A Tale Of Three Tool Kits~ Part One

I have often mentioned my 90%/50% Rule [If you can get 90% of the utility for 50% of the cost you’ve made a good deal]. However, I was also raised to believe in the idea that you should buy things for the long-term. This means purchasing with the idea of getting the best quality, and then not having to replace the item [at least for a long time]… especially for things that you know you will be using regularly. Ever since I started spending my own money, I have been a fan of L.L.Bean’ clothing, Sears-Roebuck’s “Craftsman” brand, Toyota, my Bark River and Grohman knives etc… established brands you know you can count on for not only the finest quality, but also for standing behind their products with good service and warranties. For me, most particularly, this policy has always taken the form of spending full price for excellent, professional grade tools.

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Now that the Château is up for sale, I have been dealing with the collection of “Everythings” that has accumulated from four generations of my forbears, and however many families that actually includes. This also means that I have been selling off all the contractor’s grade tools that I’ve accumulated over the last four decades. And it means that since these tools were worthwhile when first purchased, they had a reasonable resale value, and I’ve been able to make a considerable amount back… I can’t call this “profit”, but I can call it a depreciated return on investment.

This is only a portion of the tools I had up for sale. By the time this photo was taken, many items had already sold.

Realizing that I would still want to do many things with power tools that I have done before, but not at the contracting type level, I have been looking into the new generation of 20V battery powered toolkits that provide a wide selection of tools. All of which are powered from the manufacturer’s proprietary battery system… you have to choose a product line or suck up the cost of multiple battery systems and chargers. One of the biggest advantages though is that there are no more grimy power cords to deploy and have snaking all over underfoot. [In the clean out I’ve found I had accumulated 14 of them, ranging in length from 10′ to 100′]

While I was in North Carolina with the Rev. elfLiza a Bosch drill-driver and impact driver set went on sale at an irresistible price point of $99 including a charger, two batteries and a “fitted” case. They were only 12V, but had the advantage of being much smaller in the hand that most of the 20v offerings. Since she lives in an urban setting where Amazons”Prime” means overnight delivery, I picked it up.

My buddy, TOG already had a similar drill driver from Makita that I really liked using, so I pretty much knew what I was getting… Decent power and the big advantage of being small enough to drop right in the pouch of my tool belt or stick in a hip pocket. While I had purchased the set with the full intention of leaving it behind in North Carolina for use down there, I discovered I liked it so well, and it was so small that I could tuck it under a seat, and it went in the car and came back to Maine with me.

I wasn’t wild about the little, squared off fabric case that came with the Bosch Combo, and I ended up I substituting a small Gladstone tool bag that I had up in a closet. It was a perfect fit for the entire kit… drill & driver, both batteries, charger, plus two sets of specialty drill bits and a DeWalt driver-bit set in a hard-shell case that I already had. Pretty much anything I am likely to want to do with a drill/drive can be done with what’s right in the bag. Despite their small size, the batteries charge up fully in just over a half an hour, so I can’t really imagine any work slowdown ever occurring at my expected level of use.

Additionally, I had an older set of Ridgid brand battery tools that I bought while I was building the Château.

IMG_4847This had the hammer drill, a smaller drill-driver, a 6 1/2″ circular saw and a work light, as well as the charger, three large batteries and two small. They were state of the art back then. I offered them up for sale both on Craigslist and at barn sales with the other power tools, but no one was buying, even at the decent price I offered. They all still run well and were great tools when they were purchased, but the batteries are now about two generations behind, and don’t hold a charge as well as they used to. I had tried several times to sell them all for $35, and have ended up hanging on to them more or less by default.

In retrospect, I’m grateful that no one took me up on the deal. My lady friend is coming up for several weeks from North Carolina, and I will simply send this set back down with her to replace the Bosch set that I absconded with. That way, that I will have perfectly OK tools available there until I make the actual move.

 

All this post is by way of preamble. Even with these two perfectly usable sets in hand, I knew that in the long run I was going to want something better and featuring a wider variety of tools to replace my pro setup. I had sufficient money from all of the sales of my other tools, so…

…and THAT will take us to Part Two of the series which I will post separately.

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Sorry, But I’m “Flat Out Like A Lizard Drinkin’…”

Posts from up here in the Falls may be a bit sparse for a while.

I am working on the Project Knife when I get a chance, but I have also just listed my house for sale figuring that anyone who is in the market for this type of home is going to want to enjoy it during the upcoming summer season. [My part of Maine is a vacation magnet, since I am only just over 2 hours from Boston]

THIS is sucking up an inordinate amount of time as I attempt to cure 7 years of neglect since my wife went into longterm care and I stopped being “responsible”, and the resultant geezer-clutter. Add to that a lifelong similarity to Dennis’s attitude below and you will get the idea…

The good news is that it’s only been on the market for 36 hours and I have a showing today!!!

What’s In YOUR Ditty Bag…?

According to John Rogers in Origins of Sea Terms: a Ditty Bag is “a small bag in which a sailor keeps small tools and equipment, also personal articles” .

My friend Jerry [aka: Snaggletooth] from my hammocking circles was kind enough to let me re-blog his post about what he keeps in his. He has really managed to cram an awful lot of small quantities of possible needs into a small volume.

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BAG 1: Survival

  • Space blanket
  • Write in rain paper
  • Coffee Filter
  • Duct tape square
  • Plastic Mirror
  • Electrical tape and screw
  • Pencil sharpener
  • Tooth Pick, bobby Pin, Needle, paper clip,Shrink tube
  • Pencil with Duct tape
  • Aluminum clip
  • Tin Foil
  • Braided cord
  • Water purification Tabs
  • Esbit Fuel
  • Knife
  • Mini Bic
  • Laundry lint (cotton)[fire starter]
  • Fire starter chunk
  • Fire steel striker and jute

BAG 2-: First Aid

  • Misc Bandages
  • Gauze
  • Burn Cream
  • Neosporin
  • Mole skins
  • Antibiotic cream
  • Ora-gel
  • General Ointment
  • Insect bite aid
  • Aspirin
  • Mucinex
  • Tums
  • Lorazepam
  • Ibuprofen
  • ALeve
  • Anti-diarrhea

Bag 3: Hygiene

  • Pre Ivy towel
  • Mini towel
  • Boogie wipe
  • Insect repellent
  • Witch hazel towel
  • Floss packets
  • Gum picks
  • Toothbrushes
  • Hand lotion
  • Baby powder
  • Multi chap tube
  • Q-tip
  • Itch cream
  • Razor
  • Comb
  • Reading glasses

He also has a BAG 4: with TP, Baby wipes  spade [cathole tool?], and bandana

He told me that he gets many of these “smalls” in small quantities from Minimus.biz [free s&h with $20 orders]

Thanks for the post and info, Snagg…

You Get What You Pay For…

Another purchase from the strange Hong Kong jobbers 11-11 sale was these three small “neck knives”.

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They are badly executed copies of the fairly classic C.R.K.T/Doug Ritter Mk5. They sacrifice the Ritter’s Kydex sheath for one of a reasonably decent leather, and claim to be 420-C steel, but they really don’t measure up. On one of the units they had failed to even bother feeding the lanyard cord through the eye on the handle. It may not even be fair to call these Mil-Tec knives copies. They make no representation, other than visually, to be a Mk5. And there are certainly omissions. Notably in the lack of the jimping [those little slits for grip] on the spine and finger choil, and the missing blade holes for lashing to a pole.

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Side-by-side with my several year-old original/genuine knife, you can see some of the differences right off. The biggest being that the Mil-Tec ones are severely ground in a “sabre”cut [the blade thickness is reduced toward the edge by grinding the flat down before adding an even steeper angle to be finished for sharpness]. The Ritter is fully flat, tapering smoothly from the spine down to the edge-grind. The Chinese units are abysmally dull. The sabre-cut is not even taken down far enough to overcome the overall thickness of the knife blank. The edge cut ends up being far too steep to give a decent cutting edge without refinishing. You can see the difference in the blank thickness in the first photo below. The Ritter starts out with a thinner blank at the spine, and the finished knife is also longer and much more evenly tapered than the Mil-Tec version. Then, in the second shot, you a can see that the sabre-cut portion of the Chinese blades even retains the rotational curves of the grinding machine. Where on the Ritter you can barely make out the edge-grind at all, on the Chinese version it is quite obvious.

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HOWEVER… [you were expecting a however, weren’t you?]   It is exactly that extra blade thickness that will give these knives their redeeming point.

I have never seen the point to wearing a “neck-knife” that dangles with the handle pointing down… they seem to invite loss in a messy situation. My intention instead is to include these clones in Altoid can sized emergency kits. If you have read the posts previously on here about survival/emergency kits you will understand that I always include a mini-multitool of the Leatherman Micra/Gerber Dime variety in the ones I make up for myself or for friends. These minis already have a good blade for cutting, along with the other tools. I want the “Mk5’s” for their usefulness in batoning [splitting] small-wood for fires. Their edges can easily be sharpened up to that point, and that extreme blade thickness makes them sturdy enough to stand up to the pounding. I was looking for a tool… not any refinement.

I think that getting a fire together can be the single most important part of an emergency situation. Getting some wood larger than twigs is vital to an efficient fire. The wood inside is almost always drier that that outside… hence quicker to get burning. Those little multitools are great. You can easily run up a feather-stick to catch fire, but I like the idea of something small but sturdy to get some bulk on there as well.

The final “however” here is that the sale price of all three Chinese knives was less than a SuperMochaFrappucinnoHalfCafHalfDecaf at your local coffee house… $5.64US. At that price they are just fine. You get what you pay for.

“Everyday” Altoids Tin Kit

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I thought I would toss this one up here quickly… I think of it as sort of a “Takin’ Care of Bidnizz” kit.

A fellow by the name of Mike Winter made up this particular variation on the standard Altoids rig. Rather than for any kind of real emergency or survival situation, this one is simply geared toward all the little annoyances an ordinary day can throw your way.

Hit up the link>> for the original post and a detailed list of the items over at Everyday Carry .

Something Absurdly Simple

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I freely admit to being a “scrounger”. I salvage, save, “preserve”, conserve etc. any number of things that otherwise would just go in the trash bin. Sometimes it works out unexpectedly.

The piece in the photo above is the rubber finger-grip off of an old gel-pen that got tossed out. I pull the grippies off figuring they might come in handy to put on the handle of some small tool or other, at some point in future time. I found this one hanging out in a bowl when I was doing a bit of cleanup just now.

A couple of weeks ago, I found some old brass, 45 cal. pistol casings and had played around with them, blowing across the top to see what kind of freebie peep-whistle they might make for emergency kits. Imagine my surprise when I put my finger over one end of this little piece of rubberized tubing and it emitted a piercing shriek… F# below middle C.  It is as loud, and carrying as any emergency whistle I have ever seen.

Best of all, because it is of rubber, it will squish down flat and pack into a kit taking up much less room… and much more flexibly.

The bad news is: I pulled out several other grips I had saved and none of them produce any kind of clear note at all. Win some, lose some. I have no idea at all what kind of pen this might have come off of, but all the other grips are of a softer, more “silicone-gel”-like material. They are all too flimsy to produce a clear note. This one however is a champ. It’s going right into my kit.

Always look around, see what you might find. You never know what comes in handy for the most unusual application. That’s what your junk drawer is for…