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Why I prefer handtools

My take on Power tools:

When I was learning to build, I fucking loved power tools. Fucking loved 'em. I bought my finish nail guns and compressor after doing a job involving the first finish nailing that I ever did. I sucked so bad at finish nailing (mostly because I hadn't done it before) that rather than spend time actually doing it, and getting good at it, maybe even practicing, like, not on the job, I felt it the practical and wise choice to spend $300 on some fancy tools. And so it went on. I bought miter and table saws, worm-drive circular saws (despite what people tell you, they suck) grinders and routers, drills, saber saws, jig saw, etc, etc.

And as this wasn't enough, I loved using chain saws, driving tractors, cats, the bigger and more powerful the better. I mean, who can blame me? I was a boy.

I was better than most guys at carrying and actually using protective equipment, gloves, specks dust masks and earmuffs, but I fucking hated them. Most guys do it seems. They work great in theory, but not so great in practice (there are a lot of things like this huh?) when you are demolishing a wall, cutting it with Sawzalls and smashing it with sledges, and you have three guys on it because you need it done, like, now, and the room is so full of dust you can barely see, and your glasses are fogged from your breath coming out your mask, well sometimes the cut is important enough that you take your glasses off to see. I feel kinda like I'm revealing Construction Secrets, but this is something every contractor knows. Power tools are sketchy as fuck. Period. Sometimes you just can't find your ear protection, well how long are you gonna spend looking? Eventually you just make the cuts you need to make, and later you find your muffs, but the damage is already done. And it accumulates every week, and every year.



So anyway, one day I was stressed out, (which does happen on all job sites, that I have seen any way) trying to get a small simple job done before dark, and I went faster and faster until I went too fast. I guess what happened was that I reached under the guard of my chop saw before the blade had stopped turning, and then there was blood, lots of blood. I didn't feel anything, so I assumed that it was nothing, but when I looked at it, I had to accept that in a fraction of a second I had cut one of my most important fingers down to the bone. So the ER gave me a nice little bill to take home with me ( I was working without medical insurance at the time) and to make things even better, I couldn’t work for the next three weeks while it healed. Yes, I was loving power tools at this time in my life let me tell you....


Well, I got lucky, and I still have ten functional fingers, but now I use hand saws.

And before you ask, yes, I have damaged myself with hand tools, but I've never gone to the ER and I don't ever expect to. I've cut myself more times than I can remember, and with hand saws, knives, and even drills, but I pretty much generally take a little break, wash it off, put on a band-aid, and go back to work, a little more cautious. It's not like it's some secret, I've never heard of anyone putting a nail through their body, without that nail coming out of a nail gun. I sure as hell don't feel any need to ware goggles when I use a bow saw, or even an axe.

Part of it isn't even that hand tools are inherently less dangerous, it is more that they inspire you to be safer. Noise is stressful, so is vibration, hand tools are quiet, and they don't shake you to pieces. Once you learn how to work without many power tools, you can work all day with hand tools and still feel in complete control of what you are doing.


One of the main reasons most builders prefer power tools is because they feel they are faster when using them, which is generally true. And God damn it they have to be, to pay for all that medical insurance. Did you know that one third of a laborers or carpenters wages goes into this? Yes, If you have someone working on your house, and they are getting paid $16 an hour, you will be paying $24 an hour for the privilege of having them build your house.


Personally, I like to think that by saving so much money using free site-available materials, and being safe enough that I don't need to charge anyone for any medical insurance, that my natural speed, and my bodily power are quite enough for any job I want to work on.


Anyway, I can cut through a 2x4 in under 20 seconds, it takes about that long to untangle an extension cord. And you have to find and put on your glasses, muffs, and a mask if you're cutting plywood (it's exempt from formaldehyde regulations, says it on every sheet) before you can safely start your cut. Who do you think is gonna be done first?

Which brings us to the other main reason builders love power tools, because they are boys!

Yes, even when it would be faster to build without them, most men prefer to use power tools. This shouldn't be news to any of you, haven't you seen the vehicles most men choose to drive? Ridiculous huge Penis trucks with, guess what? Nothing in the bed.

No, guys fucking love the feeling of power, and the more the merrier. Even the Waori, one of the last tribes contacted in the Amazon, preferred hunting with shotguns when they gained access to them, despite the huge expense, not because they were more effective, which they weren't, but because of the 'beautiful noise' they made!

Boys will be boys.


No, I totally understand the draw of power tools, it just doesn't get me off any longer. I like to do my own work, I didn't develop this powerful body just to stand there and pull a trigger! My body wants to WORK! I don't feel good at the end of an eight hour day tensing up my core muscles while I move tools around. When I saw wood, I want to SAW WOOD. When I nail I want to be pounding those nails in myself, using my whole body.


I have however chosen to keep my trusty drills, and my orbital sander, at least for now....