General Purpose Tools

Every Tool’s a Hammer

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Mythbusters' star golden rules of creativity

I enjoyed Every Tool’s a Hammer ($13) for two reasons. First, it provides a fascinating insight into the mind of an accomplished maker. Adam shares, in often very personal ways, his journey through life so far — both the overall direction of a person compelled to make and obsess in an eclectic number of areas, and the happy circumstances, hard lessons, and unpredictable paths on the way. If you enjoyed the infectious enthusiasm you’ve seen on screen (e.g., MythBusters), you’ll very much enjoy this aspect of the book. But the main point of the book seems to be much more about encouraging the reader to act on their own interests and to create — to make — in whatever field they find a deep connection with. As he puts it, it’s permission to follow those interests down whatever rabbit holes they lead, that this is a positive thing we can do in our lives and not something to hide away.

As well, it’s about the tools and techniques that he’s found useful in his making–from simple lists to custom-built toolboxes. (Well, toolboxes that are to regular toolboxes what a motorcycle is to a tricycle.) A few of these are one-of-a-kind-Adam — and those are fun in exactly the way you can imagine — and in other cases, he’s describing his own take on some proven industrial practices (e.g., the 5S methodology of optimizing a workspace). There’s even a section on what kind of glue to use for various materials, and why not to use glue in the first place.

Adam was interviewed on Cool Tools in 2016, and at least one favorite Cool Tool I use frequently was one he contributed — Knipex cutters. (They rule.) You do not need to be someone who thinks of themselves as a “maker” to enjoy this book. But it seems like Adam’s goal would be to give you a push towards following that geeky interest in the back of your mind, to find that family of like-minded people, and to help up the people who follow behind you. An excellent message, especially to young people.

-- Dale Grover 05/21/19