October 24, 2008

Tools for Fools: " We'll sell you a cure for a problem of our making in the first place."

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Magnetic Paintbrush Holder - Lee Valley Tools

We never learn that what you see is not always what you get. A few days ago Dinosaurs and Robots highlighted some "Handy Painting Tools from Lee Valley" as, "a pair of clever painting tools made an impression on me while perusing the Lee Valley Tools Catalog." The item made an impression on me too, so, thinking to be "helpful" I pushed it along to the master craftsman, in wood as well as words, at one of my favorite pages, Sippican Cottage.


Now Sippican knows his tools and knows his words. One of Sippican's strengths is taking examples from the real world and making them into lessons that go beyond mere matter into matter mental. He glanced at my offering and then offered this invaluable advice about the tools of fools:

That item is completely, totally wrong, and in a compounded way. You never work directly from the can. Ever. It's almost a poster child for modern life. We'll sell you a cure for a problem of our making in the first place. For $1.50 you buy a 5 quart metal paint pot. You put only the material you are going to use in it. Whatever is left in the pot is discarded. And then you clean the brush out in the pot itself. The pots last for decades. You never dump dirty paint back into the can. You're contaminating a whole quart of finish by the second brushload. And the compounding part of the error is that you can't "load"a bristle brush properly by dipping a brush into a straight sided cylinder can and scraping it on the lip of the can. Dedicated paint pots have sides angled just so. You put the bristles into the paint, and then press the brush against the angled side, which infuses the bristles with the maximum amount of coating that won't drip off when you carry the brush to the surface to be painted. The ends of paint brushes are "flagged" to hold and release finish. Scraping it on the lip just works it up into the heel and makes a mess. I worked with the most old-school painters in the world, and you'd hear the pat-pat of the brush all day long as they loaded the brush. That, and endless strings of obscenities.
Yet another reminder that "If it is worth doing well, it is worth hiring somebody who knows how to do it."

And, just in passing, I note that the off-hand remark, "We'll sell you a cure for a problem of our making in the first place," is a slogan that can be applied to the manner in which the current global financial crisis is being handled. You get a triple letter score for seeing it works well applied to the current candidates as well.

Posted by Vanderleun at October 24, 2008 8:01 AM
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"It is impossible to speak in such a way that you cannot be misunderstood." -- Karl Popper N.B.: Comments are moderated and may not appear immediately. Comments that exceed the obscenity or stupidity limits will be either edited or expunged.

Thanks. Linked. "Tools for Fools" sounds like it ought to be a series, a natural for the Mythbusters guys. "They say that [X] will lighten your load and make your work better than it is now — let's just find out, shall we?"

Posted by: Hector Owen at October 30, 2008 4:17 PM