Friday, May 20, 2011

An Ode to Old Tools

I have some quality tools; but only a few, my allegiance is to my old, ode tools. Rehandling an old shovel blade (most often with the original handle - that's where they break most often) is far harder the second or third time around. You would think that as the handle gets shorter and shorter, (and as you age and your strength gets lesser and lesser) that this would ensure that breakage would be unlikely. After all, the torque on the shorter handle applied by you, a weak old fart weakening as the torquerer, would be a wash. You'd break before the handle. But your confidence in that stronger handle encourages you to stupidly pry even harder. Leverage will win out over aged ash.
I recently rehandled a shovel blade that years ago I had troubled to weld the rolled steel gap where the wood meets the metal. After all, I obsessively make each repair better than the last, and the razing of the old, to rebuild the new/old is harder each time. The ashen wood so heated was hardened like iron and very well rerepaired, steamed, jammed, pounded, and glued into the old curved cylinder of the shovel blade. And I pride myself that I was able to use another old tool that I had broken by prying on it. It was now a resharpened chisel which had less than a two inch blade. And pry as I might, I couldn't break it again. Still, I ended up having to burn the old wood out of the blade in my wood stove, and of course, plunge it into water to temper it again. Ash to ashes.
A friend once told me that a very rich man might have many shovels, that way, though old he might be, he could leave each shovel where last he used it and would never have to carry one from place to place. I have 10 shovels (some with very short handles). I am a rich man indeed.