In the Shop
As a farm machinery mechanic and writer, Dan brings a hands-on approach that only a pro can muster. Along with his In the Shop blog, Dan writes a column by the same name as well as the Shop Series for Farm Journal magazine. Always providing practical information, he is a master at tackling technical topics and making them easy for all of our readers to understand. He and his wife, Becky, live near Bouton, Iowa.
Confessions Of A Tool Tightwad
Jan 07, 2010
Hello, I'm Dan. I'm a tool tightwad. I'm addicted to keeping broken tools.
It's not my fault. I was raised by a tool tightwad. My dad never owned an actual punch---all we ever used to knock bolts and pins out of holes was old bolts with the ends ground to a taper. Our nut and bolt inventory consisted of an assortment of coffee cans full of rusty nuts and bolts he salvaged from broken equipment. I didn't know nuts and bolts were supposed to be silver until I was a teenager.
I've tried to break free of my heritage, but it must be genetic. I'm so ashamed. Sometimes at work I use disposable latex gloves when I'm dealing with rotten grain, sour grease or other disgusting substances. The "disposable" part doesn't work for me, even though they get pulled inside out when I take them off. When nobody is looking I use compressed air from a blower nozzle to inflate them and blow them right-side out. Then I put them back in the box to use again.
It's impossible for me to throw away a drill bit. Even if it's broken off half-length. Someday after I retire and I have more time, I'm going to spend a week with a Drill Doctor and the drawer full of mangled drill bits I've collected. You'll know when that happens--keep an eye on Ebay for somebody selling 7,000 drill bits of assorted sizes and lengths.
I can't throw away a screwdriver, either. I've got a secret drawer full of screwdrivers with the tips re-ground until they're like chisels, or with the metal shank driven completely through the handle. I've got one big screwdriver that has the shank twisted in a half circle. Don't ask how that happened.
I've got wrenches with welded handles, hammers with their 8th wooden handle, and chisels that are half as long as they were when I bought them. Some of my electrical extension cords would make an OSHA inspector faint.
I'm ashamed. I'm supposedly a professional mechanic with pride and high standards. Maybe if I admit my problem and confess in public I'll be able to break free of my addiction for salvaging battered and abused tools. Maybe I'll be able to allow another mechanic to look in my toolbox without worry he'll fall on the floor with hysterical laughter. Maybe I can end this tortured life of guilt and shame.
Maybe the sun will rise in the west tomorrow.