I’ve been making a lot of things recently, both at work and at home. And as a result, I’ve been having to buy tools.
Not a lot, but a steady trickle: discovering I need one of these, or one of those. A box of screws or bolts here; some wire there; a different kind of this to fit a particular need.
I’m trying to artificially acquire odds and ends.
This is hard. What, I think, I’ve been needing is a workshop.
But you can’t buy a workshop. A workshop isn’t a set of tools in a room.
It’s everything else, as well: offcuts; spares; old bits of wood; weird bits of plastic with strange holes in; broken things with one useful part to be cannibalised; hand-made jigs that fit particular things.
There is no shelf in B&Q or Maplin marked “this, that, and the other“, and yet that – more than anything else – is what I’ve been needing recently.
You can’t buy leftovers, spares, or “just the right thing”.
And given that, I think a workshop isn’t measured in the volume of tools it contains, the number of shelves, or the lengths of its benches.
I think it’s measured as a duration. A one-year workshop. A five-year workshop. A ten-year workshop.
Ten years of making things, and ten years of all the entropy that goes along with that: spares, duplicates, improved versions of things, swarf, offcuts, and thingummys.
When you view it like that, it’s no wonder I’m always finding new things I’ll require. I’ve only got a baby workshop (and let’s face it, the tools are in a closet and I’m drilling and sawing things on my dining room table – it’s hardly a workshop, is it?)
But babies grow up.
And it’s a reminder why, when I visit my parents, I can almost always find the bits and bobs I need, or the right tool for a job, or a part I didn’t even know the name of – because there’s a thirty-year workshop waiting for me.