The Most Useful Tool Ever!

What is your most useful tool? Everybody who works with their hands has one. Even if you don’t work with your hands you have one (iPhone, computer, musical instrument, etc.) It’s the one tool that you would be helpless without. You’ve probably found dozens of ways to use it that it was never even intended for, and for you it just works. This is the tool that makes you feel like a pro.

For Jimmie Hendrix it was his guitar. For Shakespeare it was his pen. For Tom Silva it’s his hammer (I think).

I had been planning this post for a while, excited to write about my trusty Hyde putty knife, until something unexpected happened. My favorite tool was replaced. It didn’t break and it wasn’t upgraded, I just realized that there is another tool that I am a completely useless craftsman without.

And last week I was deprived of the use of this tool due to an unfortunate combination of events. Wanna know what my most useful tool is? …**drum roll please**

My Thumb! I know, I know it’s not technically a tool, but it is! It is the most dextrous and useful piece of machinery that I use to restore the homes I work on.

What Happened

Here’s the story: Last week I was doing some work building the guest house on our own home with my father-in-law. He was a professional framer for years so we were really moving. And in this process my thumb caught the business end of a framing nailer. Yes, my father-in-law shot me! But it was an accident…I’m pretty sure at least. Luckily, it was just a deflected nail that bounced off my thumb and all I ended up with was a huge bruise and a terribly sore thumb.

For the brave among you click here for the photo.

But I’m tough. I can work through the pain. So I continued working on some other projects over the next days. Then came the front door I’m currently restoring for a client. Using my other favorite tool (the putty knife) I was scraping the paint with my awkward left hand when I slipped and cut myself. Where?? On the same thumb!!

So today I am finger-pecking my way through a blog post and realizing how much I truly rely on this pitiful thumb. There are a million things big and small that I find myself either struggling to do or simply being incapable of.

I can’t…tie my shoes, buckle my belt, open the milk jug, butter my toast, shave (effectively), and almost anything related to my job. Through this God has taught me how incredible of a machine the human body really is and how much I rely on Him for my abilities and skills.

Not only is my thumb my most useful tool, but unlike my handy putty knife it can heal itself with time and rest. There will come a time when my putty knife will probably be damaged beyond repair (I know how I care for my tools). And it will go to the tool graveyard, but my thumb, though bruised and battered now, will eventually be able to return to its tasks both mundane and skilled. And when I get that new putty knife it will be that same old thumb that makes it work the way it does just for me. And that’s why it my most useful tool ever.

What’s your most useful tool? What creative ways have you found to use it that the rest of us have yet to imagine.

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by Scott Sidler

I'm a historic preservationist and licensed contractor. I help old house lovers understand & restore their homes so they can enjoy the history and character that surrounds them more everyday! When not working, writing or teaching about old houses I spend most of my time fixing up my own 1929 bungalow with my wife Delores and sons Charley and Jude.

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