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Men, Tools, and Gadgets

picture of inner workings

I think it's safe to make the generalization that we men are naturally drawn to tools and gadgets. We just find them hard to resist. It's something about our "nuts and bolts" kind of mind that has to know how things work and our desire to fix things that don't work or that don't work right.

With that in mind, my wife and I recently gave our son Mark and our son-in-law Jim the same gift for their birthdays (Mark January 17 and Jim January 19) - a Black & Decker Auto Adjusting Wrench (pictured below). It's a really cool tool because with the touch of a button you can adjust the opening. This would be great in some of those tight spots where it's hard to do manually.

picture of wrench

I received several great gifts at Christmas that tap into my male attraction to tools and gadgets. My daughter Nora gave me a gift card for tool purchases at Home Depot. I keep going through the store, trying to decide what to buy.

picture of gift card

And my daughter Megan and son-in-law Jim gave me an electric Sudoku game that has brought me literal hours of enjoyment. I kind of wondered if I would like it since I was so used to being able to jot things down on the paper version. But since I got this game, I have not done one single puzzle in my book! This just may be the great gift idea for that male Valentine of yours! 😀

picture of Sudoku

This past week I decided that a store I have gone to frequently has officially become one of my favorite stores in Greenville – Battery Specialists on Furman Hall Rd. near Cherrydale. Below is a picture of the store since their website lacks a picture.

picture of Battery Specialists

I have a digital watch that I bought at a large chain store whose name begins with a W. The battery was starting to go bad, so I went to W****** this past Saturday to get a new battery. I learned that they are not allowed to change batteries in digital watches any more. When I whined that I had bought the watch there and that they had always changed the battery before, the clerk told me the name of a shop I could go to and get the battery changed for $5.00. I went there, and it looked closed and many of the cases inside were empty. Hmm.... Then I thought of Battery Specialists and went there. The young man changed my battery and charged me a total of $2.64. I am happy to give this store a much-deserved plug. They carry about every battery made – it's amazing! Since many gadgets around our house run on batteries, I will give this shop lots of business!

Since this post is about tools and gadgets, here's a list of definitions for some common and some not-so-common tools.

Tool Definitions

HAMMER: Originally employed as a weapon of war, the hammer nowadays is used as a kind of divining rod to locate expensive parts not far from the object you are trying to hit. Used for smashing one's thumbs, hands, thighs, knees, ankles, and even heads so the man using it can say, "I'm tough!"

NAIL GUN: Used for attaching one's own finger to ceiling joist while perched on top of a step ladder. This embarrassing event allows "the contractor" to take a LONG walk in the woods ALONE (and in pain).

NAIL PULLER: The opposite end of a short Pry Bar, used to extricate oneself from embarrassing situations such as mentioned above, even though it creates more pain.

PRY BAR: A tool used to crumple the metal surrounding that clip or bracket you needed to remove in order to replace a 50 cent part. Also pries into the character of people who have ego battles with hard-to-get-apart things.

MECHANIC'S KNIFE: Used to open and slice through the contents of cardboard cartons delivered to your front door; works particularly well on boxes containing items easily cut by knives - clothing, upholstery, inflatable objects, etc.

ELECTRIC HAND DRILL: Normally used for spinning steel Pop rivets in their holes until you die of old age, but it also works great for drilling roll bar mounting holes in the floor of a sports car, just above the brake line that goes to the rear wheel. Also useful for breaking the heads off the last five screws needed to finish the last board on the new deck at 8:59 on a Saturday evening.

HACKSAW: One of a family of cutting tools built on the Ouija board principle. It transforms human energy into a crooked, unpredictable motion, and the more you attempt to influence its course, the more dismal your future becomes.

VISE-GRIPS: Used to round off bolt heads. If nothing else is available, they can also be used to transfer intense welding heat to the palm of your hand. Also used for breaking wife's wrists and fingers as she holds on to whatever he wants held stable.

PLIERS: Another tool used to round off bolt heads.

OXY-ACETYLENE TORCH: Used almost entirely for setting various flammable objects in your garage on fire. Used for setting brand new master bedroom closet on fire because the back of the brand new AC unit is in its corner and July is around the corner. Also handy for igniting the grease inside a brake drum you're trying to get the bearing race out of.

WHITWORTH SOCKETS: Once used for working on older British cars and motorcycles, they are now used mainly for impersonating that 9/16 or 1/2 socket you've been searching for the last 15 minutes.

DRILL PRESS: A tall, upright machine useful for suddenly snatching flat metal bar stock out of your hands so that it smacks you in the chest or flings your beverage across the room, splattering it against that freshly painted part you were drying.

WIRE WHEEL: Cleans rust off old bolts and then throws them somewhere under the workbench with the speed of light. Also removes fingerprint whorls and hard-earned guitar calluses in about the time it takes you to say, "Ouch...."

HYDRAULIC FLOOR JACK: Used for lowering a motorcycle to the ground after you have installed your new front disk brake setup, trapping the jack handle firmly under the front fender.

EIGHT-FOOT LONG DOUGLAS FIR 2 X 4: Used for levering a motorcycle upward off a hydraulic jack.

TWEEZERS: A tool for removing wood splinters.

CELLPHONE: Tool for calling your neighbor to see if he has another hydraulic floor jack.

SNAP-ON GASKET SCRAPER: Theoretically useful as a sandwich tool for spreading mayonnaise; used mainly for getting dog-doo off your boot.

E-Z OUT BOLT AND STUD EXTRACTOR: A tool that snaps off in bolt holes and is ten times harder than any known drill bit.

TIMING LIGHT: A stroboscopic instrument for illuminating grease buildup.

TWO-TON HYDRAULIC ENGINE HOIST: A handy tool for testing the tensile strength of ground straps and brake lines you may have forgotten to disconnect.

CRAFTSMAN 1/2 x 16-INCH SCREWDRIVER: A large motor mount prying tool that inexplicably has an accurately machined screwdriver tip on the end without the handle.

BATTERY ELECTROLYTE TESTER: A handy tool for transferring sulfuric acid from a car battery to the inside of your toolbox after determining that your battery is dead as a doornail, just as you thought.


TROUBLE LIGHT: The mechanic's own tanning booth. Sometimes called a drop light, it is a good source of vitamin D, "the sunshine vitamin," which is not otherwise found under cars at night. Health benefits aside, its main purpose is to consume 40 watt light bulbs at about the same rate that 105 mm howitzer shells might be used during, say, the first few hours of the Battle of the Bulge. More often dark than light, its name is somewhat misleading. Often used to indicate to women of the house that it is time to find something else to do (maybe in another county). Oh yes, don't forget to take young children in the rush out the door!

PHILLIPS SCREWDRIVER: Is ALWAYS the OTHER kind. Normally used to stab the lids of old-style, paper and tin oil cans and splash oil on your shirt; can also be used, as the name implies, to round off Phillips screw heads.

AIR COMPRESSOR: A machine that takes energy produced in a coal-burning power plant 200 miles away and transforms it into compressed air that travels by hose to a Chicago Pneumatic impact wrench that grips rusty bolts last tightened 60 years ago by someone in Springfield, and rounds them off.

HOSE CUTTER: A tool used to cut hoses 1/2 inch too short.

FIST: Used by overtired, thus easily frustrated man to make hole in drywall before installing.


How about your household – do you have any favorite tools or gadgets?

By the way, I'm highly recommending an Internet tool that some of you need to try out - the Firefox web browser. There's a link in my sidebar for downloading it. (36% of my readers are already using it.) I've been a little frustrated that Internet Explorer reformats some of my blog posts, putting things where they aren't supposed to be. Firefox keeps everything just as I post it, every time.

Also, the very next comment made to my blog will be comment number 1,500! Who will it be?


"Your plans cannot thwart God's plans." - Dr. Chris Barney

=^..^= =^..^=

Don't force it! Get a larger hammer!

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18 Comments on “Men, Tools, and Gadgets”

  1. #1 Jessica
    on Jan 19th, 2009 at 8:07 pm

    I’m not really big on tools (though I did take the vacuum cleaner and my dad’s computer apart as a kid…), but I wanted to make comment number 1,500. =)

  2. #2 Rob
    on Jan 19th, 2009 at 8:14 pm

    @Jessica – WOO HOO! You made the 1,500th comment! Félicitations!

  3. #3 Becka
    on Jan 20th, 2009 at 9:01 am

    As you know, I love my Kitchen-Aid mixer and my sewing machine. I also have many little kitchen gadgets that I enjoy using for different little projects.

  4. #4 Vikki
    on Jan 20th, 2009 at 9:08 am

    I got the same electronic Sudoku game for Christmas. It took a little while to get used to because it’s smaller than what I’m used to seeing on paper and the grid lines dividing the blocks of nine squares aren’t very bold, but it sure has gotten plenty use.

    Love the tool definitions! I kept thinking about others as I was reading it – only to find them further down the list. Battery powered Phillips screwdrivers are even “more better” at smoothing out the hash marks on the top of the screws! Also there’s the nail punch which makes neat little holes right next to the partially protruding nail head.

    We have fun roaming through tool stores just to see all the inventive gadgets people have come up with to solve problems. A few of the oddities we’ve picked up have actually been well worth the money.

  5. #5 Deb
    on Jan 20th, 2009 at 9:19 am

    I have my very own little yellow hammer. It’s definitely a dainty lady-sized hammer, but it sure does the job! Don’t you wish you had your own little yellow hammer, Rob? 🙂

  6. #6 Carrie
    on Jan 20th, 2009 at 10:45 am

    Thanks for the early morning chuckle! I like my serger sewing machine and Bosch mixer.

  7. #7 Rob
    on Jan 20th, 2009 at 12:37 pm

    @Becka – Hi Dear! I am very glad that you enjoy all your gadgetry. I’m one of the beneficiaries of your enjoyment. 😀

    @Vikki – I’m glad you persisted with your new Sudoku game. It took a little while, but I am thoroughly enjoying it now. I agree with you about the Phillips screwdriver – I used to loathe Phillips screws. Now I only despise them!

    @Deb – You may wield your little yellow hammer all you want. I’ll stick to mine with the real wood handles.

    @Carrie – Glad you got a good laugh up there in the tundra! I’m sure your family is glad that you like your serger and mixer. Having the right tools for any job is a huge blessing!

  8. #8 Michael
    on Jan 20th, 2009 at 2:29 pm

    I don’t really have a comment to make on gadgets but I would like to comment on the store Battery Specialists. They claim to have a battery for anything, large or small. However, a few years ago the battery in my electric razor was dead so I went in there to get a new one. They informed me that they didn’t carry batteries for razors. So, I had to end up getting a whole new razor. I haven’t been in there since, but I’ll remember the tip about getting watch batteries replaced there. Thanks!

  9. #9 Rob
    on Jan 20th, 2009 at 5:12 pm

    @Michael – Sorry you had a disappointing experience at Battery Specialists. I think, though, that that is the way it goes with rechargeable batteries for things like razors, trimmers, and other small appliances. You pretty much have to get it straight from the manufacturer of the appliance or for probably not much more money, replace the whole appliance. It’s another manifestation of “planned obsolescence.” 🙂

  10. #10 Ray
    on Jan 21st, 2009 at 11:27 am

    In my high school daze, I was a fixture in metal shop. There we had micrometers that some assumed were calibrated c-clamps… calipers doubled as bar clamps.

  11. #11 Ray
    on Jan 21st, 2009 at 8:38 pm

    I also use Firefox and i like it!!!

    I would like to try Thunderbird, (the email program not the beverage) but I lack the computer geek gene to carry it out. Does anybody know how to make Thunderbird work with my ISP based email?

  12. #12 Elaine
    on Jan 22nd, 2009 at 2:33 pm

    THANK YOU very much for mentioning the Battery Specialists. My wonderful old watch was dead, and Walmart didn’t have a battery to match. Bought a cheap watch Elsewhere and found it most undependable. Then you mentioned Battery Specialists. Now my wonderful old watch is working again, and we’re going to return the cheap one to Elsewhere.


  13. #13 Rob
    on Jan 22nd, 2009 at 3:01 pm

    @Elaine – Glad to hear Battery Specialists was of help to you, and glad to send business to a place that’s doing a good job!

  14. #14 Don Johnson
    on Jan 25th, 2009 at 10:45 pm

    Hi Rob

    Just catching up on you.

    Tools… I have been blessed to learn how to use power tools in my old age. My favorite is a Bosch Sliding Compound Mitre Saw. It always cuts exactly what you tell it to… if there is an error, it is you, not the saw. I love to use it.

    I also love discovering simple little tools that are exactly right for some jobs, like a simple little bevel for measuring those odd angles exactly (then cutting them exactly on my Bosch).

    Don Johnson
    Jer 33.3

  15. #15 Rob
    on Jan 26th, 2009 at 9:32 pm

    @Don – Good to hear from you! Glad you stopped by and left a comment. Your mitre saw sounds great! Having the right tool can make all the difference in the world. I borrowed a planer from a man at school recently and was able to do a little job here at home in a matter of minutes.

    Stop back in soon! Keep tooling along, Don!

  16. #16 Ann
    on Jan 27th, 2009 at 6:16 am

    How much does that wrench cost? I want one!! (My dad’s a retired carpenter, so I have way more tools than the average female.)

  17. #17 Rob
    on Jan 27th, 2009 at 6:22 am

    Ann, it depends on where you can find it. We found it online at amazon.com at a very good price. Here’s a link to it – http://www.amazon.com/Black-Decker-AAW100-8-Inch-Adjusting/dp/B000EGM1ZM/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1?ie=UTF8&s=hi&qid=1233055183&sr=8-1

  18. #18 Ann
    on Jan 27th, 2009 at 9:38 am

    Thanks, Rob! I’ll have to check it out.

    As for my two favorite tools, they are a pair of Vise Grips and a hammer…a real hammer that actually works and not a dainty ladylike one.