The Right Tool

I grew up being taught a mantra – using the right tool for the job.  It particularly came from my father, encouraging me not to reach for the adjustable spanner as my tool of choice, rather than taking the trouble of finding the right sized ring or open ended spanner.

He applied (and applies) the same approach to his tool collection, particularly when starting out, that when there was a job to do that he didn’t have the right tool for (more often than not when maintaining the family car!), it would be purchased as an investment so the next time (and the time after that, etc) the right tool would be available.

In my woodworking, as particularly highlighted with the roadsign project, having the right tool for the job makes for a much more enjoyable shed experience.  I get an absolute buzz out of working through a job, being able to seamlessly move from one task to the next and have the right tool to do that task easily, and well.  It isn’t everyone cup of tea – there is also a lot that can be gained from making do with what you have – using ingenuity to overcome problems and that certainly has merits of its own.

A mash-up of both approaches is more the reality for me.  I’d love the perfect tool for every job, but as funding is not unlimited, no matter how good a collection of tools there is, there are always problems to solve and work around as well.

There is also the other side to the concept of “The Right Tool”.  If you talk to people who work in service centres for tool companies, I can guarantee they hear of all sorts of stupidity, where the tools has been naively (or otherwise) used for a completely unreasonable task.  They can include circular saws being used to cut masonry, mitre saws cutting metal, and a whole stack of other attempts the unwitting try to unknowingly potentially qualify for the Darwin Awards. I present to you a hypothesis that the cheaper the tool, the more likely that it will be used for tasks and in situations the designers never considered in their wildest dreams (or more likely their darkest nightmare!)

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