Tips My Dad Says (Happy Father’s Day to All of the MAKE Pops)

Tips My Dad Says (Happy Father’s Day to All of the MAKE Pops)

Tool Tips

My dad was a general contractor, so he was highly skilled in civil engineering, carpentry, plumbing, electrical, etc. The thing I remember most was his incredible confidence in himself and his command over the tools in his hand. Watching him drive nails was amazing. He knew exactly how to hold and swing the hammer. He’d drive a 10d nail with just a few intense whacks and the final hit would make a little counter-sink in the wood and stamp it with the waffles of the hammerhead. I was in awe watching him, the rhythm he would get into, the concentration — like a machine. He could frame out a wall in minutes. I also remember him using dangerous tools, like the circular saw, with great acuity. Again, he had no hesitation and always seemed on top of everything. It was that confidence and command over the tools he used which was his greatest lesson to me. -Gareth Branwyn

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!” -Jon Oxford

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. -Scott McBride

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. -Christian Holton

“If you don’t have the right tool, Make the right tool.” -Pat Fizenberger

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”. -David Stevens

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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

View more articles by Gareth Branwyn


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