If you’re a Toolmonger, I’m guessing you’re mechanically inclined. But do you remember how you started to learn how to use tools? Do you remember who showed you how to use them, or did you learn on your own? Do you remember what your first projects were? Today I fixed my youngest daughter’s flat bicycle tire, and the experience reminded me of when I first learned to use tools — so I thought I’d share: A bicycle makes a great launching point to introduce others to tools and shop projects.
Today’s project required no more tools than a 15 mm socket and a 17 mm wrench. They were simple tools for a simple job. The bike is actually a hand-me-down from our oldest daughter so it is dated, but it is oh-so-easy to work on. Fixing the tire was pure joy of knowing how to do something and just going through the motions. I didn’t even get dirty. What a perfect project for a beginner.
Of course if you are an avid cyclist, doing your own work will save hundreds if not thousands of dollars. Plus it will save you many hours of time driving back and forth to the shop when you’d rather be out on the road or the bike trails. From personal experience, I know bicycle breakdowns usually seem to happen on the road farthest from home, so knowing how to fix your bike will come in handy a few hundred miles into your riding season. I always ride with a rear tool pack for the times when such a breakdown occurs.
I have fond memories of summer days spent in my parents’ garage with access to all of my dad’s tools, fixing a flat or giving my bicycle a tune-up. I taught myself the basics of screwdrivers, wrenches, allen wrenches, and sockets. I learned how messy bicycle chain grease could be. And I learned when I was stuck when to ask for help. When I was finished, nothing beat the feeling of completing a job and taking that sucker out on the road for a short shake-down cruise.
I’m sure others will have different recommendations on where to start using tools. I won’t say that any of them are wrong — but I will say a bicycle is an excellent first choice.