I am the frustrated wife of a finish carpenter, and would really appreciate some feedback.
We live in a rural area and my husband is currently employed by a local contractor. Over the years he has purchased anything he ever needed to do whatever he had to do. When we first moved to where we are 10 years ago, work was hard to come by, so he worked independently, and did odd jobs here and there. When he needed a tool or bit for a specific project he just went out and got it. As time went by, he got picked up by different contractors who always ask in their interview – what do you have? Or the ad for the job would say must have reliable transportation to work and “basic tools”.
Once he wrote a list of the tools he had, and the employer was a real jerk – “If you are so experienced and have all that stuff, why don’t you have your own license and your own company”?
What it boils down to, is he isn’t a business man – he is a carpenter. Tell him what you need to be done and he does it. He doesn’t estimate or make bids or sell. He just builds and solves problems. He doesn’t want to shop around or deal with the financial stuff, he just wants to get it done.
We figured out that income was more steady if he just went for wages, as friends that were “independent contractors”, bid jobs and usually came out on the short end of the stick and couldn’t always satisfy the tax man.
In the meantime, he loads up his truck and takes his compressor, hoses, chop saw, router and bits, laminate trimmer, nail guns and pinners, finish blades, and all the other goodies that he needs to the job site. His foreman is the kind of guy who thinks the company should provide all the tools and won’t bring any of his stuff. Then he ends up borrowing nail sets, extension cords, levels and squares, chuck keys, you name it – pencils! And a lot of it ends up missing in action. So we get more, for our projects… and those blades and bits are expensive! The boss doesn’t want to pay more per hour just for the tools, so the wages are at this time still rural – about $12.00 an hour below in city fare.
And life goes on… There is still the cost of running the truck back and forth to the store to pick up materials, and hauling stuff home from the jobsite so it won’t get ripped off. The other guys just have cars or little trucks without canopies. We also pay our own insurance, as this is not a company truck. And when it comes home I use it to go get groceries, with all the jobsite stuff in it.
So lately, he has been electing to not take his tools to the job. Because he doesn’t like the other guys using his metal sawhorses when he needs them and trashing them till they can’t fold up, or having them unplug his extension cords when he is making cuts. He doesn’t like people using his finish hammer to dig up rocks under posts and leaving it in the dirt. He doesn’t like his battery drills being tossed off the roof or router bits disappearing along with batteries, chuck keys, carpet knives, nail punches, and speed squares. And all that kind of stuff…
So we got to wondering, is there a “LIST” of what all is considered “basic tools”, and what all an employer should in good conscience be providing. It is nice, when you bring specialty stuff to the job site, and then they offer to buy you a new blade or bit every once in a while, but as far as I know this is a very sensitive subject. No one seems to want to discuss it and I thought it would be a great topic for “Breaktime”.
We really want to feel out the general consensus – from both contractors and employees. Who should provide the tools, if pay is standard for the area, (not DOE), and what makes up a list of “Basic TOOLS”?
Thank you for your time and feedback! We look forward to hearing from you!