August 9, 2011
Used tool
Photo by Jim Ruen
I’m not quite sure what this tool does, but I bought it for only $4.

The block and tackle were lying there like candy in a dish, just waiting to be picked up and savored. For a guy who loves tools and practical things that work, it was almost too much to pass up. That’s the danger of our local summer celebration. The booths in the park always include a number of used tools and other antique items. It’s these displays that always get my attention.

Ropes and pulleys are the epitome of labor-saving tools. Pulleys let you redirect your energy. Hook a pulley to the roof with a rope through it, and you are able to lift up by pulling down with your full weight. Multiply the pulleys with one on the object to be lifted and a second at the roof, and you cut the force needed in half. The more pulleys, the less force. To quickly note how much less force, count the number of rope lengths interacting directly with the block of pulleys attached to the weight to be lifted. For me, it is poetry in motion.

So there they lay, a nice block with two pulleys and a single with rope that was in good shape—all for only $45. It was a steal … and I walked away. I’ll probably regret it, but the fact is that at this point in time, I have no use for it. One of the rules that I try to follow is to not buy something for which I can’t see a need.

If that sounds sensible, tell me why I bought the little $4 hand tool on the next table. I wasn’t even sure what it was. The guy selling it thought it was for setting saw blades. I guess sensible only goes so far.

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