A Dad’s Gift
When your kids are old enough to safely use hand tools, give them a real set up.
My dad was happier working on the cars than he was renovating the house, but since my mother had an endless list of home improvement projects on her wish list, he tolerated more than a fair share of remodeling projects. In retrospect, my dad’s collection of tools seems miniscule, especially compared to the shop full of tools I consider “must haves” now. The few power tools he had were greatly outnumbered by hand tools, and not a single tool requiring batteries or an air hose was anywhere in sight. Yet, he still managed to build two decks, put on a two story addition, and more.
At some point, after years of watching me sneak down into the basement to fool around in his shop, he bought me my own tool box. It was one of those sheet-metal jobs, with the hinged lid and buckle clasp on front. He also bought three of those little reflective stickers that people put on their mailboxes to spell my initials on the front. Inside the box, he gave me a complement of starter tools. They weren’t new tools, but rather some of the items from his collection that were duplicates. Among the group was a variety of Stanley screwdrivers, a Plumb fiberglass-handle hammer, a Craftsman crescent wrench and socket set, and a pair of Vice Grip locking pliers. The locking pliers were memorable because they came with their own endorsement. “When I was in the Air Force,” he said, “I kept a pair of Vice Grips in my back pants pocket at all times, ready to go.” To him, they were sort of a mechanic’s jack-of-all-tools, you might say.
I’m thankful that my dad didn’t get me a toy toolbox, or one of those all-in-one kits you can buy at a home center that has light duty contents. He gave me a real metal tool box with my initials on it, with real, quality brand-name tools inside. Although the tools have since migrated out of that box and into the general population of my own collection, I’m sure I still have most of those original items. And, as you can see from the photo, that tool box still looks as good as ever.
Do your kids a favor: when they’re old enough to safely use hand tools, give them a real set up. Tell them how the tools work, where each is useful, and explain that this setup is now theirs to keep. It will have a bigger effect on them than you might realize. Ask me how I know.