The Story of Three Tools and Negotiating Constraints

August 4th, 2005 · 3 Comments · Tools and Tech


Yesterday was a catch-up day which included repairing and replacing broken tools. I needed three tools and purchased them at three stores. Here is their story along with some thoughts on tools, art and life strategies.

The first tool I needed was a quality tape measure. I headed to Rockler in Pasadena where I strayed from my customary Stanley Powerlocks for a new measuring innovation: the Komelon Self Lock. When you pull this $8 tape out it stays out, instead of springing back like most tapes. Press the button and the tape returns. This saves time on every mark measured by eliminating the extra step of locking.

Boring art is art that never bothers to create or solve a problem. So if making art is about creating problems then quality tools make art bearable. I suspect many people shy away from making art, especially sculpture, because it’s too big of a problem to create problems.

I never mind spending money on tools I use frequently. Quality tools encourage work. Omer nailers. Canon cameras. Festool sanders and saws. Apple computers. On the other hand, don’t buy the best if the tool isn’t used often.

After going to Rockler, a high-end tool store chain that smells like the exotic hard wood they sell, I went to Harbor Freight, a low-end tool store chain that smells like cheap Chinese oil. At HF I purchased the Central Pneumatic 20 gauge 1/2 Crown Pneumatic Stapler. This tool, like all HF tools, is priced at less than a third of what you would expect. In other words: suspiciously cheap. However, Megan and I are gonna need to place a lot of staples in a short amount of time in the next month. We’re making a “practice mountain” here and then the real thing in Indiana. After that, I don’t know how often I’m gonna use a pneumatic fine wire stapler so low quality seems the best route.

The third tool was from Sears, which smells like teen spirit and is somewhat between Rockler and Harbor Freight. I’m not a huge fan of Sears Craftsman Tools, however, my old Robo Grip Vise Grips busted and Sears replaced it with a $15 new one. They’re serious about lifetime warranties.

I had a recent conversation with my brother-in-law about video cameras. I was trying to make the point that sometimes buying a less-expensive/less-perfect tool was ideal. If you need all of the advantages of an expensive/perfect tool then get it. However, it’s worth consideration to spend less money on a tool so that you can spend more on other tools that will bring you closer to your final goal (like costumes, sound and lighting instruments).

A big mistake in life is waiting for perfect opportunities before moving forward. People who wait for perfect opportunities move slower than people who are willing to negotiate constraints.

Category: Tools and Tech

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