Happy Father’s Day!

Happy Father’s Day!

Project from Popular Mechanics 1954, a blueprint lampshade

Happy Father’s Day to all of the dads out there. We hope you’re having a fun day of paternal celebration. In honor of dads, here are a few excerpts from the reminiscences posted to the topic for our Leatherman Super 300 giveaway. There are a lot of really touching entries there that are worth reading through.

Pops grew up on a farm
Dad grew up on a farm and never had any money. His dad taught him early on that when you buy cheap tools, you always pay twice – one for the cheap one, then a second time when you have to buy the good tool after the cheap one breaks.

He didn’t have a ton of tools, but he always made sure he bought good quality ones that lasted for 30-40 yrs. He still has the Craftsman socket set in a steel green case that I used to borrow to fix my bikes when I was a kid living at home. We used that very set of sockets to work on his truck last time I was home. — RapidEye

Bring the big one!
Growing up in the era before the multi-tool, there was always a big bag o’ tools to lug around, and I was often the one doing it. I recall that, before my dad would head out to start some work, we’d stand in front of the giant rolling toolbox and select the tools he’d need. Hammer, pliers, screwdrivers, sockets… all in the bag or bucket.

Of course, sometimes you get part-way into a job and realize you don’t have the tool you need. At those times, I’d be dispatched back to the house to get the designated tool. The heavier the tool, the greater the complaints about having to go fetch it.

So one day my dad, brother, and I are trying to straighten a dinged-up bumper removed from our old ’76 Ford van (it met a tree in a backing-up accident). No matter what we tried, we couldn’t get the main kink out of the thick steel bumper. Eventually, I was sent into the house for the tool of last resort: the eight pound sledgehammer. We had great fun watching my dad beat the tar out of the bumper for about ten minutes. Boy was it loud! We ended up with a bumper that looked like new, though (well, after a little Bondo and a few coats of paint).

To this day, my brother, father, and I refer to all sledgehammers as “bumper alignment tools.” Bringing one out for a job never fails to bring a smile to my face. — introp

My Hero
My dad has all ways been my hero. He’s the one who taught me how to use tools as soon as I could hold a screwdriver. My dad was a machinist, and every day, he would come home from work with a tool box in one hand and blue prints or schematics in the other. No matter how tired he was or how bad work was that day, he made the time to sit down with me and show me a tool I’d never seen before or show me the schematics he brought home. Sometimes, he would bring stuff home just to show me because he knew I’d love it, and he would brag to everyone at work that he had the only 4 year old who could read blueprints. Whenever something needed to be fixed, you could find my dad at his workbench, with me right by his side, handing him his tools. — mwgamemaster

Silversmith and fixer
After 25 years in the Navy (a mustang) and a career in real estate, my dad became a full time silversmith. Though I think he started it out of his love of tools and he swore he wasn’t an artist, silversmithing allowed my Dad to express himself in a way that surprised him and the world.

Every image I have of him (he’s been gone some 5 years now,) has him with an opti-visor mounted on his brow. He taught me that everything in the world is parts for making or fixing something else. Watching his strong hands move through gentle lines as he taught me to sharpen knives using his trusty Dremel will always stay with me as the image of a tool as an extension of self.

My dad dug my grandfather’s 120 lb. oil field anvil out of my uncle’s garden, proclaiming it ‘not right’ that such a tool become ornamental. That anvil is in my shop now and I hear dad’s voice (‘Take it easy’) every time it rings with the strike of his 16 lb. sledge hammer.

A lot of the tools in my shop came from my dad. Every time I walk out there and smell 3-in-One oil, I feel his quiet presence standing at the bench fixing some appliance or carving wax for casting. Even though I inherited so many wonderful tools from him, the most important thing he left me was the understanding of the potential embodied by them, the knowledge that I can take things apart and put them together, that I can repair and improve. That I can create.

Thanks, Dad. I miss you. — Tim Deagan

6 thoughts on “Happy Father’s Day!

  1. John Baichtal says:

    Happy Father’s Day to Gareth and the other dads who write for and read Make: Online!

  2. Gareth Branwyn says:

    Aw, thanks, JB! Same to you!!

  3. PushTheOtherButton says:

    I flaked on the deadline for this, but here’s my story anyway. The full blog post with the pic I mention is at http://pushtheotherbutton.com/index.php?id=7241259025964061937

    The memory that keeps occuring to me this Father’s Day is this one time we went bluefishing when I was a teenager. I was reeling one in on an umbrella rig with multiple lures and snagged a second fish on the same line! I brought them both into our little boat with its’ little cockpit and everything flopping around chaotically – The lures with their barbed hooks, two 5 pound blues with sharp teeth that have been known to bite off a toe (we were not wearing sneakers that day), and my dad with his spectacles jumping up and down at the end of his nose, one hand on the tiller, and the other hand wildly swinging a pair of vise-grips in a valiant attempt to crush some fish skulls- all with Andres Segovia’s classical guitar blasting from the boombox. This had to be one of the most hilarious, bizarre, and scary moments we had shared together. That day I was glad he was my dad, and I think he was glad that I was his son.
    The pic in this post was taken after our last sail together. When the conditions were right, we had developed enough rapport to sail the boat off the mooring at the start, cut a course through the LI Sound, tack back into the harbor, and luff the sails, coasting to a stop with my arm stretched into the water to grab the mooring line. An excursion like this, without needing to turn on the motor, we dubbed a “perfect day.” This was a day like that, and a couple weeks before his failed surgery to remove a malignant tumor – he passed away six months later…I don’t want to end on a sad note, and after 8 years past I feel no sadness- only gratitude. This is my favorite picture of the two of us. Happy Father’s day to all dads everywhere, always.

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Gareth Branwyn is a freelance writer and the former Editorial Director of Maker Media. He is the author or editor of over a dozen books on technology, DIY, and geek culture. He is currently a contributor to Boing Boing, Wink Books, and Wink Fun. His free weekly-ish maker tips newsletter can be found at garstipsandtools.com.

View more articles by Gareth Branwyn


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