toolbox basic

Tale of the Toolbox

Last week there was a fence/gate repair job that needed doing at work.  A co-worker, Bobby, and I were asked to take a look at it and see what we could do.  The boss had some parts that might help.  They even had a toolbox … of sorts.

Bobby had recently been assigned the task of cleaning out several junk drawers, finding all the tools and putting them into a donated toolbox, sorting through the rest: toss the detritus and sort the usable “stuff” into big plastic bags by category.  So our task now was  simpler.

However, the toolbox consisted of 3 hammers, a half-dozen badly abused screw drivers, and a pair of pliers.  We decided to bring tools from home and do the job the next day.  Bobby wasn’t there the next day, so I accomplished the job with the tools I brought.  All I was missing was a set of deep sockets (which I didn’t have but Bobby did) and a ratchet.  But I did the job with a crescent wrench.  The sockets do the job faster and with fewer bloody smears on the fencing, but a crescent wrench will do in a pinch.

I wanted to double the hinge at the top of the gate (which is at least 8 feet wide, maybe more) to keep it from twisting the hinge again.  I lacked one part and a couple of bolts to do that.  I picked up the hardware on my day off.  I also decided to assemble a usable toolbox.

My Toolbox History

At one time, I had a huge roll-around tool chest stocked with many thousands of dollars worth of Snap-on tools — because I worked as an automobile mechanic.  Since then my tool collection evolved as I evolved into woodworking, then to furniture building.  Economics have changed since those early days too, with tool costs rising and income decreasing.

I had a nice, basic toolbox in the furnace closet of the house, but what it contained was a rude assemblage of odd tools.  About all we ever use of that is the multi-tip screwdriver, the hammer, pliers, and the crescent wrench.

I had a pretty good, basic set of hand tools (except for a set of 3/8″ drive deep well sockets) in the workshop, but they are laid out in drawers — as a proper workshop ought to be.  This is fine as long as all the work I do is in the workshop.  That is no longer the case.

So I emptied out the toolbox from the house and refilled it with a set of hand tools from the shop suited to most applications: monkey wrench, drain trap wrench, small, medium & large crescent wrenches, channel lock pliers, regular pliers, wire cutters, small tin snips, utility knife, my best multi-tip screwdriver, a few small specialty screw drivers, my short-well 3/8″ drive sockets, ratchet and extensions, a 1/4″ socket set — and the new set of 3/8″ drive-deep well sockets I decided to splurge on while at the hardware store getting fence parts.

All I’m missing are open/box end wrenches.  I’ll get them next.  I have a collection of assorted (mostly metric) open/box ends but they’re just loose — these came with the stationary machine tools I bought for furniture making.  I’d prefer a set of metric and a set of SAE that are each in a compact  carrier of some sort so I don’t have to empty the bottom of the toolbox each time I’m looking for one specific wrench.

So I took the toolbox and the parts to work, installed the doubler-hinge at the top of the big gate, and felt good about a job done well and done quickly by having a usable toolbox again.

Before I became a furniture maker, I always had a toolbox set up for most normal repairs around the house, in the yard, or on a car — as much as a car cam be fixed with hand tools these days, anyway.  I got away from that when I set up the shop.  Now I’m back.

Toolbox In Action

Today, Mom went for groceries.

I got a call on my cellphone.  It was from Mom.  She’s at Wal-Mart and her car won’t start — help?

I did not have to scrabble around in the shop, tossing tools I might need into a cardboard box.  Not knowing the problem makes it difficult to know what to take.  But having a basic set of hand tools in a toolbox saved time and frustration.  So … I set my recently assembled toolbox in the truck, took off, and got her running again in no time.

Funny how things just sort of work themselves out.

About Doug

Jesus follower, writer, gardener, Sci-Fi fan, Beagle herder, occasional author, mountain man. My dogs think I'm a super-hero.

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