The other day when I was working away in the garage I found myself lost in a “moment”. I am sure you have seen the movie where the gentleman is sitting in a London cafe on a cold rainy night as he glances out the window only to see the most beautiful girl he had ever viewed appear, on the empty sidewalk across the street from the cafe, cold and soaking only to get into a cab and drive off. Well it was not one of those moments, it was better, waaaaayyyyyy better. It had to do with tools. It was a moment that brings an individual down to his core elements, it was experience that allows a person to connect to his fellow species on a fundamental level that solidifies the common unity that has driven, and allowed, mankind to exist. The moment was surreal, I was looking down upon myself from the ceiling of my shop and saw the sense of awe, and wonderment, within my eyes and the way I held my outstretched arms as the room spun around me. Alast the world all made sense as the root of mans existence had finally come to light. It all came down to the hacksaw.
That’s right…a hacksaw. Don’t you see? It’s the fact that I needed a hacksaw to complete the task at hand. The moment went like this. I needed to cut a piece of metal, wierd huh? It gets better. One of the joys I recieve from working with tools is the fact that one always needs to calculate which tool is appropriate for which job. I find it to be a fun game as many times there are multiple factors to consider. Obviously one of the biggest factors is what do you have available to use as a tool. But let’s just say selection wasn’t a factor, let’s say that you had every tool known to man and that the criteria was based solely around the task that needed to be accomplished. Try and follow my example; when it comes to pulling wrenches and you need to loosen a bolt what do you use? A wrench? If so do you use a box end? open end? ratchet wrench? offset wrench? How about a ratchet and socket, 1/4″? 3/8″? Do you use an extension? What length of ratchet? What length of extension? Flex socket? Deep socket? Or will shallow fit the bill? Perhaps an impact wrench? Air ratchet? What about a cordless screwdriver? How does one decide? One needs to analyze and choose.
So back to my piece of metal that I needed to cut. You see I needed to decide how I was going to cut this thing. It was a 5/8″ diameter piece of hot rolled solid round bar approximatly 8 inches long that needed about 1/4″ trimmed off it. So the mental process of deciding how to accomplish the task began. Do I clamp it down in the bandsaw? Can’t, too awkward to clamp. Chop saw? again too hard to clamp straight and secure. Plasma cutter? Too messy, too much clean up afterwards. Die grinder with a cut off wheel? Die grinder has a carbide blade in it and the collet wrench is buried. I am running out of options. Belt sander? No way! Gets too hot and puts too much wear on the abrasives. What’s left? Eureka! This is a job for my hacksaw. Yeah baby! Let’s tension that 18 TPI blade in that aluminum frame and put some effort behind this task. So that is what I did and I had that 1/4″ chunk of steel trimmed off in no time.
Well sort of…if there was a wardrobe in the room I would have entered it. You see that in reality only a few moments passed as the blade made its way through the steel, however in the abstract world that connects all humans together the moment lasted long enough for me to feel at one with my ancestor from 60000 BC. With each stoke of the blade I came to realize that the most simplest of tools was the also the best tool. It made me realize that many things change and that some would say nothing ever stays the same. In my case what I was doing was NOT a reenactment of history but instead joining the legacy of builders. The tool has not changed over the tens of thousands of years it has been in existence. It is a tool that can not be improved on, it has reached the pinnacle of R&D, it is perfect! And it is what connects any of us that has used it to all of us that have. I have not only gripped history in my right hand but I have pushed it along its never ending journey of time.
I have since exited the wardrobe and have found that shop life hasn’t changed much. People around me are oblivious to my experience and continue to go about their days texting and drinking Starbucks. For me I have no choice, I need to trek on in this world that continues to have more questions than answers. It is a lonely path I follow and one that I suspect is journeyed by others that have too grasped unity in their hand.
For now I think the shop hacksaw will find a new home, a more respectable home. It will be removed from the bottom draw of the tool box and placed upon the wall above the workbench to serve as a reminder that I need to go out and find a power tool that will make shaving off a 1/4″ a bit quicker and easier.