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Time to have the talk. The tool talk

I was showing my son how to repair his dirt bike. There was dirt accumulated on the motor and I told him to go get a brush and scrub the dirt off. He comes back with this:

Yup. A hairbrush. I explained to him that he deeded to get a wire bristled brush. He comes back with this:

Yup. The cat brush. I then asked him to get my wrench set. He asked what that was. Somewhere along the way, I forgot to teach him about tools. So, tool class shall commence.

18 Responses to “Time to have the talk. The tool talk”

  1. SPQR Says:

    Uh oh

  2. Pete Says:

    Be informative. Be patient. Be calm. My dad was none of those things. I ended up becoming a millwright/maintenance journeymen for a living as he was a machinist in his time, but I don’t enjoy using tools when I’m home on my own projects. Too much BS and screaming when I was a kid.

  3. Ratus Says:

    Seriously? You done f’d up that badly?

  4. Kristophr Says:

    I’d buy a cheap scrub brush and use that. Wire brushes are kinda hard on aluminum components.

  5. JTC Says:

    That means y’all ain’t been doing enough stuff together.

    Make up for that right now. In a couple days you’ll have missed your chance and you will regret it forever.

    Only incidentally to do with tools.

  6. Ellen Says:

    It’s been happening for decades. Forty years ago, I was teaching a bunch of people about making jewelry. “And then you use your file to sharpen this.”

    “What’s a file?”

    Thirty years ago, I was teaching a hundred HS science teachers how to make simple musical instruments. I supplied the epoxy, but several of them didn’t know how to use it.

  7. Gladorn Says:

    I learned a lot from my dad, but he wasn’t a good teacher. Same with my grandpa. They both assumed I knew things that I didn’t, and got quite frustrated when I forgot tool names or got confused.

    Let me tell you a story. My grandpa did plumbing and wiring for new homes. I picked up the plumbing pretty quick, the wiring not so much. Of course, being new construction nothing was live. He never taught me to use a voltmeter to make sure I was working with a dead wire. The first time I accidentally worked on a live wire… In his eyes, it was my fault. But he never told me what I did wrong nor how to correct it. Thus my short lived internship as electrician ended. It wasn’t until years later that I learned that I was supposed to use a voltmeter, and I figured it out.

  8. Huck Says:

    My Dad started teaching me and my 2 brothers how to fix stuff when we hit 1st grade. He started by teaching us how to fix our bicycles and as we got older moved on to more complicated stuff. It’s been very helpful all these years.

    My Mom taught us how to cook and sew because my Dad was totally helpless in doing that stuff, (my Grandma never taught Dad that stuff, she believed that cooking and sewing is woman’s work) and Mom decided that that wasn’t going to happen with my brothers and I. I swear, my Dad could put a frozen dinner in the oven and when he took it out, it’d be frozen on the inside and charred on the outside. God bless him!

    I started 1st grade in 1961.

  9. Gerry Says:

    +1 Pete!

    My dad was not a teacher. I learned much more from my father in law.

    Good luck.

  10. Shootin' Buddy Says:

    “If words of command are not clear and distinct, if orders are not thoroughly understood, then the general is to blame. But, if orders are clear and the soldiers nevertheless disobey, then it is the fault of their officers.”

    Sun Zi, Art of War

  11. JTC Says:


    I started first grade in 1960. And from the beginning the library with its piles of Popular Science and Mechanix Illustrated was my window to the world. Ads in the back for kits to build go-carts and mini-bikes and sometimes features about those things. I bugged my Dad for us to build one but money was way too tight. But I learned how anyway from the reading and accumulated the tools I would need…that part and help working on bikes and the lawnmower he was very helpful with, and by the time third grade rolled around I was ready; a couple buddies and I pooled our money and scrounging skills and built two little Briggs powered mini bikes and ran them and fixed them until there was nothing left of them.

    Those times, along with roaming the fields plinking with my Dad around our Lake Okeechobee home with the little single-shot Marlin .22 I got for Christmas in ’63 -also inspired by my school library, A Boy And His Gun by Janes- are some of my fondest memories and I think helped me survive the wilds of the world as a (very) young father.

    You’d think that would have transferred into my spending the time to teach some of that to my own son, but by the time he came along way after my daughters, we had a little money and success and he got a brand-new Honda Mini-Trail at age eight instead. We did spend a lot of time together doing other things, and the exposure to my business for many years turned into his becoming an extremely proficient and successful businessman in his own right. But money and stuff is NO replacement for time and I still have my regrets in not slowing down to talk more and do more together, thinking I had plenty of time.

    I didn’t, and neither does Unc…the chance comes and goes in a blink..and my caution to him upthread to spend the time on anything with his boy will be more beneficial to the both of them than anything money can buy.

  12. JK Brown Says:

    I’ve thought for a while now that starting near middle school, they should have a class on basic tool skills. Hand tools in general with references to what they are learning in science class.

    Fortunately, for those whose dads never get around to it, Youtube is your daddy now as you can learn about anything and find those with better techniques than you might have had passed to you. This guy just posted a video with detailed discussion on using a hammer.

    If your son has the interest, this old Navy training manual is a good introduction to basic machines. There is humor from its age as the chapter on block and tackle opens asking about seeing movers raise a piano to a window and uses rolling barrels onto a truck to introduce the incline plane.

  13. Huck Says:

    “I’ve thought for a while now that starting near middle school, they should have a class on basic tool skills. Hand tools in general with references to what they are learning in science class.”

    When I was in Junior High School in the late 1960s, there was a shop class that taught the basics of stuff like mechanics, woodwork, electrical, etc. Don’t middle schools do that anymore? I don’t know myself because none of my Grand Nephews or Nieces are in middle school yet.

  14. Publius Says:

    Shop class is all but nonexistent. Budget (read: salaries and pensions for administrators) and liability concerns, as well as pushing everyone into college tracks so they “don’t need” those skills, have pretty well killed that off. No home ec classes either. Too “sexist,” in spite of the fact that these are skills any bachelor who lives alone will need. These things were pretty well dead and buried 20 years ago already, if not before that.

    It’s not hard to learn later if you’re willing to be patient with your own screw ups and work through them.

  15. Mike M. Says:

    Hell, even if you ARE headed for college, you need those skills.

  16. JK Brown Says:


    When I started high school in 1976, they had just shutdown all the shop classes in favor of a vo-tech facility. You had to give up half a day to take any vocational classes and also pretty much any college prep math, English, etc. But back then, most could still knew a bit about tools but these days not so much.

    And using hand tools on wood, you have to pay attention to the grain and cellular nature of wood, something that ties into biology, you gain an appreciation of things described in literature, have a blacksmith forge and the student can see the physical properties and mechanical applications described in chemistry and physics class.

    Not to mention, the way to get a kid not gifted in math to learn how to do fraction is to put them to work making something with a tape measure or ruler.

  17. Jon Says:

    I grew up on a farm (Well, technically around a farm, but I spent a ton of time there) so I learned early how to use pretty much every tool. By the time I was 14 I could drive, crank a wrench and weld (the latter, very badly). I knew how to change old on most of the farm equipment, knew all the daily maintenance that was expected, and did it all.

    I’m 36 now and when I talk to my contemporaries I am repeatedly reminded how *rare* what I take for granted as normal is. I fix my own truck when something needs it 98% of the time, I do all my own basic maintenance, I’ve rebuilt my washer and drier. No one I know even wants to consider doing that, much less do it.

    None of it is particularly hard. But if no one taught you the basics – where do you go? The comment on YouTube was dead on though – YouTube can show you how to do just about anything, if you’re willing to look.

  18. Patrick Says:

    It’s common for most men to not know anything about common repairs these days. So common that its a shock when they do.

    Last night I went for a new car battery. The guys behind the counter assumed I was a complete noob on something as simple as pulling a battery. They came out with tools, a cart and rubber gloves to do the whole thing even though I said I’d gladly do it myself.

    I let them do it for no other reason than they had gloves and the old battery was leaking. Great on them for customer service, but I felt like an ass thinking they figured me for an idiot.

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