My Tool Box
by Candy Meacham
My husband Jack is a woodworker and all-around handyman. He does most all the work on the house, the cars as well as a vast assortment of other projects. But I’m not bad with a hammer and saw myself. Over time I got tired of asking him to do the odd job from hanging pictures to fixing my loom or fabricating hanging devices for my weavings. And it drove me crazy to go downstairs to his basement shop and look for the right tool for the job. I could never find it since we have totally different ways of organizing our stuff. It became kind of a bone of contention neither of us wanted to gnaw on.
On Christmas, years ago when the kids were small, he built and gave me my own tool box. It was a terrific present. I didn’t have to descend to the basement on endless futile searches. I could get an idea and go to work on it without always having to engage my husband in the process. My husband didn’t have to do all my projects himself nor listen to me moan about not being able to find tools.
Now instead of adding the project to his to-do list or asking him to collect the tools, I either get an idea and go for it or use Jack as a kind of consultant on how best to accomplish my project goals. He still helps me sometimes since his shop is way more equiped than my little box and his skills are light years beyond mine. Sometimes he still will do the project for me because he is so much faster. He can knock out a shelf and hang it in the time it takes me to find the right piece of lumber from the stack out back. But having my own tools allows me to tackle stuff now – on my own.
For 30 years I worked as an occupational therapist with children with disabilities. I carried my tool box to schools, clinics and children’s homes to do quick fixes on wheel chairs and other durable medical equipment. I made countless small chairs and trays and seat inserts out of tri-wall cardboard and foam and did adaptations to toys and other kid gear in families’ homes.
At home and in my weaving studio I maintain my looms and make simple adaptations to all my weaving contraptions. I drill and mount hooks for art work, hang my own work, and do a thousand little things any artist or craftsperson does around the workshop. I do small fixes around the house, hang plants and pictures, adjust my bicycle. Now that we have grandchildren around I fix toys and help them make Rube Goldberg contraptions.
My toolbox is the gift that keeps on giving – and here’s what’s in it.
The contents have varied a little over the years. In my time as an occupational therapist, I carted around a couple of kinds of glue including glue sticks and a hot glue gun, dowling to make pegs for fabricating adaptive furniture out of heavy cardboard, an electric carving knife to cut foam. I included velcro and some sewing supplies.
I used to do craft fairs. I carried a large assortment of nuts and bolts for booth assembly, a mallet. For a while I repaired sails for our boats and I had a little bag of sail twine, punches, a long jawed stapler, a leather sewing palm, curved and straight needles and other assorted nautical junk.
There’s always a few pieces of sand paper, a variety of nuts, bolts, washers, screws and nails. Usually a few screw hooks, a couple of bungee cords, some braided nylon twine, matches, black electrical tape, a small hunk of soap to make those screws go in easier. Sometimes I add a tool I keep wanting. Right now I need a file, maybe a flat one and a rat tail. I keep asking Jack to borrow his, so I know it’s a recurring theme.
Having a tool box upstairs isn’t a bad thing for my husband either. For small stuff, he raids mine occasionally so he doesn’t have to run downstairs for the umpteenth time on any given day.
My box has a top tray for small items and tools I use constantly. Below that are the heavier tools and the odd stuff I don’t necessarily use constantly.
Box and tray
My toolbox weighs about 25 pounds, somewhat less since I took these pictures and wrote this article. It got cleaned out for the first time in several