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My dad’s advice about tools:

Good tools can last a lifetime — but if it’s easier to abuse a tool than to go out and get another, go for it.

Whenever I’d help my father, I’d be tentative when I didn’t know what I was doing, but my father told me not to worry about messing up a project. Messing up is one of the best ways to learn, he told me, and that we can’t learn well if we aren’t willing to take risks and make lots of mistakes.

–Mitch Altman

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Gareth Branwyn

Gareth Branwyn is a freelancer writer and the former Editorial Director of Maker Media. He is the author or editor of a dozen books on technology, DIY, and geek culture, including the first book about the web (Mosaic Quick Tour) and the Absolute Beginner’s Guide to Building Robots. He is currently working on a best-of collection of his writing, called Borg Like Me.


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Comments

  1. Mark Crane says:

    Rust, fire and explosions are the same process, taking place at different rates.

  2. neil says:

    First heard from my father (then later in the Army) : “You have to be 10% smarter than the sh*t you’re working with.” -This could reference the materials or the machine/mechanism you are working with, or my interpretation – the people you are working with.

  3. Far and away the most useful advice my dad ever gave me is this: “Don’t force it!” Certainly, rusty bolts and other stuck or seized parts may require a good deal of force, but for almost everything we worked on together, needing excessive force was a good indication that I was doing something the Wrong Way.

  4. Anonymous says:

    My dad always told me not to tighten any screw/nut/bolt until you had all of them started.   This makes it easier to start them all. sometimes I get in a hurry and tighten as I go but inevitably I end up loosening the others for that last one.

  5. Anonymous says:

    My dad always told me not to tighten any screw/nut/bolt until you had all of them started.   This makes it easier to start them all. sometimes I get in a hurry and tighten as I go but inevitably I end up loosening the others for that last one.

  6. RapidEye says:

    My Dad taught me to never buy cheap tools – they always break when you need them the most, and you  wind up buying the better tool in the end.  Just save yourself the aggravation and time and just buy the quality tool in the beginning!

  7. RapidEye says:

    My Dad taught me to never buy cheap tools – they always break when you need them the most, and you  wind up buying the better tool in the end.  Just save yourself the aggravation and time and just buy the quality tool in the beginning!

  8. Chris Smith says:

    Always check the breaker box before doing any electrical work.
    Make sure you know how to turn off the water to the house.  (This has come in handy more times than I would like to admit.)

  9. Chris Smith says:

    Always check the breaker box before doing any electrical work.
    Make sure you know how to turn off the water to the house.  (This has come in handy more times than I would like to admit.)

  10. Fran Poodry says:

    My Dad didn’t teach me much about tools, but one thing he said has always stuck with me: “Right, tight, left, loose.”  I know that is a really common saying, but I heard it first from Dad.

  11. Fran Poodry says:

    My Dad didn’t teach me much about tools, but one thing he said has always stuck with me: “Right, tight, left, loose.”  I know that is a really common saying, but I heard it first from Dad.

  12. Rob De Hart says:

    I once called my dad to ask how he makes his chilli, to which he replied. “A real man walks into a grocery store with an open heart and walks out with chilli.”  It made me smile a lot and he was absolutely correct.

  13. This is more of a resultant phrase that comes from a habit many dads (and just about all makers) have:

    “I knew I saved that piece for a reason!”

    Of course, *finding* the piece is another matter……

  14. This is more of a resultant phrase that comes from a habit many dads (and just about all makers) have:

    “I knew I saved that piece for a reason!”

    Of course, *finding* the piece is another matter……

  15. Black Duck says:

    My dad always said if we could take it apart, we could put it back together. He was and is never afraid to try, look, explore, and learn. When trying something new, he was always sure that we’d figure it out in the end, and when we failed, though tough on himself, he was always tenacious enough to try again and do it right. It’s from him and from my grandfather on my mother’s side who shared a similar willingness and desire to learn that I have my ability and desire to take on any project.

  16. Black Duck says:

    My dad always said if we could take it apart, we could put it back together. He was and is never afraid to try, look, explore, and learn. When trying something new, he was always sure that we’d figure it out in the end, and when we failed, though tough on himself, he was always tenacious enough to try again and do it right. It’s from him and from my grandfather on my mother’s side who shared a similar willingness and desire to learn that I have my ability and desire to take on any project.

  17. Brent Allen says:

    Measure twice (and measure again) before cutting.

  18. Brent Allen says:

    Measure twice (and measure again) before cutting.

  19. Brent Allen says:

    Measure twice (and measure again) before cutting.

  20. Timothy Canny says:

    We lived in Rockland County, New York for a few years in my youth and it lived up to its name. You couldn’t put a shovel in the ground without hitting a rock. And a lot of times they were boulders. My Dad and I spent a lot of time digging rocks out of the ground and moving them with levers so he could have a decent place to garden. But instead of putting up with a useless pile of rocks or spending money to haul them away he turned around and used them to build a pretty impressive retaining wall along the driveway. So I guess what he taught me was that to work with what you’ve got requires creativity and an understanding that even your own trash can be turned into treasure.

  21. Timothy Canny says:

    We lived in Rockland County, New York for a few years in my youth and it lived up to its name. You couldn’t put a shovel in the ground without hitting a rock. And a lot of times they were boulders. My Dad and I spent a lot of time digging rocks out of the ground and moving them with levers so he could have a decent place to garden. But instead of putting up with a useless pile of rocks or spending money to haul them away he turned around and used them to build a pretty impressive retaining wall along the driveway. So I guess what he taught me was that to work with what you’ve got requires creativity and an understanding that even your own trash can be turned into treasure.

  22. Timothy Canny says:

    We lived in Rockland County, New York for a few years in my youth and it lived up to its name. You couldn’t put a shovel in the ground without hitting a rock. And a lot of times they were boulders. My Dad and I spent a lot of time digging rocks out of the ground and moving them with levers so he could have a decent place to garden. But instead of putting up with a useless pile of rocks or spending money to haul them away he turned around and used them to build a pretty impressive retaining wall along the driveway. So I guess what he taught me was that to work with what you’ve got requires creativity and an understanding that even your own trash can be turned into treasure.

  23. Kirt Stanke says:

    My Dad always conveyed the value of using the correct tool for the job, but never underestimated the multi-functional uses of his hands.  The hand can push, pull, lift, carry, count, point, turn. twist, hold, pinch, fold, scrape, rub, support, cushion, measure, pack, and perform countless other tasks.  He’d often say, “Sometimes you just have to get your hands dirty.”

  24. Kirt Stanke says:

    My Dad always conveyed the value of using the correct tool for the job, but never underestimated the multi-functional uses of his hands.  The hand can push, pull, lift, carry, count, point, turn. twist, hold, pinch, fold, scrape, rub, support, cushion, measure, pack, and perform countless other tasks.  He’d often say, “Sometimes you just have to get your hands dirty.”

  25. Kirt Stanke says:

    My Dad always conveyed the value of using the correct tool for the job, but never underestimated the multi-functional uses of his hands.  The hand can push, pull, lift, carry, count, point, turn. twist, hold, pinch, fold, scrape, rub, support, cushion, measure, pack, and perform countless other tasks.  He’d often say, “Sometimes you just have to get your hands dirty.”

  26. Emily Adams says:

    I think we did one project in my entire childhood – making a bookshelf.  He wasn’t very handy (to put it mildly).  My husband on the other hand – he is VERY handy! He has taught me (and will teach our daughter) if you use my tools put them back where you found them. I adore his willingness to jump into any problem and fix anything that’s broken!  No tool for that? He’ll make one!  :) When our daughter grows up she will have lots of things she learned from her dad! 

  27. Anonymous says:

    “Check your work.”

    A lesson that I really needed to learn after destroying the engine in my Karmann Ghia by forgetting to replace the $0.50 gasket on the oil filter plate. Oh, and after losing a wheel from forgetting to check the torque on the lugnuts after putting the car back on the ground. Also, there was the time I drilled a hole in the wall for running cable, and drilled into a water pipe that I thought was a few inches over… I’m sure I’m forgetting some other cases.

    Sorry Dad, I am more careful now.

  28. Anonymous says:

    “Check your work.”

    A lesson that I really needed to learn after destroying the engine in my Karmann Ghia by forgetting to replace the $0.50 gasket on the oil filter plate. Oh, and after losing a wheel from forgetting to check the torque on the lugnuts after putting the car back on the ground. Also, there was the time I drilled a hole in the wall for running cable, and drilled into a water pipe that I thought was a few inches over… I’m sure I’m forgetting some other cases.

    Sorry Dad, I am more careful now.

  29. Levi Mefford says:

    “Don’t buy a tool until you actually need it, and when you do, make sure it’s either a) going to last a long time or b) has a good warranty”

  30. Levi Mefford says:

    “Don’t buy a tool until you actually need it, and when you do, make sure it’s either a) going to last a long time or b) has a good warranty”

  31. Doug Rohde says:

    “Never buy anything that says ‘Black & Decker’ on it.”

    In other words, don’t buy cheap tools.

  32. Doug Rohde says:

    “Never buy anything that says ‘Black & Decker’ on it.”

    In other words, don’t buy cheap tools.

  33. Shai Fisher says:

    My dad thought me a lot of things. one of them was never waste any material, if it’s paint or clax or some sauce… always grab the leftovers from the walls of the containers. at the end, it’s can save some money.

  34. Shai Fisher says:

    My dad thought me a lot of things. one of them was never waste any material, if it’s paint or clax or some sauce… always grab the leftovers from the walls of the containers. at the end, it’s can save some money.

  35. Anne Speck says:

    My dad taught me a lot about tools, but one of the biggest things he taught me was respect. The phrase which encapsulates it was what he said on my 8th birthday, giving me my first pocketknife: “Well, I guess you’re old enough to cut yourself.”

  36. Jesse Proulx says:

    “Measure twice”. Still the best advice I’ve been given.

  37. Bryan Casey says:

    “if you’re gonna use my tools, put them back where you found them when you are done… so I can find them next time.”  Valuable advice.  Now if I could only teach my wife this ;)

  38. I often remember my Dad’s way of pointing out the positive in a small or large mistake. He says “Well, That’s the price of an education.” A variation I also caught occasionally, “Well, you won’t do that again.”  These phrases seem so small, but they bring such wisdom. I get the idea that I shouldn’t give up, that I should learn from failure, that anything can be redeemed and that there is hope in the future from these phrases. He packs in a lot of inspiring maker truth.

  39. I often remember my Dad’s way of pointing out the positive in a small or large mistake. He says “Well, That’s the price of an education.” A variation I also caught occasionally, “Well, you won’t do that again.”  These phrases seem so small, but they bring such wisdom. I get the idea that I shouldn’t give up, that I should learn from failure, that anything can be redeemed and that there is hope in the future from these phrases. He packs in a lot of inspiring maker truth.

  40. Yair Silbermintz says:

    My father would always try to make things in our garage, despite not being, exactly, skilled at the process. This led to many interesting tips gathered through painful experience over the years. My favorite bit of advice (which i got along with a scared look every time I pulled out a saw):

    “When using hand tools to cut something, never place the item you are cutting on your thigh.”

    Yes, he did that. on a related note, he also found out that day that it is very hard to drive to the emergency room when you are profusely bleeding from your right leg.

  41. Yair Silbermintz says:

    My father would always try to make things in our garage, despite not being, exactly, skilled at the process. This led to many interesting tips gathered through painful experience over the years. My favorite bit of advice (which i got along with a scared look every time I pulled out a saw):

    “When using hand tools to cut something, never place the item you are cutting on your thigh.”

    Yes, he did that. on a related note, he also found out that day that it is very hard to drive to the emergency room when you are profusely bleeding from your right leg.

  42. DaveK says:

    When ‘hot’ was 3000degF, ‘mostly cool’ will still give you second degree burns before you can let go.

  43. “If it doesn’t fit, get a bigger hammer!”

  44. “If it doesn’t fit, get a bigger hammer!”

  45. Pat Booth says:

    Never start a hard project late in the day.

    Oh… and he told me to always keep a fire extinguisher in the trunk of my car.

  46. “Bandaids are on the 1st shelf, beside the nail gun.”

  47. “Bandaids are on the 1st shelf, beside the nail gun.”

  48. Jeff Kaluski says:

    “Grandpa left you a box of hammers, I think there’s 15 or 16 of them in there. I guess it’s in case you break the first 14. But by then you could just sell’em for scrap and buy a new one.”

  49. Jeff Kaluski says:

    “Grandpa left you a box of hammers, I think there’s 15 or 16 of them in there. I guess it’s in case you break the first 14. But by then you could just sell’em for scrap and buy a new one.”

  50. When working in the garage, if you take a tool out of the drawer, leave the drawer open to remind you of the missing tool. The job isn’t done until the tools are back in the cabinet. If your tool box falls over when all the drawers are open, it’s a good time to take a break and straighten up. 

  51. When working in the garage, if you take a tool out of the drawer, leave the drawer open to remind you of the missing tool. The job isn’t done until the tools are back in the cabinet. If your tool box falls over when all the drawers are open, it’s a good time to take a break and straighten up. 

  52. Jeff Kaluski says:

    Grandpa left you a box of hammers, I think there’s 15 or 16 of them in there. I guess it’s in case you break the first 14. But by then you could just sell’em for scrap and buy a new one. But the new one’ll probably break quicker than his old ones. Can I have one of grandpa’s hammers?

  53. Jeff Kaluski says:

    Grandpa left you a box of hammers, I think there’s 15 or 16 of them in there. I guess it’s in case you break the first 14. But by then you could just sell’em for scrap and buy a new one. But the new one’ll probably break quicker than his old ones. Can I have one of grandpa’s hammers?

  54. Anonymous says:

    Dad: “son, hand me a wrench”

    Son: “what size wrench you want Dad?”

    Dad: “Doesn’t matter,  I’m gonna use it as a hammer!”

  55. Anonymous says:

    Dad: “son, hand me a wrench”

    Son: “what size wrench you want Dad?”

    Dad: “Doesn’t matter,  I’m gonna use it as a hammer!”

  56. Anonymous says:

    Father:  “Son, hand me a wrench”

    Son: “What size wrench you want dad?”

    Father: “Doesn’t matter- I’m going to use it as a hammer!”

  57. Anonymous says:

    Father:  “Son, hand me a wrench”

    Son: “What size wrench you want dad?”

    Father: “Doesn’t matter- I’m going to use it as a hammer!”

  58. One of the greatest tips my Dad has ever given:

    “Sometimes you have to get medieval with it”

    This is most often spoken in times of trying to fix broken farm equipment (“you’re not going to break that disc bolt son, it’s already broken”), and that sometimes a pipe on the socket, possibly the torch, whatever would do the trick.

    It’s tongue-in-cheek and always brings a sly smirk from a man who’s known for telling students in his union welding classes “you’re not old enough to say good enough” (when he wasn’t farming, he was a union sheetmetal worker and welder for nearly 40 years and still teaches welding for the union today). His builds know no shortcut.

  59. Anonymous says:

    “If you will just take a bit of time and think about it, there is always a solution to the problem”

  60. My Grandfather was both a professional meat cutter and a spectacular wood carver. When I was a child he and I would spend hours in his workshop talking about his rather large collection of tools. I remember him saying to me on a number of occasions; “Son, there is nothing more expensive than a cheap tool”.
    I didn’t get it at first. Now, at age 45, I do.

  61. My Grandfather was both a professional meat cutter and a spectacular wood carver. When I was a child he and I would spend hours in his workshop talking about his rather large collection of tools. I remember him saying to me on a number of occasions; “Son, there is nothing more expensive than a cheap tool”.
    I didn’t get it at first. Now, at age 45, I do.

  62. My Grandfather was both a professional meat cutter and a spectacular wood carver. When I was a child he and I would spend hours in his workshop talking about his rather large collection of tools. I remember him saying to me on a number of occasions; “Son, there is nothing more expensive than a cheap tool”.
    I didn’t get it at first. Now, at age 45, I do.

  63. “If you don’t have the right tool, Make the right tool.”

  64. Anonymous says:

    My dad used to tell me: “If you don’t have time to do it right, when will you have time to do it over?”

  65. Ethan says:

    Me: This won’t fit (Referring to a screw)
    Dad: Well then, make it fit.
    Me: You just glued the screw and hammered it in?
    Dad:It’s working isn’t it?!

  66. Hannah Garbacz says:

    My dad always tells me “Try to do it yourself, but know when to call for help.”  He’s usually the first person I call.

  67. Jerry Scott says:

    While my dad was busy every weekend building the house we lived he, he never shied away from other big projects.  One day he bought two cars at auction and set me to work cleaning and waxing the “better” of the two. I was 14 so hoped that it might end up as mine, but he quickly sold it.  Then he said that he sold it for the price he had paid for both of them and so I had earned the other car – a 1974 Vega with rusted fenders and blown engine – but still a car.  He then helped me rebuild the engine and fix the body.  It was still a Vega, that couldn’t be fixed; but the lessons stuck:  I learned that I too could tackle big projects, and more importantly “A little ‘elbow grease’ goes a long way.”  I’m busy remodeling the house now and my daughter is 15, wonder what she’d think of a ’74 vega . . . ?

  68. “If it can’t be fixed with a pair of pliers and baling wire, it can’t be fixed.”

    My father is a farmer.  I came back for a visit during harvest one year and found Dad and a couple of other guys working on the combine in the field.  Next to it was a pile of green parts from the innards of the combine.  While I helped I heard one of the guys, who was inside the combine, say that we needed to replace a metal brace that had fallen out in the field.  When Dad asked how long the brace was, a hand popped out of an opening of the combine with the thumb and little finger spread a certain distance apart.  Dad matched the distance with his hand and marked the length on a sheet of scrap steel.  He then proceeded to cut the brace out of the steel with a portable acetylene torch on the tailgate of the pickup.  He handed the piece back to the man in the combine and asked where the hole needed to be and where the bend in the brace was. Once told, Dad cut a hole in the brace with the torch and bent the piece with a hammer using the axle of the combine as an anvil.  Once the brace was installed, we put “most” of the parts back in the combine, just enough to get it running again.  Ran fine for the rest of the season.

    1. That’s farmer-needs-things-to-work-now engineering. I recall similar field fixes with my dad on his bean harvester.

  69. TheRef says:

    My father warned me to “know when to leave well enough alone”. I’ve rendered useless something functional but moderately broken enough times that I’ve learned this lesson the hard way, but I was warned.  

  70. Anonymous says:

    Growing up on an old farm, my brothers and I were always helping my dad with projects, whether it was digging fence post holes, painting the barn, or changing an electrical outlet. He always made a point of not only telling us how to do the work, but showing us too; so that when we had houses of our own, we would know what to do.

    He also made a point of using tools for things they were not intended. Once, when he wanted to install a window in the dining room, he pulled out the chainsaw and cut a hole in the wall.

  71. You break it you fix it.

  72. My father built the house I grew up in. Like, literally built it, with just a little help from friends from time to time. I am still incredulous at this feat. It was even more incredible given that his employment was as a college professor in the humanities.

    He knew exactly what needed to be done to keep that house going and maintained it the whole time he lived there until he moved to Florida in his 70s.

  73. My father built the house I grew up in. Like, literally built it, with just a little help from friends from time to time. I am still incredulous at this feat. It was even more incredible given that his employment was as a college professor in the humanities.

    He knew exactly what needed to be done to keep that house going and maintained it the whole time he lived there until he moved to Florida in his 70s.

  74. My father built the house I grew up in. Like, literally built it, with just a little help from friends from time to time. I am still incredulous at this feat. It was even more incredible given that his employment was as a college professor in the humanities.

    He knew exactly what needed to be done to keep that house going and maintained it the whole time he lived there until he moved to Florida in his 70s.

  75. My father built the house I grew up in. Like, literally built it, with just a little help from friends from time to time. I am still incredulous at this feat. It was even more incredible given that his employment was as a college professor in the humanities.

    He knew exactly what needed to be done to keep that house going and maintained it the whole time he lived there until he moved to Florida in his 70s.

  76. David Ross says:

    “Always match the tool to the job, unless it’s a job that requires a wrong tool.”

  77. David Ross says:

    “Always match the tool to the job, unless it’s a job that requires a wrong tool.”

  78. David Ross says:

    “Always match the tool to the job, unless it’s a job that requires a wrong tool.”

  79. David Ross says:

    “Always match the tool to the job, unless it’s a job that requires a wrong tool.”

  80. Grep Clue says:

    My dad is pretty crazy sometimes.

    Best quote has to be: “Don’t tell your mother about this.”

    Runners up?

    “Normally we wouldn’t do it this way. . . but I’m in a hurry, so fuck it.”

    “We need more power.” – followed by him looking around with that “I’m gonna destroy something” look in his eye.

    Best story? My dad making a treehouse/fort that didn’t have any normal methods of ingress (so, now stairs, ladders, etc.) just some crazy tilted beams that you have to scramble up like a ninja monkey. When we pointed this lack of normal entryways he just shrugged and said “you’ll figure it out”. And about 10 min. later we did.

  81. Grep Clue says:

    My dad is pretty crazy sometimes.

    Best quote has to be: “Don’t tell your mother about this.”

    Runners up?

    “Normally we wouldn’t do it this way. . . but I’m in a hurry, so fuck it.”

    “We need more power.” – followed by him looking around with that “I’m gonna destroy something” look in his eye.

    Best story? My dad making a treehouse/fort that didn’t have any normal methods of ingress (so, now stairs, ladders, etc.) just some crazy tilted beams that you have to scramble up like a ninja monkey. When we pointed this lack of normal entryways he just shrugged and said “you’ll figure it out”. And about 10 min. later we did.

  82. Grep Clue says:

    My dad is pretty crazy sometimes.

    Best quote has to be: “Don’t tell your mother about this.”

    Runners up?

    “Normally we wouldn’t do it this way. . . but I’m in a hurry, so fuck it.”

    “We need more power.” – followed by him looking around with that “I’m gonna destroy something” look in his eye.

    Best story? My dad making a treehouse/fort that didn’t have any normal methods of ingress (so, now stairs, ladders, etc.) just some crazy tilted beams that you have to scramble up like a ninja monkey. When we pointed this lack of normal entryways he just shrugged and said “you’ll figure it out”. And about 10 min. later we did.

  83. Grep Clue says:

    My dad is pretty crazy sometimes.

    Best quote has to be: “Don’t tell your mother about this.”

    Runners up?

    “Normally we wouldn’t do it this way. . . but I’m in a hurry, so fuck it.”

    “We need more power.” – followed by him looking around with that “I’m gonna destroy something” look in his eye.

    Best story? My dad making a treehouse/fort that didn’t have any normal methods of ingress (so, now stairs, ladders, etc.) just some crazy tilted beams that you have to scramble up like a ninja monkey. When we pointed this lack of normal entryways he just shrugged and said “you’ll figure it out”. And about 10 min. later we did.

  84. Matt K-Dub says:

    In light of how sharp Leatherman blades are out of the box… “Don’t cut yourself”

  85. Jeepster says:

    When I would try to carry as much as possible in one load – often overloading myself – my dad would say, “Don’t make a lazy man’s load of it. You’ll wind up working twice as hard.”

    He was right. Better to move mountains a little bit at a time.

  86. Dad:  “If you take care of a crappy tool, it’ll still be a crappy tool.

    Spend a little extra money and get the kind with the lifetime warranty,Put it away clean, and you’ll be able to hand it down to your kids.”

    Me:  “Dad, can I have that metric socket set you never use?”

    Dad:  “Hell No!  You can have it when you learn how to take care of it.”To be fair, he did give me all his metric tools when I moved half way across the country.   Dad would only buy American vehicles, so when we were talking about me moving from Austin to Phoenix, he broke down and confessed to me that the only reason he bought metric tools was so he could help me fix my Accord.  I miss you, Dad.

  87. Dad:  “If you take care of a crappy tool, it’ll still be a crappy tool.

    Spend a little extra money and get the kind with the lifetime warranty,Put it away clean, and you’ll be able to hand it down to your kids.”

    Me:  “Dad, can I have that metric socket set you never use?”

    Dad:  “Hell No!  You can have it when you learn how to take care of it.”To be fair, he did give me all his metric tools when I moved half way across the country.   Dad would only buy American vehicles, so when we were talking about me moving from Austin to Phoenix, he broke down and confessed to me that the only reason he bought metric tools was so he could help me fix my Accord.  I miss you, Dad.

  88. Anonymous says:

    Keep your eye on the nail, not the hammer.

  89. Anonymous says:

    Whenever you take something apart, save the screws, even if you don’t plan on rebuilding the original device. You never know when you might need a hard-to-get component. 

  90. Sounds simple, but I recall being a teenager and hating to wear work gloves, though hearing “Get some gloves!” every five minutes. Now I’ve got some nice, permanent art on my hands, and a good pair of gloves always within reach.

  91. martian_bob says:

    “Anyone can do anything right – the trick is doing it right the first time.”

  92. Simon Clark says:

    “Don’t tell your mother what we’re about to do. Oh, and don’t breathe the fumes”

    also…

    “That’s an interesting hypothesis. Why don’t you try it out and see if it works.”

  93. whenever I got overwhelmed, my dad would say “you know how to eat an elephant, Kevin? one bite at a time”

  94. Phil Lee says:

    My dad use to say:
    “There are two things in this world that you deal delicately: cars and women.”

  95. Phil Lee says:

    My dad use to say:
    “There are two things in this world that you deal delicately: cars and women.”

  96. Phil Lee says:

    My dad use to say:
    “There are two things in this world that you deal delicately: cars and women.”

  97. Phil Lee says:

    My dad use to say:
    “There are two things in this world that you deal delicately: cars and women.”

  98. David Seitz says:

    Force it to fit , paint it to match

    If at first you don’t succeed; get a bigger hammer

    For 38 years my dad has been an Aviation Mechanic. 

  99. David Seitz says:

    Force it to fit , paint it to match

    If at first you don’t succeed; get a bigger hammer

    For 38 years my dad has been an Aviation Mechanic. 

  100. David Seitz says:

    Force it to fit , paint it to match

    If at first you don’t succeed; get a bigger hammer

    For 38 years my dad has been an Aviation Mechanic. 

  101. David Seitz says:

    Force it to fit , paint it to match

    If at first you don’t succeed; get a bigger hammer

    For 38 years my dad has been an Aviation Mechanic. 

  102. Anonymous says:

    Not so much a tip, as a status report.

    Me-Dad can you fix my bike.
    Dad-No Son its ‘undefuckable’

  103. Anonymous says:

    Sorry another sweary one. I used to work at a builders merchants, and Dad would often ask me to bring stuff home:

    Dad: I need a really coarse file
    Me: A Bastard file ?
    Dad No, I think i need a fu**ing Bastard here

  104. Lou Amadio says:

    My favorite ‘Dad’ saying – “There is nothing more permanent than that which is temporary” – a reminder to do it right the first time.

  105. Jack Stanek says:

    If the rabbits are eating your little sprouts in the garden, cut off the bottom of plastic soda bottles and screw them into the ground above the little seedlings. Acts as a barrier and mini-greenhouse.

  106. Jack Stanek says:

    If the rabbits are eating your little sprouts in the garden, cut off the bottom of plastic soda bottles and screw them into the ground above the little seedlings. Acts as a barrier and mini-greenhouse.

  107. As we were remodeling my first house, a common phrase from my dad….”good enough for this small town & the chicks we date.”

  108. Tim Skorick says:

    “Safety first because you can’t uncut yourself, and measured care second because you can’t unsaw the wood either.”

    “If the Church janitor points to a problem with the pilot light and backs up five paces, just leave.”

    “If you wanna even bother doing it, commit to doing it perfectly.”

    The first advice was common sense but something a teenager needs to know before operating a circular saw.  The second was after he blew off his eyebrows and eyelashes on a heater mishap to the everlasting amusement of his friends.  I never told him that that last (great) advice was a paraphrase of a Hunter S. Thompson quote.

  109. InetKen says:

    My dad has a sheet metal shop and while I didn’t follow into his line of work, I worked for him for a few years.  I really consider what he does art, everything from car parts to copper kitchen hoods and ornate hand rails.  The most important thing he taught me was to “Do it right the first time”.  I take this advice in all of my projects, wether it’s at work in the IT field or home projects and hobbies.  At work I will spend the extra time doing the research, going over all aspects of the project and tying up all the loose ends.  Making sure that everything is running correctly and not just getting it “out the door”.  Then I don’t have to worry about “fixing” anything that is broke.  Sometimes I joke that ulitimately I’m lazy.  I’d rather get it right the first time instead of having to deal with problems down the road.  Thanks Dad!

  110. David Seitz says:

    You only drop a spark plug twice; once on the ground and once in the trash.

    If you can see it you can touch it. If you can touch it you can fix it.

  111. Anonymous says:

    My three favorite quotes from my father, or anyone else for that matter:

    1. “Eat it and shut up about it, or don’t eat it and shut up about it.”
    2. When asked to “make me a sandwich.” Dad–”Poof, you’re  a sandwich.”
    3. When, in response to a question is told, “that would be x.”  Dad–”Not ‘would be,’ but ‘is’.”
    4. “The lottery is a tax on stupidity.”

    If only I could be as fastidious in my language use as he.

  112. DG C says:

    My dad has this advice about making children: “Never let them outnumber you.”

  113. Anonymous says:

    “Hot glass looks the same as cold glass.”

  114. Whenever my dad would finish fixing or building something, if it wasn’t exactly his greatest work, he would always say, “Well, it’s good enough for government work.”

  115. Anonymous says:

    Practice safe eating – always use condiments.

  116. Tim Norris says:

    My dad would tell me, “Shit, that didn’t work,  I guess we need to do it differently.”

  117. If it won’t fit get a bigger hammer, if it breaks it needed replaced anyway.

    1. This is called percussive maintenance.

  118. Philip Lexow says:

    “Don’t drink, Don’t chew, and stay away from girls who do”

  119. Philip Lexow says:

    “Don’t drink, Don’t chew, and stay away from girls who do”

  120. Philip Lexow says:

    “Don’t drink, Don’t chew, and stay away from girls who do”

  121. Philip Lexow says:

    “Don’t drink, Don’t chew, and stay away from girls who do”

  122. Philip Lexow says:

    “Don’t drink, Don’t chew, and stay away from girls who do”

  123. Philip Lexow says:

    “Don’t drink, Don’t chew, and stay away from girls who do”

  124. Philip Lexow says:

    “Don’t drink, Don’t chew, and stay away from girls who do”

  125. Philip Lexow says:

    “Don’t drink, Don’t chew, and stay away from girls who do”

  126. Philip Lexow says:

    “Don’t drink, Don’t chew, and stay away from girls who do”

  127. Andrew H says:

    If you know how to use machines, you can make anything.

  128. mark pirkle says:

    the most dangerous type of knife is a dull one, a sharp knife is predictable and controllable.

  129. punknubbins says:

    My father once told me “Never let fear prevent you from trying something new. If you don’t risk getting hurt or breaking something you aren’t learning.”

  130. Gary Sanders says:

    The one line of advice that I still remember clearly to this day, “Don’t tell your mom”.

  131. Measure twice; cut once.

  132. Anonymous says:

    “Hold this.” That’s the most famous saying from my dad. In the process of a “Hold this” session, you could learn how to avoid kickback from a circular saw, how to fix a loose electrical outlet, which direction to turn the wrench to get the water back on, or quickly back off. Tomorrow, Dad goes in for surgery on his hands. I hope the doctor knows how to “Hold this.”

  133. My dad always says “There is no father on the swiss army knife” which means “You better pay attention and learn how to do this yourself, because I’m not doing it for you every time.”  That and “Don’t hurt yourself, your mother will kill me.”

  134. My dad always says “There is no father on the swiss army knife” which means “You better pay attention and learn how to do this yourself, because I’m not doing it for you every time.”  That and “Don’t hurt yourself, your mother will kill me.”

  135. My dad always says “There is no father on the swiss army knife” which means “You better pay attention and learn how to do this yourself, because I’m not doing it for you every time.”  That and “Don’t hurt yourself, your mother will kill me.”

  136. kentkb says:

    My Dad would say: ” Don’t touch that, it is not broken enough.” 

  137. Brian Coy says:

    My favorite memory of my father, an electrician, and tools is when I was 8 and he came home one day complaining about his drill not working and left it on the kitchen table.  When he left the room to take a shower I disassembled the drill and had it neatly spread apart on the table when he got out of the shower.  He came into the kitchen and saw his drill in pieces and yelled at me and left the room mumbling something about at least It didn’t work.  Of course the next time he came into the kitchen the drill was reassembled and working.  He still uses that same drill to this day.

  138. Another one that my dad used to say (and still says) when presented with a piece of equipment that doesn’t want to work:

    “We’ll *make* it work.”

  139. Juan Cubillo says:

    My dad used to work on a cool factory and used to bring home all sorts of complicated mechanical gizmos for me to disassemble. I was probably in the age of 4 or 5 and had no idea what they where… I just LOVED to get something new every Friday and put it apart into pieces.
    That’s how I got to learn about tools. And a passion was born :)

  140. Juan Cubillo says:

    My dad used to work on a cool factory and used to bring home all sorts of complicated mechanical gizmos for me to disassemble. I was probably in the age of 4 or 5 and had no idea what they where… I just LOVED to get something new every Friday and put it apart into pieces.
    That’s how I got to learn about tools. And a passion was born :)

  141. this guy says:

    “Hurt, didn’t it?”
    “Don’t sweat the petty stuff… Never pet the sweaty stuff.”
    “Man made it. Man broke it. Man can fix it.”
    “I encourage you to go hurt yourself, but I’m not paying your hospital bill.”
    “I think you broke my rib…”

  142. Corey Coons says:

    You have to be 10% smarter than what you operate.

  143. Corey Coons says:

    You have to be 10% smarter than what you operate.

  144. Tim Nolan says:

    “An engineer should never be afraid to get his hands dirty”
    As an engineer who got his degree through apprenticing at a shipyard, he was always critical of engineers who wouldn’t take the time to actually look at the machine/process they were trying to improve.

  145. James says:

    I was under a large hopper trying to dislodge something, and he came up to me and said, “Get outta there.”  I said, “Why, you don’t trust it.”  He looked at me and said,”Don’t trust nothing.”

  146. Greg Lenderink says:

    My dad wasn’t much with tools. By the time I was 15 I had almost as many as he did.

    My maternal grandfather was a rancher & a handyman’s handyman. More often than not, he’d build something because he couldn’t afford to buy one, that is, if there was one to buy. He built his own stick welder. He’d fix old car radios to resell. He built his own hydraulic farmhand for his big Allis-Chalmers tractor. It would handle up to about 20 or more bales of hay. I’d line up bales of hay & he’d load them. This was before self-powered bale wagons. He taught me that there is always the right tool for a job & often that right tool was the one you made yourself. I have a variety of hand bent, ground, cut & shaped wrenches made for specific purposes. He taught me that I was only limited by my own imagination & creativity. Welding 2 tools together often produces one tool that has all sorts of new applications never intended for the individual tools.

    He built the log home where he eventually passed away. It had a central vacuum system he installed himself. Something virtually unheard of in the 60s as well as a heated garage, something that isn’t commonplace yet today.

    He told me a story of how he really got started fixing things. When he was a boy, probably 6-8 years old, before WWI, his father bought one of the first gas powered combines in western Kansas. My great grandfather was a bit skeptical about its performance, but it worked well–until it threw a connecting rod. He parked it & went back to his horse-drawn combine. My grandfather got curious as to why it broke & took it apart. My great grandfather was furious. He knew of no one who could put it back together & told my grandfather to not touch it any further. My grandfather discovered the broken rod, took it to the blacksmith who hammer-welded it back together. He reassembled it & had it running before my great grandfather could stop him. From then on, he was then allowed to fix anything that might be broken… & somethings that weren’t. He was known for his ability to fix virtually anything the rest of his life.

  147. h says:

    My dad taught me a lot of stuff about fishing (if you can see them, they can see you), how to get an overview so you knew what really needed to be fixed and how to get along with people. The one that stuck with me the most was, ‘put the tool away when you’re done with it’ (so you’ll have it to use again when you need it). It took me a few times, doing a project and leaving the tool where I had finihsed it, finding them a month later rusted and of no use, to really ‘get it’.

  148. Anonymous says:

    My dad ran every nail he ever hammered through his hair before setting it. He said the oil in his hair helped it slide in.

  149. My dad used to say: 
    When you need to make a precise hit with a hammer, always hit it twice: first time gently tap the thing you’re hammering, second time go for real.’Till this day I don’t know exactly how this works, but it does – I seldom miss. Perhaps the hand gets acquainted with the mass and the direction, I really don’t know.

    Wherever he is now, may he rest in peace, the ol’ bugger

  150. Anonymous says:

    “Every Tool deserves a home of its own.”

    That was my reminder to stay organized and put it back where it came from.

  151. Eric says:

    Smelting furnaces are a lot of fun.

  152. Anonymous says:

    “Don’t do nothin I wouldn’t do.  If you do, name it after me”

    Every time I left the house while in high school :)

  153. Anonymous says:

    My dad died before he could pass on any workshop knowledge, and, judging from the work of his that I’ve run across, it wouldn’t have done much good anyway.

    So, I have had to learn on my own.  Some tips I have run across that have saved me pain (both physical and mental):

    - measure twice, cut once
    - beer can shims (from _Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance_)
    - before putting all your weight on a wrench, consider what would happen if it were to slip, and adjust your position/direction of force accordingly.
    - take the time to move the ladder/get the right tool/build the jig — it’s quicker than a trip to the emergency room
    - spend the extra money on good tools, you’ll never regret it
    - all that crap you collect is worth nothing if it’s not organized so you can find what you need when you need it
    - if you haven’t touched it for 2 years, throw it out, or give it to someone who can use it (cleaning out the in-laws’ house made a powerful impression)

    and, from my mother:

    - never turn down a gift, someday you might get something you want (and you can always pass it on)

     

  154. When faced with life’s most scary and challenging obstaclesto which there seemed no way out, Dad would gently remind me “How do you eat a monster?…..One bite at a time.”

    On another note, I had to pass this story along:
    My parents had a 27 inch tube TV for the longest time.  Shortly after Mom got her settlement from a medical company that caused her heart attack I came home to visit from out of state.  Dad pulled me aside and asked me if I could help him disable the TV in some fashion, “but only temporarily.”  I found an RCA jack for sound in the rear and used a paperclip to short out the sound, while Mom was asleep.
    The next morning Mom sat daown and turned on the TV and “had no sound.”  Dad fumbled with it loosely for a few seconds and said “Well, that’s that!”
    Mom’s next words were “Ok, time to replace it.”  We immediately went to the store and I helped them pick out a very nice 52 inch LCD which they loved immensely.  Dad was never the type to do things just for himself…he wanted the larger screen for Mom, as I found out later she was developing cataracts and having a hard time seeing the little TV.
    Dad was a transmission mechanic for 36 years, watched over me as I rebuilt my first car completely, and is currently an Engineer at a remanufacturing plant…not bad for a 10th grade drop out (to marry Mom!) :)

  155. Not meaning to “double post” but I wanted to mention that Dad has encouraged me from my earliest memory at 1.5 years old and I wanted to share this with you:
    I remember sitting on the couch with a “new” push-button phone we had rented from Southwestern Belland Dad handed me a screwdriver with a chuckle.  I don’t know how long it took me, but I eventually took it apart to the point that Dad was unable to re-assemble it and we ended up having to pay for another phone from them.  (I believe it was around $75 at the time!)
    As I type this, behind me I have a hulking HP Color Laser printer sitting on the bench half torn down and awaiting repair.
    Beyond being a Transmission Mechanic, he had tried and liked woodworking, then got a little bit into electronics (as needed) making his own Transmission testing equipment, but in the 70′s he started work on a magnet-powered car which is still impressive to this day and has inspired my own work in Hydrogen-for-fuel vehicles/home generators.
    I guess the overall lesson he really drove home for me was this:  That anything can be done if you apply yourself, even in the areas that you are unsure of, or have no formal training in.  Take the step, learn all you can about it, then get it done.
    And don’t be afraid of mistakes:  It’s a chance to learn something you missed before! ;)

  156. Anonymous says:

    My dad is a cop, his life, his missions and many other people’s safety could depends on his tools and this one is definitely a reliable one.

  157. LizzinDC says:

    Measure twice, then measure one more time just in case.

  158. LizzinDC says:

    My dad already commented, (Hi Ka1axy!!!!!!) so I’ll add what he taught me.
    1. Girls can use power tools too.
    2. Building it yourself is a heck of a lot more fun than having someone else do it.
    3. It isn’t junk till it has sat in the shop for a few years, and even then someone probably still wants it.
    4. There is probably an open source version of that expensive software you have that is always breaking.

  159. David Seitz says:

    Never tap a gauge harder than you would tap the bridge of your nose

  160. Anonymous says:

    Oh, grandfather stories are allowed!

    This wasn’t a ‘tip’ from my grandfather, just something I learned by observation:  If you need medical attention, seek medical attention.

    My grandfather had a nice wood shop that he spent most of his retirement in.  He was always careful, but ended up suffering two somewhat serious injuries. (the first involved two fingertips and the router table)

    One day after several hours in his shop, my grandfather walked into the house with a bloody rag wrapped around his hand and started rummaging around my grandmother’s sewing room.  After a few minutes he hollered “I need some needle and thread!”

    It took my grandmother three days to convince him to see a doctor and have his table-saw-ravaged hand cleaned and stitched by a professional…

  161. Sachin Myneni says:

    My grandpa was my inspiration to become an engineer. There was never a project that he couldn’t tackle.. probably because he understood the science behind most things so well. He was born in a village in India before the independence. As a true maker, he learnt how to make bombs to fight the british (yeah, I know some people might not like it…but we called it struggle for our independence much like the Americans did in 1700s). He later used the same knowledge to make fireworks for our festival of lights that we have every year. 
    He could fix anything. Mechanical or electrical. He knew how power and energy worked. He respected it and used it with ease. He was a true “Maker”. If the world was to end having all technology and science, I would want my grandpa by my side again so we can learn, build and fix things every day.

  162. Sachin Myneni says:

    My grandpa was my inspiration to become an engineer. There was never a project that he couldn’t tackle.. probably because he understood the science behind most things so well. He was born in a village in India before the independence. As a true maker, he learnt how to make bombs to fight the british (yeah, I know some people might not like it…but we called it struggle for our independence much like the Americans did in 1700s). He later used the same knowledge to make fireworks for our festival of lights that we have every year. 
    He could fix anything. Mechanical or electrical. He knew how power and energy worked. He respected it and used it with ease. He was a true “Maker”. If the world was to end having all technology and science, I would want my grandpa by my side again so we can learn, build and fix things every day.

  163. Sachin Myneni says:

    My grandpa was my inspiration to become an engineer. There was never a project that he couldn’t tackle.. probably because he understood the science behind most things so well. He was born in a village in India before the independence. As a true maker, he learnt how to make bombs to fight the british (yeah, I know some people might not like it…but we called it struggle for our independence much like the Americans did in 1700s). He later used the same knowledge to make fireworks for our festival of lights that we have every year. 
    He could fix anything. Mechanical or electrical. He knew how power and energy worked. He respected it and used it with ease. He was a true “Maker”. If the world was to end having all technology and science, I would want my grandpa by my side again so we can learn, build and fix things every day.

  164. andy says:

    My favorite tool that my Dad owned was an Eagle claw hammer (indestructable) but I always remember him saying that “When buying tools it doesn’t cost much more to buy the best and if you take care of it, it’ll last you a lifetime!”

  165. Matt Donnelly says:

    My Dad wasn’t exactly the best handiman in the world, but his best advice was “Never be afraid of making mistakes, or you won’t wind up doing anything at all.”

    It applies to handiwork specifically because let’s face it, some projects seem like a huge undertaking, and if you’re afraid of making mistakes, you’ll never make an improvement.  You can always fix your mistakes and learn from them.  You can’t learn from mistakes you don’t make.

  166. Joshua Cayer says:

    My father built houses before retiring.  I spent a lot of years holding the flashlight for him.  Under the sink, in a dark basement, at night in a house without electricity, hundreds of places.  Sure, I wasn’t good at it when I was young(lack of a decent attention span), but I learned a hell of a lot from just watching him.  Here we are 38 years later and while he’s not actually holding a flashlight, we’ve changed places for a lot of things.  It’s a great way to grow up and I hope my daughters have some interest in helping dear old dad.
     

  167. Charles says:

    Son get away from that wheelbarrow, you dont know anything about machenery.

    If it was easy everybody would make one.

  168. kc8bew says:

    For electric-  “Cut it long.  You can always remove the extra length.  You cannot put it back.” 
    For wood-  “Sand with the grain not against it.”
    For everything- “Put away my tools when your done!  I’m tired of finding them in the yard!”

  169. kc8bew says:

    For electric-  “Cut it long.  You can always remove the extra length.  You cannot put it back.” 
    For wood-  “Sand with the grain not against it.”
    For everything- “Put away my tools when your done!  I’m tired of finding them in the yard!”

  170. Anonymous says:

     My father puts work into everything he owns and even some stuff he
    doesn’t. He will delve into anything from cars to clocks and usually
    find some sort of improvement to make along the way.

    Not to say his work is flawless; far from it in some cases! Some of his failings (but mostly my own) have lead to his uttering: “Only those that don’t do anything, don’t make mistakes.” It is already the saying that has stuck with me when I am preparing to take on a new project.

  171. My father’s best piece of advice:

    “Son, just don’t do anything stupid.  You’re smart, you know it’s stupid.  If you don’t know it’s stupid, do it.  You’ll figure out why it’s stupid.”

  172. Lindsey Boardman says:

    If it ain’t broke, take it apart and have a look at how it works, then put it back together and if it still ain’t broke… hooray!

  173. Chris Palmer says:

    I’m not sure I can boil this down to a single phrase, but…

    When I was very young, maybe 6 or 7 or so, I told my grandfather that I wanted to dig a swimming pool/fishing pond in his backyard complete with an underground room with a window to watch the fish (I may not have all of the details right, but it was something like that). Instead of saying, “Sure, go ahead” (dismissively) or “That’s crazy” he said, “That sounds expensive and you need to have a good plan before you get started”. He sat down with me and made my draw up my idea, identify the materials and tools, estimate the costs, and figure out how long it would take. He even added up all of the costs on his big adding machine and stapled it to my drawings. He then said I could refine the plans and start saving my money and get started as soon as I could handle it. It sounds like he was just taking the long way around saying “That’s crazy” or “Yeah, right,” but he taught me to draw plans, make lists, and evaluate cheaper alternatives (“Maybe you could add the underwater viewing area later”). He also took me seriously and encouraged me to combine my creativity with basic engineering facts.

  174. Keith says:

    My dad always maintained various cans and jars of screws and other common hardware, for ready deployment on repairs.  He eschewed the latest model tools, appliances, and luxuries in favor of tried-and-true designs that had already been proven with many hours of service.  He kept things running with common parts from the hardware store and things improvised from other leftover materials.  I think the idea of an OEM replacement part had never occurred to him, except maybe for cars.  He built all kinds of things from salvaged lumber and hardware, including storage systems in the garage for the salvaged lumber and hardware.  He could turn any nook or cranny into a storage location.  
    My favorite project of his was our DIY ping-pong table. It was to be hoisted above the cars in the garage when not in use on a length of nylon rope.  The cars would be backed into the driveway and the table would be lowered for “indoor” play in the garage.  The ping-pong table germinated in my father’s mind when the local lumber yard offered pre-finished ping-pong table halves, slightly damaged, at a bargain. He cherry-picked two halves with minimal cosmetic damage, and built the rest of the table under that from salvaged lumber.  Simple, inexpensive, homemade, and functioned as designed as a playing surface.    Hoisting, however,  proved problematic. A pulley was attached at the center of the peak inside the garage, and a length of nylon rope threaded through it.  Rope halters encircled the ends of the table and were tied to the end of the hoisting rope.  Our collective muscle was applied, and we learned about the strecth properties of nylon rope.  ( I sense some of you nodding).  Not only was the rope perhaps poorly chosen, but also the mass of the object ping pong table was grossly underestimated.  Undaunted by this minor failure, and driven to restore function to the garage as a car-storage location, my father re-engineered the 2×4-based frame to allow the legs to collapse, being pinned into position by a selection of salvaged shoulder bolts and wing nuts.  With legs in collapsed position, the table could stand on edge along the wall of the garage, taking almost no space.  He barely wasted a breath between the hoist fiasco and the remake of the legs, and this impressed me more than any other aspect of any DIY project he carried out.  

  175. I work outdoors and I don’t leave home without my “200″ .While working at my Dad’s house one day, he needed a philips driver. Before he could reach the tool bag I had mine out, open and ready to go. He was impressed by the set up and remarked it was much better than the one he had in the RV. A few months later he passed and while going through the RV I found a new “Wave” in the cup holder next to the drivers seat. Dad always said buy the best when you can, I guess I taught Dad a few tricks…..
    The cup holder still holds that Wave.

  176. 1) Never stand in the line of fire/direction of pull/etc.
    2) The fish are where the fishermen aren’t.

  177. My Grandad was a foreman rigger on the Sydney Harbour Bridge. One day he took me to a hardware store to get a new wrench set for my father. He picked a well known brand that was easily twice the price of all the others. when I asked why he said “If it isn’t good enough for Bridge work it isn’t good enough for my work.” He then explained, “Tony, we buy that cheap set there and you know it will break, and it will break hard and just when breaking will hurt you.”

    35 years (heck, almost 40) on they’ve both passed away and I’ve got the wrench set in my tool cupboard. I never buy cheap tools.

  178. My dad taught me to be patient, if something doesn’t work the first time, try it again.  If it still doesn’t work, be creative about finding another possible solution. Don’t be afraid to ask for help!

    My grandpa was always in his workshop making model airplanes that he could fly with a remote control. When he was younger, he made larger planes that he flew in with my grandma. It was his passion.

  179. Anonymous says:

    My father had several words of wisdom which I learned while helping him:

    1.  If a man built it, a man can fix.
    2.  A 3′ cheater pipe makes any job easier.
    3.  A wrecking bar is the best thing to have in a brawl.
    4.  Always check the lid switch first.
    5.  Point the light at the work, not my eyes.

  180. Steve Duffy says:

    The best advice my dad gave that is impossible to follow is, “Don’t ever get old.”   Advise easier to follow is to keep my car in good repair because it will last longer.  I’ve driven multiple vehicles around the county multiple times and always kept up maintenance, aka tune ups, d-cap, plugs, wires, filters, oil, etc., and these weren’t new cars, but beaters bought at $500 or less. 

    Dad’s gone now and really the best tip he ever gave wasn’t ever spoken but was merely to love the hell out of his kids.  That’s what I do every day.

  181. Anonymous says:

    My memory of it is foggy, but we got an old beat up snowmobile when I was a kid.  When it wouldn’t start Dad would take out a sparkplug.  I can’t remember now if it was flooded so he let it air out or if he put something combustible in.  You van be sure that he lost some credibility with me later on when he said he knew next to nothing about engines,

  182. Jason Wilson says:

    My grandfather made everything.  He built the the scales for his model planes, he built the electronic diagnostic equipment for his gas powered model planes.  I can’t think of anything in his workshop he did not construct himself.  There were two things he taught me about tools. The first was having the right tool for the job. The second was if you don’t have the right tool build it from what you have.  When I was young I though that wasn’t all that great an idea.  After years of tinkering, hacking, building, and destroying, that was the best tool advice I ever got.

  183. Joe Ganley says:

    “Never use one tool in place of another unless the substitution would work in the other direction too.” (Said whenever I tried to use, say, a wrench as a hammer.)

  184. Anonymous says:

    I was taught basic tool use by an older neighbor, a WWII vet with a garage full of machine tools, printing presses, amazing tool chests and a wonderous array of just plain “things”.  His longest lasting advice to me was “Let the tool do the work.”  He also gets my award for coolest name ever – Hezie Minks.  30 years later I still miss that man.

    A father now myself, I think my kids may be learning my field-expedient philosophy: If it’s stupid but works, it isn’t stupid.

  185. Kelly Hollar says:

    Oh Dad, how your garage tinkering ways have influenced me!

    1. Even if the garbage disposal shoots out the other end, the front door only kind of closes, and the dishwasher door floats mid way like it’s in an anti-gravity field, never, ever, ever stop trying to take things apart to fix them.  Even if Mom /does/ get mad.

    2. Soldering, power tools, lathes, and guns are all for girls too!

    3. In general, the joy of making something with your hands is the greatest feeling there is!

  186. Kenneth Egan says:

    A couple of things come to mind.

    I was about 15 or 16 (couldn’t even drive yet) and he had this old BMW that needed an oil change.   I said I wanted to try to do it.  He told me it’s best to bring it to the station and have them do it.   I found a manual on how to do it.  He once again told me to take it to the station.  I jacked up the car, he for the last time told me to take it to the station but if you must do it yourself then go for it.   I did a good job (for my first time) changing the oil and filter.  Backed it down off the jack, started it up.   Everything was fine till my dad looked at me and said 

    “what are you planning to do with that?”

    With what I mumbled? 

    He points to the bucket full of used motor oil. 

    “Start to Finish” he said

    I realized he wanted me to think the whole process through.  From start to finish on a project, from the first swing of a sledge hammer to sweeping up a finished project.   “Start to Finish” he would say. 

    My other favorites

    “Never to break the law while breaking the law.”

    “Make sure you keep spraying it so it doesn’t blow up the house, your mother would be pissed.”

  187. Kenneth Egan says:

    A couple of things come to mind.

    I was about 15 or 16 (couldn’t even drive yet) and he had this old BMW that needed an oil change.   I said I wanted to try to do it.  He told me it’s best to bring it to the station and have them do it.   I found a manual on how to do it.  He once again told me to take it to the station.  I jacked up the car, he for the last time told me to take it to the station but if you must do it yourself then go for it.   I did a good job (for my first time) changing the oil and filter.  Backed it down off the jack, started it up.   Everything was fine till my dad looked at me and said 

    “what are you planning to do with that?”

    With what I mumbled? 

    He points to the bucket full of used motor oil. 

    “Start to Finish” he said

    I realized he wanted me to think the whole process through.  From start to finish on a project, from the first swing of a sledge hammer to sweeping up a finished project.   “Start to Finish” he would say. 

    My other favorites

    “Never to break the law while breaking the law.”

    “Make sure you keep spraying it so it doesn’t blow up the house, your mother would be pissed.”

  188. my dad went to a harware store to buy stuff fore the sprinkler sistem and when he cam out he had 3 of each etem we said why 3 and he said im taking advice from my dad( who just pased away D; )
    he said need one buy 3
    “need 1 buy 3″

  189. Anonymous says:

    You will never regret buying quality tools.

  190. Anonymous says:

    If you don’t want to get bloody, cut towards your buddy. –don’t cut your brother.

  191. Anonymous says:

    If you don’t want to get bloody, cut towards your buddy. –don’t cut your brother.

  192. Anonymous says:

    if it looks good, you did it right (reference to soldering and many other things)

  193. Jamie Bilinski says:

    “Just needed a little Yankee ingenuity”  

    Translation: I can’t believe it’s working.

  194. Taylor Hill says:

    My dad always says that when planning a project, make sure you include time to clean up.

    It sounds really simple, but the number of headaches it has saved me and the respect I get from machine shop managers for tidying up before closing time are invaluable.

  195. Dan says:

    Measure twice, Cut once.

    While applicable when working in the shop, you can use that just about anywhere. 

  196. octopussoup says:

    One thing my dad always said. Hit the point of the nail so its a bit flat on the tip. That way it won’t split the board when it’s hit in.

  197. Schmidty says:

    My dad was very finicky about his truck and I can remember being about 7 years old and him teaching me how to very meticulously clean his truck on Saturdays.  He explained why the wheel wells needed cleaning, etc ..always patient with me and explaining why any job worth doing was worth doing to the best of my ability.  It was a life-long lesson for me.

  198. Isaac Doubek says:

    My dad taught me that when you are starting a screw to always turn it backwards first until you feel a click. This prevents you from ever stripping a screw because it makes sure the threads are started straight.

  199. Anonymous says:

    OK, the winners of the four Leatherman SuperTool 300s are:

    Christian Holton
    Pat Fitzenberger
    kc8bew
    Wade Erickson

    Please email me (gareth@makezine com) your smailing address ASAP.

  200. Scott Breece says:

    At 85 and the only real piece of advice that I remember,Dad said:

    “Take care of your teeth”