little bit that I let all the hand planes go, but I hope someone is giving them the use they deserve.

The most modern of Dad's tools which I have is a 7" electric Skilsaw which I use in preference to my own much newer and very expensive high-end brand name saw.


  1. This may totally miss what you're writing about but it's something that may play into what your blog is about...

    The above article predicts an energy crisis soon to come and I foresee at time when we may be force to use retro tech again and become craftsmen like our fathers using hand tools and not power tools.

    I wonder if the Green movement might be encouraged to explore plow animals for farming and other old tech that isn't oil/electric dependent?

    Just food for thought.

  2. Joel-- You pose an interesting question. I had not intended to take the blog in that direction, but rather to make comments about retrotech within my personal space. I think you are right in that we will not long be able to support the demands that we place on our environment in terms of power and water resources.

    Thanks for reading.