His theory was that if you needed to do some maintenance (or inventing), you should buy the necessary equipment, preferably of the very best quality, and not cost it into the job. That way you’d gradually acquire a set of tools that would be with you for life, and before long you’d be able to handle most practical tasks for free.
This theory is all very well, but it presumes in couple of areas: firstly, you can afford to buy the tools in the first place and secondly, that you might conceivably use them again in the future. So it’s a fine way to acquire basic tools, but less useful for say a dovetail jointer or if you are strapped for cash.
I remember putting this to him when I wanted to borrow a masonry drill and he replied that my analysis was impeccable – except in his book a power drill was a basic tool, and as I had full time job I should be able to afford one. He took me to the hardware shop and showed me which one to buy; I have it still.
I was pondering all this yesterday as I went to buy some new secateurs. My old ones weren't up the challenge of the new garden and it was about time I bought a decent quality set. What are the best ones you have I asked? I was shown an impressive display and casually turned the price tags, thinking my Grandfather would have bought these.
Seventy quid for a set of plant snips!
Do you have anything more, ehm... reasonable? I was shown the mid range selection which still seemed pricey - and was recommended a pair of bypass cutters, costing about twenty pounds. I never knew there was such specialism in garden tools, or that people would be prepared to pay so much.
But now I come to think of it, why not? I regularly shell out fifty quid for bike tyres, more for a new gear mechanism, and I have some bespoke cable cutters that cost me forty quid more than twenty years ago – they are joy to use. In every walk of life there are specialists and enthusiasts who are prepared to pay for the right or best equipment. So I suppose there’s no reason why horticulture should be different.
In fact, as I look at the prospect of my new garden, seventy quid doesn’t seem so ridiculous. Perhaps I’ll go back and exchange my purchase for the better pair – my Grandad would definitely have approved of that.