A Love Letter To My Tools

In my quest to fix an old bike, I discovered a new love for the very things that make us men...
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In my quest to fix an old bike, I discovered a new love for the very things that make us men...

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‘You want three eighths or half inch mate? Do you want ratchets or open ended? Do you want vanadium or plutonium? Do you want bevelled or flat? Do you want roller bearings or sliders? Do you want cambered or spliced? Pro or standard? ADH or PMT. Did he say PMT?! Do you want a pineapple on your head?’

The greying man in front of me is not Chinese though he may well be speaking it. I do not have a clue what he is talking about. I consult my list which is scribbled in pencil on the back of a bank statement I still have not read. ‘It says here half inch AND three eighths’. ‘Do you want AD’s?’ ‘It does not say AD’s. ‘You’ll need AD’s’. Well it’s not on the list and I have no idea what they are anyway so no I don’t thanks.

I’ve had a log store built, chopped the logs, sawn the wood. I have had two sheds now for over a year. I drink frothy beer as often as is practical. But something is missing. So here I am in CONFUZE-MART, a place where you buy tools.

I have had an old 1950’s bicycle for ages that is un-ride able because the brakes don’t work. When I get these tools home I will be able to fix it, hopefully, by myself.

I have never had many tools in my life because I have never really had anywhere to put them. Some were stuffed under the stairs so that the slightest job was instantly a pain in the arse because it took two hours just to find the bloody tools! But now I have a tiny workshop it and it was time to stock up on shiny steel and chrome. Those days were over!

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Staring at the salesman for over two hours as he went this way and that, I was amazed I really did not have a clue what he was talking about. It’s been many decades since I did any metal or woodwork at school so the scales and sizes and gauges he was talking about were completely alien to me. The problem is if you have any old machines and bikes like me, you need not one set of tools but two or more. I did not even know that.

Since my old bike was made, Britain joined the EU – and some tools went metric. But being British, we never totally converted to metric, not all the tooling was changed because that would mean we would be the same as those suspicious foreigners. So now we need twice as many tools as a German. No wonder they are more efficient - they only have to rummage through one set of tools.

Anyhow my good friend Geoff offered to help set the tools up in the workshop as he is an engineer and he likes things like that. And he is also a perfectionist and I am not. After lots of drilling and hammering and sawing, lots of swearing and cursing and tuttting, the tools were finally in place.

I lined up the spanners all neat on the wall so that when Ron Dennis from McLaren comes round for tea, he’ll be impressed.

The best bit was putting stuff in the shiny red locking tool box that we bolted to the floor. This thing is cool – the drawers slide silently shut like one of those obscenely expensive kitchens. I kept opening and closing them until I realised I was being a knob.

When it was all in place, I stood back and had a good look. It looked fantastic, organised, neat, tidy, shiny and new. I was well impressed. Geoff said ‘Now you just have to use the damn things!’. Maybe I’ll buy an old motorbike to do up…anyone got an old BSA scrambler that needs some love? Or a Triumph?...