Essay: An Ode to My Favorite Tool

Words and photo by Chris Klibowitz

Like most folks with a couple decades in the bike industry, there is no shortage of cool shit in my toolbox. I’ve got some tools that are useful, beautiful, and beautifully useless. I wanted to write about one in particular, what I thought was my favorite one.

But as I thought about that tool, and what I wanted to say in its honor, it began to occur to me that I have a bunch of tools I would want to talk about. So why this one? It’s unique and amazing, and I realized that I chose it like someone would tell you their favorite album is some semi-obscure, long-lost release that you probably haven’t heard of (I’d give you an example, but like, you’ve probably never heard of it).

It’s maybe not my favorite after all, but definitely the one I’d want people to think was my favorite, because it might make me seem cooler. What was I forgetting?

Well, here’s the truth, after my moment of external-validation-seeking hipster bragging passed on by and I was able to be honest with myself: my favorite tool is my Craftsman #1 Phillips-head screwdriver.

It’s the Steve Miller Band Greatest Hits 1974-1978 of the tool world—everyone’s got one, and theirs is pretty worn out. Mine has got a little curve to it, the handle is all worn and it’s nothing short of a miracle that it was never lost. It has touched thousands of bikes—probably almost every bike I’ve ever fixed—from $10 garage-sale junkers to $20,000 beyond-top-of-the-line road machines.

When I moved into my first and only role as a full-time shop mechanic, I hung all my tools on my bench and no spot was worthy of that screwdriver—reaching across the bench as often as I’d need it seemed like wasted energy—so I drilled a hole in the outer corner of the bench, and slid it into place there, where I could always count on it.

favoritetool

So here’s to the greasiest, most-worn tools on our benches or in our drawers. The 15mm box wrenches, 3/8” ratchets, #1 Phillips-head screwdrivers. We’re sorry if we take you for granted. Thank you for helping us keep that big wheel a-spinnin’ around.

 

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