Saturday, May 2, 2009


There's no such thing as batting a thousand, even in libraries. We don't have time to read, watch, or listen to everything we acquire for the collection (not to mention the logistics of sending rejected materials back to the publisher: $$$). So we rely heavily on reviews. Usually these reviews are pretty reliable indicators of the quality and usefulness of the material, but sometimes they just flat miss the boat.
Field Guide to Tools: how to identify and use virtually every tool at the hardware store by John Kelsey. Seemed like a natural Ketchikan fit to me; we have lots of do-it-yourselfers here in town. Broken down into subject categories (garden, woodworking, carpentry, plumbing, automotive), the entries are then listed in alphabetical order. There's also a collection of color photographs that identify the different tools. So far, so good. The entries themselves leave a little to be desired, however. The one on coping saws is O.K. - it tells you how to tighten and angle the blade, and how to do sharp turns without breaking the blade. But the entry on scissors? Do I really need a 4-step explanation of how to make a scissor cut? ("Step 3. Close the handles together so the blades slice along the line."). Frankly, if you don't know how to use a pair of scissors, a 2-page written explanation is probably beyond your scope (attention, extraterrestrial visitors).
There are numerous entries like this: scrub brush, sawhorse, hose, nail, screwdriver ("Step 4. Push and turn the screwdriver handle. One direction will drive the screw, the other will remove it." We couldn't even get complicated enough to talk about lefty-loosey, righty-tighty?). These entries detract from the good information that is here in this book, and I wish Kelsey had left them out. So try and focus on things like sculptor's riffler (a special type of rasp), the correct way to use a wallpaper brush, and the safety advice for using a chop saw. This book is ultimately useful, but not all that I had hoped.

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