Tools 1: Quality matters!

Of all the everyday objects you will own, Tools deserve a place of honor, since they are the ones you use to make otherTools objects. In fact, tools are arguably what distinguished our hominid ancestors from the animals. For my part, as a maker of things for pleasure and work, tools – the workshop kind – have been my lifelong possessions and companions, so I will blog about them for a bit.

The first point I want to share should be obvious, yet as the massive commerce in low grade tools shows it certainly isn’t: when buying a tool, always go for the best quality available. It does make a huge difference.

machinist's square

Take the tool in the photo: a machinist’s square for metal work. It was made by Moore and Wright of Sheffield, a maker of precision tools since 1906. Now the first time I bought a machinist square (I was in my teens), it was much prettier than this one, and had a scale of centimeters along the edge too; it only had one drawback: it had an angle just short of 90 degrees. So I took it back to the store and got another, with an aluminum stock; this one was just over 90 degrees. Eventually I went to a better store and got the Moore & Wright: no scale, just an ugly lump of iron that tends to rust – but it still measures a precise straight angle after decades.

metal saw

Or take the saw in this photo. I had a cheaper one, and it would use the same blades… only they would pop off the frame every so often. Only when I went and got this more expensive one, made by Eclipse, did the problem go away – and all it took was to have the little rods that go through the blade be longer! Little details like these make a big difference to tool usability and usefulness – and quality is all about the little details.

metal saw - detail

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