Thursday, March 15, 2012

Toys of the Tinkery

My little workshop out in the garage isn't all that impressive.  Basically, it consists of a 6' rolling workbench that's packed to the gills with all of my tools and a pretty nice bicycle repair stand.  I've got a toolbox that is filled with bike-specific tools such as a crank puller, various freewheel tools, cable cutters, cone wrenches, etc.  Then I've got a large wrench set, a toolbox filled with non-specific tools, and a lower shelf on the workbench that's packed with saws, drills, and other power tools, as well as a few odds and ends.  All of these items are pretty common in any workshop - especially a bike shop.  But I also have a couple of items that are particularly unique to the Stringer Tinkery.

A few years back, I bought a bunch of small adjustable wrenches from a guy in Jeff City.  He claimed that they were vintage bicycle wrenches.  Though I have no firm reason to deny this, I must say that they're awfully peculiar.  They are just slightly too wide to act as cone wrenches, but they're not really big enough for heavier duty jobs like tightening axle nuts.  And they don't open wide enough to fit around the headset adjustable race or the bottom bracket cups. I rather like them, though.  When I bought them - I think I paid $20 for ten wrenches of various sizes and makes - most of the wrenches had taken on a lot of surface rust.  So I cleaned them up with a little oxalic acid, and while they don't look as good as new, they're in a lot better shape than when I bought them.  I gave all but three away to friends and family.  The remaining three don't get a whole lot of use, but I like to show them off once in a while because they're pretty cool.

My most prized possession in the Tinkery is my shop apron.  It's a plain black utility apron that my sister embroidered with the words 'Stringer's Tinkery,' which are flanked by a bicycle wheel, wrench, and drive side crank.  At first I was hesitant to wear it because I didn't want such a wonderful gift to become fouled with grease smears and oil spatter.  But then I realized that getting the thing dirty was the whole point; and some heavy use could only give the apron the character it so justly deserved.  Besides, if it gets too beat up, I'll just have my lovely sister make me a new one.  And not only does it look great, but it's superbly functional, with three large pockets that are perfect for holding wrenches, cable crimpers, or other tools that I want to have on hand.  It now hangs from my repair stand and is worn regularly.

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