September 7, 2010

A “terrific, haphazard mess of twenty arbitrary thingamabobs”

Filed under: Humour, Randomness — Tags: — Nicholas @ 12:57

I’m not much of a woodworker, so I don’t quite have the necessary gravitas to manage a proper takedown like SippicanCottage:

It’s a shameful pleasure of mine, I admit it. I love to read lists of tools randomly drawn from a Home Depot flyer, written by people that can’t write, aimed at people that don’t make anything but reservations. Popular Mechanics doesn’t disappoint with their: Tools Everyone Should Own. It’s a terrific, haphazard mess of twenty arbitrary thingamabobs, written in the breathless prose usually reserved for paperbacks with pictures of Fabio on their cover and the tears of countless overweight data entry clerks dappling the pages.

OK, first, let’s take care of the easy stuff:

  • Sledgehammer – You don’t need that
  • Center Punch – You don’t need that
  • Combination wrench – Singular? Never mind. The item just before it is a socket wrench set. You don’t need both. And they put an adjustable wrench on the list, too. How many nuts you got, Willis? Are they all loose?
  • Jigsaw – You don’t need that. And Jig Saw is two words.
  • Tin Snips -You don’t need those
  • Machinist Vise – You don’t need one of those

Down to fourteen.

Hmmm. What about a slightly more serious look at the PM list? Here’s my barely informed views on the suggestions:

  1. Sledgehammer. I’ve got one. I bought it for one specific job. I’ve only ever used it for that one job. Should have borrowed one from the neighbours.
  2. Center Punch. I’ve got one. Inherited it from my late father-in-law’s toolkit. Never used it.
  3. Putty Knife. I’ve got a few. Used occasionally for filling voids in plywood.
  4. Safety Glasses. SC is right: this isn’t a tool, but you should definitely use them whenever you’re waving powertools around.
  5. Adjustable Wrench. Got a few, mostly inherited. Occasionally used, but I could get by with fewer.
  6. Pipe Wrench. Got one, also inherited. Never used it.
  7. Socket Wrench Set. I have both metric and Imperial flavours. Used fairly frequently (far more than I thought when I first bought a cheap set at Canadian Tire). SC is right that if you’ve got a socket set, you should have few uses for adjustable wrenches.
  8. Combination Wrench. I have several, unmatched, in various states of rust/paint/corrosion. All inherited, and rarely used.
  9. Jigsaw. One of the first power tools I bought. Rarely used once I bought a table saw.
  10. Crosscut Saw. Once I used a Japanese saw, I scrapped all my “traditional” western saws. Cutting on the pull stroke allows a much thinner blade, and better control in use.
  11. Snips. I have some general purpose snips. They’re just oversized scissors, and not used very often in my shop. Probably more useful if you do metalwork.
  12. Needle-Nose Pliers. Yeah, okay, you probably need these.
  13. Power Drill. Yes, you need this one too. Don’t go for the biggest and best: at heart, these are simple tools and you don’t need too many “features”. Variable speed and a “pilot light” are probably all 98% ever use in the way of extras. More battery power also means more weight: unless you want the exercise, don’t go bigger than you can comfortably lift and hold without wobble or shake.
  14. Drill Bits. I don’t know why they listed this separately: what good is your power drill without drill bits?
  15. Circular Saw. I’ve got one, and use it for breaking down plywood panels pretty much exclusively (I can’t get full 4’x8′ panels down the basement stairs). If you have a table saw, you won’t use your circular saw as often.
  16. Measuring Tape. Yes, you need one. Get a good one. A metal case is probably better for general use, because it’s one tool that everyone seems to drop off the workbench every now and again.
  17. Hammer. Yes, you need one, but you won’t use it as often as you expect.
  18. Machinist Vise. No, you don’t need one, unless you’re doing metal work. I have one — bought on sale several years ago — it’s still in its original packaging.
  19. Multibit Screwdriver. Yes. Get a good one, if you can: you’ll use it a lot.
  20. Extension Cord. Once again, not really a tool, but do get a heavy duty cord for running your power tool away from the outlet: don’t use cheap household extension cords for this.

H/T to American Digest for the link.


  1. You only used the sledgehammer once? How do you get rid of old printers, phones and small appliances? Or an over-abundance of ugly glass vases that build up from gifts of cut flowers from various birthdays/Mother’s Days/special events?

    Comment by Chris Taylor — September 7, 2010 @ 14:46

  2. I don’t collect as many phones/printers/etc. as I work on the software side, not in hardware. There’s often a temptation to take the sledge to one of the family printers, but so far we’ve been able to force it to provide the bare minimum of acceptable printing.

    And the glass vases? They’re the definition of the Tolkienish “mathom” to be passed along to the next sucker in line.

    Comment by Nicholas — September 7, 2010 @ 17:09

  3. […] Jon, my former virtual landlord, wanted to respond to this post: […]

    Pingback by More on that list of tools you don’t need « Quotulatiousness — September 10, 2010 @ 12:28

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