My maternal grandfather was a hard worker, but he was never very well off. Over the years, he’d worked in an ice plant and a shipyard and had spent the last couple decades of his working life as a drywall contractor. His favorite thing, though, was gardening, with farming a distance second, and he ALWAYS lived on a farm. Not being particularly well off, he well understood the wisdom of not buying cheap tools, though he occasionally made an error in judgment on the matter.
Naturally, when you invest the money in a good tool, you don’t want to “lose” it. Unfortunately, he and Grandma lived at the mouth of a small hollow, at the intersection of two country roads. There was a fair amount of traffic on those roads, and the access to the back of his barn was nearly impossible to keep an eye on. And of course, night has its “creepy crawlers,” who sneak around looking for things to “liberate.” As a result, Granddad had more than one tool over the years that grew legs and walked off. He scratched his head and tried to think of how he might protect things that he couldn’t see for hours at a stretch.
His answer was paint, and not just ANY paint, but canary yellow! For one thing, he figured that color would be easier to spot when working outdoors. That meant that he WOULD be less likely to actually lose a tool unless, of course, he happened to be working in an aspen or maple grove in autumn. Then, it wasn’t as perfect an idea as it first seemed. Also, something I noticed, when I went in his barn to get a tool, was that I was confronted with a great mass of yellow, where everything blended with everything. Finding tools there was harder than you’d imagine.
However, the idea DID seem to greatly reduce the tools that grew legs by miraculous evolution. For one thing, Granddad didn’t just paint them with a light coat that might be easily removed. He completely saturated those tools with the bright yellow paint. Some tools, like axes, saws and chisels didn’t even work as well as they should, since the paint wasn’t nearly as “slippery” as polished steel, and he painted right up to the cutting edge. He also soaked the joints between wood and steel to the point where it would take a monumental effort to clean the tool well enough for a midnight requisition worker to pass it off as his own tool, if he went to sell it. Not surprisingly, all the country neighbors for miles eventually noticed that his tools were all yellow. If one fell off his farm trailer and onto the county road, more than likely, a neighbor would see it and bring it to him. I guess I’d have to say that the idea worked for him.
Granddad has been gone for 21 years now. I have several of his tools in my basement, but I’ve used very few of them. The wrenches are so covered with multiple layers of paint that they often don’t fit the nuts they’re supposed to fit. Also, the lettering is covered and you have to guess the size to begin with. Jointed tools, like tin snips and pruners, often have so much paint on them that they simply refuse to work anymore. It’s always been simpler just to maintain my own tools, and even buy a new one if I must, than to remove all the paint and restore them to working condition.