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Monday, October 3, 2011

Odds and ends at the hardware store

When money’s really tight, certain things just don’t get replaced. I use things I’ve already got. Food is the big one, but once that’s replaced, I can buy other things.

Small tools take a beating. I lost one of my vise grips on Rt 95 in CT. Long story. Finally got around to replacing it. Rather than buy a cheap knock off, I waiting until I could afford quality. That’s the sort of tool that’s used when it’s time to get mean. The regular proper tools haven’t worked: bolts are stripped, parts are corroded, and so on. Vise grips are abused. Cheap ones will break and bust your hand.

I bought tacks and a proper tack hammer. Having the right tool for the job makes all the difference. For too long I’ve had to drive tacks with a framing hammer. It’s like trying to perform delicate surgery with a machete.

Then there’s all the other bits that get used up: screws, glue, stain, pencils, clips, tape and whatnot. That stuff adds up. By the time I got out of the hardware store, my wallet was $70 lighter.

There’s nothing I bought that I absolutely had to have, but it’s not possible to do everything with nothing. A tool using animal needs tools.



  1. Mostly, I use my Vice-Grips for fabrication. Must have 30 pairs of the things. You are correct in that there is no replacement for the real thing.
    I'm such a tool junky, that I have special tools to use instead of Vice-Grips. Although sometimes, nothing else will do the job.
    My wife tells me that I could open up my own hardware store lol.

  2. They make a good clamp, especially when working with steel. Nice to have right tool, but necessary to have a tool that'll do.

  3. The right tool for the job is important. It seems that I never can find the right tool at the right time.

  4. very things smell better than a real hardware store.

    and very things look better than a person who can use the tools found in that hardware store.

    (did I say that out loud?)

  5. My high school shop teacher received a box of cheap knock off Vice Grips from the school purchasing folks. Without saying a word he neatly lined them up on the welding table, lit the acetylene torch, and cut them all in half. After they cooled, he boxed them up and sent them back to the purchasing folks with a short note that we never saw (though I can imagine what he might have said). He was an old Marine, and we never heard a word from the admin about it. They were afraid of him, and rightly so : )

    On tools: a busted knuckle and the four letter words that invariably followed, or ANY use of a Crescent wrench would get a well aimed socket launched at you from across the shop (he kept a box of odd/worn/broken sockets for the purpose) and he'd holler "Use the right tool for the job a$$hole!" I loved that man like a Grandpa : )

  6. Dizzy: sometimes I'm actually surprised when I find the right tool for the job. Organization isn't my strong suite.

    Kellie: real hardware stores do have that special smell.

    Craig: Love what your old shop teacher did. The wrong tool can be dangerous to use.

  7. Vise-Grips are a must have. My favorite pair is one made in combination with the old Schrade knife outfit called the Tough Grip. Plain old 7" needle nose Vice grips with knife, saw and two screwdriver in one half of grip. Not perfect but something you can work with.

    You are right about the cheap knock-offs. For small simple jobs, not a problem, but when you need to push the tool to full potential, they will let you down - I've had two of them do this to me. Turned a 5 minute repair to an hour - grrrr! Just pay once, cry once.