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Making and Using Handtools


 
 

Tools and Machines by Charles Barnard, 1903

   

 One of the greatest pleasures in the world is to use a fine tool in doing good work. A tool extends the power of the hand. It enables us to do things we could not do without such aid.

A needle is a tool that every girl should be able to use with skill. A sewing machine is a needle in a machine, and it extends the power of the hand by enabling a girl or a woman to do more needle-work in less time and in a different manner than she could do with the needle alone.

An oar is a tool every boy should be able to handle with precision and power. It is a tool of transportation. To steer a naphtha launch and attend to its little engine is to use a machine for transportation. With an oar a boy can row a boat with one passenger a mile. With a launch he can carry twenty passengers ten miles with less labor. He can learn to row in one lesson. To manage a launch may take a month's instruction and practice. To row a boat is to use the boy's own unaided strength. To manage the launch implies knowledge of the control of an engine that develops power, and this implies knowledge of navigation, that the launch may be steered from port to port in safety.

The hammer, the saw, the knife and the needle are tools that have come down to us from men who lived long centuries ago in unknown lands.

Somewhere in the dim past, when men lived in trees or in caves, some poor savage tried to defend his children from wild beasts, some- mother tried to shelter her babies from storms and cold. With their hands alone they were almost helpless against storms and wolves.

 

Out of their dangers they developed arms. In their starvation, cold and misery they invented tools. Ages passed, and little by little the first rude tools were improved. 

Other men saw new and better methods of using the old tools, and very slowly men learned to use tools in still other and more useful ways, and machines were invented.

Once all men and women were obliged to work hard through long days and nights to get a little food, a few poor clothes, and a miserable home. To-day they can have more and better food and clothing and more comfortable homes.

There are more things in the world, and yet there is less labor. We can hardly comprehend the suffering, hunger, cold, danger and misery of those poor half forgotten people who had no tools.

They were hardly men at all. There were no children, only little old men and women toddling about in the woods, eagerly searching for a fallen nut or wading in the water in search of an oyster or a clam. And when they found an oyster they had no knife with which to open the shell. They could only smash the shell with a stone and tear out the fish and eat it raw, for there was no fire by which it might be cooked, not even a tool wherewith to make a fire.

When danger and starvation compelled men to invent tools, they laid the foundations on which rest all the safety, comfort, convenience and pleasure that we enjoy to-day. "We can, therefore, find no more interesting and attractive study than the names, history and use of the grand things we call tools and machines.


 
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