Simple Tools


In a world full of technology and complex equipment it is easy to forget about the simplicity of the machines and tools we used during most of our history. I was reminded of this recently at a friends home. She had a bolt on her sliding door that went up into the door frame to keep it secure. I had a hard time figuring it out because I was looking for a button to push, a spring to release, and it was a simple push it up, pull it down mechanism! This started me thinking of all the gadgets and gizmos we now find ordinary that have replaced many of the simple mechanical tools we used to use. This could be trouble if we need to go back to a simpler world.

When I lived in various country settings where the power regularly went out for a week or two in winter, the phone was not connected to electrical power. It still worked as long as the phone lines were up, even if the power lines were down. Those folks that were without a wood stove or fireplace could use a barbecue grill to cook on and everyone had an outhouse just in case. I’m not suggesting going to that extent here as many of us are on central water and sewer service which will still work without power.

However these thoughts lead me to consider some very basic ideas. We typically have a first aid kit somewhere in the house and car; what about a mechanical, simple tool kit as well? Could this be as simple as a screwdriver, a hammer, some rope and string, wire, a sharp utility knife and waterproof matches? I would add a hatchet, a shovel, and pliers; someone else would have other things that were important. The key to this kit is simple basic tools that lend themselves to many uses.

We were taught the basics of physics in elementary school – levers, pulleys, inclined planes, screws, and the strength and utility of basic geometric shapes. This is really useful information upon which the rest of the mechanics we use today is founded. I’m glad to be grounded in these basic ways to get work done. Maybe the old game of what you would want to have on a deserted island is a great place to start, only make it a backpack!

So here’s the game for the winter: What would you want in a backpack that you can carry with you? Nothing can be dependent on batteries, electricity, or external service. And a question: Is a solar powered backpack a ‘simple’ tool? What other things that are new technology fit into this model? Have fun and enjoy!

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