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My favorite tools
COLUMNIST JOHN GIBBS waxes eloquent on the topic of his favorite tools in his column this week. Pictured are the beauties of which he writes.

CRAWFORD COUNTY - Most of us accumulate a collection of tools as we go along in life.  Every family should have a basic set of tools around the house:  Screwdrivers, hammers, tape measure, some kind of a saw for wood, one for metal, files and rasps, pliers, a crescent wrench (technical name: open-end adjustable wrench) and others and, of course, a roll of duct tape.  All of these things will come in handy sooner or later.

Here are some of my favorite tools-they are pictured on Page Five.

A clog blaster. This is such a handy plumbing gadget.  It’s a tubular black rubber attachment for the end of a garden hose. It’s about six inches long and fits down into a clogged drainpipe. When the water is turned on, the body of the blaster swells up and seals the pipe. The business end of the device has a small slot in it. The water, under great pressure, multiplied by the restriction,  blasts out and will clear a clogged pipe. This beats a plunger any old day.

Vice Grip Pliers. Maybe my most used tool. A good quality vice-grip is a wonderful thing (to be held) in so many situations.  It adjusts and clamps on to what needs to be gripped, stronger and longer than a mere mortal could. I have the standard jaw type and the needle-nose variety.

Hive tool.  This is sort of an obscure tool but a very useful one. It’s designed to be used in working with bee hives. It is a thin, flat pry bar about 10 inches long with a half-inch, 90-degree bend in it on the heavy end. Can be used for prying things, scraping paint, pulling small nails, and many other things. A beautiful looking tool.

Speed square. A speed square is a small heavy duty square.It’s actually a right triangle and each short leg is seven inches long. It is made out of plastic or aluminum. It has a protruding lip on one of the short legs that can be butted against one edge of the material being worked on. I like the heft and feel of this tool and its portability - fits right into the toolbox. No moving parts, yet comes with a 62-page instruction booklet! It performs several functions. Algebra at work.

Head lamp. Get one of these babies if you haven’t already. Thanks to LED technology, lightweight head lamps are cheap, dependable and long-lasting. Great for when the power goes off, on a camping trip, looking into dark work places, or looking for things in poorly lighted areas. Comes with a flexible, comfortable headband.

Utility Knife. You can spend a lot of money on a utility knife. Or not. But they all use the same kind of replaceable, heavy-duty razor blades. The blades are a bargain (10 for $5) and can be reversed in the blade holder to double their useful life. The blades retract into the comfortable handle for safety.

Tin Snips. Tin snips are a thing of beauty. You are going to need a pair of these super, metal-cutters sooner or later in your journey through life. They cut other things as well as tin such as leather, rubber, and heavy plastic. They are a precision, heavy-duty tool and have high leverage due to the compound (double hinged) cutting design, the long handles, and short cutting blades. They are actually called aviation tin snips and come as straight cutting, right cutting and left cutting versions.

Christmas is soon upon us. Tools make great gifts and stocking stuffers for your favorite human. (The speed square might be a tight fit.) We all need tools, men, women, and kids of both genders. Give the gift that will get used and last a lifetime: a quality tool.

Ho, Ho, Ho!