Monthly Archives: June 2014

Mr Sandman

Some wallpapers, especially shiny ones like this Laura Ashley design, will show up every tiny imperfection in a wall:


and even when the wall is painstakingly prepared odd tiny grains or specs of debris about the size of a molecules seem to somehow become trapped. These can be flicked out at the time of paper hanging of course but if you miss one or two try this technique for smoothing them by gently tapping with a hammer kept flat to the wall:

Bad workmen always blame their tools.

To some extent I agree with this old expression but it supposes that good workmen always have good tools since any workman, good or bad, could not hope to do good work with blunt chisels for example.
It also supposes that good workmen have the right tools for a given job since nobody could cut neat mortice using a screwdriver as a chisel for example.
But since almost all tools will wear as they are used they will need to be replaced or maintained periodically.
Handymen are multi-skilled so they will need to carry a large number of different tools, many more than say a plasterer who needs very few.
Also because the work of a handyman is extremely varied his tools can sometimes have to be pressed into service in unusual ways which can damage them.

How long should tools last?
This will depend on the tool and also whether is has been used correctly.
Hardly anybody sharpens saws these days so a new one will usually be purchased when the old one gets blunt. And even a brand new saw can be blunted instantly by accidentally encountering a rogue nail as you cut half an inch from the bottom of a door that needs to clear new carpets.
I probably buy half a dozen saws per year but my smoothing plane is still the same one I had when I was sixteen—40 years ago. The plane has been regularly sharpened and had a couple of new irons (blades) but it still works perfectly and is used often when an electric plane is not suited to the work.
Likewise, my chisels have been re-ground and sharpened many, many times and still serve me well.
Bladed screwdrivers (for slotted screws) can be serviced if they get blunt (i.e. rounded) but there is little you can do with a Pozidrive or Phillips screwdriver once it has become worn—other than replace it.

Things to avoid:
Allowing cement, tile adhesive, filler, plaster, etc to dry onto trowels, spades, filling knives, etc.
Ill-advised usage like opening a tin of paint with a chisel or banging a nail in with a spirit level.
Water—many metal things rust and rust isn’t good for saws, planes, pliers, etc.
Don’t hit a chisel with a hammer—use a mallet.
Avoid using the wrong cross-head screwdriver Pozidrive or Phillips they are different (albeit slightly).

Look after your tools and the work you do with them will be better.