Tool Cull

Taking me to the finish line…

tools that remain 316
(tools that I kept after my tool cull {#2921-3005; Freecycled})

The tool cull took me to the finish line in my third 1,000 things project. It’s worth a post of its own for that reason alone, but there are some other good reasons for telling you about it.

How it came about: I was getting down to the wire in terms of meeting my goal of getting rid of 3,000 things by February 25th. I eventually let go of reaching that deadline on time, but before giving that up, I thought of a few strategies that might help me get there sooner, even if not on time. One of those strategies was to identify groups of large numbers of things that would help me get rid of a lot of things quickly. One of them I used extensively: going through my home office with the goal of getting my documents truly, finally, organized. This worked quite well for me, and I only have a few more folders to cull through, and lots of space in my file cabinet.

The other large number of things I used to get to 3,000 was my set of tools. I knew I had an excess of tools which I would be more likely to find and use if I actually knew what I had and where they were. This became the “toolbox project”  with the goal of going through my toolboxes, creating two sets of tools to keep in two toolboxes (one for me, one for my son), and disposing of the rest. I knew I had a lot of extra tools of some types — wrenches and small screwdrivers for example. I didn’t really know if my son wanted a toolbox, but I figured it would be there if and when he wanted it, and if not, it would be easy to give away to someone else.

Another motivation for doing it this way was remembering my Dad’s tool collection. He had seven toolboxes — no, actually I can’t tell you how many toolboxes he had. There were at least seven toolboxes filled with tools, along with a voluminous amount of tools that weren’t in toolboxes. Then there were the numerous toolboxes filled with something else: the toolboxes filled with pennies, all rolled up and organized and labeled by year; and the toolboxes filled with all sorts of other things that I don’t remember now and really don’t care to try. I only have two toolboxes plus various other tools, but I’m still young relative to my dad when he passed away. Maybe he only had as many tools as I do now when he was my age. Maybe he got started down the path of tool hoarding with a collection of my size. Better to cut this off now while it’s still manageable. That alone justified for me the OCD overtones of going through every tool and sorting them out.

And so I did. I emptied my two toolboxes and collected all the others I could find, laid out all the tools where I could see them, and grouped the tools loosely by type. Then I started identifying the tools I wanted, starting with easy ones like hammers and screwdrivers. I took one of each (including variants, like a traditional hammer, mallet hammer, etc.); if I had two of something, the second one went into my son’s toolbox; anything left over stayed in a third pile. I also kept a separate toolbox for myself which I had taken from my dad’s collection and kept because it has a well-organized array of tools (socket wrench set, a few screwdrivers, toolbit disk, and a few other items) that wouldn’t all fit in my toolbox.

Even after filling two toolboxes, a fairly useful collection of leftover tools remained: a couple of hammers, various screwdrivers, pliers, and a wide assortment of wrenches, including an almost complete socket wrench set. Some things were new or almost new, like a set of open-ended wrenches. Some things were older or even a little messy like the socket wrench set, but they were still useful. I also decided to give away a couple of ‘vintage’ tools — an old Yankee screwdriver, a small metal plumber’s wrench — to add value in a different way: maybe the recipient would appreciate them more than I would.

Ironically, I gave away a toolbox during my first 1,000 things project (#599) about 17 months ago which I thought I didn’t need at the time. It turns out I could have used it now, but I didn’t feel any sense of regret at not having kept it.  This is a good thing and worth noting, so I’ll remind myself again here: getting rid of that toolbox was more rewarding to me than keeping it, even though I had to go get another one.  The notion of “you might need it someday” is often a myth, and keeping something can be more of a burden than getting another one. (More about that in a later post.) I thought about going to a thrift store to buy a cheap toolbox, but I decided to buy a new one at the local hardware store instead; it cost about $18, which with the time cost savings was probably a bit cheaper than driving to the nearest thrift store. I’d planned to replace one of my old toolboxes with this new one, but after trying out the new toolbox, I decided I actually like my old ones a little better — one is metal; the other is a plastic toolbox from the old Hechinger’s home improvement store, so it’s an antique of sorts 😉 .

Then I filled the new toolbox with the culled tools, along with a bag which included a funnel and boxes of various fasteners (nails, screws, etc.) and put it on Freecycle. As you might expect, this was a very popular offering, and I found a recipient quickly. I even got a response from someone  who didn’t want the tools but simply wanted to acknowledge my generosity:

“Hi neighbor, Very generous tool freecycling you have got going there! I am not really in need but I thought I would let you know I think that is a pretty cool gift.”

So in this way the tool cull was a highly fitting end to my third 1,000 things project because the tool cull had it all:  stories, inner voices, possession, treasure, gratitude, curation, thoughtfulness, and of course completing the cycle on several levels.

Where am I now, and where am I going next? Good questions — reflections on that in my next posts…

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4 thoughts on “Tool Cull

  1. Great blog post, John. I always enjoy reading about your experience and the very valuable lessons learned throughout your journey!

  2. Pingback: How to finish a 1,000 things project fast(er)… | Ideaphoriana

  3. Pingback: What’s Next: The Punch List | Ideaphoriana

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