“Tools are your good friends. Why? Because they make it possible for you to do hundreds of jobs that you couldn’t with your own hands. They are extra hands—and eyes—which give you countless new skills. If you treat the tools you use as friends, they’ll always be ready to help you when you need them most.”
These wonderful thoughts are from a book called Use of Tools. Actually, it’s less of a book and more of a 1945 US Navy training manual I stumbled upon in an online archive—and it’s amazing. As an ardent tool lover, it didn’t take me long to get hooked on this cheeky little piece of tool history.
Despite being almost 70 years old, this manual is still as great today as it was when first published. Since you probably don’t have time to read old WWII Navy manuals, I thought I’d share some of the best bits and pictures from it:
“A lot of fellows try to kid themselves that tools can stand all kinds of punishment just because they’re made of steel or other durable-sounding materials. Any fellow that feels that way is in for a lot of grief. Actually, tools have to be babied or they’ll go to pieces in no time at all.”
“Screwdrivers are designed for one purpose—to loosen or tighten screws. Some men insist on using them as substitutes for everything from ice picks to bottle openers. That’s why you see so many screwdrivers with bent shanks or broken tops.”
“Like friends, tools become for valuable to you the better you’re acquainted with them. You’ll find that they require careful handling, and that they don’t go for any rough stuff. But, if you follow a few simple rules concerning tools, they’ll last longer and stay in good condition indefinitely.”
“The more tools you can use, the better workman you will be. When you observe someone using a tool that’s new to you, find out all you can about it. Ask what it is, how it works, and the jobs it will handle. You can’t know too much about tools.”
P.S. If you’re really handy and think you have the skills necessary to be a 1945 US Navy member, you can try your hand at the tool quiz in the back of the book (pages 241 – 253).