Some tools are used on a near-daily basis; others sit idly like the 25th man on the bench waiting for his all-important pinch hit appearance.
But regardless of how much the tools get used, there is always a certain job that requires just the right tool for just the right job. That one shining moment, at least as far as the tool is concerned.
A few months back, a stoneworking colleague of mine (Hi Matt!) wrote on his blog about the various types of trowels he uses on a regular basis, and how they are used. I commented that if he were stranded on a dessert island and could only have one tool, what would it be? (You’ll have to check his blog for the answer) Which got me to thinking, what are my go-to tools?
In otherwords, if the tool police came and confiscated all my tools but a few, what would I really need?
To simplify the list, I’ll break it into a two-part series. This week I’ll focus on basic handtools, next week we’ll look at my power tools …
business. On any given job, no matter what we’re doing, we’ll have at least one round and one flat shovel on site per worker. The round shovels are better for actual digging, the flat shovels better for scooping gravel or loose soil. These things get used daily. And the average lifespan in our industry is about two years. When picking your shovels, I like the old school wood handles. Spend the extra few bucks for the higher quality. It’s worth it.
Most of the ones I see available today, even the so-called “heavy-duty” ones are wood framed. Not bad for moving soil around, but if you plan on moving stone, mixing your mortar and/or concrete in the wheelbarrows, or using them to schlep loads of concrete during a pour, you can’t just keep your fingers crossed and hope for the best. You need to know they’ll hold up. Get the strongest ones you can find. And don’t rely on the inflatable tires that come with most wheelbarrows. Pay the extra $30 for a “flat-free” solid rubber tire. Even then, the bearings may eventually go, but you can’t be worried about flat tires when you're mid-concrete pour.
So there’s my Big Five for handtools. I know some of you may have some feedback to my omissions, or comment on my inclusions. And to be fair, there’s a whole bunch more that I use regularly that didn’t make the list. But I’m limited to just five, thanks to those pesky tool police, so something was bound to be left off the list.
What are your Big 5 for handtools?