Friday, May 1, 2009

The Toolbelt: Aidan Wing

Previously in this blog I've attempted to draw a portrait of a man through his tools. (See Ken Laundry.) Now it might be fun to see what one can learn from one worker's toolbelt:
His name is Aidan Wing, as you can see written on the red plastic case of Milwaukee drill bits.

First impressions: The choice of a leather toolbelt shows a preference for authentic, traditional materials even if there's a trade-off in weight or cost. The stains and dirt indicate at least a few years of hard work, but the stitching looks solid and the leather hasn't frayed or ripped. It looks comfy, broken-in but not broken-down. A relatively young belt - like the worker who wears it.

In contrast to the old-fashioned leather, the plastic case of drill bits and the purple Sharpie marker show a willingness to go modern when it's expedient. The green-handled cleanup brush in the background shows a commendable interest in tidying up, and the ear protectors show an interest in self-preservation.

As for the contents of the belt, let's spread them out:
Clearly, he's a carpenter. But also, he's an electrician. Like most electricians, he always carries a voltage tester around even when he's doing a job that is strictly carpentry (so do I). The wire cutter seems less obvious a choice, but maybe it's useful in carpentry. I usually carry my linesman's pliers in my toolbelt when doing carpentry - they just seem to come in handy sometimes for pulling a nail or bending a piece of metal. Maybe it's like that for Aidan with the wire cutters - they just seem to come in handy.

Wood handles on the hammers. Like the leather, a taste for the traditional, the time-tested, the natural. Both the framing and finish hammers show wear, whereas the cat's paw still has a pristine bar code label on its handle. Either it's new, or Aidan is so deadly accurate that he rarely needs to pull a nail. Me, I vote for new. If he were deadly accurate, why would he carry it in the toolbelt? Also, in repair work, often you're pulling other people's old nails.

The raggedy chisel blade shows a certain "oops" factor. Or maybe intentional - don't we all keep one old chisel for abusive banging and prying?

The Hyde blade is an interesting choice. From the wear marks, I'd say it's used for prying and scraping, and maybe for applying putty. Useful and light weight.

The nailsets and small hammer are for finish work, the waffle-face hammer and cat's paw and beater chisel are for banging on framing. He's not a specialist. He's been working for a while, long enough to break in a toolbelt and ding up a few tools, but not so long as to lose the blue paint on the hammer or to scuff up the square, the cat's paw, the utility knife.

He's a young man, not settled in a specialty. That's the evidence of the toolbelt.

Next post, I'll introduce him.

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