Many Hammers

August 25, 2012 by Gabe | [mmd] |

I'd like to continue my discussion of fiddling but look at a different aspect: Tools

My garage workbench has no less than 6 hammers. I have a rubber mallet, heavy mallet, finish nail hammer, claw hammer, ball-peen hammer and sledge hammer.1 Sometimes it takes trial and error to figure out I need a new hammer. Sometimes it's obvious from the start. I've never tried to install a baseboard with a sledge hammer and I've never tried to remove a concrete walkway with a rubber mallet. But I certainly needed to learn the hard way that a rubber mallet is the way to go for putting together cabinet doors.

The tools on my computer are no different.

I fiddle with my software tools a lot. I examine the preferences in detail. I read the manuals and learn the tricks. I don't mind slipping in and out of different applications for different purposes. I've been posting a lot about both BBEdit and Sublime Text. I also use Folding Text and nvAlt. Each one has its strengths and domains that serve my needs. I had to discover how they fit me. That's where I find fiddling important. It's not just about learning what's available in the preference panes or reading a step-by-step blog post about how someone else uses an app. It's about learning how I can use my applications to do better work more consistently. It's the exploration that pays dividends, not just reading the manual. Knowing what an application can do is not the same thing as knowing what I can do with it.

I think it's worth learning the intricacies of the tools I use regularly. With applications like BBEdit and Sublime Text, I may never learn everything there is to know but what I can learn will make me a better craftsman or at least a better amateur.

  1. I have way more than six hammers, but I think I made my point.