Friday, 29 May 2009

A bad worker always blames her tools

One of the problems facing novice DIYers is knowing what tool to use for the job. Another is buying the cheapest tool available then discovering it is unequal to the task.

Make it and Mend it's Anne Caborn is a bit of a fanatical DIYer. She likes nothing more than a sharp blade or a well-turned angle grinder - unless it's a nice knotty bit of html. We asked her to pull together a list of products to go into the ideal beginner's toolbox as well as her advice on choosing them and using them.

Anne's sensible advice made me think how many tools I have bought and then wasted. Like the (very cheap) electric screwdriver and cordless drill I bought in a mad moment at B&Q, intending to get back into the DIY habit. One of these tools (I forget which) I never even got to use as I couldn't get the drill bits to fit properly and then one got stuck inside and broke off blocking the whole thing. The other was so crap it didn't hold its charge and was always flat when I tried to use it. So they may have had cheap price tickets but they proved very expensive mistakes.

My personal DIY history has happened in reverse. I started out in my early 20s with great confidence and tackled anything that came my way. I wallpapered. I tiled round the bath. I painted the house from top to bottom. I stripped paint and varnish off old furniture and then repainted and changed the handles. I was given a power drill for Christmas and used it all the time. Whilst I never tackled plumbing, apart from fixing an overflowing cistern, I did some very basic electrical tasks and always knew my Dad was on the end of the phone with helpful advice if I had any questions. Then I stopped. I started telling myself I was far too busy to do this kind of thing. My spare time was for relaxing and enjoying myself. So I started buying-in help. Once embarked on, this became an irreversible trend. I spent a fortune on painters and odd-job men. My tool kit lay neglected in the back of the cupboard and as time went on, my confidence eroded. I am ashamed to say that when I last moved house, I actually paid for someone to come and hang all the pictures !

Am I alone in this backward progression towards 'de-skilling'? Have any other people lost the skills they once possessed? Has anyone got them back again? If so how did it happen?

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