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.

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